What a truly awful morning greeted me. Just outside the end of the channel to South Seas Plantation Resort on southwest Florida’s Captiva Island, the world disappeared into the low-level fog. Looking up, you could see the clouds tearing by at warp speed. The bay tossed a 2-foot chop at us, but the real fun began once we rounded the point and ran the cut through the sandbars out into the open Gulf of Mexico. The 6-footers out of the southwest hammered us. I wouldn’t have wanted to be driving a smaller boat!
The Intracoastal Waterway chop didn’t faze the Hydra-Sports 3000 in the least. A slightly narrow beam for speed, razor-sharp bow and a 24-degree deadrise at the transom all combined to make the chop seem immaterial to this offshore performance hull as we ran out the bay. Running twin Johnson OceanRunner 225s with 19-inch four-blade props, we managed to top out at 54 mph at 5,500 rpm. Cruising speed seemed most comfortable at 39 mph.
At speed, the 3000 turns and handles like a welterweight. It carves a 180-degree turn in about four boat lengths. At trolling speed, the efficient deep-V hull leaves hardly any white water behind it. With the engines set fairly close together for optimum speed, spinning the boat using forward and reverse is slower than on boats with wider-spaced engines. Consequently, you’ll want to chase hooked fish bow-first rather than back down on them.
Once offshore, the 3000 launched and landed off the heavy seas slightly stern-first, where the deep-V bottom did a good job of softening the landing. I was especially appreciative of the dual-ram hydraulic steering, which required only a single finger to turn the big V-6s. I found that dead-slow or on plane made for the most comfort and dryness, while a medium speed – just before plane – seemed to throw out spray.
Though drifting wasn’t my first choice of things to do in those steep seas, it allowed me to see that the 3000 falls from nose-into-the-wind to abeam and maintains that position rather than presenting a stern quarter to the seas. With a 30-foot overall length and only an 8-foot, 7-inch beam, the 3000 rolls as you would expect. But the flat chines dampen the transition enough to make it more comfortable, enough that I found slow-trolling in a beam sea to be remarkably easy to handle.
I particularly like the Kiekhaefer trim-tab gauges. It’s nice to know at a glance where the tabs are set. It also helps to see how you might have placed your boat out of trim and lets you change weight distribution to fix it more readily.
Hydra-Sports has the formula down for setting up a fishing boat. There is nothing missing, nothing out of place, nothing poorly designed from an experienced angler’s point of view. A 50-gallon live well in the transom means you don’t have to move an inch to re-bait. Storage space for 20 rods around the cockpit and more in the lockable boxes forward means you’ll be prepared for any eventuality. Built-in under-gunwale tackle boxes in each aft corner keep supplies near at hand to the transom rigging station. Though I didn’t try fly casting in the wind and waves on that breezy day, the forward step has enough room and height to suit fly casters, and the lack of a bow rail on our boat eliminated most of the worry about snagging a fly. The stainless bow rail comes standard, but for serious fishing, I’d exercise my delete option.
Narrow-beam performance boats such as the Hydra-Sports 3000 often make working and fishing the boat difficult. With more than one or two anglers, things can get really tight. The angles of the rods in the leaning-post holders along with plenty of space between them and the transom make working two or three anglers in the cockpit at the same time a breeze.
Hydra-Sports pays particular attention to detail. For example, hand-laid fiberglass and space-age composites in the hull added to a Kevlar-reinforced keel help the 3000 take a pounding with impunity. A full grounding system with a molded-in dynaplate (a bronze plate to disperse lightning energy into the sea in case of a strike) adds “big-boat-style” protection.
The console provides enough headroom so that even someone over 6 feet tall can actually stand upright when using the head. Check inside cabinets and under hatches and you’ll find finished surfaces, not raw fiberglass. Not two, but three battery switches handle each bank of engine batteries as well as the isolated bank for accessories.
Each engine gets its own oil reservoir rather than both working off one. An easily accessible water/fuel separator for each engine eliminates one of the most common breakdown problems. Another common breakdown problem – overheating – can be detected and dealt with early on, before it gets serious, thanks to a factory-standard water-pressure gauge for each engine. Also straight from the factory, the live well gets two pumps in addition to high-speed pickups. You’ll never have to choose between using the raw-water wash-down or the bait well. And since this boat will likely be used for far-offshore trips, the console space dedicated to flush-mounting electronics assures you’ll be able to have the best navigation and fishing package available – without having to worry if it will fit.
If you’re price-conscious yet want a high-performance fishing boat that you can feel secure in, the Hydra-Sports 3000, with all its innovations and comprehensive features, might well be the boat for you.