Perfection Is In The eye of The Beholder
Since 2005 I have owned bay boats and discovered one absolute. There is no perfect bay boat for everyone. For me, my carbon elite 24 Yellowfin comes pretty damn close. I have chosen three times to take the first boat out of the mold for a new design with Yellowfin Yachts and have owned 8 of their boats purchased right from the factory. Not once have I been disappointed and this is no exception. Let me tell you about my latest build.
First Off, Lets Dispel The Rumors
The Yellowfin Carbon Elite 24 hull is not a knock off of the traditional Yellowfin 24. It IS the same hull bottom, there are no differences in the shape or running surface. Beam , length and lines are all the same as the standard boat. The engineering is different. This boat is made out of carbon fiber in effect the hull is much lighter and more rigid than its fiberglass counter part. Actual percentages of weight saved is speculated to be 25 - 30% over all in the build. My rig weighs 2200 lbs.
My Set Up
I chose my boat to be pretty static for a build. I felt that if I was going to use composite materials for my boat then I should compliment the build by keeping it light. The new smaller console, standard leaning post with swim platform and two power poles attached to my jack plate that is a 10" set back. Yes there is a "sandbar stereo" system by Rockford Fosgate in it that I don't feel adversely affected the weight. The over kill (and I really Love it) is the two 7612 Garmin touch screens coupled up to the C Zone switching system. My Power option was a bit extreme but oh my goodness well worth it. I just love the Mercury Racing 400r as my power choice. For the shallows the Motorguide Xi5 is my choice for trolling motors with a 36 volt set up. After that there are no fresh water tanks, tower, extra pumps or do dads that really should be in a 42.
First 6 Months
This boat has been a pleasure to own and operate. She looks like the day she came home and runs like new. I have roughly 300 hours here in my Key West fishing on the motor and its a champ. All the systems in the boat are fully operational with not a single issue. There are no stress cracks and the build seems to be just fine. I would consider this boat to be well broken in by now and at this time I plan on keeping it for a long time to come.
I am not sure of exactly what the boat draws in inches but I will tell you this. The Motorguide Xi 5 from bottom of the skeg to the top of the prop is deeper than this boat will float. I have been in shallow enough water still floating where my trolling motor was useless from being up too high to clear the bottom. I don't want or need a bay boat any shallower. My clients catch bonefish in this boat regularly casting from the deck. If I had to guess I would say the boat floats in 10 - 11 inches with three men, 1/4 tank of fuel and a light bait well.
I had some concerns about the ride of this boat and the handling characteristics with it being so light over my other 24 Yellowfins. I thought the boat would not hold the water well and may be a little flighty or bouncy. Not the case. This thing rides great and subsequently the weight loss made the boat even dryer. I have been studying the reasons the boat rides better and I feel that due to its weight loss the boat rides on top and re entries are not as "heavy" as my other boats therefore allowing the boat to slide back in avoiding the slam or the pounding. My carbon elite rides right on top nice and flat with great trim response and throttle management its a very nice comfortable boat.
Deck and Console Changes
Like all things in boats we are constantly evolving the pieces and parts to make them fit more of a market to be liked by more people.
The console changes were a good and bad. I love how I fit behind the console, the kick plate is not an option anymore its standard and I find myself using it all the time with my butt up against the leaning post. Very comfortable driving position. There is not as much dash space as in previous versions but after a while I don't miss it. The front seat is great for me I like my anglers who sit up there to have the security it offers with the sports car bucket seat feel but as a family boat I can see the one butt seat limiting to many people considering this option, the standard console was certainly more friendly in this department. There are give and takes to this console design, look at both of the styles and decide for yourself.
The deck changes are a matter of taste. I like the changes for myself and what I do but I consider myself pretty adaptable. It makes the stepping up to the deck easier on me day in and day out. I am sure the hatch and compartment under that first step area will be evolving into different things as the build morphs more, currently I use that hatch for misc items that I do not mind getting wet like my dive gear and free diving fins, I don't really consider this a cooler compartment as its intended simply because the ice can slide around too much and melts quickly. For the casting deck area I am a big guy and the supports that are created by the uprights to separate the three storage compartments has made the deck more rigid. The traditional "deck flex" found in the fiberglass 24 Yellowfins is gone. I spend a lot of time on the deck fishing and have not found the seemingly less square footage of deck to limit what I do. The separated compartments are cool but not something I would look for in contrast to my other 24s. The old deck and joined compartments made it easier for weird sized stuff to go up front like camping equipment, photo gear and what not that just wont fit in a compartmentalized space. This might be an issue for some.
The Rockford Fosgate Stereo
I know there are some folks that have read what I had to say here about this boat just to get to the part about my Rockford Fosgate sound system. IT ROCKS.. My Rockford Fosgate Amps are hooked up to my Garmin Meteor 300 this thing is amazingly crisp and the sound is incredible. I have both JL and Rockford Fosgate systems on different boats and I have to say I like the Rockford Fosgate system better. No hiss and good sound across all the volume levels. The Blue tooth allows me to listen to whatever I want when ever I want. its a very cool system.
Note: I was concerned about the grilles on the speakers pitting or rusting over time. No problems at 6 months in the salt air.
My rig has the Mercury Racing 400r Verado. This motor is built off the same successful platform as the L6 Mercury Verado. This motor is a Gorilla. 7000 rpm makes for easy prop selections that will offer a great hole shot and spool up to great top end speeds. My motor is a 25" motor on a 10" setback Bobs Jack plate. Currently for work day in and day out I spin a 22 Bravo I FS built by Mercury Racing lab finished propellers. My boat fully loaded ready to fish will pull a 70 mph top end and cruise nice at about 44 with a 3.8 MPG efficiency. I can throttle back to 38 mph and get 4.2 mpg but frankly thats just not fun. The boat runs its best with 1/2 tank of bait well water added.
Empty without the MotorGuide trolling motor and batteries my boat will run in the high seventies. Yes the batteries up front matter allot. With a 2200lb rig and 300lbs of batteries right in the nose the center of gravity is heavy up front increasing the drag coefficient just enough to make it matter in top speeds. If speed meant more to me than it does I would put the trolling batteries in the back compartments or find a solution under the back seat. This would make my rig FLY and may even push it over the 80mph mark empty.
Power options are vast with this rig. I am certain that the Mercury 300 Verado Pro with the smaller diameter gear case would be a great performer on this boat as well.
Is It What You Want?
Thats up to you. Its costs more, runs faster and floats shallower but at the end of the day you have to be happy with it. I know I am.