Special delivery: Sign up for the free Salt Water Sportsman email newsletter. Subscribe to Salt Water Sportsman magazine for $19 for 1 year and receive 4 bonus digital issues.
Solace Boats has entered the hybrid bay-boat segment of the market with what is considered the largest of its kind to date. The 30HCS (Hybrid Center Step) comes in at nearly 30 feet and sports twin Merc 400 Verados. The hybrid design offers a good deal of seating, many fishing and family-friendly features, and a bit less freeboard than a typical offshore center-console, but more than a bay boat.
The folks at Solace are known for building technology-driven, feature-rich boats, and the 30HCS is no exception. Everywhere you look is a feature meant to make your boating experience easier. Many of these features are exclusive to Solace boats, and the company continues to push the envelope. The 30HCS boasts advanced composite-construction materials and processes, including vacuum-infused carbon-fiber and epoxy laminates. The hull has a twin-step, variable-deadrise ventilated hull with a high-density PVC composite transom. Belowdecks, the lazarette is a molded, finely finished space housing water separators, a steering hydraulic pump, a raw-water washdown pump, stainless raw-water through-hull valves, underwater light modules, bilge pumps and more.
On deck, the 30HCS sports a pair of transom livewells, each with 30-gallon capacity. A thoughtfully designed transom bench sits atop the wells, with two cushioned seats with armrests and a clever padded backrest that pivots to let crewmembers face fore or aft. There are walk-through doors on both sides of the center-aligned livewells to access the transom swim platform that also has two pull-out boarding ladders, one on each side of the motors.
I found undergunwale racks for smaller rods, mop handles and the like. There are also two 35-gallon in-deck fish boxes on each side of the cockpit and leaning post. A standard coil hose with a selector switch for a salt- or freshwater washdown is on the port side. Just forward of the undergunwale storage are dedicated molded-in fire-extinguisher compartments, with doors to keep the safety equipment dry.
The back of the leaning post has a rigging center with a sink, a faucet, drink holders and cutting boards, along with knife and tool storage with handholds on each side. A Frigid Rigid cooler resides underneath. On each side is tackle storage for four 3700 Plano boxes. Atop the leaning post is a pair of deluxe cushioned helm seats with fold-up bolsters and armrests, delivering comfort in spades.
The console offers an intricate and ergonomic layout, with the helm offset to port, a binnacle along the centerline, a molded footrest below, and a large dash to house two standard 16-inch Garmin multifunction units. A switch panel is above the Garmin screens on the centerline. A standard ROKK smartphone induction charger lies between the two screens. Our test boat had Mercury twin V-6 400 hp engines with a joystick control mounted above the binnacle. An ACR searchlight control panel sits alongside the binnacle.
The console features molded frames for its solid tempered-glass three-sided windshield with electric rams to fully open the front panel. A windshield wiper and washer clear rain and spray. Our test boat had the molded hardtop with an optional stand-through upper station that includes an 8-inch Garmin MFD, optional FLIR night vision, phone induction charger, cushioned leaning bolster and seat, Bimini top, Garmin radar, four rod holders across the back, and two more on the back legs. The front of the console offers an integrated lounge seat for two with sculpted cushions and armrests on each side.
Entrance to the console lies to port. Inside, you’ll find 6 feet, 2 inches of headroom, a vanity with a Corian countertop, a stainless-steel sink, and an electric macerated freshwater head with an 18-gallon holding tank. There’s a lounge and foldaway rod racks. The bow features wraparound seating with backrests and dry storage underneath. A large hatch accesses the anchor locker that houses a Lewmar free-fall windlass and a stainless-steel in-stem chute with a 22-pound plow anchor. You can also stow fenders.
We tested out of Edgewater, Florida, on the Intracoastal Waterway in calm conditions. Our test boat was a bit overpropped but still performed well, with strong response to engine trim and trim tabs. The Mercury power steering let me carve turns with no slide-out or ill effects. The boat displayed little bow rise when pushed up onto plane.
Solace has focused on making angling comfortable and easier with a boat full of features aimed at keeping you and your family on the water, whether you are fishing, going to the sandbar or the tiki bar, or taking a weekend getaway across the bay. If you like big hybrid bay boats, be sure to put the Solace 30HCS on your list to check out.
- Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees F
- Location: Edgewater, Florida
- Wind: Calm
- Sea State: Calm
- Test Load: Two adults, 32 gallons of fuel, 20 pounds of gear
Performance: Mercury 400 Verado Outboards
Our Solace 30HCS was powered by a pair of Mercury 400 Verado outboards turning Merc Revolution 4, stainless-steel, 14 5/8-inch-diameter by 19-inch-pitch four-blade propellers. Here are the numbers.
|Weight:||10,000 lb. (fully loaded)|
|Price:||$579,507 (base w/ twin Merc 400 Verados)|
Solace Boats – solaceboats.com