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April 05, 2005

Scout 260

The Scout 260 Sport Fish has great looks, outstanding ride and quality of construction right out of the box.

Running a boat out of and around Charleston, South Carolina, always makes me feel much more serious about boating. Being one of the busiest commercial seaports on the East Coast, Charleston constantly sees ships of all types arriving and departing. Sharing the harbor with these behemoths makes me want to be on an ocean-capable vessel, too.

Each year finds more builders introducing more center-console boats. Unfortunately, little sets them all apart from each other. The Scout 260 Sport Fish breaks out of this genre by virtue of its great looks, outstanding ride and quality of construction right out of the box. I felt perfectly at home in Charleston aboard the 260. It belongs with those other ocean-capable vessels.
 
Performance
In addition to the basic hull design, two main factors determine the smoothness of a boat's ride: weight and waterline length. With space-age composites more common today, many boats come out of the factory like Jack Sprat. They may be fast in calm water, but lose their appeal in a chop. As provided, our boat tipped the scales at 5,100 pounds. Presently rated for a max horsepower of 300 in a single or twin installation, our 260 ran twin Yamaha 150 four-strokes. After planing in a mere 3.7 seconds, we hit a top speed of 51.6 mph turning 5,975 rpm. Optimum cruising speed came in at a healthy 34 mph at 4,000 rpm.

Reserving 10 percent of the boat's fuel as a cushion, that would provide a range of 338 miles between fill-ups. The boat also got up and ran well on just one engine, and that's another great insurance policy!

We enjoyed some terrific weather while running the Scout, so the best approximation of heavy seas I could find proved to be the 6-foot wakes from the many cargo ships traversing the harbor. The 260 ran dry and quiet and landed softly.
    
I'd rank its performance up there with the finest 26-footers on the market. And it's handsome, too.

One reason we sensed no twisting or flexing in rough seas stems from a Scout innovation called the Strata-Mount system, where the two main longitudinal grid stringers pass through the transom and are integrated into the molded engine
bracket. This design spreads the stresses of thrust, momentum and resistance throughout the entire hull. It's strong.

Fishing

Having fished with Scout Boats' President Steve Potts, I can vouch for his being a stickler for the proper fishing features in the right places. For example, the Scout 260 provides dedicated tackle drawers just like the big inboard sport-fishing machines. Fresh- and saltwater washdowns augment the freshwater sink in the standard bait-prep station that provides more tackle storage.

In-deck, you'll find twin 30-gallon, insulated fish boxes to port and starboard. Though four in-gunwale, stainless-steel rod holders come as standard equipment, you'll find plenty of extra space along the gunwales to mount additional holders. And if the standard 27-gallon baitwell in the starboard aft corner won't hold enough livies for your purposes, consider the 55-gallon well  that is featured in the optional leaning post.

When slow-trolling or drift-fishing, Scout's proprietary "Nu-V3" hull design changes deadrise at every third station along the hull. This increases static stability and provides a more comfortable roll moment, as well as faster time to plane and better fuel economy.
 
Design and Construction
Virtually no aspect of a Scout boat escapes innovation. Most manufacturers lay the deck over the hull like a shoe box, then bond the two together with bolts, adhesive, fiberglass and so on. Scout uses a chemically bonded, reverse-shoe-box hull/deck joint screwed together for greater strength and better water-intrusion resistance. Every boat also boasts very cool stainless-steel drink holders with drains.

Like most captains, I appreciate gadgets and trick stuff. A smoked Lucite panel slides down electrically at the touch of a switch, revealing an expansive area to flush-mount your electronics. Scout builds an innovative stern seat/splashboard that you can either fold down while fighting fish or remove altogether.

Bowing to a popular trend these days, Scout offers the 260 in several optional hull colors with names like Fighting Lady Yellow and Flag Blue. Finally, Scout proudly touts its wood-free construction. Every boat consists of composite stringers and transoms. 

If I had to summarize Scout boats generally and the 260 specifically, I'd use the word "class." These boats have loads of it: they are handsome and absolutely functional at the same time.