February 9, 2015 (Updated March, 2017)
It's often revealing to speculate on what a set amount can buy in today’s boating market. A $50,000 budget can buy a lot of different center consoles, but suppose you’re one of those boaters who place a premium on quality — then how much boat can you buy? To find out, we spent a recent afternoon entering different search perameters at Yachtworld and pouring over the results. Rather than trying to find the biggest or newest boat for $50K, the objective was to narrow the selections down to only those boats from top-tier builders. When the dust cleared, here are a few well-regarded cener console boats that should be within the reach of a $50,000 budget.
Boston Whaler 28/290 Outrage
At a Glance: One of the most popular 30-foot center consoles of recent years — a awesome mix of quality and performance. With her roomy cockpit, large console and uncluttered deck layout, the 3070 is a big 30-footer with more storage than many center console boats her size. Fishing amenities include a 40-gallon transom baitwell, leaning post with rocket launchers, lockable gunnel rod storage, cockpit bolsters, and a transom rigging center with sink and cutting board. Fish/storage boxes are forward under the seats and aft in the deck. The Pursuit’s oversized console houses a standup head compartment with electric toilet, sink, hand-held shower, and teak-and-holly sole. Additional features include an integral bow pulpit, dual electric adjustable helm chairs, tilt-away helm, trim tabs, low-profile bow rails, and a console cooler seat. Yamaha 250hp engines top out at 40 knots.
Price Range: From the high $40s to nearly $100K.
At a Glance: Part center console, part walkaround cabin — a true multipurpose fishing boat for the whole family. Wide walkways around the cabin make getting around easy. With her cushioned forward seat and foldaway transom seat, the Outrage has seating space for the entire family. Belowdecks, the functional cabin — with near-standing headroom — sleeps three and features an enclosed head with electric toilet, rod storage locker, microwave, and refrigerator. Standard features include a factory hardtop with rod holders, molded bow pulpit, 30-gallon lighted livewell, two insulated in-deck fish boxes, deluxe helm seats with flip-up bolsters, bait prep station with sink, tackle drawers, gunnel rod holders, transom rod holders, cockpit rod storage, trim tabs, and transom door. Twin 225hp Mercury outboards top out at 40 knots. Called the 290 Outrage in 2002–03. Unsinkable.
Price Range: From around $40K to $75–85K.
Grady-White 263/273 Chase
At a Glance: Big trailerable center console with versatile layout and legendary Grady-White quality. The Chase has a conventional deck layout with forward seating and a console head compartment with Porta-Potti and freshwater sink. A 32-gallon lighted livewell is located in the aft port corner of the cockpit, and a large 185-quart insulated fish box is built into the transom. There are two additional 104-quart fish/storage boxes forward, beneath the bow seats. The pop-up electronics console at the helm is a great feature, and a fiberglass insert fits between the forward seats to form a casting deck. Additional standard amenities include a deluxe leaning post with backrest and rod holders, foldaway stern seat, lockable rod storage, cockpit bolsters, and transom door. Built on a deep-V hull with a solid fiberglass bottom, Yamaha 225s top out at about 45 knots.
Price Range: From about $25K up to $75–80K.
At a Glance: A quality fishing boat of serious eye appeal — a wide 9'6" beam makes this high-end center console one of the biggest 26-footers around. The forward-seating deck layout features a roomy walk-in console with electric toilet (or Porta-Potti), freshwater sink, and storage drawers. A fold-down stern seat comes in handy for the ride home, and a bow table cushion converts the forward seating area into a sun pad. Over 90 square feet of usable cockpit space. Standard features include a 28-gallon recirculating livewell, two in-deck fish boxes (aft), cockpit shower, fresh and raw water washdowns, Armstrong dive ladder, folding front console seat, Lenco trim tabs, and cockpit coaming pads. Note the console storage box at the helm. A quality boat built to high standards, twin Yamaha 225 outboards power the Edgewater 265/268 to a top speed of about 45 knots.
Price Range: From around $45K to the low $100s.
Hydra-Sports 2796/2800 Vector
Jupiter 27 Open
At a Glance: A top-tier trailerable center console from one of the country's premium builders. Oversized console houses a unique head with sleeping berth — rare in a small boat. No wood is used in the construction of the hull, and the bottom incorporates a lifting pad from the stern forward for high-speed efficiency. The Jupiter 27 has something seldom found on a boat this size—a sleeping berth in the head compartment that extends forward beneath the deck. There are two large electronics boxes at the helm, and an in-deck insulated fish box is located just forward of the transom. Available in Open, Forward Seating, and Cuddy configurations, standard features include a 40-gallon transom livewell, transom sink, three in-deck storage lockers, Lenco trim tabs, electric head with holding tank, pop-up cleats, bait rigging station, and transom door. Yamaha 225s top out at over 45 knots.
