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Southport Boats 33 FE (2018-)
(w/ 2 x 300-hp Yamaha F300 4.2L)

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Brief Summary

The Southport 33 FE is a premium center console designed and equipped to stand up to real offshore fishing, but a number of design elements added to her interior, making her useful for coastal family day cruising and entertaining as well. We consider her to be one of the best-built, best-finished center console boats on the market, a strong rival to the very best boats at the pinnacle of the many brands in this category.

Key Features

  • C. Raymond Hunt Associates-designed hull
  • Four-piece construction with foam-filled composite grid stringer system
  • 100% composite construction (no wood), with all vinylester resin
  • 300-gal. polyethylene fuel tank located amidships
  • 75-gal. aft port/starboard insulated in-deck fishbox/dry storage
  • Upholstered foldout transom bench
  • 35-gal. transom livewell
  • 6' long berth/storage area inside console
  • Fusion stereo system with 4 speakers
  • Finely finished T-top on heavy-duty welded aluminum frame
  • 3 multi-colored LED overhead lights
  • 10-year structural warranty -- transferable
  • 1-year bow-to-stern warranty
  • Specifications

    Length Overall 32' 6"
    9.91 m
    Beam 10' 8"
    3.25 m
    Dry Weight 10,324 lbs.
    4,683 kg (w/ engines)
    Tested Weight 11,644 lbs.
    5,282
    Draft 21.5"
    54.61 cm
    - Draft Up N/A
    - Draft Down N/A
    - Air Draft N/A
    Deadrise/Transom 22-degrees
    Max Headroom N/A
    Bridge Clearance N/A
    Weight Capacity N/A
    Person Capacity N/A
    Fuel Capacity 300 gal.
    1,136 L
    Water Capacity 30 gal.
    113.6 L
    Length on Trailer N/A
    Height on Trailer N/A
    Trailer Weight N/A
    Total Weight
    (Trailer, Boat, & Engine)
    N/A

    Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.

    Engine Options

    Std. Power 2 x 300-hp Yamaha 4.2L 4-stroke
    Tested Power 2 x 300-hp Yamaha F300 4.2L
    Opt. Power Not Available
    2 x 350-hp Yamaha 5.3L 4-stroke

    Test Results - Change Measurement Unit

    RPM MPH Knots GPH MPG NMPG Stat. Mile NM dBa
    600 4.2 3.7 1.2 3.5 3.0 945 821.7 58
    1000 6.1 5.3 2.5 2.4 2.1 653 568.2 69
    1500 8.5 7.4 4.3 2.0 1.7 534 464.1 72
    2000 10.2 8.8 7.1 1.4 1.3 389 338.0 76
    2500 13.2 11.5 10.0 1.3 1.2 358 311.5 84
    3000 16.0 13.9 12.6 1.3 1.1 343 298.1 86
    3500 24.8 21.6 16.7 1.5 1.3 401 348.7 87
    4000 32.6 28.3 22.9 1.4 1.2 384 333.7 87
    4500 37.3 32.4 28.4 1.3 1.1 355 308.5 89
    5000 41.4 36.0 35.6 1.2 1.0 314 273.4 90
    5500 46.9 40.7 47.3 1.0 0.9 267 232.5 94
    5900 48.7 42.3 52.8 0.9 0.8 249 216.6 99
    RPMNMKMKPHLPHKPLdBA
    600 821.7 1521 6.80 4.54 1.49 58
    1000 568.2 1051 9.80 9.46 1.02 69
    1500 464.1 859 13.70 16.28 0.85 72
    2000 338.0 626 16.40 26.88 0.60 76
    2500 311.5 576 21.20 37.85 0.55 84
    3000 298.1 552 25.70 47.70 0.55 86
    3500 348.7 645 39.90 63.22 0.64 87
    4000 333.7 618 52.50 86.69 0.60 87
    4500 308.5 571 60.00 107.51 0.55 89
    5000 273.4 505 66.60 134.76 0.51 90
    5500 232.5 430 75.50 179.05 0.43 94
    5900 216.6 401 78.40 199.87 0.38 99

