Mako has turned out some pretty sweet center console fishing boats during the past decade, including one, the Pro 17 Skiff CC, which was so impressive we named it one of the Top 10 New Fishing Boats for Under $20,000. And another relatively new Mako, the 21 LTS, was named one of the Top 10 Fishing Boats for Inshore Anglers last year. These are serious fishing boats with seriously sharp, shark-worthy teeth, so it’s not like this builder has been sitting on its laurels. But for many years Mako has focused on the smaller offerings in their line-up. This year that changes—in a big, big way.
We got our first glimpse of the 334 CC at the Miami International Boat Show, and even among the fleets of center consoles with multiple outboards, shining gel coat, and shimmering stainless-steel, this boat stood out. For starters, you could see at a glance that it had all of the heavy-hitting fishing features you hope for in a hard-core fishing machine. The test boat was rigged to the teeth, including a crow’s nest with upper station controls (a $41,210 option); a pair of oval, baby-blue, lighted, 34-gallon livewells in the transom; a 292-quart coffin box in the bow (a $8,150 option); a leaning post tackle station with four drawers and multiple built-in tackleboxes; and rodholders all over the place.
Secondly, with its flush side-decks, unbroken sheer, and trenchant bow, the 334 CC has a predatorial appearance that screams of testosterone. Heck, they might have mixed some of that steroid into the styrene while laying this boat up. Raked-back pipework, two-tone hullsides and a brace of Verados hanging on the transom complete the look.
But looks can be deceiving.
Excited as we were to spot this bodacious beauty, we knew better than to trust a first impression. So we jumped aboard, cast off the lines, and headed out into the basin in front of Miami Marine Stadium Park. The deeper we dug, the more surprises we found. Those two livewells, for example, are fed by independent 2,000 GPH pumps. There’s also a back-up livewell pump, and all of them (as well as a raw water washdown) are submerged in an electroplated sea chest. That’s a true big-boat system, the sort you expect to see on a convertible battlewagon, not a mid-sized center console.
Then we examined the 290-quart in-deck fishboxes a bit more closely. Both, as well as the coffin box, are evacuated by Gulper pumps. These may be a bit more expensive than the usual macerators, but they can literally pump wet sand, much less fish scales, without being damaged. Try that with a macerator, and you’ll be ordering new pumps.
One fishbox beef: the coffin box hatch is a particularly heavy piece, and it’s supported by a single gas-assist strut which is insufficient. It fell closed unless you held the hatch up manually and it slammed down if you didn’t slow the hatch’s fall, so either the strut needs to be up-sized or a second one added.
Upon closer examination we discovered that the entire coffin box swings up off the deck at the press of a button. Underneath it there’s a bulk stowage area which is ideal for large items ranging from SCUBA tanks to cleaning supplies. True, you need to crouch down and reach a long way to access this area, but on some boats it’s just dead space. And more easily accessed stowage can be found under the forward console seat. If you get the Bluewater Family package, there’s also stowage under two forward bow seats. In the starboard seat there’s a dedicated spot to stow the base for a cocktail table, but IMHO getting that table would be a tragic mistake in the first place—taking up valuable fishing gear space with a fufu item like that would be a total girly-man move. Dittos on the forward seat backrests. Yes, it’s nice to have these when you’re chillaxin’ but they have no business eating up space and getting in the way when you’re on the piscatorial hunt. Note to Mako: swing-out backrests designed to fold into the inwales don’t require stowage, and would be a significant improvement.
There’s more you’ll note when putting the 334 CC under a microscope, particularly regarding the smart use of space. The swing-down inwale stowage compartments, for example. On our test boat one had a leader spool holder, another held a knife/pliers rack, and still others housed slide-out tackle boxes. You don’t see these on most lesser boats because they add cost and build complexity. Their presence shows that the folks at Mako really thought things through, and took pains to make the 334 CC as good a fishboat as is possible.
Don’t let fine details like those inwale compartments mislead you into thinking that the Mako's MSRP goes through the roof. No, a quarter million dollars (with the base twin 300 HP Verados) isn’t exactly chump-change. But note that the new Boston Whaler 330 Outrage starts around $50K higher, the (slightly larger) Regulator 34 starts about $25K higher, and the (slightly smaller) Scout 320 LXF bases about $10K higher.
Naturally, piling on the power does also pile on cost, and an upgrade to the triple 350 HP Mercury Verado outboard package on our test boat ups the ante by $50,000. Note, however, that it comes with joystick piloting control. More importantly, it provides performance that can only be described as kick-ass. Top-end is an eye-watering 66.8 MPH, and cruising speed at 4500 RPM is right around 50 MPH. Most efficient cruise comes at 3500 RPM, where you’re running at a tick under 40 MPH and getting 1.4 MPG.
The 334 CC runs on a 24-degree deep-V hull (watch our Boat Hull Basics video if you’re not 100% sure what that means) which feels thoroughly stable underfoot. Still, regardless of how deep a V may be, any boat that travels this fast is going to experience some high-speed impacts. So it need to be built tough. Extremely tough. We wish we could have tried launching off a few six-footers at top speed during our time off the dock, but conditions didn’t allow for it. Fortunately, we can get an idea of how tough Mako builds their boats by looking at their own confidence level, hence the warranty. And it’s a real eye-opener: Mako offers five years of stem-to-stern coverage—which is transferrable to a second owner—on top of a limited lifetime structural hull warranty. Compare that to others in the industry, and you’ll find that very few builders offer a warranty this strong.
Return of an Apex Predator
Mako is touting the 334 CC as ushering in “a new era,” in their own promotional video of this model. (Watch it if you want to see what a good marketing department can do—it’s pretty darn slick.)
If you'd like to slap an unbiased eyeball on the boat, check out the First Look Video we shot. It may not have the thrilling music nor the chilling sound effects, but we will give you a close-up of some important details.
However this boat is viewed, be it on film or in person, we have to agree with Mako's assertion. This is the first true offshore fishing machine Mako has introduced in a long, long time, and it most certainly represents a change in direction. A big change, and one which we’re cheering. Because much as we liked the Pro Skiff and the 21 LTS, the 334 CC is simply in a different class. It’s an offshore apex predator. And yes, it does have some very, very sharp teeth.
Other Choices: Along with the Whaler, Scout, and Regulator mentioned earlier, shoppers may want to look at the Belzona 325 (with a unique sliding gunwale dive door), and the Jupiter 32 CC (which places the outboards aft on a bracket, instead of an integrated transom motor mount).
For more information, visit Mako.
See listings for new Mako boats.
|Fuel capacity||306 gal.|
|Water capacity||38 gal.|
|Test conditions: calm seas and winds, 2 POB. Performance data courtesy of Mercury Marine.|
|Power||Triple 350 HP Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards, swinging two 16" X 21" (R&L) and one 16" X 23" (C) three-bladed stainless-steel props.|