When you think about center consoles, the name NorthCoast might not pop into your head, but you should get to know it. This Northeast boatbuilder’s latest offering, a beamy, midrange center console, handles big water with confidence and surprising performance.
I met Gregg Weatherby, NorthCoast’s director of sales and marketing and a longtime fishing guide, as Hurricane José pushed swells into Rhode Island Sound and a northeast wind kicked at 20 knots: a perfect day for a boat test. We grabbed some fishing rods and foul-weather gear, hopped aboard, and cruised slowly around Goat Island and down East Passage, headlong into the massive swells breaking on Brenton Reef. We’d be looking for albies for the next few hours.
NorthCoast is a division of C&C Marine, a premier builder with decades of experience making high-quality boats and major fiberglass components for other high-end builders. Owner José DaPonte purchased the brand some years back, and the result is a line of tough, high-performance center console and cabin boats from 18 to 27 feet.
Our test boat was decked out with the optional plush lounge seats forward of the console, full bolsters, a fiberglass T-top, and the deluxe fishing station/leaning post that includes seating for three, a four-rod rocket launcher in the backrest, cup holders, 35-gallon baitwell, freshwater sink, cutting board, two large tackle drawers aft, and a tackle cabinet on each side that holds 10 removable boxes, plus a tilt-out bin beneath the seats for trash or extra storage.
The large center console is molded as part of the inner liner, a nice feature that means it can never loosen up or creak with age. It has a large raised section forward that extends toward the bow, creating the base for the lounge seats, or you can forgo the cushions and mount a large Yeti cooler instead. A hatch under this area opens to a 72-gallon fish box. There’s space enough between the console sides and gunwales for ease of passage, a result of the generous 9-foot-1-inch beam, and when you poke your head in the console-access door on the starboard-side, you’re in for a surprise.
The compartment inside is roomy enough for a full-size marine head with a clever swing-away fiberglass enclosure to hide and turn the space into a night table. Why a night table? Because when ordered with the Overnight Package, the extra space transforms into a berth that sleeps two. That’s right, there’s a sleeper inside the 24-footer’s console. Talk about Yankee ingenuity!
The helm houses a pair of flush-mounted 12-inch LCD monitors, plus engine gauges, Lenco trim-tab controls with LED position indicators, switch panels, a VHF radio, and engine controls. Two storage bins, a built-in footrest and a wraparound plexiglass windscreen round out the helm area.
In addition to the four standard gunwale rod holders and the four on the back of the helm chair, five more line the back of the hardtop, and six additional rod racks sit under the gunwales. The T-top incorporates an overhead molded-in radio box, light pods, dome lights and radar base.
The two-tone deck and gunwale treatment with nonskid areas done in gray offset by the rest in white is classy. Beneath the stainless-steel anchor bow roller and hawsepipe, an ample rope locker easily handles 600 feet or more of rode. Moving aft, you’ll find in-deck storage to port and starboard, a hatch to access the lazarette, and drop-down seating for three on the transom. Valves and spigots for the raw- and freshwater washdowns sit under the gunwales, and a vertical hatch to access the raw-water pump is in the port side of the transom. A walk-through transom door on the starboard-side provides engine access.
Our test boat was powered with twin Suzuki DF200 four-cylinder four-stroke outboards that fit snugly on the Euro-style transom. The engine platform, tighter than most boats, keeps the engines closer to the transom and makes it easier to work a fish around them. The boat is rated for 450 hp, but powered with a single 300, it hits a top speed of 48 mph.
Hull construction is cored, hand-laid fiberglass with a solid bottom infused with vinylester resins. A foam-filled fiberglass grid provides rigidity, and the transom is cored with 2½-inch Penske.
Out on the open sound in rough conditions, the boat’s seakeeping ability and handling were impressive, responsive to the throttle and helm commands. The 22-degree deadrise hull worked its magic in the building chop, and it rode the big swells with ease. That and the deep freeboard provide a feeling of security.
New England boatbuilders have been designing seaworthy vessels, both large and small, for over 300 years.
The NorthCoast 24 CC carries that legacy with flying colors, and it was good to see boatbuilding still flourishing in one of its most historic locales.