    All fuel consumption numbers are the total for all engines in the boat. Speeds are measured with Stalker ProSports radar gun or GPS. Fuel consumption (gallons per hour) measured with Floscan digital fuel-flow meter or by on-board factory-installed diagnostic instruments. Range is based on 90% of published fuel capacity. Sound levels determined using Radio Shack digital decibel meter on A scale. 68 dBA is the level of normal conversation. Time to plane is measured from start of acceleration to formation of rooster tail behind boat.

    Performance Chart

    Performance Chart

    Acceleration Times & Test Conditions

    Time To Plane 4.0 sec.
    0 to 30 8.2 sec.
    Ratio 1.75:1
    Props Yamaha 15 1/4 x 18
    Load 2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear
    Climate 82 deg., 86 humid; wind: 3-5 mph; seas: 1'

    Captain's Report

    Contents of Report

    Southport 33 FE running
    The Southport 33 FE has a LOA of 32’6’’ (9.91 m), a beam of 10’8’’ (3.25 m) and a draft of 21.5’’ (54.61 cm).

    Overview

    The Southport 33 FE is an exquisite center console designed and built for the enthusiast who wants a versatile boat that can fish effectively and also serve family boating needs. That’s why this model is called FE, which stands for Family Edition. Southport Boats now builds five models on this 33’ (10.06 m) hull, including a dual-console design, but we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the FE is the most popular version.

    The Southport 33 FE has been designed from the running surface up to perform, but she also has some curves, such as a reverse transom and tumble home, that make her an attractive vessel. Almost no reasonable expense has been spared on the build of this boat, so she provides the consumer -- right out of the box -- with nearly everything needed to go to the canyons in reasonable conditions, or to cruise with friends to the islands for a day-trip picnic.

    Southport 33 FE
    From the reverse transom with a hint of tumblehome to the cutter bow with its Carolina flare, the lines of the Southport 33 FE will catch the eye of old salts and newbie yacht spotters alike.

    We have been watching Southport for 12 years as the brand has evolved and new models have been added. Southport's boats have always been first rate in virtually every detail. The tooling is superb, the finish work impeccable, and this boat’s fishing amenities and equipment are among the best in class.

    The Back Story

    Right from the beginning in 2003, all Southport models have been designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates, which is located in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The founders of the Southport brand were boatbuilders who cared passionately about building an open boat that looked beautiful and was made as strong and as seaworthy as the size and type would permit.

    Over the years Southport has been owned by various entities who were undercapitalized and the boat really never got the traction one might expect for such a high-quality boat. In 2011, Southport was bought by the owners of Kenway Corp. in Augusta, Maine, a custom composites manufacturer that has been in business since 1947, and which owned several other boat brands. These owners breathed new life into Southport, while at the same time embracing the vision of its founders. The Southport 33 FE is the largest boat in the company's three-hull, seven-model line. Because the Kenway owners were boating and composite-tech savvy, the techniques used in the craft of boatbuilding over the last 15 years evolved, along with the build quality.

    In 2017, Southport Boats was acquired by Carbon Craft Inc., a builder of custom carbon-fiber yacht tenders. Both boatbuilders are managed under the auspices of a holding company called Tuxedo Yachts.

    Southport 33 FE deck plan
    This deck plan of the Southport 33 FE graphically shows the proportions of the forward seating area and the cockpit abaft the leaning post.

    Hull Dimensions

    The basic specifications of the Southport 33 FE go a long way to telling her story. She has a LOA of 32'6" (9.91 m), a beam of 10'8" (3.25 m), and has a dry hull weight of 9,200 lbs. (4,173 kg) light, without engines. She has a variable-deadrise deep-V hull with a deadrise of 22-degrees at the transom. When we compare her to other premium boats in her size range, we discover that her beam falls pretty much in the middle.

