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September 21, 2007

Scout 220 Bay

Equally at home in a nasty ocean chop or ten inches of water on the flats.

The category loosely known as "bay boats" has become one of the hotter styles on the water these days. These bay boats are called on to do a lot of everything - and fishing is foremost on the list.

Scout has been in the bay-boat business for almost two decades, and over that time the company has refined its layout and construction, not to mention its cosmetics, to a level that sets it apart as a leader in this niche. The new Scout 220 Bay is an admirable expression of this long commitment.

Two-piece construction creates a seamless cockpit and interior that makes for simple maintenance and extreme durability. Because of this "reverse shoebox" construction - so called because the liner drops into the hull and the two are bonded along the top of the gunwale - there is no chance for spray to be forced under the cap and into the hull. It's physically impossible - this is a sturdy way to put a boat together. There are no joints, cracks or screws on the inside of the cockpit.

This construction process, in combination with the foamed-in, insulated, under-deck storage bins - which serve as either fishboxes or coolers - yield an exceptionally solid ride.

Scout 220 BayGunwale height inside the boat is almost knee-high, and topped by a low-profile, stainless rail, which makes for a lot of security for adults as well as children moving around the cockpit.

All hatches on the interior feature O-rings and are tracked for drainage. Hatch lids are gelcoated inside and out with smooth, hand-finished edges. In the bow deck, the anchor locker lies forward and occupies a little more than half of the hull space below the deck. The other half is occupied by an extended rod locker on the port side of the bow deck. It racks rods up to nine feet, storing them safely and locking them out of sight. The rest of the bow deck holds an immense storage box with a single hinged hatch that raises on a gas-ram piston. A tackle-storage bin with a gasketed lid is set into the step-up on the port side and has racks for flat, plastic tackle trays.

The 220 Bay features a versatile and well-organized console. There's good space on top for surface-mounted electronics. Standard tilt steering lets the driver be comfortable while sitting or standing to keep a better eye on trolled baits. There are three rod holders on each side of the console and a grab rail outlines the windshield. Under the seat a 28-gallon live well is plumbed to a Rule pump at the rear - and when the pump goes on, so does a low-wattage light inside the well. The stern casting platform provides a clean, spacious fishing area, well equipped with storage and rod holders.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 21' 10"
Beam: 8' 6"
Draft: 10"
Fuel: 65 gals.
Dry weight w/o engine: 1,560 lbs.
Max. hp: 225
Base price w/o power: $17,216

While the 220 Bay is rated to 225 hp, our test boat was fitted out with a Yamaha 150 HPDI outboard by Florida's Vero Beach Marine, which has been rigging and selling Scouts since the early '90s. The 150 seems to provide the best balance of power and weight for the hull, at least for the Indian River, where a cruising speed of 30 mph is just about right.

Twenty knots of wind provided a nasty chop for our test drive. It looked like it was going to be a day of spray in the face, between the size of the waves and the relentless wind. Surprisingly, it was comfortable - but even better, it was dry. The freeboard on the 220 Bay, combined with an unusually high ride, put us well above the wave tops, and even above the blowing spray. The hull came up onto plane smoothly and all at once, without the expected jump-up-and-settle-down. Scouting the island shorelines, sandbars and flats, we were able to idle into less than ten inches of water on outboard power with the motor trimmed up.

Another option on the 220 Bay is Lenco trolling trim tabs. Two trolling motors, one mounted atop each trim tab, are wired through the console. A remote control plugs into the socket on the console and allows you to maneuver the boat from the front platform via a hand-held unit. Even with the stiff wind that day and the high freeboard of the 220, the trolling motors moved us in all directions with a surprising degree of precision.

Scout Boats, Inc., Summerville, SC; (843) 821-0068; www.scoutboats.com.
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