Barker Boatworks 26 Open: 2017 Boat Buyers Guide

A sibling to the 26 Calibogue, this boat is a versatile bay/offshore hybrid.

Barker 26 Open
LOA: 25'6" | Beam: 9'3" | Fuel Capacity: 90 gal. | Dry Weight: 4,500 lb. plus power | Max Horsepower: 627Courtesy Barker Boatworks

After 10 years in the boating ­industry, Kevin Barker ventured out on his own, putting his expertise — and indeed, his very name — toward one goal: designing and building what he would proudly call the “ultimate bay boat.”

First, he commissioned ­world-renowned naval ­architect Michael Peters, whose established-in-1981 Michael Peters Yacht Design specializes in ­high-speed boats.

Barker and Peters opted for the patented “Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel” design, with its reputation as having the lowest drag coefficient of any mono hull. That’s a prescription for higher speed, safe and crisp maneuvering, better fuel economy, and an all-around better ride than conventional stepped hulls, the company says. On that hull they created what have become two 26-foot boats: the 26 Calibogue Bay and the 26 Open and the soon-to-arrive 26 Open Tower.

All Barker Boats are built to ­order, and individual hull ­progress is often updated on Facebook. Two identical boats never leave the Barker Boatworks facility. What they share is 100 percent ­vinylester resin and ­composite-cored ­vacuum-infused construction.

And attention to detail: The Barker management team has more than 100 years of combined industry experience, and the ­entire 28-employee staff ­intentionally overbuilds its boats, using the best materials, technology and methods available — achieving yacht-quality fit, finish and rigging.

26 OPEN

Soon after Barker’s 26 Calibogue Bay was launched, it was joined by a sibling with an eye to the blue water: the Barker 26 Open, a versatile bay/offshore hybrid. And the line is still expanding with a soon-to-arrive 26 Open Tower.

Aptly, the Open’s open space replaces the Calibogue’s forward and aft casting decks; one fishes in, rather than on, the Open, whose cap is a bit higher to create a deeper cockpit too. “Open” might refer both to haunts — bay and offshore — and the floor plan of this hybrid bay/offshore boat. The hull has the same patented stepped-V ventilated tunnel ­design, for swift, dry trips across all kinds of seas with none of the bad behavior often associated with steps.

For more days offshore, you might opt for a full-tower second station, providing not only the fish-spying attributes of a stand-on, but also the full complement of fish- and direction-finding gear and controls.

At deck level there’s plenty of fishing room behind the 31-inch-wide helm and leaning-post ­tackle station, which houses a 45-gallon baitwell. (There’s a 15-gallon livewell in the bow, and you can add a pair in the transom.) There’s even more fishing space in the wide-open bow, with generous but unobtrusive in-floor storage. A dozen rod holders flank the console, and the 26 Open has a pair of macerated, insulated fish boxes: one ­a ­50-gallon and one a massive 140.