As we motored toward the Kennebec Tavern & Marina in Bath, Maine, I could see the Southport 29 on the outside dock, tugging gently at its lines. The rich, maroon hull against the searing white of the deck and console gave it a crisp, regal look in the mid-August sun.I was not surprised at all to step aboard and see that quality carried through the design and layout of this yacht-like fishing machine. And I was pleased to know I’d be fishing from and around this new center-console for the next three days to generate a photo gallery and upcoming 2013 feature article about Northeast sharking.
Between trips offshore on flat-calm seas and treks up the Kennebec River to plumb cooler depths for stripers, I was able to wrestle the helm away from my fellow anglers long enough to tick off the items on my boat-test checklist.
Time to plane: Depending upon whether I ran into the tide or with it, my measurements ranged from 3.8 to 4.6 seconds, for an average of 4.2 seconds. The boat, powered by twin Yamaha 300s, carried three adults, 170 gallons of fuel, tackle and gear.
Time to 30 mph: The average after trying both directions — 7 seconds.
Top speed: 51.8 mph at 6,000 rpm, achieving 1 mpg.
Optimal cruise: 29 mph at 3,500 rpm, with 1.8 mpg.
Yamaha’s test data varied and is worth mentioning. With two testers aboard, the boat planed in 4.1 seconds and reached 30 mph in 5.13 seconds. The 29 topped out at 56.3 mph, achieving 1.05 mpg. At 3,000 rpm, the testers logged 24.8 mph and 1.92 mpg for optimal cruise.
With tabs down, I was able to plane the 29 on one engine at 17.6 mph. It backed readily to both sides, even bucking the river current. In turns at speed, the optional power-assist steering gracefully carved the water, even in the tightest arcs.