Is it possible to buy a new center console fishing boat which is well-built, performs up to par, and comes ready to fish, for under $25,000? That’s a tall order in today’s boat market, where it’s common to pay $2,000 per foot of fiberglass in this size range. One option that fits the bill: the inexpensive but sturdy Sundance DX 18.
The DX 18 is a thoroughly simple boat, which explains it’s thoroughly low price tag. It comes with fore and aft casting decks, rear jump seats, a 21-gallon livewell, a flip-back cooler seat at the helm, and a console with rodholders. More importantly, this is a fully-linered boat, unlike many price-point skiffs which have the black and gray spackled interior finish.
The down-side to many inexpensive boats is, of course, wimpy construction. That’s not an issue, here. The Sundance is laid up with pre-formed high-density urethane foam logs (formed in high-pressure steel cavity molds) that are laminated into the hull, so there aren’t any belowdecks voids. Added bonus: the entire bottom of the boat is essentially one big floatation device. Added peace of mind: Sundance backs the boat with a 10 year transferrable warranty.
You can push the base boat’s price even lower, to just below the $24,000 mark, if you opt for a 60-hp outboard. But a 70 is really the way to go. With a Yamaha F70 on the transom, the DX 18 will cruise at 25-mph and top out at a hair over 36-mph. In an 18-footer that’s plenty of speed, but if you want even more, up the ante and get an F90. That pushes cruise up to 30-mph, and top-end to almost 40-mph.
|Fuel capacity||24 gal.|
Thanks to the glass-over-foam construction, these boats feel thoroughly solid running through a chop. But like most skiffs that are built on flat bottoms instead of V-hulls, in big seas you do have to expect some thumps and bumps. The DX 18 has a cathedral-style bow (Sundance calls their specific design SRV) so it is drier than many similar skiffs. Other fringe benefits of the design are excellent stability, and exceedingly shallow draft.
|Test conditions: winds of 0 – 5 knots, 2 POB. Performance figures courtesy of Yamaha.|
|Power||Single Yamaha F70 four-stroke outboard, swinging a 13.5″ x 15″ three-bladed aluminum prop.|
If you want a boat that looks as good as it fishes, of course, you can order a DX 18 that’s thoroughly dressed up. Multiple gel coat colors, Power Poles, sunpads, and T-tops are all options. Naturally, these drive the price up, though not always by as much as one might think. Getting the hull in ice-blue, for example, adds just $429. So maybe you’ll want to spring for a bit extra, and pimp it out a bit. Or, maybe not. Either way, one thing is for sure: in a world of sticker-shocking center console fishing boats, the Sundance DX 18 will be a lot easier on your check-book than most other 18 foot center console fishing boats.
Other Choices: The Carolina Skiff J-series starts out with an even lower price tag, but doesn’t include items as basic as bench seats and steering wheels; read Carolina Skiff J16: Simplicity is Beauty to learn more about these boats. The Triumph Skiff 1700 provides an alternative to fiberglass, and although it is a bit smaller, also has excellent stability and low draft.
For more information, visit Sundance.