Southport 33 FE
The “FE” in Southport 33 FE stands for “Family Edition,” as this boat represents the less fishy version of the company’s 33-foot model. A TE, or Tournament Edition, also exists, and it is a bit less plush than this model, which aims to make mom, dad, and the kids all happy in equal measure. From what I could tell during my test of this boat after the 2015 Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show, Southport hit the mark.
The key factor that sets the FE apart from the TE is in the bow, where Southport has installed plenty of seating, including a two-person bench seat forward of the console, as well as wraparound seating forward that conceals ample amounts of dry stowage. On the TE, that space would be completely open, aside from a coffin box, to facilitate fishy feng shui. Another available creature comfort to have on board is a barbecue that can be put aft of the console, an amenity that truly opens up the entertainment abilities of the 33. However if an owner does not want a grill on board, he can opt for a 45-gallon livewell in more or less the same space. An inward opening dive door to starboard on my test boat had exceptionally beefy hinges, and allows this boat to not only be a cruiser and gentleman’s fish boat, but also a dive boat as well. Clearly, versatility is key here.
The 33 is a very sturdy little boat. She’s fully resin infused for both strength and weight considerations. Two stringers and three transversals afford her a rigidity that is patent as she plows through chop. Furthermore, her hull, liner, and main deck are all glued and screwed three times over to ensure an exceptionally solid ride. That ride comes in large part from her Hunt-designed, deep-vee hull, which handled very well. In particular, lots of Carolina flare in the bow helped keep everyone on board dry even as we negotiated an unusually busy (and thus sloppy) Port Everglades Inlet.
The 33 was a whole lot of fun to drive. She cruises easily around 32 knots, and ramped it up to 38.3 knots at the 5,500 rpm WOT she hit on test day. My boat had twin 300-horsepower Yamaha outboards—burly 350s are available for $11,000 more. The test speeds I saw certainly cut the mustard in the famously sporty center console market though. The FE also tracked in a beeline thanks in part to that well-designed hull. She’s nimble too. Hardover I took the 33 to both port and starboard in about a boat length with very little heel. S-turns were smooth and reminiscent of putting a PWC through its paces, as the hull absolutely gripped and ripped through the water. Sounds levels were a touch high. You’ll notice in the test numbers she maxed out at 90 decibels, however on an open boat, what are you going to do? Buy earmuffs maybe.
All told the Southport 33 FE is a well-pedigreed, well-built, fast, fun boat that begs to be used in any way you can think of. She is perhaps most notable for her versatility. And her seaworthiness. And her fun performance. Really there’s just a whole lot to like here.
Southport Boats, 207-620-7998; www.southportboats.com
: 7,300 lb.
: 300 gal.
: 30 gal.
: 2/300-hp Yamaha outboards
: 15.25 x 18 3-blade, stainless steel