There’s no question that Hell’s Bay Boatworks produces what many consider to be the finest flats skiffs on the planet. As you might also expect, they’re not cheap.
But a new Lodge Edition offered by the Titusville, Florida-based builder has made it more affordable than ever to get into the Hell’s Bay of your dreams. That could be music to the ears of a would-be boat owner sitting on the fence in a tough economy.
Hell’s Bay president and owner Chris Peterson didn’t develop the Lodge Edition specifically for that purpose. Instead, it was designed for fly-fishing lodges in remote parts of the world, where simplicity is Rule No. 1 for boats. As a custom builder, however, Peterson has decided to honor the same package for consumers who may be looking to save a few bucks.
The Lodge Edition basically comprises a stripped down Hell’s Bay – in any model, whether a Waterman, Guide or Boca Grande. The package starts with the basic hull of any of these renowned skiffs, but instead of incorporating a center or side console with a steering wheel and a throttle, a simple tiller outboard is used for power.
Tillers are especially nice in remote parts of the world because, as Peterson says, “if there’s anything wrong with the engine, it quickly unbolts, and you can put on a replacement or spare very quickly. With a lodge, there’s no downtime, especially if they have an extra engine on hand.”
In addition to the tiller, the Lodge Edition incorporates in the cockpit a spacious dry storage box that opens aft. Positioned conveniently on top of that box are two comfortable running seats, an ideal setup that allows a guide to easily chat with his clients while cruising to the fishing grounds.
Truth be told, it’s an attractive layout for anyone, period! And along with saving a couple thousand dollars through the elimination of wiring, materials and work involved with constructing a console, Lodge Editions conceivably will lighten a boat’s overall weight as well, making shallow water all the more accessible.
The package also comes with under-gunwale rod storage and a forward-deck leaning post that is easily removed and stowed. Lodge Editions incorporate a cavernous dry storage compartment on the forward deck and an insulated box for items that need to stay cold built into the rear deck.
But which model to choose? That depends on your fishery, of course. A more flat-bottomed Whipray might be an ideal choice for Florida’s Mosquito Lagoon, but a beefier Marquesa would serve an angler better in the larger, choppier waters often associated with Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Peterson says that Abaco Lodge, in the Bahamas, just bought four Lodge Editions in the Waterman model, since its modified tunnel hull was perfect for running their rocky marls.
Regardless, the beauty of the Lodge Edition is that you’re getting the classic Hell’s Bay hull – constructed of 100 percent vinylester resins, Kevlar, uni-directional carbon fiber and ATC Core-Cell structural foam.
While the bells and whistles are always nice and often make the boat, a Lodge Edition from Hell’s Bay will get you into one of the finest flats skiffs around – at a price you’ll find reasonable.
Model / LOA
Devilray / 14’8″
Whipray / 16’4″
Waterman / 18′
Professional / 17’8″
Marquesa / 17’11”
Guide / 18’4″
Glades Skiff / 18′
Boca Grande / 18’2″
_Hell’s Bay Boatworks / Titusville, Florida / 321-383-8223 / _www.hellsbayboatworks.com