If you’re looking for a boat that offers excellent passenger capacity and plenty of storage, you can’t beat the deck boat. Deck boats get their name from the large, level deck that runs throughout the boat’s length.
The boat’s overall design is similar to a bowrider or cruiser, with a deep V-hull allowing the boat to cut through the water at high speed, even in rougher water conditions. These boats are popular with anglers, watersport’s enthusiasts, and people that just enjoy cruising with family and friends.
The large, spacious deck on this model makes it a great choice for anglers. Using the center console configuration for the driver controls gives the boat plenty of room for anglers to move around all sides of the vessel when chasing fish on the hook.
Some deck boats come with ample seating, while others don’t have any; it depends on the setup offered by the manufacturer. Essentially, the deck boat is the best choice for people looking for a blend of spacious storage, a large deck room, and high performance on the water. This post unpacks everything you need to know about buying a deck boat.
- What Is a Deck Boat?
- Features and Benefits of Deck Boats
- Disadvantages of Deck Boats
- Top Deck Boats Brands
- The Best Deck Boats
- Wrapping Up
What Is a Deck Boat?
The primary feature of deck boats separating them from other models is the expanded deck room and the massive storage capacity available on the vessel. The deck boat makes the most out of every square inch of space.
The boat usually comes with front deck seating and retractable swim steps at the stern to easily get in and out of the water. The deck boat also features a deeper cockpit and a wider beam than most boat styles. The beam carries further out to the watercraft’s bow, with the bow taking more of a square shape than other models.
The square bow allows for the most amount of space on the deck, accommodating all your equipment for fishing and watersports. This design concept is very different from the traditional pointy ends we see on the bow of other boat models.
Most deck boats feature hull lengths of between 20 to 30-feet, but you have longer and shorter models available to suit your needs. The size of the boat directly relates to the types of activities you want to do on the water.
Typically, the larger models are suited to fishing and cruising, while the shorter models are better for watersports. Most boats under 25-feet in length are the best options for wakeboarding, tubing, and skiing, thanks to the added maneuverability of the craft.
The larger deck boat models make for excellent party vessels, allowing you to pack plenty of people on board. Most deck boats in the 30-foot range can accommodate 8 to 12 passengers. The deck boat has a design suiting use in lakes, estuaries, and other inland water sources.
These boats don’t do well offshore, and they could result in a sinking accident in rougher ocean conditions. Many deck boats come loaded with amenities like coolers, electronics, and fishing chairs. The more equipped the boat, the heavier it is, and you’ll see a slight reduction in performance and handling in fully-loaded deck boats.
The deck boat is like a luxury version of a pontoon model, providing more amenities, comfortable seating, and better handling.
Features and Benefits of Deck Boats
Deck Boats have plenty of unique features over other boat models. Some of the features and benefits of owning a deck boat include the following.
Affordable Price Tags
The deck boat offers you one of the best value-for-money deals on the market. Deck boats vary between $20,000 to $65,000 in price, depending on the accessories and the size of the watercraft. Small, minimalist models are very affordable, and you can pick up a used model for a great deal.
Speed and Handling
The deck boat gives you fantastic speed and handling, even on the larger models. Most of them feature a center console setup for the driver configuration, allowing for a full 360-degree view of the water for drivers. This configuration is useful for keeping an eye on the skier when collecting them from the water, and it also allows for easier docking and control over the vessel.
Plenty of seating
The spacious open plan of the deck boat allows for comfortable seating in the front and rear of the vessel. Some models have dedicated lounges in the bow, while others rely more on seating in the boat’s aft.
The deck boat is a great cruiser. If you enjoy taking family and friends out onto the water, it’s a fantastic boat for cruising and enjoying your time on lakes and in estuaries. The deeper V-hull of these boats provides stability at speed and more maneuverability from the craft.
Deck boats have a reputation for having the best storage options available for all your fishing and watersports equipment. You get plenty of under-seat storage, cuddy’s, and most models feature a large storage area in the boat’s bow, under a lift-off deck.
Front Casting Decks
The bow of the beck boat usually features a raised platform for diving or casting. The size of the deck varies between models, and some might not have this feature at all.
Most deck boats are suitable for loading onto trailers to take between bodies of water inland. Some models might be wider than ten feet; in that case, you’ll need to apply for a permit to tow the boat.
The deck boat is ideal for fishing. You get the casting deck and plenty of comfortable seating around the vessel. The center console config for the driver allows the angler to walk around the ship when the fish decides to go under the boat. Many models also come with fitted fishing chairs in the bow of the vessel.
Several Motor Configurations
The deck boat utilizes several motor configurations. However, the most popular option is the outboard motor, providing plenty of power to the vessel. Most models will use engines ranging from 150-HP to 350-HP, depending on the size of the boat and your intended use for fishing or watersports. You also have options for inboard, jet, and I/O motors to suit your setup.
