It's difficult to think of a more successful center-console boat than the 22-foot Mako. After all, it has been in continuous production for almost 30 years in one version or another, and 22s are a common sight in coastal waters throughout the United States. In fact, I grew up fishing a 1970's-era Mako 22, so I was very interested to see how the new Mako 221 compared to my old flat-bottomed version. I recently got my chance when I spent a day on the 221 out of World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada, Florida.
Our test boat was powered by a carbureted 225-hp Mercury outboard, which made for a fast ride. The Garmin GPS indicated a cruise speed of 27.7 knots at 4000 rpm, and a wide-open speed of 41.2 knots at 5200 rpm. The deep-vee hull weighs around 2,600 pounds, and it rode well through a stiff onshore breeze and the resulting chop, while keeping spray to a minimum.
The 221 is laid out in conventional center-console fashion, with lots of fishing room, but it has quite a bit of storage as well, an improvement modern boats have over older models. The bow area, for example, has lots of room for storing ground tackle and loose gear. There's a curved seating area that wraps around inside the bow, with dry storage below. A section of high-density polyethylene (Starboard) at the bow serves as a seat, but flips up out of the way when you need to get to the anchor locker. The space below this seat could also house an optional porta-potty.
The anchor locker contains a molded fiberglass anchor receiver for vertical anchor storage, and the entire bow area is surrounded by a sturdy, welded-aluminum bow rail. A centerline in-deck hatch covers a reasonably large box that can be used for additional storage or to hold fish. If you use it for the latter purpose, you might want to figure out how to hook up a macerator pump, as the box drains into the bilge.
The console features a lift-out cooler beneath the front seat for storing lunch or cold drinks. There's an access door to port for stuffing loose gear beneath the console, where there's quite a bit of room. The helm is to port, and the gauge cluster is right in front of the helmsman, with a small storage compartment and two drink holders to starboard. The console is topped off with an aluminum hand rail and a Plexiglas windshield.
The rocket launcher had a padded leaning post and holders for four rods, although two of the rod holders on our test boat were occupied by a padded back rest. You can store four more rods in racks under the gunwales, two per side.
The business end of the 221, the cockpit, has lots of room because the transom area is a conventional notched arrangement with no gate, which means you can walk up to, and lean on, the outboard when fighting a fish. A transverse fishbox that drains into the bilge lies beneath the cockpit sole. The 221's live well is located in the rounded fiberglass box in the port transom corner. It's a great spot for keeping baits handy when the fishing action is fast and furious. An identical box in the starboard corner contains a lift-out bait tray, with the boat's oil tank located underneath.
Overall, the new 221 proved to be a very good performer, and is certainly much more stylish than my old 22. Its combination of good looks, solid construction, and performance adds up to a versatile 22-footer that will be equally at home doing light bay service or venturing offshore.
Mako Marine International, 4355 NW 128th St., Dept. SWS, Miami, FL 33054; (305) 685-6591.