When you take your first ride on a sixty-plus mile an hour center console fishing boat, the exhilaration of the speed and spray is overwhelming. Sixty-plus on the ever-moving platform formed by the constantly changing ocean can be breathtaking. Your senses fight to keep pace with the rapid-fire input from the moving and changing surroundings. You fight for balance, stability and question your common sense. The actual performance of the vessel is masked by the emotion and commotion created by the seas and speed. After multiple excursions through the breakwaters, the boat's personality begins to surface. Changing seas and conditions reveal the strengths and weaknesses of various hulls.
Speed and stability are often conflicting design issues. Boat builders consider it important to reach that magical top end in order to attract buyers. "Faster is better" becomes the boat buyer's mantra. Horsepower defines performance and graphics equal branding. Deals are made based upon near shore sea trials and credit checks. Bingo, you won the boat of your dreams with a twelve-year payment schedule. Unfortunately, you have just learned the meaning of "Boat Show Special". And the "US1" warranty.
The "Best in Show" NASCAR fishing platform not only "rocks the world", but shakes, rattles and rolls. Light and fast are not the only qualities you need when you are caught in eight to ten foot seas forty-five miles from the nearest inlet.
The ability to return to the dock in rougher-than-expected seas requires a vessel whose design addresses not just speed, but also durability and stability.
Hard work and the ability to adapt new and improved materials and techniques are the qualities that have allowed Island Runner to steadily grow presence in the center console offshore class.
Two decades of freethinking and "no-guts-no-glory" improvements have created a high performance Island Runner seen in offshore tournaments today. High speed has been coupled to stability and soundness through subtle yet substantial design and materials changes.
The 31 model sports an 8'6" beam. This formula for speed incorporates a sixty-degree re-entry forefoot that cleaves the waves in even the most broken seas. But the most noticeable difference is the rock-solid feel, as this boat takes the waves.
A total lack of shudder or rattle in six-foot seas impressed me on a recent sea trial.
Upon returning to the fabrication shop, the reasons for these performance improvements become evident. The hand-layed, non-production hull starts with a best-materials, best-practices mindset. Post gel coat, the entire outer shell to the foam core is vinylester resin with knitted fiberglass, as opposed to the single layer found in most boats boasting vinylester fabrication. The core cell foam is vacuum bagged into place with adhesive putty and overlaid with a knitted fiberglass. The rakes in the inner hull are filled with adhesive putty to form a smooth, void-free and consistent surface. A pre-molded stringer system, complete with rigging chases and tank supports, is bonded to this structurally sound outer hull. The inner liner with full freeboard is bonded to the hull and through-fastened and bonded to the inner liner. The final outcome is a one-piece boat that rides and handles better than equivalent custom/production vessels in its class.
The console is well laid out, with plenty of vertical space for flush-mounting electronics. The interior space offers a full six feet of headroom and includes a shower, sink, head and plenty of storage. Batteries and switches are mounted behind a bulkhead panel inside the console.
The front of the console incorporates a built-in seat/110-quart cooler combination with a very slick design. The lid is split 60-40 with hinges on the ends, rather than along the back edge of the lid. This allows you to access the cooler without raising the entire seat. It makes a lot of sense.
In the floor, just forward of the console, is a huge dry-storage bin that can hold buckets, nets and lifejackets. Forward of that, set into the raised casting platform, are a pair of matching storage areas—one for dry storage and the other an insulated 380-quart fishbox that drains overboard. In the bow deck, the anchor locker features a vertical standpipe slotted to hold a Danforth-style anchor. Cleats and bow lights are all pop-up, and all latches are flush-fitting Gemlux electropolished stainless. The bow deck provides plenty of space for throwing a castnet.
A fishing boat that travels or a traveling boat that fishes—take your pick. The Island Runner 31 handles either job with ease.
|Island Runner 31|
|LOA: 31'4"||beam: 8'6"|
|draft: 20"||weight: 3,500 lbs.|
|fuel: 220 gal.||water: 30 gal.|
|transom deadrise: 24°||maximum hp: 500 hp|
|Base price w/o power: $62,500|