Deep V-Hulls for Stability
The deck boat features a deep V-hull allowing for smooth movement through water, even in rough waters. However, these boats are not the best choice for use offshore.
Disadvantages of Deck Boats
While deck boats are a great choice for fishing and water sports, they come with a set of disadvantages prospective owners need to evaluate before making their purchase.
If you’re looking for a boat to stay on the water overnight, the deck boat isn’t the best choice. While these boats usually feature sunshades, they don’t have any sleeping quarters. The lack of v-berth means that these models don’t come with amenities like heads, galleys, and showers that you find on cabin cruisers.
Large Engines and More Fuel
The larger outboard motors used on deck boats consume fuel, making running costs expensive than fishing boats using trolling engines.
Not Suitable for Offshore fishing
The open plan design of the bow on deck boats and the lower sides found on many deck boat designs mean they aren’t suitable for taking out on the open ocean for deep-sea fishing trips.
Top Deck Boats Brands
Deck boats are one of the more popular models available for your boat. As a result, almost every manufacturing brand offers you a deck model. Some of the more popular brands and models offering deck boats include the following.
- Stingray 212SC
- NauticStar 223 DC
- Bayliner Element E21
- Four Winns HD 180 OB RS
- Chaparral 191 Suncoast
- Hurricane SunDeck 187 OB
- Sea Ray SDX 250
- Regal 22 FasDeck
Let’s unpack the details of our two top choices for the best deck boat.
The Best Deck Boats
Here are our choices for the best two-deck boat models available.
The Stingray 212SC
The Stingray 212SC is the entertainer’s dream. If you want to take family and friends out on the water for a good time, the Stingray 212C is a fantastic choice. This boat features plenty of amenities and fittings, including a full Bluetooth stereo system and four waterproof speakers, as well as an enclosed changing room and head, something you don’t find on many deck boats. You also have a freshwater sink for cleaning your catch onboard and a 12-passenger capacity allowing you to start a party on the water. Bring the whole family on board, or stack it with friends for some fun on the local lake or waterways.
The driver cockpit has a center console design, and there’s a retractable bimini sunshade to protect you from the UV rays when you are out on the water on sunny days. The Stingray 212SC comes with a spacious interior featuring several large storage compartments.
When it comes to luxury, the Stingray 212SC offers you a pair of lounger seats, with a built-in cooler on the floor and lift-out fishing seats. You also have a boarding ladder for easy exit of the water and two port-side steps.
At 22-feet in length, this boat is ideal for both fishing and watersports, and you have options to set it up for either or both pastimes. The Stingray 212SC gets its power from your choice of Mercury or Yamaha 1509-HP outboard motors. You get plenty of speed out of the boat, reaching 50-mph at the top end.
The Stingray 212SC also comes with an optional fishing package including an aerated live well, four rear-mounted stainless steel rod holders, two swivel fishing seats, and removable mounting for a trolling motor for a quiet operation that won’t scare away the fish.
The NauticStar 223 DC
This 22-foot deck boat is another superstar model that deserves mention in this review. The NauticStar 223 DC seats up to ten passengers comfortably, with 11 cupholders positioned strategically along the length of the seating arrangement.
You also have a removable cockpit table that’s ideal for eating or for cleaning fish. The table folds for easy storage in the head compartment of the vessel. This boat comes with impressive standard features, including a bimini sunshade for hot days, a pump-out head and recessed shower, and ergonomic flip-up bucket seating. The vessel also comes with LED lighting for use on the water after dark.
The NauticStar 223 DC suits fishing, skiing, and cruising activities out on the water, with a ski pylon, rubber reinforced flooring lockers, and flip-up cushions allowing easy storage underneath. You also get stainless steel ladders for easy exit from the water.
The boat is a great choice for fishing, featuring a trolling motor harness, forward live well, and conveniently positioned fishing chairs mounted on pedestals. You also have options for a Humminbird 385C fish finder and GPS.
The NauticStar 223 DC also comes with a large capacity fuel tank storing 66-gallons of gas. You get an extended range from this model for a full day out on the water. The bi-fold dam works alongside the tinted glass windshield to stop air from moving through the console.
The NauticStar 223 DC also makes a great party boat, featuring a waterproof JBL speaker system and mp3 input for entertainment on the water.
Deck boats are some of the most versatile and affordable boats available. Whether you enjoy fishing or watersports, the deck boat offers you a highly maneuverable platform with all the storage you need and a powerful motor to get the vessel up to skiing speed.
The Deck boat is also a great choice for a family fun cruiser, giving you smooth movement through the water thanks to the deep v-hull on the vessel. Deck boats are a fantastic all-rounder, giving you the best option for everything you want to do on the water.
Considering the affordable price of these boats, they are a top choice for anyone looking for a new or used boat that’s reliable, packed with customizable features, and offers you excellent performance on the water.