The first big cold front of the season had just come roaring through the day before, and it was blowing stink, hard out of the south. In short, it was a perfect day to run the new Pursuit 3480 Center Console.
The model I inspected at the Chesapeake dealership at Rhode River Marina was a prototype, one of only two in existence at the time. It had all the hallmarks of a lean, mean, fishing machine, with plenty of working space fore and aft of the console. The hull has plenty of freeboard and a lot of flare at the bow, leading me to believe that we'd be in for a steady ride in spite of the blow.
The console itself has an optional hardtop that extends well back over the bolster seats. The dash features an Edson stainless wheel, silky Yamaha throttle controls, and room on the high dash for two big Raymarine C120 chartplotter screens, and a highly visible Gaffrig Performance trim tab indicator. The digital Yamaha monitoring gauges are arrayed across the base of the dash, along with all the necessary switches. There's no windshield to speak of, just a snap-off plastic mini-enclosure.
Access to the interior of the console is through a sturdy gasketed hatch in the forward bulkhead, eliminating that awkward side approach endemic in most center-console layouts. There's plenty of headroom and the marine toilet is easily accessible even for a knee-impaired gimp like me. Also readily accessible in this compartment are the batteries and battery switches, the oil fills for the twin Yamaha 300-hp HDPI outboards, and the Clarion Marine CD player with Sirius satellite capability. Snap out the vinyl headliner and you've got ready access to the wiring behind the dash as well.
The forward cockpit has two large fishboxes in the sole on either side of a big, insulated 'coffin box.' This removable option has a cushioned lid, providing a nice bench seat for gentle running. The thigh-high gunwales are protected by bolsters, and the bow rail is recessed to avoid snagging lures. The bow deck has a non-skid textured surface. If I had one critique, I'd beef up the pop-up cleats; even they didn't seem adequate for such a hefty boat.
The aft cockpit features a 52-gallon circular livewell behind the leaning post. There are rod holders everywhere,four behind the seats, three on either side of the console, and six rimming the back end of the hardtop, not to mention four more in the gunwales aft and two more forward. This model was equipped with Cannon Uni-Troll HP downriggers mounted on the transom in addition to the outriggers mounted on the hardtop.
The transom also features yet another large bait well, a large gate, and a handy built-in cutting board with punch-outs to keep knives, tools and lures handy. A small hatch in the transom hides the tackle drawers. There are two more big fishboxes in the sole.
If you consider the fishboxes or the coffin box as storage areas, you're fine; but if you're planning to fill these with fish, there isn't much other storage to speak of. There's a plan to offer bench seating in the bow for future models, which would have storage underneath.
Another hatch in the aft cockpit provides access to a hold where all the filters and seacocks are collected for convenience.
Captain Bill Tongue was kind enough to take time off from rock fishing to take me out for a test drive. When we left the protection of the Rhode River the Chesapeake was chock-a-block with four-foot chop, but the Pursuit tackled the topography with grace, providing an astonishingly soft ride under these conditions. Even in that rough stuff, the boat tracked smack-on.
After getting a good impression of how well the boat dealt with the waves, we ducked into the West River where, despite the whitecaps, the surface was comparatively flatter. We clocked the top speed at 47.2 knots at 5700 rpm and a comfortable cruising speed of 43.5 knots at 5300 rpm. The boat took tight turns with aplomb.
Once back at the marina, the crew hauled the boat on the boat lift, and the secret to the boat's remarkable ride was revealed. A deep, sharp entry with lateral running strakes and a hard reverse chine. The deep V hull evened out to a 24.5 degree deadrise at the transom, providing stability even in those cross waves and confused seas. The exaggerated flare of the bow kept us relatively dry, and the spray deflected admirably to the sides. Overall, it was a most impressive ride, for once under conditions worthy of the test.