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June 22, 2009

Century 2900 Express

Even those who feel constrained by cabin boats this size will find the Century 2900 comfortable to fish and weekend aboard.

Century keeps confounding me. They take a small express-style boat that I freely admit an aversion to, then tweak it and improve it, and by the time I run it, I fall in love. I am so conflicted!

Performance
It couldn't have been a more beautiful day in Placida, Florida,  just north of Boca Grande. We left out of the incredible Ingman Marina and ran out through the infamous Boca Grande Pass. (Yes, the tarpon were in residence.) Seas ran one foot out of the   southwest - a glorious day for boating and fishing.

With a pair of Yamaha 350 hp outboards on the transom, this 29 lifts onto plane effortlessly and with remarkably little bow rise. I still wish that Yamaha would alter its throttle-control binnacles, though. When  you run in rough water and rest the heel of your hand on the binnacle top, you often inadvertently trim one engine and cause a change in vessel running attitude.

In the calm Intracoastal Waterway on the way to the pass, I topped   out at 58 mph, turning 5,950 rpm and burning a two-engine total of 67.5 gph. Optimum cruise proved a very respectable 32 mph at   3,500 rpm (with the engines barely working), using a scant 22 gph,   providing an economical 1.45 mpg.

On small boats with dual stations, I always worry about someone cranking the wheel hard-over below while I'm steering from the upper station. In the case of the Century 2900, such a maneuver results in a sharp turn with the stern sliding enough to prevent anyone from being thrown off balance - a welcome safety feature.

Fishing
Century placed a 65-gallon fish box as well as a 30-gallon livewell with a tensioning latch, clear Lucite top and hefty gasket in the transom. You can easily adjust the flow of the livewell to pressurize it slightly, preventing your delicate baits from sloshing around and being damaged.

In addition to standard storage, you'll find excellent tackle and leader compartments that provide you with lure tubes and hanging tackle bags under the gunwales. Century also offers a rigging station with a sink in the back of the helm-seat module as standard equipment.

For those who take fish home, twin 30-gallon in-deck fish boxes with macerators combine with the transom box to coolly handle your limit, while another insulated drink box, holding 15 gallons, in the port module holds your hydration tools in the process.

The 40-square-foot cockpit, which boasts a removable stern seat and seat back, is big enough for multiple anglers to fish in comfort yet small enough to allow the live baits, tackle storage, fish boxes and rigging station to remain very close at hand.

This tower version has a very distinct advantage. Throughout our sea trial, I could look down into the water and see schools of fish that I never would have seen from the lower-station helm.

The big V-8s churn quite a bit of centerline white water at trolling speed. However, the hull leaves precious little surface turbulence, and the prop wash dissipates by about the second wave back. Even trolling at 10 mph won't obscure your lures from your quarry.

Design and Construction
Century is one company that refuses to compromise on offshore safety. It mounts a swim ladder deployable from the water on every hull it builds.

Interestingly, the cabin is not only comfortable for someone of my large size to entertain guests, but the midship berth is actually larger than the V-berth with insert in the main cabin. The cherry-veneer joinery below combined with the handsome lighting fixtures make for a warm and inviting ambience. And though compact, the galley with refrigerator drawer can handle any chef's desire with aplomb.

Also unlike many comparably sized vessels, the 2900 allows you to take advantage of your air conditioning and other power-drawing accessories when away from dockside shore power thanks to the zero-emission, 7 kW Kohler gasoline generator. That's right, no carbon monoxide.

Century builds its own towers, including designs like this one that fold down for trailering. Amazingly, with two large men riding in our boat's tower, I still found it perfectly comfortable and roomy - unusual for a 30-footer.

Century's V-Tech hull system uses multidirectional fiberglass and transverse bracing in the stringers for stiffness. Foam injection into various air spaces deadens any sound of water rushing by the hull for a quieter ride. The company also uses high-quality Cook Composites Armorcoat gelcoat and a urethane-composite transom.

So in this case, I am conflicted no longer. For a pocket-size family   fishing boat that you can also comfortably cruise, this Century 2900 does a superb job!


LOA......30 ft. 6 in.
BEAM......10 ft. 9 in.
HULL DRAFT......2 ft. 3 in.
DEADRISE......21.5 deg.
WEIGHT......9,000 lb. (w/o power)
FUEL......225 gal.
MAX POWER......Twin 350 hp OB
MSRP......$250,866
 (w/ twin Yamaha 250 hp OB and tower)
 $266,189 (w/ twin Yamaha
 350 hp OB and tower)

Century Boats / Panama City, Florida / 850-769-0311 / www.centuryboats.com