Far from ordinary, setting the trends for the future, redefining comfort and fishability, this new offering from the Doughertys is an exceptional example of design and craftsmanship that is consistent with their vision: building the best-designed and best-built production boats you can buy.
Everglades Boats has consistently produced boats that are beyond ordinary in every way. They are doing things other boat builders only dream about. Powder-coating all the exposed metal components, building electrical systems to military specifications and providing standard features that others have as options. Simply put, creating long-term value for their owners.
I attended the Everglades Boats Dealer meeting in Edgewater, FL last fall and saw the prototype of the 290 Pilot. It was just a hull with a mock-up console created from a scale model Bob Dougherty built. (Bob is still going strong in his mid-70s and probably has made more important design innovations than anyone in the boating industry. He and his son Stephen are the driving force behind Everglades Boats, and as a team, have built the most successful new boat company in the industry.) There were so many unique and functional aspects to the boat that were just design concepts at that time, we all wondered if it could be pulled together in time for the Miami International Boat Show. Not only was the Everglades 290 Pilot ready, it won the 2005 NMMA Innovation Awards in Miami, sole winner in the Fishing Boats category for innovative achievement.
The 290 Pilot is a day boat with legs. It has enough range for a 250-mile outing with fuel to spare. What this means to the fisherman is the oil rigs and other distant areas are reachable with relative ease. The Command Console allows for all-weather running and converts into a fully-enclosed, Dougherty-designed pilothouse. There is almost no wind noise with the doors on, which makes for a less fatiguing boating experience. This is not a triple engine King Mackerel Tournament speed demon for young guys that like to hang off the tee-top to preserve their dental work and knee joints. It's more akin to a Lexus Sedan than a Corvette. Not to say this is a slow boat by any means--with twin 225 hp Hondas or Yamahas, it will reach out and touch 50 miles an hour.
One of the first things you notice upon boarding this boat is the seating. There is a brilliantly-designed dual-use stern jump seat built for strength and durability using aluminum and epoxy-powder coat. Two handles operate this feature--one deploys the very comfortable seat and the other raises the whole apparatus to reveal the "service entrance". Another piece of 1/4-by-10-inch aluminum C channel across the stringers supports two starting and one house battery that are held down with a stainless steel clamping system. Above the batteries is a neat wiring harness for the onboard charging system and battery monitor systems. Below, and within easy reach, are the pumps, thru-hulls and rigging tubes. This is just good design. The circuit breaker panel is above deck for easy access and includes an emergency crossover switch for the engines and batteries. The Fisherman's Transom sports six rod holders and comes complete with a bait prep area, a water spigot and a slide-out cooler. On the starboard side is the transom door, fitted with a very high-quality magnetic latch that secures the door in both the closed and open positions.
Moving forward to the rear of the console you'll find a 66-gallon lighted live well with extra aeration system, surrounded by a truly functional tackle/rigging station. The rigging station features multiple drawers and compartments with ample room for baits, rigs, lures and tackle components. Knife and pliers holders are at your fingertips and the bait well lid doubles as a full-size cutting board. To the right is a sink plumbed for both fresh and saltwater. There is lighting above for night vision as well as a rear spreader light to illuminate the cockpit. Overhead there are six rocket launchers as well as two pointing aft for rigging convenience. Kingfish rod holders--one of the few options on this boat--point out laterally from the rear corners of the top. At your feet is one of two huge, below-deck fish boxes.
Coaming pads and toe rails are incorporated into the gunwales as we move towards the unique "Pilot Console". The console sets this boat apart from the rest. There are two distinct driving positions, both comfortable and selectable by either the passenger or the driver. The retractable bolster can be in the leaning post position, or as a full seat with backrest and footrest molded into the console. There is even an armrest with stainless steel beverage holders between the seats. The dashboard has ample space for flush-mounted electronics and features a retractable, motorized "security shield" to protect the screens and provide a clean look. Our test boat had the Honda Fuel Management system installed which is incorporated into the tachometer and speedometer and tied into the engines ECMs for accuracy.
Overhead, the hardtop's underside features two electronic boxes--one forward above the dash and one aft, between built-in stereo speakers. The underside also features both red L.E.D. lighting for preserving night vision and white L.E.D. lighting. Atop the hardtop are Taco adjustable 18-foot outriggers. They are easily accessed from below with no gymnastic abilities required.
Below this "command center" is a very large step-down shower/head. The head is made of porcelain and utilizes a Y-valve and holding tank. With six feet of headroom and plenty of ventilation, claustrophobia is no longer an issue. You could comfortably read the newspaper in there if you so desired. There is a sink and counter space with plenty of storage and a sump pump in the floor for the overhead shower. This is a great asset to divers as well as to those just wishing to freshen up after a long day on the water.
As we look toward the stern from the bow area, another feature that is unique to this boat becomes apparent--a curved, tempered glass windshield with an automotive style wiper/washer. This is a first on a boat this size and is an extremely useful feature. Below the windshield on the front of the console is an aviation-inspired dual seat, with headrests, that is undeniably comfortable. The bow seating area is nicely cushioned and has two large storage compartments and two lockable rod lockers for eight rods. This area is perfect for sunning or socializing and makes this boat a little more useful than the hardcore fish boats devoid of creature comforts. The bow floor consists of a 160-gallon fish box with pump and drain. On the front of every 290 Pilot is a standard windlass. The anchor locker it feeds will hold enough rode for even the most dedicated deepwater bottom bouncer. High intensity docking lights are built into the hull and are also standard.
The patented RAMCAP(TM) hull is consistent with the Everglades look--with the sweeping, turned-down spray chine around the sharp entry and the 21 degrees of dead rise at the stern. The average dead rise is 37 degrees. This means there is enough vee to soften the seas but not so much as to make the boat unstable at rest. Recessed trim tabs are standard, giving even more control to compensate for load, wind, and sea state. The RAMCAP(TM) process results in a one-piece, rigid hull structure, which is unsinkable and feels and sounds more solid than traditional construction methods. The foam core is high-density and hand-fitted to its structural spaces. Then the hull and deck are vacuum-bonded together for a truly unsinkable boat. This process is unique in the industry.
The Everglades 290 Pilot combines big boat performance with trailerability. A 3/4-ton vehicle will have no problem pulling it, although many will reside in boat lifts. This is a head-turner that can fill the needs of families who play and fish hard and who demand the security of an uncompromising and unsinkable offshore boat for the safest experience on the water.