When I e-mailed my local Everglades dealer, Annapolis Boat Sales, to arrange a review of the Everglades 295cc, the owner’s response to my request was sort of peculiar: “Tuesday sounds good; man I hope it’s blowing like stink that day. Oh, and if I’m not there, tell my guy not to drive it like a sissy.” Well, I’m here to tell you that we didn’t drive this center-console fishing boat like sissies. In fact, we pushed it to the limit—and wow, was it fun.
Since I’ve run all sorts of Everglades boats over the years, including the 243cc, the 255cc, and the company’s new monster offshore center console, the 435cc, I was looking forward to giving the 295cc a good once-over. It sits in the upper middle end of the Everglades lineup and competes with other offshore-oriented center console boats, such as the Cobia 296 and Regulator 28, which I've also run. The best part was that I’d be taking the 295cc for a spin on my home waters of Chesapeake Bay.
Unfortunately, when I met with Walter George, the owner of Annapolis Boat Sales, it was a sunny afternoon about two days after a stiff cold front had blown through. Here in Bay Country that means calm, cool weather. It’s nice for fishing, boating, and relaxing, but it’s not the best weather for putting a thoroughbred offshore boat, such as the 295cc, through its paces. Regardless of the lack of breeze, George stepped up to the dock and gave me plenty of time to poke around the 295cc before we headed out into Eastern Bay.
From the dock, the 295cc looks like many other Everglades models. It has an aggressive forward stance with a sharp entry that makes it look as if it’s moving, even sitting still at the dock. I’ve always loved the way Bob Dougherty draws the sheer lines on his boats, and this one is no different. It rises from the transom sharply, levels off around the middle, and then reverses slightly at the bow, where there’s plenty of flare keep spray off of the boat’s occupants. Farther aft, under the waterline, is a generous 21 degrees of transom deadrise, hinting at this boat’s offshore wave-splitting credentials. Add in the angled hardtop and windshield supports, and the 295cc looks like she means business. Fishy business, that is.
On deck, everything felt solid, purposely built, and shined with an attention to detail. Everglades’ metal-work is legendary in the business, and that reputation also shines through. The 295cc’s handrails, seat supports, and hardtop supports looked and felt absolutely flawless. That hardtop is sturdy, too. I hung all of my 250 pounds off the aft end of it and it didn't yield to my weight. I found high-quality stainless-steel latches, handles, knobs, and cleats everywhere, installed in just the right places. Oh, and you should know that this boat is built like a brick you-know-what house. Everglades uses its patented RAMCAP construction process using all composite materials to fashion an unsinkable hull that's remarkably lightweight, yet tough and durable. If you don’t believe me, take a look at one of Everglades’ half-hull boat show displays showing one of their boats cut in half sometime. Seriously, I could write an entire article about the way Everglades builds boats; they’re among the best in the business at what they do.
Since I don't have room for an entire article on Everglades' building techniques, let me give you the important stuff: RAMCAP is Everglades' acronym for Rapid Molded Core Assembly Process. It's a method of composite boatbuilding where the foam in the foam/fiberglass sandwich is precision-machined as a separate part, instead of being injected in between the fiberglass laminates. The result is an incredibly solid, single-piece hull that doesn't twist, bend, or "give" like other hulls can. That means not only a smooth ride, but a boat that will last. Oh, and all of Everglades' boats, including the 295cc, are unsinkable. Only a few manufacturers can make this claim.
Everglades advertises the 295cc as a “Family-Friendly Fishing” boat, and that’s evident in the mix of comfy accommodations and fishing features found throughout its deck layout. A pop-up transom bench is available to expand seating in the cockpit, while up forward I found twin individual upholstered chair seats ahead of the console, and a U-shaped upholstered seating area in the bow. Add in the comfy individual chairs behind the helm that can be converted into a leaning post in one step and you’ve got plenty of seating for a mess of folks on an evening cruise or an afternoon of tubing or watersports.
Under the console is a relatively spacious area with a head, washbasin, and a bit of room for rod stowage. You’ll find plenty of space for cool drinks, thanks to the slide-out Yeti cooler, which is mounted on sailboat traveler lead track so you don’t have to drag it across the deck to get it out. Push it back in and it locks securely into place.
Let’s face it; if you buy this boat, the chances are nearly 100 percent that you’re going to fish with it. You are going to fish with it, right? Well, you should. Because the 295cc is fitted to the nines with clever and innovative features to make life easier on you and and a hellish nightmare for fish. Around the deck in various places are 12 flush-mount rod holders, and seven of those are within easy reach in the transom and aft side decks. Additional locking rod stowage is situated forward, in the bow, and there’s even more under the gunwales.
Live bait fishermen might find the single 34-gallon transom-mounted livewell a bit on the small side. The Cobia 296, for example, has twin 28-gallon livewells. Fish stowage is excellent, with an insulated 66-gallon fish box aft with macerated overboard drainage, and a 105-gallon fish box up forward that’s insulated and plumbed the same way. A clever rigging station is situated aft of the helm seats with a fresh water washdown, a sink, and cutting board. Tackle drawers are located behind latched doors on either side of it.
