What do you look for when searching for the ultimate shallow-water fishing boat? Obviously, a short, static draft helps get you into those skinny spots without you having to jump off and push. If you plan to use a push pole to navigate across flats, the lighter the boat, the easier your job. And finally, you need a hull that will cross the open spaces smoothly even in a nasty chop while keeping you dry and comfortable. Hell’s Bay satisfies all of those requirements in its new 18-foot Boca Grande model.
Hell’s Bay has produced top-of-the-market skiffs for years, supplying some of the best and most famous guides with platforms for advancing their careers. At the same time, boats like these must run economically, since, despite what you might think, fishing guides aren’t getting rich off poling you around. Gas, insurance, maintenance, bait, tackle – these all hit the bottom line. That’s why guides need a boat that holds together and does what they need it to do well.
The Boca Grande handles any outboard between 90 and 130 hp. Expect that with only a 90, the Boca Grande will top out at just more than 40 mph. And cruising speed with a 90, pushing a hull that weighs only 625 pounds, translates to ultimate economy.
The tunnel-hull boasts a static (stopped) draft of a mere 7 1/2 inches; the vessel draws even less water when on plane. From a fishing perspective, the 6-foot, 8-inch-wide hull affords great stability as you walk around the gunwales. Add to that a sharp entry and spray rails, and you fulfill that need for a dry ride through a chop.
As for durability, Hell’s Bay employs one of the most advanced construction technologies in the marine industry: vacuum-bagging a laminate of Kevlar, carbon fiber, S-glass and epoxy resin for the lightest, strongest and most consistent combination you can devise.
Carefully considered fishing features, tackle storage and console location add to the desirability of the Boca Grande. It may be more expensive than some flats skiffs, but you certainly get your money’s worth with Hell’s Bay.
LOA……18 ft. 2 in.
BEAM……6 ft. 8 in.
DRAFT……7 1/2 in.
WEIGHT……625 lb. (w/o power)
MAX POWER……130 hp OB
MSRP……$42,450 (w/ 90 hp OB)
_Hell’s Bay Boatworks / Titusville, Florida / 321-383-8223 / _www.hellsbayboatworks.com