Off to port Catalina Island was a mere smudge on the horizon, on our starboard side the California coast slid by in a blur, and dead ahead calico bass were waiting to be caught. They wouldn’t have long to wait, because the Skeeter ZX22V being captained by Ben Florentino of Coastal Charters boasted 225 Yamaha horses on the transom, and was hauling its load of anxious anglers to the fishing grounds at over 30-mph. If you think that doesn’t sound very fast for this rig, you’re right—cruising speed is closer to 40-mph and top-end breaks 50. But remember, we were in the open Pacific. In fact, it’s a testament to the way this boat is designed and built that we could even think about making our 12 mile run to Florentino’s favorite kelp beds with just 22 feet of LOA.
Blasting through widely-spaced three foot waves the Skeeter felt rock-solid, thanks to construction touches like a single-piece deck constructed of sandwiched layers of PVC cross-linked foam and fiberglass. Aircraft-grade aluminum ties the stringers and transom together, distributing stress throughout the structure. Hatches—many with full-length piano hinges—are injection-molded to maximize strength while minimizing weight. Aluminum backing plates are laminated into the deck where the console’s attached. Build a boat with these techniques on a 20-degree deadrise hull, add in a pair of concave reverse chines, then give it strakes plus a transom set-back, and you get a boat that feels like granite underfoot yet has the grace of a gray-hounding wahoo. As we ate through the Pacific there were no rattles, vibrations, or slams to speak of. You can see what I mean in this video, all of which was shot in the open ocean.
When Florentino pulled back the throttle and pointed to the kelp beds, we reached for the weaponry stowed in eight vertical console rodracks, four leaning post rocket launchers, two gunwale rodholders, and the forward rodbox. One gripe with the rodbox: it doesn’t lock. If you trailer-boaters stop for grub on the way home after a day of fishing, be sure to park where you can look out the window and keep an eye on your rig.
Armed and ready for action with Castaway Skeleton rods in our hands, we discovered that there was plenty of room for four anglers to start casting: one leaning on the foredeck pedestal bike seat, one in the forward cockpit, one in the aft cockpit, and one standing on the aft casting deck. And although we weren’t fishing with live bait, if we’d opted for that mode of attack our sardines would have been just as comfortable as we were—this boat has three livewells, including a 29 gallon well in the aft deck, 30 gallons in the (optional) leaning post well, and 14 more in front of the console.
When it was time to head for the next hotspot I took a turn at the helm and found the layout functional, though there’s no dedicated space for a flush-mounted VHF. IMHO this is a must-have, and if it were my boat, I’d move the trim gauge to make room for it. There is an angled flat for your chartplotter/fishfinder, which in our case was a Lowrance HDS8. That’s a large enough screen to effectively use StructureScan, but if you want any additional screen size, you’ll have to go to surface-mounting. Our unit, incidentally, was running the new C-Map MAX-N chartography, which is just now available on units built by Navico (Lowrance’s parent company). That meant we were among the first fishermen on the face of the planet to enjoy viewing C-Map’s thorough ports and services details, contour lines, and MPA boundaries on an HDS screen.
|Fuel capacity||60 gal.|
One other stand-out feature on the Skeeter is the fact that is comes with a custom-matched I-tube all-welded aluminum trailer. This is no entry-level trailer, either: it has a swing-away tongue and jack, single-axle disk brakes, and a full-size spare tire with carrier. So this is one bay boat that will be equally at home whether you’re running up the coast, or cruising down Coastal Highway.
For more information, visit Skeeter Boats.