Like most bay boats, the 2016 Shearwater 26 Carolina is designed for fishing, fishing, and more fishing. Unlike some, however, this builder takes extra measures to add a dash of comfort and a pinch of luxury to the boat. Watch our Shearwater 26 Carolina First Look Video to see for yourself.

More comfort-boosting options on this boat include misters built into the T-top, a Fusion stereo system, and a head in the console. You can also add a swim platform with a telescopic ladder, though some fishermen will see that as an impediment to battling their quarry. All that cushy stuff is great, but what we didn’t have time to address in this video is performance. And whether you’re a die-hard angler or a fair-weather fisherman, you’ll be interested in the fact that with a Yamaha F350 this boat breaks 60 MPH and cruises in the mid-40’s. Even better, you can expect to get about 2.5 MPG at cruising speed. Handling was tight and it feels like you’re running a sports-car at the helm, and though this hull has a step in the running surface, you’d never know it at the wheel—the hallmark of a well-designed step. (Watch Boating Tips Video: Stepped Hulls to learn about how steps in a hull function).

Anglers will like the fact that the foredeck casting platform is utterly huge, with one caveat: if you often take youngsters fishing, you might wish more of the area was dedicated to cockpit space so they’d have some gunwales around them. This is, of course, a matter of trade-offs with all bay boats, and since the aft deck is rather svelte, there is room in the stern of the boat for those younger anglers. Plus, another advantage you get from decking most of the bow is a huge amount of stowage. The rodboxes flanking the bow are long and large, and the center stowage compartment is huge for a bay boat.

The Shearwater’s aft casting platform isn’t as massive as the foredeck, but it does house a comfy fold-away bench seat—with a livewell underneath.

The Shearwater’s aft casting platform isn’t as massive as the foredeck, but it does house a comfy fold-away bench seat—with a livewell underneath.

What about stowing your fish? There’s a box integrated into the deck. And it’s not just insulated, it’s uber-insulated—because every inch of belowdecks space is filled with high-pressure injected foam. Shearwater’s build process consist of laminating an outer hull layer reinforced with Kevlar, that’s then chemically bonded to an inner hull layer. The whole affair is sealed, then pumped full of pressurized foam while still in the mold. It’s not identical to the better-known Boston Whaler method of building a glass-foam-glass boat sandwich, but the end result is pretty similar: there are no voids, the boat is essentially unsinkable, and the foam has both insulating and sound-deadening properties as well as beefing up the boat’s overall structure. Net result? The Shearwater comes with a limited lifetime—yes, lifetime—hull warranty.

One of the beautiful things about owning a bay boat with this type of performance and construction is that when the weather’s right, you won’t hesitate to charge through the inlet and head out into the ocean. Pelagics like sailfish and tunas can be added to the long list of inshore fish you’ll be able to pursue. And in this case, you’ll even be able to pursue them in comfort.

Other Choices: The Pathfinder 2600 TRS is another big bay boat with offshore capability and a healthy dose of creature comforts. Same goes for the Grady-White 251 Coastal Explorer.

For more information, visit Shearwater.

See Shearwater bay boat listings.

Deadrise20 degrees
Displacement3,400 lbs
Fuel capacity75 gal.

Performance Data
Test conditions: Winds of five to 10 MPH, two POB. Performance data courtesy of Yamaha.
PowerSingle Yamaha F350C outboard, swinging a 14.5” x 19” three-bladed stainless-steel prop.