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December 21, 2004

Pathfinder 2000-V

Where this Pathfinder shines is in a nasty, close-together chop like what you frequently find in inlets and across open bays.

I have a bay boat. Whenever I show up to tape a TV show with a guide, he always tells me, "It's too big, not shallow enough, too heavy to pole, blah, blah, blah." By the end of the day, he inevitably wants to know if I can get him a deal on one.

Why? Because when it comes to pure inshore functionality, a bay boat is da bomb.

Performance
To fish shallow waters, you need a boat with a shallow static draft as well as running draft. In other words, the Pathfinder draws 11 inches in neutral but can actually traverse water as shallow as 7 inches when running. Of course, when running in water that shallow, you don't dare stop or the 11-inch draft takes precedence. Better to trim the engine up and jam the throttle forward.

Where this Pathfinder shines is in a nasty, close-together chop like what you frequently find in inlets and across open bays. Run through that in a flats skiff, and you'll be inches shorter at the end of the day, thanks to spinal compression. The Pathfinder runs through it smoothly - the higher topsides, more-pronounced bow flare and deeper deadrise make it a better ride.

Specifications

LOA 20 ft.
BEAM 8 ft. 6 in.
DEADRISE 15 deg.
DRAFT 11 in.
WEIGHT 1,250 lb.
 (w/o power)
FUEL 50 gal.
MAX POWER 150-hp OB
MSRP $28,700
 (w/115-hp four-stroke)


Pathfinder Boats
Fort Pierce, Florida
772-465-0631
www.pathfinderboats.com


Yamaha 150-hp
Four-stroke

TYPE 4-IL
DISPL. 163 cid
MAX RPM 6,000
HP/LB RATIO 0.32
FUEL SYSTEM Multiport  injection
GEAR RATIO 2:1
WEIGHT 466 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 35 amps
MSRP $12,750

The 150 runs this boat beautifully. You could get by with a 115-hp but may not get up and go as quickly - a serious consideration in shallow waters.

Notable Standard Equipment
? Gasketed hatches
? 25-gallon livewell
? Built-in trash basket
? Lockable rod storage
? Release well
? Thru-hull transducer

Impressions
I love the Pathfinder bay boats. I truly believe them to be the most utilitarian saltwater fishing boat on the market today.

The Pathfinder 2000-V (for V-bottom as opposed to the tunnel-hull version) carried way more weight than we had any right to test it with: four large adults, full fuel and fishing tackle. And still it hit 49.8 mph with a single Yamaha 150-hp four-stroke at 6,000 rpm, burning about 14 gph. With a pair of anglers, I'm certain it would have easily topped 50 mph. At a more sedate cruising speed of 26 mph, the 2000-V used 3.6 gph, which provides an approximate range of well over 300 miles between fuel docks.

The Pathfinder navigates tight turns in serpentine channels with great agility, though if you crank the wheel too hard, the aft end slides enough to keep anglers in the boat.

Another consideration in any shallow-water boat is how quickly it planes and how flat it stays in the process. Trim the tabs down and the 2000-V jumps up in three seconds with a rather flat attitude.

Our test day in Fort Pierce, Florida, was flat-calm, and we fished tarpon along the beach. But with a 300-mile range, we could easily have made it to the Bahamas for lunch.

Fishing
You already know the Pathfinder can make it into relatively shallow backwaters. For fishing, a boat must be stable enough for two to walk along the gunwales, quiet enough not to spook fish when little wavelets slap against the hull, and spacious enough for multiple anglers to be able to spin cast and at least two fly-fishermen to throw loops simultaneously. The Pathfinder 2000-V fulfills all these requirements. Additionally, it boasts loads of dry storage space, livewells, fish boxes, a reasonable anchor locker and storage for eight rods alongside the console. Two locking rod boxes forward also come as standard equipment. The pop-up cleats and bow light all work to prevent line snags.

Surprisingly, though, higher than a flats skiff's topsides, the 2000-V's gunwales still sit close enough to the surface to handle a large tarpon without having to lift it out of the water.

Design and Construction
Like other Pathfinders, the 2000-V is built using a Vacuum-Assisted Resin Infusion System. This closed-mold process lays all the material into the mold under a vacuum bag. A closely controlled quantity of resin then gets drawn through the fiberglass material, resulting in lighter weight, no-laminate voids and an environmentally friendly construction process. All-vinylester resins mean greater resistance to osmotic blistering as well.

Pathfinder glasses-in aluminum backing plates under the trolling motor mount and cleats and other such places. All the hatches are guttered and gasketed, and even the insides of hatches have a smooth, glossy finish for easy maintenance.
I have more fingers than Pathfinder has options for the 2000-V bay boat. And thankfully, none qualify as items you desperately need rather than things it "would be nice to have." You get a turnkey operation when your dealer delivers one of the 19- through 24-footers to you.

If you're considering the purchase of a bay boat, check out the Pathfinders. Even if you don't buy one, at least you'll have a benchmark by which to judge all the others.