For most anglers, the ideal day afloat includes a forecast of fair winds and following seas. It's just the opposite for boat testers, however. To get a true feel for how a boat does in real-world conditions, we prefer sloppy chop and stiff breezes. Right on cue, the Gulf of Mexico was a frothy mix resembling chocolate milk with whitecaps the day I was scheduled to test the Freeman 33 Catamaran last winter. I couldn't have ordered a better scenario.
After I greeted company president Billy Freeman at the marina in Carrabelle, Florida, my first impression of his boat was how big it appeared. With its clean, uncluttered layout and wide beam, it looked like a 40-footer. It didn't shrink once I stepped aboard either. The most prominent feature is the massive coffin box mounted in front of the console. On the test boat, the mounting flange of this box was glassed in neatly below the deck so there weren't any seams to collect dirt. With its 800-quart capacity, it'll keep a giant tuna perfectly chilled. The box also drains directly into the oversize half-pipe tunnel between sponsons for quick cleaning. Since every boat is built to order, a drink compartment can be added easily on request.
Even with the large coffin box, there's still lots of room in the bow. Wraparound coaming pads and the level foredeck would make stand-up fishing a breeze. Dual storage compartments in the bow sole are cavernous too. For traveling or overnight convenience, these compartments are large enough to stow rods and other odd-size gear, such as fenders and the requisite five-gallon buckets.
The head compartment, with starboard access, will accommodate a porta-potty if that's a necessary option. Our test boat didn't have one, but the space does provide easy access to the helm for rigging and electronics. There's certainly no space limitation on the business side of the large console either. The electronics panel on ours held two flush-mounted Garmin GPSMap 5212 displays with room to spare. Gauges could be scanned easily, and the helm's sightlines were not impeded by the beefy hardtop framework, which included a pair of Rupp Z-30 Top Gun outriggers and an aft rod rocket launcher.
A comfortable leaning post with an internal storage compartment is close enough to the console that you don't have to stretch, but it doesn't cramp legroom. Tackle centers on each side rack four large Plano boxes apiece. Aft of the leaning post, a 110-quart drink box and padded bench seat offers the perfect vantage point to watch baits. A pressurized 50-gallon livewell on the transom centerline (with a bait-calming blue finish) and two large storage compartments in the cockpit lazarette round out the aft layout.