Brunswick, owner of Mercury Marine as well as multiple boat brands including iconic Boston Whaler, has just announced yet another new boat line in the mold of the Nordic or Scandinavian style boats that seem to be popping up like McDonald’s franchises along the waterways of the world.
The concept started with Axopar a few years back, a Finnish company, and was aimed primarily at building fast, seakindly “commuter” boats that could quickly run families back and forth to their island retreats, which are abundant in that nation, whatever the weather. Since then, new companies making similar designs have popped up everywhere, including even in the USA, where Wellcraft (now owned by European company Group Beneteau) is now making two Nordic-style models.
The Wellcraft 435 is a Nordic style boat built by a well-known U.S. company to fill demand for the new genre. (Wellcraft Marine)
The design is distinctive, sort of a post-modern look resulting from vertical lines at the bow stem and the “house” or cabin, rather than the sweeping, low profile lines preferred in most U.S. designs. Most in the genre also have a relatively narrow, stepped hull with a sharp deadrise aft and lots of freeboard.
The result of the bottom design is a boat that’s very fast on a given amount of power, very fuel efficient and most importantly incredible sea-kindly. That is it’s able to run very fast in waves that would beat other boats (and all aboard) to bits at anything like the common 50-mph and higher speeds.
The Scandinavian designs are typically 24 to 45’ long, and many include a cabin with bunk for two tucked into the console of what is otherwise an open boat, sort of a cross between a center console and a bowrider.
Power is typically one mega-outboard, sometimes a 450R Mercury or a 600, or for the larger boats a couple of each, assuring rocket-like acceleration as well as blazing top speed. And while most boats will go fast if you bolt on enough power, on many you can’t turn all those ponies loose on anything but near dead calm if you don’t want to break bones of those aboard.
One other thing all have in common is what is euphemistically known as “premium” pricing. The 35-footers start at around $600,000, the 45-footers at about $1.1 million in most brands.
Of course, traditional powerboats ain’t cheap anymore either—a fully-rigged 20 foot bass boat can go for better than 100K with a full electronics package these days, while wakeboats in the 22-23’ class are $125,000 or higher.
Bottom line is that if you hope to buy a new family-sized powerboat this coming year, either American style or Nordic, you had better have your financial ducks in a row.
The Bass Tracker 20' Fishin' Barge is an economical path to family boating and angling. (Tracker Marine)
More Economical Watercraft
On the other end of the scale, if you can fit your recreational style into something like a basic M19 Bayliner bowrider, you can get a new boat for under $35,000. A Bass Tracker 20’ Fishing Barge with a 90-hp Mercury Four Stroke lists at about $32,000.
For those of us on this end of the scale, the 15-year payment option might make sense—bad financially---good in terms of family together time that ends all too quickly when the kids grow out of the age where they enjoy time on the water with mom and dad.
Fortunately, modern four-stroke outboards last practically forever in typical summer weekend use if they’re reasonably well maintained. This means many used boats can also be good deals if you shop carefully.
Kayaks are among the least expensive boats on the market, but in the right places they are actually more effective fishing boats than more pricey craft. (Hobie Kayaks)
The One Person Option
At the low end of the scale in price are kayaks, available for under $200 as basic shells, up to around $10,000 or more for fully-equipped fishing kayaks with electric trolling motor power and quality sonar/gps plus a trailer to haul it.
The great thing about ‘yaks is that you can launch anywhere, giving access to waters other anglers can’t reach. And also, since they practically float on air, you can slip up on shallow water fish like tailing reds or bonefish when others can’t.
Your range is limited in a yak, of course, and you can’t fish open water if there’s anything like a stiff breeze. But for devout anglers as well as those who simply enjoy getting out on the water for some exercise, they are an easy-to-afford option.
Winter is boat show and boat shopping time—and the many new boats sold in the next few months will mean more used boats available in spring. You may not be up for a new fire-breathing Viking design but there’s probably a right-sized boat out there somewhere that will fit you and your family just fine.
— By Frank Sargeant