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‘Tis the season, and whether it’s the lake, river, or the ocean you love, you know it’s calling your name. You might be browsing the boats for sale and in the market for a new toy this year to enjoy some fun in the sun or the quiet of a fishing cove. One of the most popular boat designs across a variety of small-boat markets is the center console boat design.

These boats are generally the first choice for many water enthusiasts who look for utility and versatility. The center console boat is a performer, can handle rough water and comes in a variety of configurable options. The manufacturers behind them are well-established and well-known for quality engineering, too. But there may be at least one drawback to the center console boat. Before you buy, you’ll want to make sure it’s not a deal-breaker for you.

The center console boat is one of the most popular

Load up the fishing gear or water skis; everything works well with a center console boat. These fuel-efficient boat designs are popular in a host of circles, particularly because of the functional layout. The center console, as you might imagine, is in the center, allowing for incredible balance on the water and increased visibility in all directions. Those are key selling points and advantages, according to Seaborn Boats. Storage space is convenient and efficient for all the coolers, life jackets, and tackle boxes, as well.

Where flexibility and fun meet

The center console boat can be smaller in size, and the standard 20- to 30-foot lengths work just fine for most. But you can find these designs on boats big enough for bunks, air conditioning, and a miniature galley if that’s what you had in mind.

They’re typically easy to navigate for even the less-than-seasoned captains. And they come in a host of fun styles, making it practically impossible to configure a center console boat that isn’t enjoyable for your water adventures.

The one (and maybe only) big drawback

Boat Trader points out that no matter how many amazing qualities a boat has, it’s tough to find one design that does everything perfectly. Even the super-popular center console boat has a drawback worth noting. With the console situated in the center of the boat, you’ll likely be compromising seating capacity and passenger space.

In fact, skiers and wakeboarders might be better suited with other hull forms and deck gear. Divers will likely prefer different seating options, as well. The center console is really best suited for anglers who appreciate that 360-degree access. It may be the jack of all trades in the boat arena. But it really might only master the water from a fishing perspective.

How to tell if it’s a deal-breaker for you

Open deck fishing, with room to cast and maneuver, is ideal on the center console boat, according to Fish Talk Magazine. But if you enjoy a variety of water activities beyond the rod and reel, you might want to consider all your boat design options. If you’re hauling more people in a recreational sense, seating, comfort, and storage is going to matter most. This is where some experts say the center console loses ground. It boils down to understanding what you plan to use your boat for and how many people and things need to come on board.

No matter what boat design you decide to buy, you’ll likely have to compromise on at least one aspect. The center console boat is a perfect fit for many water enthusiasts and families. But if you have more than the boat can hold, another style might work better.