    Southport 33 FE running
    She is a boat that has all of the design cues that appeal to center console connoisseurs.

    What Makes the Southport Beautiful?

    Certainly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when it comes to boats there are some generally accepted design features that signal an appreciation of the best that the breed has to offer. Some of those cues are an S-shaped sheer, a well-executed reverse transom, tumblehome in the stern quarters, pronounced Carolina flare, and a clipper bow.

    All corners and edges must be rounded with a radius that is -- again -- just right. Veteran connoisseurs of yachts instinctively know what the angles all should look like, and of course C.R. Hunt Associates is among the world's best artists in this class. Indeed, it might well be that our nautical eye has been trained over the years by naval architects such as John Deknatel, head of the Hunt firm.

    Let’s take a look at her onboard features.

    A Gentleman’s Center Console

    Yes, this is a man's boat, and a fisherman's boat at that -- but she doesn’t go out of her way to be a stripped-down fishing machine. Quite the contrary, the 33 FE's interior is sculptured, edges are rounded, proportions are classic. The boat's exquisite fit-and-finish will say a lot about the owner of this vessel and his knowledge of boats. In short, the Southport 33 FE is a "Gentleman's Center Console." Let’s make an in-depth inspection of her.

    Boat Inspection

    Southport 33 FE running
    The Southport 33 FE is the Family Edition version, with versatile seating and an oh-so-smooth ride.

    The Transom

    The all-composite transom is where the pair of 300-hp Yamaha F300s are mounted in the second mounting hole. The outboard rigging is tidy, with a tube for each engine holding the fuel and throttle and shift lines, and the steering hydraulic lines. The splashwell runs the entire width of this aft section, and is 6” deep. Southport has put a piece of polyethylene decking here at the starboard side to level the surface abaft the transom gate for safe transit.

    Bluewater anglers should consider the transom door as the scupper of last resort in the case of lots of green water coming aboard, something that rarely happens -- but if it does… The 33 FE's transom gate opens out, as it should, and will dewater the boat in seconds.

    Southport 33 FE transom
    The red arrow points to the horizontal insert to help stepping aboard through the transom, the white arrows indicate to twin 2” (5 cm) straight-pipe scupper outlets, and the green arrow indicates the Volvo Penta intercepter-type of trim tab which we prefer to the conventioal flap type of tab. Note the stainless steel molding around the outboard cut out.
    Southport 33 FE gate
    The transom gate opens outward and makes it easier to access the outboards.

    A pair of stainless steel emergency reboarding steps are mounted on the lower transom to allow boarding, and they are designed to serve as handholds as well as steps. A stainless steel grab handle is mounted to the reverse transom at the hullside, which facilitates boarding from these steps.

    Southport 33 FE reboarding steps
    Emergency reboarding steps, as required by ABYC standards, are robust. Obviously, they should only be used with the engines turned off.
    Southport 33 FE fuel filters
    Fuel filters and fuel line primer bulbs are located at either end of the splashwell, and can be reached by leaning over from the cockpit.

    Our inspection of the transom also revealed the presence of Volvo Penta interceptor-style trim tabs. These black boxes mounted on the lower edge of the transom deploy a blade 1” to 2” into the flow of the water, changing the trim of the boat. The tabs are equipped with an automatic mode that lets them adjust to the motion of the boat to stabilize running in a seaway.

    Southport 33 FE trim tabs
    The Volvo Penta interceptor trim tabs are mounted along the aft edge of the running surface. Note the ring for a tie-down strap.

    Cockpit

    The Southport 33 FE has a versatile cockpit in keeping with the dual nature of this boat’s mission. Our test boat cockpit measured 9’ (2.74 m) wide by 4-1/2’ (1.37 m) long. That’s more than 40 sq. ft. (3.72 sq. m) of space. The cockpit sole has three hatches in it. To either side are the insulated fishboxes, with openings that measure 13 ¾” (.35 m) by 4’ (1.22 m) under gasketed lids held open by gas-assist rams so one can dig around in there with both hands. Inside, the boxes stretch 8’ (2.44 m) from one end to the other – large enough for skis or wake boards, and rolled-up water toys. The lids have turn-and-lock latches.

