Boats and gear share spotlight

Posted on Written by Chris Landry
The Cobia 344CC was one of seven models that Maverick launched at its media event in Florida.

The Cobia 344CC was one of seven models that Maverick launched at its media event in Florida.

Boatbuilders are working closer than ever with their vendors, integrating electronics, propulsion, safety and electrical systems into their boats. So why not have representatives from those companies at boat-introduction events? For the second consecutive year the Maverick Boat Co. did just that, corralling some of its key vendors for a media event on the east coast of Florida in July.

“We value our relationships with our vendors and the media,” says Charlie Johnson, marketing director for the Fort Pierce, Fla., builder of Pathfinder, Maverick, Hewes and Cobia powerboats. “We wanted to give [the media] an opportunity to have access to our boats, our people and the products that are on our boats.”

Representatives of Yamaha, JL Marine (Power Pole), Raymarine, Costa Del Mar, Shimano, Motor Guide and Gem Products were on hand to show their equipment mounted on MBC boats. The companies got a chance to deliver short presentations during the first evening of the event, which was held at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort & Marina.

Motor Guide showcased its Pinpoint GPS technology on its Motor Guide Xi5 trolling motor. It uses a GPS to hold the boat on a fixed coordinate by engaging propulsion to adjust for wind and current. It also stores and recalls as many as eight positions, and while in “Anchor” mode the directional controls can be used to move the boat in 5-foot increments in any direction. I’ve used Pinpoint, which can be operated with a handheld remote, and it’s a godsend in certain fishing situations, such as patrolling the mangroves for snook.

Yamaha showcased its new F115, which was mounted on a Maverick 18 HPX-S. On the Pathfinder 2600 HPS, dual Raymarine aSeries GPS fishfinders anchored the electronics.

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Johnson says the three-day event allows journalists to take their time collecting data, talking to experts, and shooting photos and video. “They can do all this in a laid-back atmosphere to produce a variety of stories,” he says, “but perhaps the most important aspect is to let [the media] interact with our boats and the equipment on our boats.”

Fishing from the Cobia 344CC

For the event, MBC launched seven models (all open boats) from 17 to 34 feet, including the new Cobia 344CC. This monster center console retails for $219,299 with twin Yamaha F350s. I had a chance to fish from one of two 344CCs in the water at the resort. The boat leads the Cobia fleet as its flagship.

Twin 50-gallon live wells in the cockpit anchor the fishing equipment on the 344CC. Keeping the bait alive during a long day is a challenge, so MBC has built in a pressurized live-well pump that ensures a consistent supply of raw water for the tanks. The pump is key because the 344CC, like a growing number of center consoles, is built with a stepped hull. “It allows, certainly with a stepped-hull boat, a better lifespan for your bait,” says MBC president and CEO Scott Deal. “A stepped hull aerates the bottom, and that can lead to problems with water flow. You want to keep that water coming and keep it from becoming all bubbles.”

Live bait is crucial for the type of fishing we were doing — going for albacore, sailfish and dolphin by trolling several baits. Unfortunately, the sharks were out to spoil my day of fishing. I caught one shark of about 3 to 4 feet, and then I almost landed an albacore. I had it 15 feet from the boat before a shark tore it from me, leaving only the blood-dripping head dangling from the end of the line. Yamaha’s Martin Peters had the most fruitful day, bringing in a 35-pound sailfish.

The 344CC was powered with triple Yamaha F300s. For such a large boat with 900 horses, the 344 delivered some relatively impressive fuel efficiency, getting about 1 mpg at 40 mph. The boat chomps through a 2- to 3-foot chop, and even with five guys on board there was plenty of room to move about.

Family-friendly features

We trolled with at least four lines in the water all morning, using two of the outriggers. MBC equips the 344CC with plenty of fishing equipment, of course, but it also holds functional seating and amenities (such as a bow table and a huge forward above-deck cooler) to support family outings. “People are more multifaceted in how they do things these days, and they want more utility out of the things they buy,” Deal says. “Even though I might be a hardcore fishing guy — and tomorrow I am going to hop in and leave at 4 in the morning and go tuna fish on the east side of the Gulf Stream — I might also this weekend take some people out for a sunset cruise. So I need to have a flexible design.”

On the 344CC, the stern bench seat folds up and into a recessed area of the live well console. The dinette table in the bow lowers and becomes flush with the deck. “The market for the ultimate hardcore fishing boat has gotten to be very small and is shrinking,” Deal says.

In addition to the two 344CCs, the builder had five other boats in the water: the Maverick 17 HPX-S and 18 HPX-S, the Pathfinder 2200 TRS and 2600 HPS and the Cobia 296CC. Journalists fished from the Pathfinder 2200 TRS, Pathfinder 2600 HPS, Cobia 296CC and Cobia 344CC.

Maverick also used the event to brief the media on the health of its business. The company now employs 203 workers, an increase from 161 last year. It is running three work shifts 24 hours a day for six days each week, and there has been a 91 percent production unit increase since 2011. The company says it has grown its retail business by 55 percent since 2011, led by the Cobia brand at 121 percent.

Deal describes his company as a “multiniche builder,” covering the flats-boat market with Maverick and Hewes, the bay-boat market with Pathfinder and the center console/family-fishing market with Cobia.

This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue.

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