But the best fishing feature on this boat? No question: it’s the port-side opening gunwale door that swings in for boating big fish. Sure, most people would call this a dive-door but on the Everglades, this is where you'll drag in the tuna. You won’t find a door like this on the Regulator 28 or the Cobia 296 (or most other boats of this size and type, for that matter). Now I know you’re thinking this isn’t such a big deal, but try pulling in a 150-pound bluefin through the tiny transom walk-throughs most of these boats have. Not easy. While it’s an option on the 295cc, it’s awfully nice for those who want one. I wouldn’t buy the boat without it. You shouldn’t, either.
The next thing to consider is getting out to the fish, and this boat can do it, in spades. My test boat was tipped with twin Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboards with an all-white treatment that gave the 295cc an added bit of slickness. Good looks aside, the F300 is one of the nicest six-cylinder outboards out there: quiet, smooth, efficient, and packing a lot of punch. Two of them are a nice match for this boat.
The maximum power for the 295cc is twin Yamaha F350 outboards, if you’re insane. OK, wait; let me reword that. If you want to blow into the realm of 60 mph speeds, a pair of Yamaha F350 outboards are an option. That said, I think most owners would regret the overall increased fuel consumption at normal operating speeds, when compared to efficiency of the twin F300 setup.
|Test conditions: calm seas, winds of 5 knots, 2 POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Twin Yamaha F300 four-stroke outboards, swinging 15.25" x 19" three-bladed stainless-steel props.|
Heading out into the open Chesapeake, I was able to push the 295cc quickly to 30 mph with a purposeful application of throttle, eventually zipping all the way up to 55.2 mph with the engines trimmed just shy of being out of the water. Taking engine and tab trim just off of the edge, I found the 295cc more stable in the 47 mph range. Her best cruise speed settled in around 25 mph at 3,000 rpm, where the two Yamaha’s sipped 13.3 gph per hour, netting a theoretical range of 347 miles with the 184-gallon fuel tank. Those twin F350s? The best you’ll get out of two of those engines is 323 miles at 30.6 knots. Not a huge difference, but something to consider cost-wise, over the life of the boat.
When I handed the boat back to George, the ride had been relatively benign so far—but things can change quickly. He laid the helm all the way over at about 35 mph, put us into a hard turn, and then laid on more power, as if whipping a herd of stallions to pull harder and faster. Even when we passed through 40 mph, the 295cc simply wouldn’t come loose. “I dare you to try and get it to break loose,” George said, adding, “Go ahead and try it.” Not one to turn down a challenge—and thinking George assumed he was dealing with some sort of amateur from across the Bay—I put the big ‘Glades up on a plane, pushed her up to 43 mph, and then spun her into the hardest turn I could bear. And then I did it again in the other direction, and then again, again, and again. He was right; this boat literally runs on rails.
So, that’s great, right? Well sure it is, and it speaks to how well this boat will track, but you’re not going to be spinning loop-de-loops at 40 mph while you’re trying to make good time out to the bluewater canyons. You’ll be more interested in how well this boat splits waves and handles rough-sea inlets. Unfortunately Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with George’s request for stinky weather on the day of our test, but just as we were about to head back to Wells Cove he said, “Uh, do you see what I see?” He pointed south at the profile of a large boat pushing a heck of a lot of water. George said, “Go for it. And if you don’t hit those waves at full speed, we can’t be friends anymore.” I complied, we hit the steep set of three-foot wakes at full speed—and nothing happened. I didn’t even feel so much as a bump. So I went back and did it again, and then again, again, and... OK, you get the idea.
Even on the usual annoying Bay wavelets that can send a vibration through a hull all day long—so much as to be fatiguing—the Everglades 295cc seemingly floats like a magic carpet. But it never makes you feel as if you’re out of touch with it. In fact, of all the boats I’ve run over the last few years, this one is perhaps the nicest riding of them all. And hey, that’s important when you’re in an open boat like a center console, especially 100 miles or more offshore, or when shooting a rough-weather inlet. I wish I’d had the chance to push the 295cc through the worst some of our Delmarva inlets can deliver, but that’ll have to wait until another day.
|Fuel capacity||184 gal.|
|Water capacity||25 gal.|
Though this boat is nearly perfect in every way, I did find a couple of items to take issue with. I’m sure it’s definitely something that can be fixed, but the aft cockpit fish locker hatch squeaked and groaned every time I walked on it, making the sound of fiberglass mashing against fiberglass. Not something anyone who spends well north of $200,000 on a boat this size should expect. Additionally, while the powder-coated aluminum pillars that support the hardtop and hold the center-console unit’s tempered glass are very necessary, they're angled back in such a way and are large enough that they create a blind spot. As we returned to Wells Cove, I trailed a small 29-foot Downeast boat and could completely lose sight of it in about 20 to 30 degrees of vision. It's certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is something prospective owners will want to know about.
If you’re on the hunt for a capable, solid, offshore fishing boat in the 29-foot range, the Everglades 295cc should be on the top of your list. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write five years’ worth of articles to pay for one.
Other Choices: Other great choices in this near-30-foot center console market include the Regulator 28, and the Cobia 296 CC.
View Everglades center console listings.
Fore more information, visit Everglades Boats.