Price Range: Might be possible to find one for $50K.
At a Glance: A serious fishing boat for serious anglers. Heavily built on a Kevlar-reinforced hull, the Vector’s large fuel capacity allows her to range further offshore than most boats this size. While the forward-seating layout is perfect for day cruising with family and friends, the real strengths of the 2796/2800 are focused on fishing. Wide walkways make getting around the console easy and secure, and the Vector’s uncluttered cockpit provides plenty of space for several anglers to work without bumping elbows. Standard fishing features include a 50-gallon transom livewell, leaning post with rod holders, bait prep station with sink and cutting board, two insulated fish boxes, horizontal rod holders, and three transom-mounted rod holders. The console houses a walk-in head with electric toilet and shower. Recessed bow rails and pop-up cleats are great features. Yamaha 225ds top out at 40–45 knots.
Price Range: From the mid/high $40s up to $75–85K.
Boston Whaler 270 Outrage
At a Glance: Arguably the best midsize center console ever — over 1,500 were built. Constructed on a solid fiberglass deep-V hull with a sharp entry, wide reverse chines, and a single-piece grid-type stringer system for structural support, the Regulator 26 is widely acclaimed as an awesome fishing machine. One of the few center consoles her size with an outboard bracket. The deck is not flush so watch the step going forward, but it’s worth it for the extra storage. (In fact, storage is excellent for a boat this size.) Standard features include a standup head compartment with portable toilet, console cooler seat, pop-up cleats, 20-gallon transom livewell, twin transom bait boxes, and a vast 700-quart in-deck wet/dry box that doubles as lockable rod storage. No lightweight, the Regulator’s deep-V hull delivers an exceptionally soft ride. Yamaha F250s reach 45+ knots top.
Price Range: From $30K to over $100K.
At a Glance: More than just a pretty face, this top-selling 27-footer is a near-perfect mix of sleek styling and impressive performance. The 270’s Unibond hull is unsinkable, and her deep-V ride is stable and dry even in rough weather. Molded bow seats and a foldaway transom seat accommodate guests and crew, and the cockpit provides a roomy platform for two anglers and their gear. The transom holds a 23-gallon lighted livewell in addition to a cutting board. There are three insulated in-deck fish/storage boxes, one up front and two aft. The console houses a walk-in head compartment complete with sink and shower. At the helm, the leaning post has a removable backrest, bait prep station, and (optional) livewell. The 270’s low-profile bow rails and folding footrest are handy features, and the batteries are housed in easy-to-reach compartments. Twin 225hp Mercs deliver a top speed of about 45 knots.
Price Range: From the mid $40s to nearly $100K.
At a Glance: A big 30-footer loaded with high-end features and plenty of storage. The 10'7" beam is wider than most boats in this class. The full height windshield of the Grady-White 306 is integrated with the T-top. The standup head compartment has a marine toilet, freshwater sink, and hand-held shower. In 2006, a major redesign moved the livewell from the transom to behind the helm seats and eliminated the bow casting deck (with three storage boxes under) with port and starboard seats. (A windlass and anchor chute also became standard.) The pop-up electronics console in the original 306 was dropped in the 2006 redesign in favor of a flush mount electronics area. Heavily built on a deep-V hull with tall forward freeboard, the 306 has excellent range thanks to her 290-gallon fuel capacity. Fit and finish is second to none. Yamaha 250s reach a top speed of just over 40 knots.
Price Range: From the low/mid $40s to $200K-plus.
At a Glance: A premium 26-footer from on the the country’s most admired boat builders. Offered in open or cuddy configurations, the 2670 ranks among the best boats in her class for quality, engineering and performance. Compared with most 26-footers with their trailerable (without a permit, that is) 8'6" beams, the Pursuit’s wider 9'3" beam can be seen in her large cockpit, big console, and generous storage capacity. The helm features a double bench seat, and the standard leaning post includes rod holders and tackle trays. Aft, the transom has a 49-gallon livewell and bait prep station in addition to bilge access. An in-deck fish/storage box is positioned just forward of the transom. In the open version, the walk-in console houses a head compartment. In cuddy models, the cabin contains a double berth and marine head. Twin Yamaha 225s deliver a top speed of 45 knots.
Price Range: From the mid $40s to $60–75K.
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