From Long Island Sound to the Lone Star state, the proliferation of bay boats in coastal waters has been nothing short of phenomenal. The reason is simple: Bay boats are capable of handling a variety of conditions, and anglers who want the option of chasing multiple species appreciate that flexibility. Now, Everglades Boats has given bay-boat versatility a whole new meaning with the introduction of its "flat cat" line. The 230 CC is one of five models the Florida company currently offers.
Unlike traditional mono-hull bay boats, the Everglades 230 CC, designed by Bob and Steve Dougherty, has a flattened planing hull with gradual twin sponsons and a slight, inverted tunnel keel. These characteristics, along with an 8' 6" beam, give the Everglades the ability to float in very shallow water. But the modified catamaran hull is also seaworthy and stable. With a higher freeboard than traditional flats skiffs, it is equally capable of running offshore for trolling or bottom-fishing duties.
The construction process also distinguishes the Everglades 230 CC from the rest of the bay-boat market. Through patented RAMCAP (Rapid Molded Core Assembly Process) manufacturing, all Everglades are built using extreme high pressure that chemically bonds the hull, deck and core into a single unit. The pre-molded, closed-cell foam that fills the inner voids adds strength and deadens sound. It also provides unsinkable flotation, according to the company. And, since the unitized RAMCAP process eliminates an inner liner, the boat's interior space is increased significantly. The 230's cockpit measures an impressive 111 square feet. Other "overbuilt" features include military-spec wiring, lighted storage compartments, a finished bilge and a thick, acrylic windshield, plus Everglades backs its boats with a ten-year transferable hull warranty.
We tested the 230 CC with professional guide and company advisor, Captain Don Dingman of Jacksonville, Florida. A miserable cold front had chopped the water into a chocolate froth, sending the fish elsewhere, but our attempt to find them lasted long enough to make me appreciate the boat's fishing prowess. Dingman typically carries four anglers, so the two of us had more than enough room to cast and maneuver around the broad forward casting deck and large center console. The aggressive non-skid made traction a non-issue, and the boat remained stable at anchor, despite the breakers slamming against the Mayport jetties. While not available on our test boat, Everglades recently added four built-in seats, two in the bow and two in the stern, that fold down to create casting decks, and which can be raised individually (see photo, above right).
Our test boat was powered by a 200-hp Yamaha HPDI outboard, which provided a top-end speed of 48.4 mph. Cruising at 4000 rpm produced 33.8 mph with a 7.8 gph fuel burn. The latter performance numbers translate into a range of 220 miles with a ten-percent reserve in the 57-gallon fuel tank. The 230's ride is impressive, as well. Hydraulic steering and electric trim tabs are standard, and even with the snotty conditions, the modified cat hull wasn't overly prone to slapping. With the exception of wind-blown mist coming off the top of a wave or two, we remained dry in head seas.
Coastal anglers will appreciate the 230's standard fishing features. These include a 36-gallon transom live well, raw-water washdown, multiple power ports, stainless rod holders, folding gunwale rod racks, and dry storage in bow, console and transom compartments. Molded pedestal helm chairs and a forward cooler seat with cushion are standard, as well. Our test boat was equipped with several factory options, including the fiberglass hardtop with crow's nest, rocket launcher and spreader lights; leaning post with backrest and storage; tackle drawer; poling platform; pop-up cleats, and trolling-motor battery storage and charger system. The hardtop's electronics box offered an uncommon convenience: mirrored hatch covers that provide a handy stern view - as well as the ability to apply sunscreen evenly.
The popularity of bay boats has yet to reach its zenith, especially as more and more coastal anglers discover the benefits such multi-function crafts offer. You can certainly expect to see more Everglades in the future mix, however. Nine lives might be a stretch, but the 230 CC is one of the more durable, versatile cats on the water. Everglades Boats, Edgewater, FL; (386) 409-2202;