What is a Walkaround Boat?

The interminable question for boaters everywhere is, “What boat would you buy if you could only buy one?”  It’s the question we all deal with because, let’s face it, most people can only afford one boat. We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of center-consoles and skiing/wakeboarding boats, but when I think about the “one-boat” question I often end up thinking about the walkaround boat. with a full cockpit, a console steering station, a cuddy cabin with a head, and a foredeck. Here’s why I think it has a little something for everyone.

Walkaround boats like this Pro-Line offer a good combination of versatility, comfort, performance, and economy.

Walkaround boats like this Pro-Line offer a good combination of versatility, comfort, performance, and economy.

First up: fishing. If you like to fish, the walkaround is a great platform because it is primarily a fishing machine. Most of them come with lots of rod holders, fish bins, and livewells, and are finished in lots of positive-molded gelcoat for easy cleanup. Their decks are spacious and easy to walk on when focused on fighting fish, and they offer 360 degrees of access to the cockpit and foredeck.

If you only fish now and then, the walkaround still makes a great cruising platform. You can get them with refrigerators, and if a blender and barbecue aren’t on the options list, there are plenty of aftermarket alternatives. Just toss a couple of Garelick chairs on deck, mix up a batch of margaritas in the blender, and be sure to turn over the shrimp just as they get those nice black grill lines on them.

Even better, when the sun sets and the margarita glasses are empty, you can turn in for the evening, because walkarounds also come with enclosed V-berths in the bow and usually nice head compartments, depending on size. What makes them even better than cruisers is that most of them are outboard-powered and therefore lighter and smaller than typical cruisers — which also means they’re easier to tow and stow.

The interior of the Boston Whaler 285 Conquest offers major amenities in a compact space.

The interior of the Boston Whaler 285 Conquest offers major amenities in a compact space.

They offer lots of room for passengers and crew —  in and out of the sun — and they’re usually faster and more fuel-efficient than a typical cruiser, which is often rigged with twin big-blocks.

Water sports are about all that’s left, and the walkaround does that, too, believe it or not. No, it’s not the first choice for wakeboarders, but if you really wanted to, you could throw a couple of aftermarket ballast bags in the aft deck, fill them full of water, loop a rope around the rear main bar of the T-top, and you have a pretty good wakeboarding machine. Most walkarounds have trim tabs and many have twin engines, so there’s the ability to tune a wake and plenty of power on tap for hole shots with a boarder in tow.

A walkaround is ideal for so many different pursuits, I don’t understand why I don’t see more on the water. I also don’t understand why center-consoles seem to be so much more popular. Am I alone in my affinity for walkarounds? Leave a comment or opinion of your own.

 

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