A dry fall wind buffeted the spartina grass, churning the creek into a frothy tea brown as a mid-November cool front approached south Georgia. Despite the untenable trout-fishing conditions, Capt. Scott Griffin and Sea Born Boats‘ Wally Bell met me at Hickory Bluff Marina, in rural Camden County. The Sea Born LX22 bumped and jostled against the floating dock.
We all shook our heads. The fishing spirits give and they take away.
Bell’s father, Seaborn Bell, the company’s 80-year-old namesake, stood on the dock as we boarded. He gave us a wry smile, the kind that signals amusement at ridiculous human behavior.
Had this been a charter, we surely would have canceled. But when everything finally comes together on board a test boat, all you can do is try. So we did.
Before leaving the dock, I inspected this new LX breed of Sea Born. It sported a number of interesting family features, several of them designed in a unique way. Bell told me that this is the company’s first real foray into this kind of crossover boat, with a 21 and a 24 on the way.
My test boat came with the LE package, a premium upgrade that includes all the standard and SE package features plus extras such as a Simrad 7-inch NSS evo2 multifunction display, extensive LED lighting, underwater lights and a hardtop.
I started my observations at the bow as Griffin (Goin’ Coastal Charters, 912-230-2811) dropped a quart of live shrimp into the 15-gallon cylindrical livewell in the port aft corner.
The cushioned bow seating comes with removable backrests and insulated storage beneath. Coaming surrounds the bow except at the forepeak, where Sea Born left space for a step up to the anchor locker. Later I used that space as a fishing platform, though you can remove the snapped-in bow cushions for more standing room.
Aft, the nearly full-width bench seat comes with a removable backrest. The port side of the seat opens with a fore-and-aft hinge so you can move it out of the way for full access to the bilge. The starboard side of the bench also hinges to expose a rectangular 50-gallon icebox that can be plumbed to serve as a livewell.
Griffin had set four spinning rods into the holders abaft the leaning post, which features bolster seating. I took up position behind the rocket launcher as he spun the helm away from the dock. The LE version’s cockpit sports 20 rod holders — beneath the gunwales, in the gunwales, in the leaning post and in the hardtop.
A second optional livewell is tucked below the forward console seat, and a wet-storage locker perfect for a cast-net bucket resides below the deck ahead of that seat.
Against the Odds
Griffin ran the double-stepped hull north as we hung on to our caps. He found a tight creek where the wind merely riffled the surface, then idled up past an oyster-lined shore. Bell dropped anchor while Griffin and I baited up with shrimp under popping corks.
Though the wind remained partly blocked, it still blew the lightweight corks quickly downriver. I opened the transom door, which is part of the aft bench-seat backrest, and stepped onto the swim platform. You can cast from the cockpit or work a bait from the bow, but the swim platform and the foredeck allow more room for backcasts and permit anglers to spread out to target different structure and water.
I should mention right here that this is not a bay boat. With 25-inch-high gunwales aft and 18 degrees of deadrise at the transom, it’s a modified-V-hull center-console. The high freeboard is a great asset for families with small children or anyone who likes the security such a feature offers.
As I moved around the boat to various perches, I noticed that the LX22’s 8-foot-6-inch beam results in a stable platform. I also realized that the aft bench seat is a welcome resting place to work on tackle or camera gear, and that Sea Born placed an in-gunwale rod holder just ahead of the livewell — right where I wanted it when baiting my hook.
Griffin decided to try another location, so we stowed our gear and motored to the lee side of a nearby creek bluff. Below the bluff, the water swirled in an eddy. We launched our baits so they drifted to that spot. I saw the unmistakable cork bobble signaling that some small “varmint” fish was snatching the legs off my shrimp. I waited until the cork disappeared, then reeled tight and gave the rod a light pop.
The tiny Kahle hook did its job, and I soon released the small marauder. Moments later, Griffin set up on a fish that took him into nearby riprap. “Nice black drum, I bet,” he told us. He tried coaxing the fish out by backing off the tension, but when he tightened up again, the leader broke.
With our hopes for fishing laid low, I suggested we run performance numbers on the boat.
In the main creek, the tide and wind moved in the same direction. We set up to run both ways to obtain more accurate readings. The Yamaha 250 V Max SHO outboard vaulted the LX22 to plane in about 3.5 seconds, turning a Saltwater Series II 15¼-by-19-inch prop.
My prototype test boat sported a jack plate that had aided Sea Born in setting the proper engine height for this package, so to accurately run the numbers, we left it at a prescribed height.
With the engine trimmed down and no tab, the LX22 reached 30 mph in about 8 seconds. (Yamaha testing showed 6.47 seconds.) We hit a top speed of 53.1 mph at 5,800 rpm, achieving 2.1 mpg, and we found the most fuel-efficient cruise speed at 28 mph and 3,500 rpm, where the boat attained 3.5 mpg.
As I prepared to test the boat in tight turns, I left the engine trimmed up about halfway. Stepped-hull boats run at a more optimal trim angle than traditional hulls, so operators don’t need to drastically tuck in the outboard for turns.
After bumping down the trim a bit, giving the prop more water, the vessel turned easily and cleanly. At speed in the chop, the LX22 demonstrated quite a big-boat feel, with the SHO outboard offering great midrange acceleration.
In its first try, clearly Sea Born has created a comfortable family boat in a trailerable package that also caters to anglers and their needs.
Sea Born LX22 Performance
Power: Yamaha 250 V Max SHO
Load: 80 gal. fuel, two crew
Top Speed: 53.1 mph @ 5,800 rpm
Time to 30 MPH: 8 sec.
Best MPG: 3.5 @ 28 mph (3,500 rpm)
Sea Born LX22 Hull
LOA: 22 ft. 5 in.
BEAM: 8 ft. 6 in.
DEADRISE: 18 deg.
DRY WEIGHT: 2,300 lb. (w/out engine)
DRAFT: 13 in.
FUEL: 86 gal.
MAX POWER: 250 hp
MSRP as tested: $63,822 (Yamaha 250 SHO, LE package)
Sea Born Boats, Blackshear, Georgia, 912-449-0033, seabornboats.com