    On centerline is another locker aft that measures 3’ to 2¼” (.91 m to .69 m) wide by 1’5½” (.44 m) long by 1’9” (.53 m) deep. This locker also serves as a mechanical space, housing the sea strainer and 1,100-gph pump for the livewell and salt water washdown. On the port end of the transom is the hatch where the batteries are stowed.

    Southport 33 FE cockpit
    The Southport 33’s cockpit is 40 sq. ft. (3.71 sq. m.) which provides plenty of space for two anglers working fish, or with the transom seat folded down, it’s good seating for entertaining.
    Southport 33 FE locker
    The centerline locker provides stowage in the cockpit but it also serves as a mechanical space with access to livewell and bilge pumps, and the livewell strainer. The seat flips up to give complete access to the space.

    Fishing Features. The cockpit has many fishing features including eight rod holders (many of these stainless rod holders do double duty as beverage holders as well as rod holders) in the covering boards around the cockpit, three to each side and two in the transom. There are also rod racks beneath the gunwales to either side, to stow six rods out of the way.

    Even though our test boat was the FE instead of the fishing-oriented TE version, the hardtop had no fewer than 11 rocket-launcher rod holders welded to the frame on its aft end. The cockpit is surrounded by bolsters, except at the transom gate. There’s a 35-gallon (132 L) livewell in the transom, plumbed to drain overboard, and it’s painted blue inside to keep the fish calm. What won’t keep the fish calm is the butt end of the rod holders that jut into the livewell from the covering boards, an odd design misstep for Southport.

    Southport 33 FE live well
    The livewell will hold plenty of bait and can be pressurized with that gasketed lid.
    Southport 33 FE cockpit bolsters
    Thick cockpit bolsters surround much of the space and lend support for fish-fighting anglers, or passengers who like to lean on the side when seas get rough.
    Southport 33 FE rod holders
    Under-gunwale rod holder stow two outfits per side in the cockpit.
    Southport 33 FE shower
    A pullout shower in the cockpit is handy both to the transom gate and the optional dive door, not to mention the substantial 2x 2” (5 cm) scuppers in each stern quarter.

    The Side Door. Our test boat had the optional dive door in the starboard hullside. The covering board had a hinged section, held in place with a stainless slide bolt on its underside. That folds over aft, out of the way, and the door folds in, with a beefy stainless latch with a positive locking button at its center pivot point to keep it shut.

    This door makes boarding easier for less-agile passengers or children at a floating dock. Some would suggest a variety of other functions, such as reboarding crew after open-water swimming, or a scuba diver, or using it to bring a large tuna or other game fish aboard.

    Southport 33 FE dive door
    The optional dive door is finely finished and allows easy boarding from a floating dock.
    Southport 33 FE door latch
    The dive door benefits from a beefy latch, and that button at the rotation point pops out when it’s latched.
    Southport 33 FE latch
    The latch on the covering board section is also rugged stainless steel.

    Fishing Amenities

    Offshore Ready. First of all, the Southport 33 FE is "offshore-ready." That is the most important fishing feature of all. Her relatively high topsides (without being ugly), her Carolina bow flare and buoyancy forward make her as seaworthy as virtually any open vessel in class can be. That, coupled with her wide side decks and four 2” (5 cm) diameter, direct-line scuppers, two to each side at the transom, and the outward-opening gate for emergency dewatering, means that thought has been given to keeping water out – and then getting it out fast should it come aboard in sloppy conditions.

    Southport 33 FE scuppers
    This is one of two double 2" (5 cm) scuppers in the aft end of the cockpit. This is what we consider "best practices" in scupper design in this class of boat.

