Not long ago, only a handful of hard-core south Florida fishermen knew about Sea Vee Boats. The company's center consoles gained fame over the years as the boat of choice for many Key West guides, duty requiring rugged construction for the sake of survival. Sea Vee products proved they could take it on such a brutal proving ground, and as word spread, so did Sea Vee's reputation for quality.
Success brought growing pains to the small company. Sea Vee still sells factory direct, but it recently outgrew its old facility in Miami, forcing a move to new digs. There it continues to turn out new and innovative products like the 290, one of the best-looking center consoles to hit the market in some time.
Sea Vee designs and builds boats for dedicated anglers who fish day in and
day out. But boats solid enough to tackle rough seas don't have to suffer unacceptable performance compromises. I ran the 290 off of North Miami Beach, and the seas outside Haulover Inlet ran about 3 feet because of a stiff southeast breeze - perfect conditions for a boat ride.
The 290 features an aggressive 25-degree transom deadrise, so cutting down this chop posed no problem whatsoever. We ran up-sea and down, in the trough and at every quartering angle at full cruise speed, and never pounded or took a lot of spray.
In calmer inshore waters later that afternoon, the 290 posted respectable performance numbers with its twin 225-hp Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards. It jumps up on plane with just a little bow rise and quickly accelerates to a 4,000-rpm cruise speed of 33.1 mph. There, the 290 burns only 18.5 gph total, yielding a very efficient 1.8 mpg. Nail the throttles to 6,150 rpm, and the 290 tops out at 54.2 mph. Want to go faster? You can hang up to 500 hp on the transom, which Sea Vee claims results in a 60-mph top speed.
Sea Vee builds nothing but fishing boats. While many of its competitors strive to be all things to all people, Sea Vee has a highly focused mission that has served it well. The 290 offers many of the excellent fishing-oriented features that have made other models from the company so popular. In the cockpit, for example, a 60-gallon livewell sits in the center of the transom bulkhead, right where it should be. If you want more well capacity, an in-deck fish box just aft of the leaning post can be plumbed as a second well. The transom bulkhead also contains a bait cooler to starboard and a sturdy gate to port.
Our subject boat featured an optional, upgraded leaning post containing a wealth of storage space. The seat opens to reveal room for storing a great many loose items, and on the aft side of the leaning post, four large boxes and three drawers hold a ton of tackle. The 290's console has a traditional Sea Vee feature, a truly huge vertical surface above the helm for mounting electronics. While many boat companies provide a paltry space for such vital equipment, Sea Vee gives you all the room you'll ever need.
Our boat also had the optional Key West-style T-top, with a narrow section forward that widens for maximum shade aft. This type of top allows you to mount quite a few vertical rod holders along the side of the console, maximizing the number of rods you can take along. Forward of the console, a mammoth 180-gallon fish box sits on centerline beneath the deck, draining via a diaphragm pump. Even the most committed meat fisherman will have no complaints here. In addition to the four standard gunwale-mounted rod holders aft, Sea Vee mounted six more forward, three on either side of the bow - ideal for drift fishing.
Design and Construction
LOA 29 ft. 6 in.
Sea Vee Boats
MERCURY VERADO 225-hp Four-stroke
TYPE In-line 6
DISPL. 158.5 cid
MAX RPM 6,400
HP/LB RATIO .35
FUEL SYSTEM Sequential multiport EFI
GEAR RATIO 1.85:1
WEIGHT 649 lb.
ALT. OUTPUT 70 amps
Notable Standard Equipment
Dual bilge pumps
Heavy-duty rub rail
The 290 combines rugged construction and good looks in a boat designed to fish hard for a lifetime.
Each hull consists of high-tech construction components like Divinycell and PVC coring above the waterline and a poured urethane transom. Two-piece molded hatches come finished on both sides and rise on gas rams, with sturdy gaskets to keep water out. Sea Vee even uses breakers instead of fuses and places the boat's battery switches beneath the console (where you can also place an optional porta potty or a full marine head), where they remain dry yet easy to access. Finally, each hull spends a minimum of six days in the mold to make sure it cures correctly and completely.
Intelligent touches like these set Sea Vee apart from the pack, and because each boat is built on a semicustom basis, you can incorporate a great deal of individuality into your personal vessel. Whether you want outboards or prefer diesel inboard power, Sea Vee can build you a boat that will fish hard for years.