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January 24, 2002

Century 26 Walkaround

Century makes excellent fishing boats, powered by superb Yamaha engines. They're well conceived and executed. That's why they gain more loyal owners every year.

Sarasota, Florida, usually provides excellent conditions to try out boats. Many places in Florida have banned running at more than idle speed to protect the endangered manatees. However, in Sarasota, you can run at speed in smooth water in the Intracoastal Waterway, then head out into the Gulf of Mexico, where you can often find bigger seas to test a boat’s mettle.PERFORMANCEThe Century 26 Walkaround has two distinct performance characteristics, depending on sea conditions. In 2- to 4-foot seas offshore, it carved into head seas comfortably, blew spray out low and provided a very solid sound rather than the hollow, plastic one you get from a lower-quality boat. It tracks down-sea extremely well and exhibits a very short roll moment when drifting in a beam sea. The wide, flat chines stop the rolling motion almost before it starts, making the bottom-fishing platform very stable.The other unusual performance trait surfaced in glass-flat water. There, the boat porpoised ever so slightly. Adding the slightest bit of trim to the engine or tabs eliminates this tendency, however. Even a ripple on the water’s surface causes the porpoising to disappear naturally. The 26 gets up on plane instantly (less than three seconds) with both engines, and if you really want to be impressed, try setting trim tabs full down, and shutting off and tilting one engine into trailering mode. With three people and a full load of fuel, I managed to get the 26 WA up on plane and running at 34 mph on just one 200-hp engine. I couldn’t ask for better performance.You’ll find that this Century backs up easily, and with fairly wide centers on the engines, you get great close-quarters maneuvering. But at cruising speed, that responsiveness demands attention. The 26 really grips when you turn the wheel hard over, even with the engines trimmed up. It will move you and your guests outboard, so make sure you turn in a prudent fashion.In calm water, the twin Yamaha 200 HPDIs provided a top speed of 51 mph at 5,300 rpm, slightly below the factory spec 5,500 rpm. But the 36 gph at top end is considerably less for the same speed than you’d be guzzling with EFIs or carburetors. An economical 37 mph at 3,900 rpm used a mere 18 gph for a remarkable range of 370 statute miles. One idling engine gave us a live-bait trolling speed of 3 mph.I noticed that even people smaller than myself also could use a tad more room between helm seat and wheel. So I suggest that Century move the helm seat pedestal back a few inches to gain more stand-up steering room.FISHINGEver since Yamaha bought Century, the company has done a much-better-than-average job of setting its boats up for fishing. The 26 WA has handy locking rod cabinets under each gunwale that accommodate three rigs in each side. Century also provides two holders in each gunwale and four more across the back of the optional hardtop. A tackle locker in the transom face is exceptionally convenient to the lighted, in-transom baitwell on centerline and a rigging station outboard to port just above knee level. Personally, I would much prefer to see this station as a removable trash receptacle. Leaning over that far to rig baits becomes uncomfortable in short order.The walk forward with rod in hand proved a tad tight, but very secure. The bow rail, starting all the way back at the steps, comes up to about knee height, while handholds on the hardtop guide you handily to the front of the house.The aft-facing seat behind the helm seat affords a relaxing position to watch the trolling spread, while the short two steps up to the bridge deck ensure quick access to the rods no matter where on deck you might be. I found the cockpit quite roomy for this style of boat and felt comfortable fishing several people at once.In fact, without actually measuring, I’d swear that the 26’s cockpit is at least as big, if not bigger, than the 2900’s.DESIGN/CONSTRUCTIONBelowdecks will keep you comfortable if you ever want to sleep aboard while on the fishing grounds. A big, double V-berth, stand-up head, galley with a sink, Kenyon stove and a small refrigerator allow you to enjoy some real creature comforts rather than feel like you’re sacrificing to be there.Century fills many of the bilge spaces with injected foam for a quieter ride. Its ''RIB'' system of longitudinal and transverse foam-filled stringers gives great stiffness, and the Armorcote gelcoat affords exceptional durability. Century also employs a unique 36-pound-per-cubic-foot molded urethane transom. All these features combine to allow Century to offer a full 10-year, transferable hull warranty.Like so many modern sport-fishing boats, Century mounts an Armstrong ladder on the outside of the transom - out of reach of anyone already in the water. Century makes excellent fishing boats, powered by superb Yamaha engines. They’re well conceived and executed. That’s why they gain more loyal owners every year.