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September 21, 2007

Carolina Skiff 2400 Offshore Series

This boatbuilder applies its inshore lessons to a new blue-water machine.

Carolina Skiff made its mark with a line of rugged, no-frills, shallow-draft boats that soon gained a loyal following among skinny-water anglers and commercial watermen. With the introduction of the 2400 Offshore Series, the company is moving into the blue-water arena, where it should get a similar reaction from the offshore crowd. That's because dependable performance and solid construction never go out of style.

An early nor'easter provided the ideal conditions to test a pair of 2400s at their debut at Jekyll Island, Georgia, last fall. The rolling chop was barely noticeable during the run to the north end of the island, thanks to the boat's deep-vee hull and beefy construction. The ride was dry and comfortable on both models. Handling was very responsive as well, thanks to the standard Sea Star hydraulic steering.

Carolina Skiff 2400 Offshore Series"We stretched the 2400 off our 21-foot center console to make it a full 24 feet," said Joe Kirkland, vice president of operations for Carolina Skiff. "It's a fully composite boat with a very high strength-to-weight ratio to give it a soft, dry ride. And we use a polyester bonding putty that form-fits the hull to add integral strength. We always overbuild our boats just a little to give our customers the assurance that their boats will stay together when others might come apart."

One of the test boats was equipped with whisper-quiet twin 115-hp Yamaha four-stroke engines, a combo that's ideally suited for offshore situations. The four-stroke engines offer enhanced fuel economy and range, together with peace of mind, as we learned by running on one outboard. The boat hopped on plane within a few lengths and turned a respectable 30 mph, which is more than enough to get you home in an emergency. The single-engine model, rigged with a 250 Yamaha, was the hot rod of the two. It runs 45.5 mph at 5400 rpm, according to Yamaha's GPS data.

The 2400 comes with plenty of angling amenities, including a 30-gallon live well in the transom, port and starboard rod racks, four rod holders in the gunwales and a padded leaning post. The last will hold four more rods and has a handy storage compartment beneath the padded seat, plus room for a large cooler underneath. An in-deck fishbox with overboard drain is located forward of the console and provides adequate room for the day's catch.

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SPECIFICATIONS

Length: 24'
Beam: 8'7"
Draft: 18"
Transom deadrise: 18 ¿
Hull weight: 3,375 lbs
Fuel: 140 gals
Max hp: 300
Price w/o engine: $19,964

Command of the 2400 Offshore is easy, thanks to the enormous center console. It comes with standard gauges, concealed drink holders and a large mounting area for electronics behind a Plexiglass windscreen. If that's not enough room, you can add the optional T-top with rocket launcher and lockable fiberglass electronics box. A hinged door on the starboard side of the console provides access to the standard porta potty. The sub-console area is lighted and equipped with a wiring access panel.

In addition to the leaning post, the 2400 has twin jump seats forward of the transom and wraparound bow seating. Padded coaming bolsters are available in several stylish color combinations, while the convenient stainless-steel swim ladder and strategic handholds complement the wraparound bow rail. Add the optional stereo system and you can jam to some tunes while trolling.

So don't let the name fool you. Carolina Skiff's 2400 Offshore Series is well suited for blue-water pursuits, and its affordable price will leave plenty left over for gas and bait.

Carolina Skiff, Waycross, GA; (800) 422-7282; www.carolinaskiff.com.