By Jeanne Craig
Cuddy Cabin Boats: Family Friendly Fun
If you want a new fishing boat or day-cruiser that the entire family will enjoy, consider the cuddy cabin design.
In the most straightforward sense, a cuddy cabin boat is a family-friendly platform that’s nimble and maneuverable like a bowrider, but it differs from that open design because it has a cabin on the bow. That closed deck goes a long way toward creating a cozy space where you and the kids can go to get out of the sun, prepare a snack, use the head, and even catch a power nap before heading back outside for more fun on the water.
Cuddy cabin boats are sometimes differentiated from walkarounds because they don’t have a deep recessed walkway around the cabin. But the absence of that recess expands your space belowdecks, and virtually all models still have enough of a side-deck to comfortably walk up to the bow. And in many circles, it’s acceptable to use these terms more or less interchangeably.
Although there are cuddy cabin models over 30 feet, the majority of these designs are sized between 18 and 30 feet and are often engineered to carry up to eight passengers. The cabins are typically modest, with limited plumbing for a commode and sink, plus a few cooking amenities (think microwave; possibly a cooktop), and a berth. On some models cabins are equipped to offer air conditioning, but for the most part, a cuddy won’t offer as many creature comforts (such as a water heater or generator) as you’ll find on an express or cabin cruiser. But when compared to the cabin on a closed-deck runabout, the cuddy is much more homelike. The enclosed space on a runabout is typically used for stowage, not as a place to keep the crew dry, cool and comfortable.
One of the true advantages of a cuddy cabin boat is the way it combines plenty of usable space inside and out. In addition to that family-friendly cabin, there is a good-sized cockpit that may be equipped with lounges and tables for entertaining, a sunpad for a savage tan, a swim platform that makes it easy for everyone to get into the water, plus ski-tow eyes for skiing, tubing and wakeboarding. Even with the cuddy, these boats are designed for active families that want to make the most of their time on the water. Many builders of fishing boats also offer cuddy cabin models in their lineups, to satisfy the demands of fishermen who want to spend their time trolling alongside their loved ones.
Cuddy cabin models may be powered by either sterndrive or outboard propulsion. In both cases, these designs are built to offer a sporty ride and good handling. While the weight of the cabin could sap a little speed and shave a few mph off the top end when comparing a cuddy’s performance to that of an open-bow runabout, the ride is still guaranteed to get the wind blowing through everyone’s hair and generate delighted squeals from the young passengers.
Who is a cuddy cabin boat right for? This proven design is most popular with those who want some shelter, stowage space, and a few creature comforts, without upgrading to a full cabin boat with more complicated systems and a higher price. While the look isn’t as low and sleek as a runabout, a cuddy cabin also possesses the kind of sporty lines that allow active families to enjoy their time on the water in fine style—whether they like fishing, watersports, or just loafing about.
Ready to learn about some specific models? Then check out these recent cuddy cabin boat reviews:
Cruisers Sport Series 279: Cuddy Cabin, Cruisers Style
Parker 23 Walkaround: Fishing boat Done KISS
Four Winns Sundowner 265: 50 Second Video Tour
Intrepid 327 Cuddy: Fish, Dive, Cruise
Four Winns S215: Reviving the Cuddy Craze
Pursuit OS 235: Multiple Personalities
Sea Sport 2400: Used Boat Review
Jupiter 38 Cuddy: Fish in Style, Overnight in Comfort
- Jeanne Craig has been covering powerboats since 1988. She spent ten years as a senior editor at Boating magazine and ten more as executive editor at Motor Boating. She’s now an independent writer based in Rowayton, Connecticut, where she’s close to the cruising grounds she most enjoys.