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October 26, 2001

Tautog 21 CC

Unfortunately, it's not shoal-proof.

We arrived at Block Island Sound about 7 a.m. on what would have been a fine morning to try out a boat, had we not been too plastered to walk just three hours earlier. But duty called, and with bleary eyes and pounding heads we climbed aboard our trial boat, immediately impressed by how much bigger it seemed than its actual size.

"Ain't you the guys from the magazine?" hollered a fellow about the size and shape of an Amana upright freezer and standing at the head of the dock. "What are you doing in that boat? Ain't you here to test mine?"

Realizing our error, my fishing buddy Melvin Shtupner and I climbed back out of the big express and followed Wendell Futt, president of the fledgling Tautog Boat Works, to the boat we'd come to profile, still on its trailer.

"Nice boat," I muttered to make Futt happy, since this 21-foot center-console looked pretty much like any other. I volunteered to do the launch; if there's one thing I can do, it's launch a boat in my sleep. The first thing I learned about the Tautog 21: It fills up with water way too fast. I told Futt of my disappointment, and I sincerely hope Tautog will make the bilge drain-plug hole a lot smaller on future models. After a couple hours, we got some help and pulled the boat back up the ramp, drained the water out of the bilge, launched the boat - this time with plug in - and were on our way.

We cruised out the short channel until the water deepened. "Hang on!" I said and pushed the throttle forward. As the outboard, a single 150-hp HooverRam-150 (from Hoover Vacuum's new Outboard Motor Division) coughed to life, the bow rose to what seemed 45 degrees and hung there. Seconds turned into minutes, and I expressed some concern that I had no idea where I was headed because I was unable to see anything more than clouds.