Eye of the storm
By Kevin Koenig
I had heard for years that Everglades built boats that were rugged and geared towards high performance in relatively rough seas, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I tested one in the middle of a squall off Ft. Lauderdale this past September. Here’s what I found out.
The Everglades 255 CC is about as suited to cruising as she is to fishing. She’s got plenty of available seating, particularly up in the bow where a padded, U-shaped seat offers comfort and perhaps the best view a passenger can get. Meanwhile a full bait station aft of the helm, as well as two in-deck fishboxes with macerated drains, one in the stern and one in the bow, should come in handy when the mahi start to bite.
All fiberglass onboard the boat is finished, which is a nice touch not often seen in the rugged center console class. Side-flushing scuppers are also a welcome detail, as most of Everglades previous models used to only have scuppers at the transom, which sometimes hindered drainage. And that’s a smart move, because considering the ease with which the 255 handled the seas I had her out in, I’d guess that won’t be the last time she sees inclement weather.
The reason the boat felt so solid during my test is because of Everglades somewhat unorthodox construction style. It’s based on the legendary foam-sandwich technique pioneered by Boston Whaler, which was said to make a boat “unsinkable.” The outer layer of the hull is one piece of solid fiberglass, which is then sprayed with resins on the inside. Then, six separate pieces of high-density flotation foam are set in place inside the fiberglass hull, and also sprayed with resins. It’s notable that the foam is pre-cut, and not squirted into the space. This technique helps Everglades ensure that the foam is evenly distributed throughout the hull, and also that there are no air bubbles within it. A fiberglass liner is then placed over the foam, effectively sandwiching it in. Interestingly, there are no stringers, and no wood at all used in the construction. After about a day of curing and vacuuming out the excess air, the hull essentially becomes one, single, beefy, and nearly unsinkable piece.
When we pushed off from the dock in Dania Beach aboard the 255 the skies looked threatening. It had been intermittently dumping rain all day, and I knew from a test earlier in the day that the Atlantic was churning with confused 4- and 5-footers. But to hell if I flew all the way to Florida to not test this boat. So I climbed aboard with Yachtworks rep Shane Kwaterski, and we headed out into the impending maelstrom with fingers crossed. It didn’t do any good. Just as the inlet came into view, sheets of rain began falling from the sky and the wind picked up to about 25 knots. Much bigger boats than ours were hightailing it back in, their passengers peering out from enclosed helms at us like we were nuts. Kwaterski looked at me, “You OK to keep going?”
I shrugged, “I’m game if you are.”
In the inlet, tightly packed 7-footers fizzed white foam at their peaks. Undeterred, we smashed through them in the 27-footer. Due to the powerful twin 200-horsepower Yamahas the climb up each peak was steady, and thanks to the well designed hull the landing was soft. And even on the way back in, in a wild following sea, the tracking remained true. What’s more, the boat herself felt unusually solid when confronting the elements. Even in such rough environs, at no point did she arouse even the slightest suspicion that she wasn’t up to the challenge. And that’s good, because hot damn was that a wild day on the water!
Everglades Boats, 386-409-2202; www.evergladesboats.com
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to rough sea conditions on our test, we were not able to conduct speed trials. Performance numbers were provided by the builder.
: 5,800 lb. (dry, w/o engines)
: 154 gal.
: 20 gal.
: 2/200-hp Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboards
: Various outboard configurations
: Yamaha, 1.86:1 gear ratio
: 14 ¼ x 17 Yamaha stainless steel, four-blades
Hydraulic power steering ($4,280); Taco Grandslam Outrigger Package 15-foot poles ($4,405); Bow seating area coaming bolsters ($1,231) 4/underwater lights ($1,298).
Test Conditions: Air temperature: 75ºF; humidity 100%; seas: 7'; load: 75 gal. fuel, 0 gal. water, 2 persons, 150 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured w/ GPS display. GPH estimates taken via Yamaha display. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.