    Personal Comfort – Cockpit Depth

    There is a thick, padded bolster cushion nearly all the way around the cockpit gunwales with a 28" (.71 m) coaming height, and continuing forward. The only places on the boat where the bolster is not present are on the transom gate and next to the console on either side. They resume coverage around the bow seating area to provide back support for the forward bench seats, or as a balance aid if the forward cushions are stowed and the area is used as a casting deck.

    Anglers fighting fish will find plenty of boat to lean against. Coaming height is 29” (.74 m) amidships and 34” (.86 m) forward.

    Southport 33 FE combing pads
    Combing pads make for comfortable leaning, whether fighting a fish or bracing against them in a rough sea.
    Southport 33 FE fish box
    The Southport 33 FE has some of the most well-designed fishboxes we have ever seen. This fishbox is 8' (2.44 m) long inside and one of four fishboxes aboard.

    Fishboxes Galore

    There are four, large dedicated fishboxes: two forward under the built-in seats that are 6' (1.83 m) long and have a 57-gallon (216 L) capacity each. Aft in the cockpit deck there are two more 8' (2.44 m) lockers that have an even greater capacity each. All of these boxes have gasketed lids with turn-and-lock latches, are insulated and drain overboard.

    These fishboxes are large for a boat of this size and are useful for stowage as well as keeping the catch. On an open boat it’s key to guest comfort to have the places to put gear, towels, fenders, and other equipment, so everyone can relax and get around without tripping over the stuff people seem to need to bring aboard, and without worrying it will blow over board at speed.

    The Leaning Post

    The leaning post had an aft-facing bench seat with a pair of drawers beneath it for stowing odds and ends. On our test boat, a coiled shore power cord was in one drawer while the other held the docklines.

    Cockpit Seating

    Aft Bench Seat. Most boats in class have a transom bench seat and so does the 33 FE. When it comes to a ride, this is the best seat in the house, the outboard noise notwithstanding. This seat is wide and finished like the upholstery forward, but most important is the super-strong stainless steel bar stock that Southport has used to make sure these seats will be in service as long as the fiberglass hull. Check out other boats in class and you'll see what we mean. Also, some seats are easier to deploy and fold back up, than are others. Again, the Southport seat we encountered was well engineered.

    Southport 33 FE bench
    The upholstery on our test boat was just one tone with a contrasting bead welding. Note that the seat extends from the port side bulwark to the transom door.
    Southport 33 FE upholstery
    Two-tone upholstery is also available. This image is from another model.
    Southport 33 FE bench
    Take a look at the size of the ss bar stock used to support this seat.
    Southport 33 FE seat
    This aft-facing seat on the leaning post will probably see some use in family edition mode. It’s the best place to sit while trolling.

    The aft-facing seat has a backrest that folds up, transforming the seat into a counter on stainless steel hinges. This workspace will be helpful for prepping food, or rigging baits or lures for fishing. The counter is finished with a nonskid surface, the better to keep everything in place there.

    Southport 33 FE counter
    This counter is handy and clever, making dual use of the seat which won’t be needed when rigging baits.
    Southport 33 FE detail
    This kind of detail sets the Southport 33 FE apart: rugged, well designed hardware like the hinge on the leaning-post seatback. Here it is folded down…
    Southport 33 FE detail
    … And deployed.
    Southport 33 FE leaning post
    The standard leaning post has two cabinets and three-drawers for tackle. It can be a bait-prep center if fitted with the optional grill or a mini on-deck galley. Anglers might want to put a second livewell here.

    The leaning post on our test boat had tackle stowage in lockers to both port and starboard, and each has space for six plano boxes as well as drawers to stow tools like pliers and bait scissors, spools of leader, and more. A stainless steel refrigerator may be a smart option for one of these spots.

    Southport 33 FE plano boxes
    Plano boxes let anglers organize gear and equip the boat for species-specific expeditions, so having dedicated stowage for them shows Southport understands the fishing mindset.
    Southport 33 FE refrigerator
    The optional fridge keeps cold drinks handy without always having to ship bags of ice.

