You tend to get jaded when you're looking at new boats all the time, but every now and again you get a thrill that reminds you of why we're here. And why are we here? We're here to go out on boat rides. The new Proline 29 Super Sport center-console provided that reminder in the swells of the Atlantic just off of Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
This was my first visit to Point Pleasant, and I found it to be an aptly named place. It was on a lovely early summer day, with a light breeze wafting out of the southwest tossing gentle waves along the beach. I met up with Joe Colon of Clarks Landing Boat & Yacht Sales, the local Proline dealer. He sent me off with George Bischoff, a professional captain with a congenial mien and a thorough knowledge of the local water, having grown up nearby.
We left the docks and sauntered out the mouth of the Manasquan, under the drawbridge and through the raised railroad bridge, past the Coast Guard station and out the inlet, in between the jetties. Fishermen were casting for striped bass on the incoming tide, either in an eclectic assortment of watercraft from johnboats on up, or lining the bulkheads and rocks.
As we rocketed out of the inlet and out onto the Atlantic, it was instantly apparent that the Proline 29 would give an impressive, solid performance. Powered by twin Mercury 225-hp two-stroke Saltwater series outboards, the boat came swiftly up out of the hole and at wide-open throttle, with the Mercury SmartCraft tachometer reading 4800 rpm, we were doing 44.5 knots in no time. Dipping down 20 percent to find a comfortable cruising speed, we were doing 33.5 knots. All the while, there was little actual feeling of running at what would seem breakneck speeds on a lesser hull; it wasn't until you stepped away from the lee of the windshield that you felt anything approximating the speed we were going.
I don't want to sound overly enthusiastic, but here's what I wrote soon after we got back to the docks: 'The bottom took the swells and wakes like a champion charger running a steeplechase, making elegant landings with no complaint other than the vibration of hatch covers. The boat tracked smack-on and in the flat water of the river, took hairpin power turns like a jet ski. This was a fun ride and an impressive performance.' Maybe we were having a little too much fun.
The hull boasts 22 degrees of deadrise and a full nine feet of beam. The solid feel of the ride could be attributed to what Proline calls their 'Fiberglass Integrated Structural Technology.' There's no wood in the structure, just fiberglass and high-density, closed-cell foam coring. The hull is hand-laid with 3610 knitted fiberglass and covered with a three-ounce skin coat.
The foredeck is raised 11 inches, providing a broad casting platform. Under the sole the center fishbox has a full 113 gallons of volume, large enough to stow a fish as big as this bulky boater lying full length. I know. I couldn't resist trying it. It was actually quite comfortable. There are lockable rod lockers set in the sole on either side of the fishbox.
The bow rails have a low profile, and the anchor pulpit is optional if you'd rather not have anything to potentially snag a lure. The bow is notched to accept a pulpit, but the anchor rode locker is mounted in the inside bulkhead facing aft, not in the foredeck facing up, so if you do have a pulpit, the chain will drag across the deck. Other Prolines of a similar size in the marina had windlasses mounted on the foredeck, which ameliorated the problem.
The bench seat forward of the center console has a built-in cooler under the seat, and the hatch in the sole at the foot of the bench reveals the bilge where the fishbox drains funnel down into a macerator pump.
Inside the console, accessed through a bi-fold door on the port side, there's a small compartment equipped with a marine toilet. This is a crouch-into sort of an affair; they certainly don't make the console too tall in order to provide any excess headroom down there.
The optional fiberglass T-top is supported with two-inch welded aluminum struts. Outriggers and four rocket launchers off the back round out the features, along with an overhead lockable electronics box.
The helm has an electronics box protected by a lockable Plexiglas cover mounted in the dash. The Mercury controls are smooth and concise. The leaning post has deep bucket bolsters to keep you firmly in place at any speed. There's a space aft of the post for a portable cooler. Under the padded gunwales, there's secure storage for outrigger weights, washdown hoses and rod storage. Raise the seat of the settee across the transom to reveal a deep, 45-gallon bait well. There's a bait prep-station to port with a sink and a four-drawer tackle box underneath. The battery switches are behind a hatch right under the transom gate.