We stepped aboard an Osprey 26 after a two-hour drive, the last hour of which had been over one of British Columbia's notorious gravel logging roads.
In most boat tests, saying "we" usually means the writer and the boat dealer. In this case, "we" meant five representatives of various marine publications, riding together in a Chevy Suburban until we arrived at a park and campground at the end of the logging road.
While the park was somewhat primitive, it was equipped with everything we needed: a boat ramp and a dock.
We were fortunate to be the guests of Suzuki Marine for a two-day fishing trip — the excuse for which was some serious on-the-water testing of the Suzuki's two newest four-stroke outboards and an Osprey 26 pocket sportfisher.
So, with a total of nine grown men who had rarely missed the dinner bell, our supplies for the two-day trip and our trip photographer's supplies loaded aboard, we shoved off from the somewhat rickety dock and were on our way.
At first, I thought the skipper had forgotten to start the engine, as it couldn't be heard above the general chatter of our group. However, it quickly became obvious that the big Suzuki outboard engine was running, as we motored away from the dock, then powered up for a quick run to the lodge.
Even with nine "healthy" men aboard, our Osprey 26 came on plane and cruised at 26 knots. Our gear was loaded at the stern, where several of the crew were seated, so there was some bow rise as we increased speed. Still, we never had a problem seeing over the bow, and the boat quickly leveled out to an almost normal running attitude.
A 250 hp Suzuki engine, bracket-mounted to the transom, pushed us along without complaint. For two days, we ran this engine at speeds from idle to wide-open throttle, and it was surprisingly quiet and smooth all through its power band.
If not for the telltale water stream at idle, it would be possible to think the engine was off. Fortunately, Suzuki's ignition system is protected — so that after a couple of seconds with the key in the "on" position, the starter will not engage unless the key is turned to "off" first.
Transmitting the high power of a 250 hp engine to the water can be a problem — the solution to which is normally larger props with less slip. In an outboard application, this would normally mean a larger gearcase, which would create more drag, robbing the engine of some of the extra power generated.
Suzuki takes a different approach. To turn its 250 hp engine's 16-inch stainless steel prop, Suzuki uses a two-stage reduction system.
With the usual reduction gear in the gearcase, Suzuki adds another reduction gear between the crankshaft and driveshaft. This allows a larger, lower turning prop to be used, creating less slip and better performance.
The system works, as the 250 hp engine was able to get our Osprey 26 onto plane quickly, then maintained a cruise speed of 26 knots at 3,800 rpm.
Cockpit Room to Spare
The other main advantage of having an Osprey 26 equipped with the Suzuki outboard, instead of a stern drive, is that there was no motor box.
While the 26 is available with two different cabin sizes, the outboard configuration with a long cabin and a Suzuki outboard still had more cockpit space than the short cabin model with a stern drive. Thanks to this wide-open space, we had no problem working fish across the back of the boat, even over the outboard engine.
We were fortunate to have another Osprey to look over, outfitted with a Volvo Penta Duoprop stern drive. The engine box on this boat was not overly large, and it did make a good surface for storing the ice chest at an ideal height for use as a cutting table. However, I still preferred our outboard-powered, wide-open-space-boasting test boat.
Two in-deck fishboxes (with a macerator/pump) held our first day's catch. In fact, it was surprising just how many fish we managed to fit into each fishbox.
Even with the optional cockpit control station on the starboard aft bulkhead, there was plenty of room to fish.
Our test boat had an optional 15 hp Suzuki auxiliary outboard engine (or "kicker") mounted on an electric lift, with the controls mounted in the coaming — on the starboard side, near the cockpit helm station. We bumped the control a couple of times, but soon got used to it being there.
Our test boat also had a crab pot puller mounted to starboard. All this gear, coupled with the starboard aft helm, made getting off the boat at amidships a little difficult, as the steering wheel interfered with the molded-in step to go forward or step over the gunnel.
Since the natural inclination is to put the dock on the starboard side of the boat, boarding is made easier by the walk-through transom door and swim step. Higher docks may require mooring with the dock to port, but otherwise, this is a well-laid-out and usable cockpit.
The Osprey 26's sidedecks are especially wide for a boat this size. With a trailerable 8-foot, 6-inch beam, the Osprey sacrifices some cabin width to provide safer passage forward. It's a fair tradeoff, as we had no concerns walking forward to handle lines or unsnag the fish net. Stainless steel bow rails come all the way back to the cockpit, and grab handles on the hardtop give plenty of places to hold on.
A Cabin in the Woods
Inside the cabin, the Osprey 26 has numerous windows for excellent sight lines all around the boat. Our test boat had eliminated the standard standup head (aft and to port), so the skipper could enjoy an unobstructed view of the cockpit. Instead, the head was installed in the V-berth area, as it is in the short cabin version of the 26.
A dinette, to port, would seat four average-size adults, although it was a little snug for us guys.
The galley, to starboard, has a sink with pressurized cold water and plenty of storage. The small icebox was deleted from our test boat for additional storage, since the owner will be using this boat primarily for day trips.
We found plenty of storage in the galley and under the dinette for supplies and tackle, and in a hatch under the helm console for tools or less-often-used supplies.
On our trip, the forward V-berth was used as a place to throw larger duffle bags and some extra rods, but it would be plenty roomy enough for sneaking a quick nap or even overnighting between trips to the hot spots.
Finish in the cabin could be called "fisherman basic," with easy-to-clean laminate surfaces and a limited use of teak trim. Fabric used to cover the cabin headliner and walls helps provide some sound deadening and additional insulation — and it is a good place to hang a hook and leader between setups.
There was plenty of room at the helm for a 10-inch fish finder/GPS combo unit, as well as a 7-inch color radar display. Controls and switches were well labeled and easy to reach.
On the water, the Osprey was well behaved and predictable. It handled all our weather — from sunshine and calm; to rainy, windy and lumpy; and everything in between.
We trolled through ocean swells, and jigged out in more open waters. The Osprey remained stable, never jerked but maintained a smooth motion, and stood up to the 3-foot seas on the run back home. Spray was knocked to the side, and the sweeping sheerline helped keep water off the windshield.
So, after two days aboard, we loaded up all our gear and headed back to civilization. The Osprey 26 had proved its worth as a fish-catching machine, while keeping us warm, dry and comfortable. In fact, it did everything we, as sport anglers, wanted it to do — and did it well.
Osprey 26 Specifications
|Fuel capacity||149 gallons|
|Water capacity||30 gallons|
|Propeller||18" x 16" stainless steel|
|Price with 188-hp Volvo Penta diesel engine||$84750|
|Price with twin 140-hp four-stroke outboard engines||$89000|
|Top speed||38 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 26-knot cruising speed||2.88|
|Range at 26-knot cruising speed||385 miles|
Full flotation; full galley; shore power hookups; seawater washdown system.
Options on Test Boat
Anchor roller; radar arch/rod holder; vinyl seating; second helm.
Fiberglass hull; full fiberglass stringer system; no wood used anywhere in construction.
For More Information
Osprey Boat Co.