The 57th installation of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show kicked off yesterday at several locations in and around Fort Lauderdale, FL. And, of course, the boats.com team was on the ground busily poring over the hundreds of boat models on display, both in the water and on land, taking copious notes about what we liked along the way.
Among those hundreds of boats we found five new models introduced at or shortly before the show that piqued our interest and made us pull in for a closer look. The best part? Three of them are priced around the $100,000 mark, and two others weigh in at around half that amount. Whether you’ve got fishing or cruising in mind, our guess is that one of these five models will tickle your fancy. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show runs through November 7.
Scarab 195 Open Fish
We actually had a chance to preview this cool new jet boat offering from Scarab in Sarasota, FL, back in September, but the Scarab folks told us we had to keep it to ourselves until they officially launched it sometime later in the year. Well, “later in the year” turned out to be at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, so we’re happy to be able to tell you about this unique, jet-powered center-console with fishing baked into its DNA.
Though the 195 Open Fish is based on Scarab’s existing 195 hull, it's a completely different creature inside the gunwales. A relatively spacious console unit anchors the deck plan with comfortable bench seating behind it. Unusual for this size boat, an enclosed head area with porta-potty is situated underneath. A well-executed, metal-framed canvas T-top keeps things cool for occupants underneath.
The rest of the deck plan features lots of hatched, underdeck stowage, swiveling chair mounts for the forward and aft casting decks, and lots of cushy SeaDek foam decking underfoot. Along with double jump seats toward the stern, the 195 Open Fish has a clever drop-down tailgate transom that provides easy access to the water. A 250-horsepower Rotax engine drives a high-capacity jet that rockets the 195 Open Fish up into the low 40s. The fish will never know what hit them. A well-equipped Scarab 195 Open Fish will run you about $50,000.
Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe
Cutwater is known for producing innovative powerboats with a flair for adventurous exploration, so we were amped when we heard they’d be introducing two new models at the Fort Lauderdale Show. One is the Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe, which packs a ton of relaxation and comfort features inside a sporty, high-performance, double-stepped hull.
Cutwater has always had a knack for a clever convertibility that allows specific areas to serve many different functions, depending on the activity involved. Take the main cabin, for instance. To port is a four-person dinette with a wooden pedestal table than can not only be converted into a simple sleeping berth, but also has seats that can be flipped to form aft- or forward-facing seating. Across from it is a small food prep area with sink, and additional seating that can face out and into the cockpit.
Light pours in from large glass panels on the cabin sides, and also from full-length overhead skylights. Farther below is a V-berth main stateroom with an enclosed head to starboard and a separate washing basin across from it.
To get you where you’re going in a hurry, a 300-horsepower Yamaha F300 is strapped to the stern. This power plant provides capable cruising speeds in the high 20s and low 30s, with a top end near 40 mph. Wherever your cruising or exploration journeys point you, the Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe will get you there quickly, and with lots of comfort—for only around $110,000.
Boston Whaler 230 Outrage
While lots of boat builders today can claim their boats are unsinkable—thanks to modern composite boat building techniques—Boston Whaler wrote the book on the subject more than 50 years ago. Today the company manufactures all sorts of great fishing boats, including a cast of offshore center-consoles that make up its Outrage lineup.
Boston Whaler upped the ante at the Fort Lauderdale show by further rounding out this lineup with an excellent 23-foot offshore center-console: the 230 Outrage.
Outside, the 230 Outrage shares the same angular, aggressive lines as its larger brethren, but it also shares a lot of the comfort features, making it a great boat for family fun and entertaining friends. There's a U-shaped lounge in the bow that can be converted into a dinette with a simple drop-in table, as well as additional plush seating ahead of the console unit and aft behind the leaning post helm seating. Nature often calls with family aboard, so there’s a head situated beneath the console that’s roomier than we expected.
Of course most owners will use the 230 Outrage to go after the big ones, and getting out to them is made swift and easy with the standard 250-horsepower Mercury Verado four-stroke outboard. Fishy features include tons of rod stowage, a live well at the stern, two fish lockers, and plenty of room for fish-finding electronic gizmos at the dash, all at a price of around $110,000.
Grady-White 235 Freedom
Over the last six years Grady-White has quietly gone from a company best known for its center-console, cuddy cabin, and walk-around fishing boats to one that’s now got a solid reputation for producing excellent dual-console boats. In fact, the builder now has 10 dual-console models ranging from 19 all the way up to 38 feet. New to that lineup is the Freedom 235, which we had plenty of time to crawl all over at the Fort Lauderdale show.
Like any good dual-console boat, the Freedom 235 has lots of convertible seating inside, starting out with a huge U-shaped lounge in the bow that can easily be converted into a massive sunpad by inserting a single cushion. A forward- and aft-facing bench seat pair lies just behind the port console (where an enclosed head is hidden), while a swiveling captain’s chair keeps things comfy for the skipper. A pull-up bench at the transom rounds out the seating. There’s also lots of cockpit padding that helps minimize bumps and bruises when the fishing gets rough.
Speaking of fishing, there’s a fish locker and live well set in the transom, a transom walk-through for boating large fish, lots of rod holders and additional under-gunwale rod stowage, and more.
A Yamaha 300-horsepower F300 pulls duty at the stern, good for speeds well up into the 40s and swift cruising in the low 30s. For around $103,000, that’s a lot of family and fishing comfort and performance.
Scout 215 XSF
Another boat we got a sneak peek at before the show, the center-console Scout 215 XSF joins Scout’s immensely innovative and reputable line of quality fishing machines. More specifically, the 215 rounds out the XSF/SF lineup, which includes center-consoles from around 17 to almost 23 feet in length. And while many Scout boats have a reputation for being pricey, the 215 XSF can be had for just under $50,000.After having a closer look, we found out that the 215 XSF gives a lot of bang for the buck.
Like all Scout boats, the 215 XSF has a solid build quality and is put together using some of the best deck hardware out there. Everything from the pop-up cleats to the cup and rod holders look and feel solid and well manufactured. We also took note of the quality metalwork in the canvas-topped T-top, as well as the top-notch materials used in the copious upholstered seating, which includes forward-facing lounges in the bow, a flip-down bench in the cockpit, and a two-person chaise lounge ahead of the console unit. If you can’t find a place to relax on the 215 XSF, you’re doing something wrong.
Performance and fishing features round out the package, including a 150-horsepower Yamaha F150 outboard that can be optioned up to 250 horsepower, if you’re looking to raise your speed game. Anglers will want to take note of the transom live well, copious rod stowage, cockpit fish lockers, and transom walk-through. A 20-degree transom deadrise should make quick work of any chop on the fishing grounds.
Inshore or coastal, the Scout 215 XSF represents an interestingly affordable model in Scout’s sometimes pricey lineup.