I am obviously prejudiced but will try my best to keep this impartial. First I’d suggest you read this article.
This article starts off with a great picture to illustrate my points I plan to make here. The boat is upside down. The name brand I suppose isn’t important but it’s a Mako from what I hear. One of the passengers on the boat, a young boy, is family of one of our employees. We loaned them a boat to use in the search. Back to my point though. Does it matter how deep the sides are on that boat in the picture? I’ll let you answer that one, but when the sides of the Sportsman not being foam filled was listed as one of the cons, and the list went on, I was honestly a little surprised. The folks in this case were all rescued healthy, but how lucky were they? They spent the night in the water and sharks were already bumping there legs. Have any of you reading this ever seen a Key West Boat upside down in the water? Have any of you ever had someone fall out of the boat because the sides were too low? If so, did they drown? Enough of that I suppose, but safety is the top priority at Key West Boats. If we can build a boat safer for your family, we do. Once things go wrong offshore it’s too late to add flotation in the right spots.
Let’s discuss depth of a boat for a while. I like to discuss design features after all and how they affect the finished product and ease of use. Depth is important but at some point I say ‘deep enough’. Proper depth is tied to length and width to some extent. For instance a canoe isn’t very deep compared to a typical 23′ CC. An open water fishing boat of course is typically deeper than an inshore ski boat, or a bass boat, but how deep is ‘deep enough’? In the CC it needs to be deep enough to keep the passengers reasonably safe inside yet allow the fish to be landed over the side. Safety and comfort work hand in hand I think, to a degree. I had an older 2300CC that was considerably less deep than the 239FS, but it had the necessities to keep me safely in the boat, such as comfortable bolsters and toe grips built into the floor. I never fell out, and neither did anyone else. In my opinion then it was deep enough. If so then why is the 239 deeper? It’s a function of design and aesthetics. If we have a boat that is longer it looks wrong if it’s not deeper. The 239 compared to the old 2300 is over a foot longer, so it is proportionally deeper. If we kept this same depth and made the boat a full foot shorter then of course it would “look” deeper. A tape measure will tell the truth. Short story time. When we were developing the 239 amongst other highly technical pieces of equipment I used a tape measure. We had a 225CC in the line up until recently and it was a really deep looking boat, especially in the bow area. So I asked the question of several co-workers. Which is deeper; the 239 or the 225? Without fail they all picked the 225. My tape measure picked the 239. Moral of that story of course is not to trust your eyes all the time.
Moving on, the length of the 239 at 23’9″ is no accident. First of all it works out to a very well dimensionally balanced boat, but it is also the longest in the 23′ class offering the most cockpit room of any I have measured. Cockpit room = floor space in this case. In spite of the built in bench seat it still has way more cockpit room than most it its class. so much room in fact we have designed two alternative leaning post assemblies for it to use some of that space. For the live bait fishermen we have a huge leaning post livewell assembly and for the family guy we have a new convenience center consisting of a slide out cooler that doubles as a rear facing seat, plus fresh water, sink, drawers, tackle center, and more. This stuff wouldn’t fit in the smaller competition.
Engineering was mentioned. It’s not a commonly known fact but the boat building industry is lacking in engineers. Most builders do not have one at all. Yes, the designs usually come from seat of the pants guess work, which is fine at times. One of the best engineers in the business once told me I can do only so much with a computer program. We don’t know how it will actually work until it hits the water. I sum it up with, “You don’t know until you go”. For the record though, Key West Boats does have an engineer on staff. Actually we have more than one, but who’s bragging? We have a design team composed of many more years of experience than I hope to count, and we have one of the longest successful track records in the industry with the original owner still in charge. Not many can say that. We spent more time in research and development on the 239FS than some builders have been in business. You could say slow, or you could call it methodical and careful. After all, people put their families in these things, and we think a swamped boat should float right side up.