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January 07, 2009

Scout 191 Bay

Scout's 191 Bay is easy on the wallet and big on fun.

Trends ripple through the boatbuilding industry faster than an errant wave in a small marina. So when the one-two punch of higher fuel costs and the slowing economy hit last year, companies reacted.

Scout Boats, which always seems to be on the cutting edge, returned to the basics. President Steve Potts challenged his design team to come up with a bay model that was fuel efficient, performed well with minimal horsepower and was affordable, all without sacrificing the distinctive Scout look and commitment to quality. The 191 Bay Scout is the result of that effort. I had the chance to run one hard all over greater Charleston Harbor this past fall, and at the end of a long day, I gave Scout's designers high marks for execution. This sweet little craft does a lot of things very well, especially considering the price tag.

An approaching weather system produced steady winds and choppy conditions in the bay, but the 191 never missed a beat. A sharp entry, flared bow and moderate freeboard kept us dry, with the exception of the occasional wind-blown spray. Slowing down resolved that. The boat didn't pound or shudder, and it responded well to throttle and heading adjustments. Bay Star hydraulic steering is standard.

Our test boat was rigged with a 90 hp Yamaha four-stroke, and even with this diminutive power plant the speedometer registered 38 mph at 5,500 rpm with two of us aboard, a comfortable cruising speed under the test conditions. The fuel economy was around 8 gallons per hour.

The bottom line is it won't cost a week's salary to fill up and run this boat all weekend with either engine. The maximum horsepower rating is 150, by the way, but that would truly be overkill.

To handle the added weight of the four-strokes without increasing draft, the 191 has a reverse transom that adds lift to the stern. The modest sponsons are also notched to displace more water. The advertised draft is 10 inches, and that's not an exaggeration. With the wind-blown flood tides, we idled way back into the marsh grass looking for tailing redfish with no problem. For an even stealthier approach, the bow comes prewired for a trolling motor, so installation of that option is a snap.

The console is just the right size - not too big but large enough to mount a sounder/plotter unit. You really don't need much more than that and a handheld VHF for coastal waters anyway. Opt for the JBL stereo with iPod jack or six-disc CD changer if you require tunes to cast by. An acrylic windshield with handrail is standard, along with a forward cooler/seat combo. Another convenient feature is the built-in tackle center below the helm. It's a convenient place to rack a couple of plastic tackle boxes, and it removes easily to provide access to the wiring and controls, easing repairs, maintenance and additional installations.