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June 29, 2006

Century 2301 Center Console

While it may not have the notoriety of Chris Craft, Hacker, Gar Wood or even a Riva, Century boasts an impressive history...

While it may not have the notoriety of Chris Craft, Hacker, Gar Wood or even a Riva, Century boasts an impressive history. Starting in 1926, Century built its Kid model of mahogany, single-cockpit racing boats in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1929, the factory moved to Manistee, Michigan, where it stayed through thick and thin until 1985, when the plant moved to Panama City, Florida. 

Back in those days, Century built single-plank vessels with batten-seam
bottoms. Most of its competitors built double-planked boats. The company stopped producing wooden boats in 1967 and subsequently in 1995 became a division of Yamaha Marine. Since then, Century has instituted such vast improvements that its boats now enjoy better quality and styling than at any time in its history.

People sea-trialing boats may be the only ones who want the water rough rather than calm. Most boats run well in flat conditions. I drove the Century 2301 center console on a sunny day with 5-knot breezes and little boat traffic. The best I could find for evaluating seakeeping ability was the wakeboard boat throwing off a 3-foot wave. In the good-news/bad-news category, that simply didn't challenge the 2301. It ran through the wave at cruising speed without a wince. Overall, it felt solid and quiet in a head sea.

Speaking of which, the most efficient cruise calculated out to 30 mph at 4,000 rpm when the single Yamaha 250-hp four-stroke used 8.7 gph or 3.34 mpg. The


 LOA  23 ft.
 BEAM  8 ft. 6 in.
 DEADRISE  20 deg.
 WEIGHT  4,150 lb.
 FUEL  140 gal.
 MAX HP  300-hp OB

latter qualifies as truly impressive. With a 10-percent fuel cushion, that still provides you with a cruising range of well over 400 miles!


After planing in about four seconds (faster with trim tabs deployed), the 2301 hit a top speed of 49.4 mph at 6,000 rpm, burning 21.5 gph.

A sharp turn at 4,000 rpm caused the stern to slide just enough to keep passengers inboard and secure. The Century bled speed quickly and reversed course in two boat lengths.

Though this easily doubles as a family cruiser, anglers will appreciate the short roll moment with gentle transitions. I did notice a fair bit of chine slap, however, as the flat hull bottom impacted the water's surface.

No matter what size the helmsperson may be, I'm certain that he or she will find the ergonomics comfortable whether driving seated on the leaning post or standing. Oh, and I would definitely go for the optional Lenco electric trim tabs. Although you won't need them to raise or lower the bow, they'll come in very handy in a beam sea.

At 23 feet, this boat almost qualifies as a skiff and fishes as easily as one. Two 34-gallon fish boxes in the bow also afford you enough room to throw a cast net or fish if you choose. Under the excellent leaning post, you'll find tackle drawers and a large tackle compartment all accessed from the cockpit.

At a reasonable trolling speed of about 61¼2 mph, a stripe of prop wash follows the 2301 on centerline, but there's very little surface turbulence. I found keeping a fish alongside very easy with the quick throttle response and tight low-speed turning radius.

Bottomfishermen will like the bolt-on stainless-steel anchor roller and especially the three bow cleats. You'll be amazed at how far you can move laterally on a piece of bottom structure simply by moving the anchor rode from one cleat to another. The deep anchor locker also provides a notch for the rode to pass through, eliminating the need to always keep your hatch open when on the hook. You'll like that feature in rough seas.

The 2301 boasts four in-gunwale and six undergunwale rod holders, more if you choose the optional T-top. The transom holds a livewell and an access hatch for pumps, fittings and plumbing. And with the knowledge that every serious fishing boat needs to wash down the decks constantly, Century provides a raw-water washdown tap in the cockpit.

Design and Construction
Acknowledging the inevitable demands a family puts on a boat, Century provides full cushioning for the forward seating and a receiver and post for a small table between them. Remove the post and the table can drop into place to create a large casting deck without or sunbathing expanse with the cushions.

The forward part of the console curves outward as if it contained an insulated drink box beneath the cushioned console-front seat. However, that space holds a shelf inside the console. It adds to the ample headroom in the console, which helps when using the portable toilet.

I thank Century for installing a stainless-steel ladder easily deployed from onboard or by a swimmer. 

Century's V-Tech hull system uses multidirectional fiberglass and transverse bracing in the bilges for stiffness. Foam injection helps make the ride even quieter. Standard ingredients also include high-quality Armorcoat gelcoat and a urethane-composite transom. The net? Such quality construction allows Century to offer a 10-year, 100-percent-transferable warranty on the hull and deck of every boat.