The blue glow of LED courtesy lights illuminated Crevalle’s new 26 Open as I approached the docks in the pre-dawn darkness. There to meet me, in southwest Florida, on this mid-August morning was Ed Kopp, from Quality Boats of Charlotte Harbor, and his son Austin, along with Chad Jaros, director of sales and marketing for Crevalle Boats. Also joining us was Sport Fishing sales manager Mark Badzinski.
Nary a breath of wind ruffled the palm fronds as we loaded ice and drinks into the Yeti Tundra 65 cooler that slides in and out on tracks from under the leaning-post helm seats. For tackle stowage, we used the drawers above the cooler.
Austin, our captain for the day, stashed a five-gallon bucket containing his cast net in the optional 170-quart coffin box in the forward cockpit. When using the box for cold storage, a divider separates bait and your catch from provisions, while an elevated tray keeps dry stores from ice melt.
The game plan: cast-net for live pilchards, and use the liveys to fish docks and bridge abutments for redfish and snook (catch-and-release only, for the latter).
An Open Concept
Based in Wildwood, Florida, Crevalle now offers three models, including the 24 Bay, 26 Bay and the 26 Open, which features the same running surface and swooping sheer line as the 26 Bay. Yet the 26 Open is the first Crevalle model with a deep, open forward cockpit while retaining an aft casting platform — what some call a hybrid layout.
The gunwales in the bow are 25 inches tall, and a recessed powder-coated aluminum bow rail offers an extra measure of security when going forward. To gain elevation, use the step in the bow to ascend to the forepeak, which proved a handy place for Austin to stand as he threw the net. Grit-style nonskid along the gunwale tops helps assure traction when walking along the rail with a net full of wriggling live baits.
We used one of the 26 Open’s twin 28-gallon bait tanks in the aft casting platform for our morning of fishing. Had we needed even more room, a 12-gallon well under the seat forward of the center console would have accommodated a surplus of pilchards. Special baffles in the corners of each livewell isolate the standpipe from the main tank to keep it from becoming an obstruction to baitfish.
How the Boat Handles
With sufficient live bait on board, we ran across the waters of Charlotte Harbor toward Stump Pass to cast to a rock jetty for redfish and snook. Powered by a Yamaha F300 outboard on a SeaStar Solutions jack plate, the 26 Open traversed the shallows with ease once we left the main channel. At rest, draft is just 12 inches with the motor up. With 16 degrees of deadrise and Lenco electric trim tabs, the boat offers a smooth ride in choppy water.
Once in position, Austin deployed the optional 10-foot Power-Pole. We immediately caught fish, but not the target species. The rocks were alive with small mangrove snapper. As crew members moved about the deck, I was amazed at the stability of the 26 Open. Even with four of us lined up on one side, the boat barely listed.
After catching and releasing a bunch of “mangoes,” we headed off to a new spot. As I took the wheel, I enjoyed the SeaStar Solutions hydraulic steering with a tilt-and-lock helm and Yamaha electronic throttle and shift. A SeaStar ProTrim turn-signal-style switch let me adjust the jack-plate height with the touch of a finger. An optional flush-mounted Simrad NSS12 evo2 multifunction display guided the way. The dark-gray gelcoat color of the dash helped cut glare from the morning sun.
The hardtop frame melded nicely with the console, and it featured a dark metallic-gray powder-coat finish that complemented the two-tone gray highlights in the upholstery scheme. The helm’s leaning post proved comfortable whether seated or when standing and using the flip-up bolsters. A two-tiered footrest at the base of the console let me brace myself in rough water.
Our second spot — a series of dock pilings — held more than just mangrove snapper, as Badzinski found out after his first cast. A powerful fish — a big snook, we presume — inhaled the live bait and streaked away against a tight drag, weaving its way through the encrusted pilings. Badzinski braced his knees against the padded coaming bolsters that bracket the interior as he struggled to stop the fish, but to no avail. The line parted.
Having spooked that spot, we moved on to fish the abutments of the Tom Adams Bridge. During the cruise, I explored the fishing features of this 26 Open, which include six gunwale rod holders along each side. I also found four rod holders across the leaning post, and another quartet on the hardtop, plus two holders for live-bait trolling. You can stash a pair of sticks under the gunwales, with tips extending into ports under the aft casting deck.
A convenient shelf abaft the helm seat is designed for rigging lures and baits. In the tackle drawers below, I found a pair of removable polyethylene boards that nestle into the shelf to prevent damage to the underlying finish when cutting baits.
Raw-water washdown spigots fore and aft let you rinse away tracked-in dirt, fish blood or slime from the deck, which on my tester was covered with optional SeaDek nonskid.
The abutments failed to produce any snook or redfish, but the mangrove snapper bit well again, and I was able to land a nice 4-pounder. During a lull in the action, I checked out the creature comforts of the 26 Open, including a wraparound backrest that turns the padded top of the coffin box into a lounger. The backrest mounts in a pair of rod holders on the box, and does not interfere with the ability to open and close the lid.
Family members will appreciate the step-down head compartment, accessible from the port side of the console. On hot days, everyone will relish the optional misters on the underside of the hardtop. I found a comfortable flip-up bench seat between the livewells in the aft casting platform. Underneath is an Igloo Marine Ultra 75-quart cooler. The fit and finish throughout the 26 Open is top notch, with quality construction that will serve you for decades to come.
By 11 a.m., the time had come to gather performance data. With a crew of four, 55 gallons of fuel and a 28-gallon livewell full of water, the Yamaha F300 vaulted the 26 Open to plane in five seconds and reached 30 mph in 10.7 seconds.
Turning a Saltwater Series II 18-inch-pitch three-blade stainless-steel propeller, the outboard pushed us to a top speed of 47.6 mph at 5,900 rpm, where it burned 25.7 gph for 1.85 mpg at wide-open throttle.
The most economical cruising speed occurred at 32.9 mph and 4,000 rpm, with a fuel-burn rate of 10 gph, which resulted in 3.3 mpg. That equates to a cruising range of more than 270 miles, based on the 83-gallon fuel capacity.
If you’re looking for a bay-style boat that offers top-quality construction, superb fishability, great fuel efficiency and comfort for everyone aboard, look closely at the Crevalle 26 Open.
Crevalle 26 Open Performance Specs
Power: Yamaha F300
Load: 55 gal. fuel, four crew
Top Speed: 47.6 mph @ 5,900 rpm
Time to 30 mph: 10.7 sec.
Best mpg: 3.3 @ 32.9 mph (4,000 rpm)
Crevalle 26 Open Hull Specs
LOA: 25 ft. 6 in.
Beam: 8 ft. 6 in.
Deadrise: 16 deg.
Dry Weight: 3,600 lb. (w/o engine)
Draft: 1 ft.
Fuel: 83 gal.
Max Power: 350 hp
MSRP as Tested: $125,700