    On the forward side of the leaning post is a fold-down aluminum footrest, adding to the versatility of the seating position. There’s also a hatch in the front end of the leaning post that grants access to stowage and in there we also found the pumps and reservoirs for the SeaStar electro-hydraulic steering system.

    Southport 33 FE foot rest
    A flip-down footrest and padded bolster on the forward side of the leaning post adds flexibility to operator positions. Note the SeaDek underfoot, where a pie-plate hatch and larger soft patch grant access to the fittings atop the fuel tank.
    Southport 33 FE access
    The easy to access SeaStar steering pumps with reservoirs are mounted beneath the leaning post.

    Helm Seating

    Of all of the finely finished upholstery on the boat, we like the construction and finish work of the helm and companion seats the best. The pictures on this page speak for themselves. This seating is called a "leaning post" but it certainly isn't the one one’s daddy was used to. The seats are plush with multi-density foam, have firm side supports, and the obligatory flip-up bolsters, and moveable armrests. They are not pedestal seats that can wobble, but rather are firmly connected to the fiberglass structure below.

    Southport 33 FE helm seats
    The helm seats are versatile with flip-up sections that can serve as leaning bolsters, fold-down armrests at each end and at the center, and fine custom stitching and bead-welded edges. The cutouts in the back mean ventilation on hot days.

    Superior Design. The helm seats are designed to offer a variety of comfortable positions. The wheel is on the port side. The seat is designed to accommodate two adults and is nicely upholstered with cutouts in the back for ventilation on hot days, and custom stitching in the seatbacks. The forward end of each seat has a hinged section that can flip up to serve as a bolster if the driver or passenger want to lean or stand.

    Beneath the flip-up bolster on the forward part of the leaning post is a fixed, padded bolster to make leaning more comfortable for drivers or companions of nearly any height. The seat has fold-down armrests on centerline and at each end, and the end armrests have a positive locking latch to keep them in the down position for a feeling of security.

    Southport 33 FE arm rest
    The security of a padded, steel-framed armrest is hard to beat when the seas pick up.

    The standard leaning post has two cabinets and three-drawers for tackle. It can be a bait-prep center if fitted with the optional grill or a mini on-deck galley. Anglers might want to put a second livewell here.

    Southport 33 FE leaning post
    An alternative two-tone upholstered “leaning post” is also available. These seats are among the most comfortable on the market, in our opinion.

    Console

    The console has a molded dashboard that places steering wheel, throttle-and-shift binnacle, joystick, and trim tab control on an elevated, angled base and places them easily to hand. The stainless steel Edson wheel with steering knob is mounted on a tilt base, and the compass is mounted atop the console in line with the wheel to keep things on course.

    The Yamaha electronic shift and throttle works hand-in-hand with the SeaStar Optimus 360 joystick system for close-quarters maneuvering.

    Southport 33 FE vhf
    The black-box Garmin VHF is concealed in the console and controlled by the GHS 10 wired handset hung on the port side of the console.

    The helm dash of our test boat was equipped with a pair of 16” (.41 m) Garmin GPSMAP 8617 touchscreen multifunction displays. There’s room for displays up to 19” (.48 m) on the panel, and in fact, our camera boat was so equipped with a pair of Raymarine units.

    On a panel below, the dashboard had the Yamaha CommandLink plus display, which tracked and displayed engine information including fuel burn and economy, rpm, and speed. The Volvo Penta interceptor tabs have a dedicated control pad, with indicator lights and auto setting. Switches to operate onboard electrical systems, with reset breakers placed right next to them, are handy right across the panel, along with two 12-volt accessory outlets at the starboard end. A glove drawer beneath stows odds and ends.

    Southport 33 FE helm dash
    The upper panel of the helm dashboard has plenty of real estate for displays: These 16-inch-diagonal displays don’t fill the space…
    Southport 33 FE display
    And in fact, our camera boat had 19” (.48 m) Raymarine displays, with instruments in between.
    Southport 33 FE dash
    The helm dashboard is organized and uncluttered.

