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January 28, 2009

Scout 245 XSF

Scout's dedication to more fuel-efficient hull designs and to quality standards gives the 245 XSF some extra clout in its class.

Even if fuel costs drop below $1.50/gallon by the time you read this, that probably won't change the world's intense focus on "going green." Scout Boats founder Steve Potts embraces the new ecology - so much so that he began designing more fuel- efficient hulls several years ago.

"Like it or not, the world is going green," Potts said in a letter to Scout dealers last year. "Scout Boats' plan is to stay ahead of the trend by providing you with efficient, innovative products never before seen in our industry."

The 245 XSF proves a prime example. This new hull - XSF stands for extra- forward-seating Sport Fish - replaces the 242 Sport Fish. Scout took the earlier conventional deep-V design and rebuilt it using NuV3 technology. (NuV3 varies the hull angle three times from the keel   to the chine.) The resulting design increased the 24's cruising range by 93 miles.

Performance
Running out of Charleston Harbor on a late-summer morning, we encountered choppy seas with a 10 mph north breeze. We carried four people and about 110 gallons of fuel - a heavier-than-usual load for a test run, but probably pretty indicative of the weight this vessel would ferry to the fishing grounds.

The single Yamaha 250 four-stroke pushed the 245 to plane in about five seconds. Subsequent testing by Yamaha - with two people aboard and 48      gallons of fuel - produced a time-to-plane of 3.79 seconds.

Max power for this vessel is 350 hp, but you'd have to balance any performance gain against any changes in fuel efficiency and the cost difference to buy and maintain a 350. Today's choices often revolve more around sensibility than bragging rights.

Quartering into the building waves outside the harbor demonstrated a slightly wet ride until I trimmed up the engine and lifted the seaward side of the boat with the trim tabs. That produced a completely dry though slightly rougher ride. When I forced the vessel to land as hard as the seas would allow, it came down solidly - no creaking and no perceived flex.

Running in following seas proved extremely comfortable with the engine trimmed up slightly.

I throttled up coming back across the harbor, pegging the speedometer at 50.1 mph, burning 22.5 gph for 2.2 mpg.

Fishing
The 245 offers a wonderful blend of fishability and family comfort. The forward seating area comes with a cooler and foldout table - perfect for picnics and games. But beneath the forward bench seats, Scout insulated the storage areas to serve as two 40-gallon fish boxes.

Beneath the foredeck, anglers can store cast nets or safety gear in another gasketed and insulated hold. Even the forward   console seat hides a 165-quart cooler.

Our test vessel - sporting the Guy Harvey graphics package - featured a powder-coated hardtop with rocket launcher and a leaning post with rod storage. The total count for vertical rod holders came to 13 with horizontal storage for four rods under the gunwales. A base boat would include four in-gunwale holders and four across the leaning post.

The "sport" leaning post is Scout's standard helm seating for this vessel. That  configuration comes with flip-up bolsters and a tackle station, as well as the rod holders, two cup holders and a grab rail. The tackle station holds two spools of line and four plastic boxes.

The aft recirculating livewell to starboard comes standard and holds 10 gallons of seawater. Anglers may also choose an optional second well, either a 9-gallon  system in the port aft storage compartment or a 25-gallon leaning-post livewell.