By Tom Thompson
Shamrock 290 Offshore: Sea Trial
Shamrock 290 Offshore: This compact contender offers rugged fishability.
Shamrock has been making tough little boats for more than 30 years. The Cape Coral, Florida-based builder specializes in under-30-foot inboard fishing boats. That’s all the company does — and Shamrock does it very well.
The new 290 Offshore is another increment in an ongoing evolution. It’s a boat that will get you out where the big ones are.
The 290 Offshore is a stablemate of Shamrock’s popular 290 Walkaround. Although it retains the same hull and mechanical systems, the deck and cabin layout are all new. The open cockpit provides more space, including room for a fighting chair — and there’s a large foredeck to fish from, as well.
The boat comes standard with a half tower. A full tower is available as a factory option. While the walk-around models Shamrock builds can serve a dual purpose for fishing and cruising, the 290 Offshore came off the drawing board as a dedicated fishing machine.
The 290 Offshore’s cockpit is a well-conceived angling platform. It’s spacious and fully bolstered.
A 38-gallon livewell is in the transom — and it’s high and lighted, so you don’t have to struggle to get bait. A large fishbox stretches almost the entire beam of the boat. It has a removable liner and a macerator, making it easy to keep clean.
A large, swing-out transom door with a flip-up gate helps anglers land the really big ones. The cockpit sole has a molded-in plate to secure a fighting chair — and it’s fully scuppered, for quick cleanups.
A pair of pedestals are provided on each side, along the forward part of the cockpit. To port, there’s a bait prep station with a sink. To starboard, there’s a cutting board.
Each pedestal has a storage locker. The portside locker has built-in tackle boxes. The storage compartment doors open inward, so there’s room for a pair of optional aft-facing jump seats.
The 290 Offshore features a centerline helm station with a comfortable, adjustable swiveling seat. Full engine instrumentation is provided along the starboard side, leaving about three-quarters of the angled panel available for mounting optional electronics.
Throttle controls are dual binnacle, mounted to either side of the steering wheel. The entire helm tilts back to allow access to wiring and electronics.
Benches on either side of the helm can each seat two people. Lift the cushions, and you’ll find insulated coolers concealed in their bases.
Under the Hood
There are two ways to gain access to the engine compartment. One is a day hatch along the centerline, just abaft the helm seat. It lets you get at everything you’ll need for quick daily checks. For anything else, the entire upper cockpit deck is an electrically operated hatch that rises to allow full access to the engines.
Our test boat had a pair of 315 hp Yanmar diesels, one of the largest block options available for the boat. Still, we found ample room to work along both sides, front and back.
With Shamrock’s inboard engine configuration, the center of gravity shifts forward, making for a better ride. It also frees up space at the transom that can be devoted to larger baitwells and fishboxes.
One thing that immediately impressed me was that everything in the engine compartment is labeled for easy identification. From switches to seacocks and from battery boxes to through-hulls, you’ll know exactly what everything is without having to get out the owner’s manual.
The 290 Offshore’s cabin is compact, but it’s surprisingly comfortable for a boat this size. The interior is decorated with attractive fabric and cherry wood cabinetry.
There’s a V-berth in the bow and a settee along the starboard side that can convert into another sleeping berth. A removable dining table conveniently stows out of the way when it’s not in use.
The galley is tucked away to port, and it comes with all the basics necessary to whip up a complete meal. It has a single-burner electric stove, a microwave oven, a sink and a dual-voltage refrigerator.
Not one, but two hanging lockers fill the need for cabin storage space. Anglers will especially appreciate the rod holders, provided along both sides of the cabin.
Most boats in this size range have an enclosed head, but few can boast of 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom. The 290 Offshore’s head compartment is fiberglass lined, for easy cleanup. It has a mirrored door, a flush toilet, a vanity and an opening port.
Although Shamrock equips its boats with numerous standard features, some notable — and worthwhile — options include air conditioning, an auxiliary generator, outriggers, a swim platform and several types of cockpit enclosures.
Power to Run
The 290 Offshore we tested was quick off the line, coming on plane in about eight seconds. The diesel turbos took about four seconds to spool, after which you could feel the acceleration bring the boat out of the hole. There was minimal bow rise, with no need to correct with trim tabs.
There was a tight feel to the 290′s steering — and it handled superbly. It took turns very well at cruising speed — and it was equally responsive when backing down and performing slow-speed maneuvers.
The hull gave us a smooth, dry ride in a moderate chop. Visibility from the centerline helm position was excellent.
If you’re serious about sportfishing, Shamrock’s 290 Offshore has the speed and maneuverability it takes to go after the big ones, wherever they may be lurking offshore. Despite its compact size, you’ll find a big array of standard features aboard — and more comfortable interior accommodations than you might expect.
Shamrocks are lucky — and if you like to fish, this one just might be an especially lucky pick for you.
Shamrock 290 Offshore Specifications
|Length||30’10″ (including bow pulpit)|
|Bridge clearance with half tower||10’5″|
|Fuel capacity||250 gallons|
|Water capacity||30 gallons|
|Propellers||Four-blade 19″ x 25″|
|Base price with twin 330-hp Crusader 5.7L MPI gasoline inboards||$147,000|
Power options (all twin)
Crusader 5.7L MPI 330 hp
MerCruiser 5.7L Horizon MPI 300 hp
MerCruiser 6.2L Horizon MPI 320 hp
Yanmar 240 hp
Yanmar 315 hp
|Top speed||32.8 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 29.9-knot cruising speed||1.45|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles||$103.45|
|Range at 29.9-knot cruising speed||362 statute miles to empty|
|Sound level at cruising speed||88 dBA|
(Performance figures are for model equipped with twin 315-hp Yanmar diesel engines. Estimated fuel cost is based on a fuel price of $1.50 per gallon.)
Hand-laid fiberglass hull, constructed using woven 36 ounce roving.
38-gallon lighted baitwell; fresh and raw water washdowns; electric stove; AC/DC refrigerator; hot water heater; bronze underwater fittings; Clarion AM/FM CD stereo system with four speakers and remote control.
Options on Test Boat
Half tower; electronics package; auxiliary generator; windlass.
For More Information
Shamrock Sport Fishing Boats
Cape Coral, FL