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May 28, 2009

SeaVee 430 Sport Express

SeaVee's 430 Sport Express offers yachtlike amenities with hard-core fishability.

As a semi-custom builder, SeaVee Boats has always paid special attention to the angling aspects of its lineup. It's easy to understand why. Up to now, its core market has been weekend warriors and professionals who fish their boats hard. So when the company decided to introduce the 430 Sport Express, the primary focus didn't change. What did was the addition of a luxurious cabin and some cool comfort features for those who like to mix in a little leisure and travel between tugs on the line.

"Many of our customers were asking for an express model so they could combine fishing and cruising," said company president Ariel Pared. "Our goal was to build a yachtlike finish in a hard-core fish boat with several power choices."

As local expert Capt. Dean Panos steered a course off Miami Beach, Pared pointed out the 430's highlights, starting with propulsion. Our test boat was rigged with four 300-horsepower Mercury Verado four-stroke outboards, which enabled us to cruise effortlessly at 39 miles per hour in a moderate chop. Triple 300 Verados or F350 Yamahas are other outboard choices, or the boat can be rigged with a pair of 600-horsepower Volvo diesel IPS pod drives or standard diesel inboards. Pod models are expected to provide a top speed near the 50-miles-per-hour mark. With the Verado quads, the boat topped 55 miles per hour in factory tests.

These multiple power options make the 430 appealing to a broad spectrum of boaters wanting to move up or down in size. Those who enjoy the simplicity, reliability and reduced draft of the four-strokes will lean in that direction. The IPS option offers the advantage of greater range and fuel efficiency, matched by responsive handling via the joystick control. Going with diesels also extends the already massive cockpit by a couple of feet aft, albeit with some sacrifice to below-deck storage amidships. On the outboard version, a large machinery room slots in here instead. With access through the bridge deck, it has enough overhead clearance to stash stand-up rods and other bulky gear.

Since the owner is typically the one driving, SeaVee made sure he or she stays in the game when lines are out. The radiused helm console is positioned as far back as possible so the skipper can watch the baits and still stay in control. The raised bridge deck offsets the aft footprint so forward visibility isn't compromised. Even though it appears compact at first, the console is so well designed that the multiple displays, gauges, keyboards and other controls on the test boat were totally accessible and ergonomic. The forward- and aft-facing bench seat to port keeps the crew comfortable as well. A drink cooler/serving center forward of the helm simplifies lunch or snack chores.

SeaVee is one of the best in the business for practical fishing applications, and that still applies on the 430. The starboard tackle center behind the helm holds all the  cockpit switches so no one ever has to run forward to flip on a livewell pump. It also includes a freshwater sink, a rigging tray and tackle storage. The mezzanine to port incorporates another cooler with a molded flip-out footrest and a trash bin underneath. The optional Raymarine display mounted in the backrest offered a quick sonar reference as we tended the kite baits.

In traditional SeaVee fashion, the 430 comes with considerable livewell capacity. We used the "wallet sabiki" to load the 65-gallon transom well with goggle-eyes and pilchards. To separate baits, an optional secondary deck well is available. The primary fish box on the outboard model holds 160 gallons; two more deck compartments totaling 230 gallons can be plumbed as backups.