    The console is proportioned to fit in the space on deck, with wide walkways to either side that let an average-size man pass by with ease. There’s a beefy aluminum tubular frame built around the console that supports the finely finished fiberglass T-top above. A frameless acrylic windshield is mounted on brackets mounted to the forward posts of the frame, and is served by a single electric wiper mounted to its top. The windshield does not butt up against the console or the T-top with this mounting system, so air can still pass by.

    Southport 33 FE windshield
    The windshield would have served to block some spray if we had any on our test.

    The Head. There’s a two-piece door on the starboard side of the console that allows entry to the interior. The top half of the door is hinged and opens upward with the help of two gas-assist rams. This clever design makes it easy for grown men to enter the head without having to crouch down.

    The compartment has a freshwater marine head equipped with a 12-gallon (45 L) holding tank, an opening oval Bomar portlight, and a sink with pull-out shower. Our test boat had some hanging compartment bags to stow lightweight items. Behind a mirrored locker door is a hatch that allows easy access to the backside of the helm dash with its electronics. The house battery is in a locker, and there’s a crawl-in berth measuring 77” (1.96 m) long.

    Southport 33 FE door
    The two-piece door makes it easy to get in and out of the console, which is a major stumbling block for many center consoles.
    Southport 33 FE head
    The head is uncluttered and has 6’2-½” (1.89 m) of headroom. Note the two steps and the 6 holes for vertically stowing rods when away.
    Southport 33 FE wiring access
    Access to the wiring on the back of the dashboard is through a hatch inside the console, though we wouldn’t mind seeing safety covers on the tips of those sharp machine screws holding the multifunction displays in place.
    Southport 33 FE shelf bag
    This removable shelf-bag will help prevent smaller items from getting lost in the shuffle of the larger stowage in the console.
    Southport 33 FE berth
    The berth inside the console extends forward beneath the foredeck. While it will serve for an overnight in a pinch, it’s also a good place to stow all of the removable onboard cushions for fishing outings.

    Fishing Details

    There are six vertical rod holders in the head compartment, and horizontal rod racks under the gunwales that will hold 7' (2.13 m) long rods. The standard T-top has rocket launchers and pads for mounting aftermarket outriggers.

    Standard T-top

    Every offshore open boat should have a T-top, and the one on the Southport 33 FE comes standard. It is also a bit larger than normal, extending back well over the helm seats. The top itself is made of a light-but-strong composite material. The top is held up by four aluminum supports that can be powder coated as an option -- something that we recommend.

    Southport 33 FE t top
    Our test boat had 22’ (6.71 m) outriggers mounted on the T-top.

    The four aluminum supports attached to the deck are positioned as close as possible to the console and leaning post, and both are molded to work with the T-top frame design. The advantage of this system is that much of the strain of supporting the T-top is transmitted directly to the cockpit sole, which is supported by the grid belowdecks. The aft supports are also attached to the side of the console and provide handholds for standing passengers. Overhead are multi-colored LED lights and aft there is an LED deck flood light.

    Bow

    The bow area is where the 33 FE really shines, thanks to a versatile use of the space that meets the needs of both the family and fishing missions of this boat. The forward-facing seat on the front end of the console has a padded backrest and an insulated drink box beneath the seat cushion, measuring 14” (.36 m) by 2’ ½” (.62 m) by 5” (.13 m) deep, and closes with a magnetic latch.

    Fishboxes/Storage. The molded-in benches forward with gasketed lids can be used as fishboxes or for dry storage. The openings measure 13 ½” by 43 ½” (.34 m by 1.10 m). There’s also an in-deck locker forward between them.

    Southport 33 FE foredeck
    The foredeck is rigged with fishing in mind. It’s finished in non-skid and has a pair of zero-degree rod holders as well as pull-up cleats and a pull-up bow navigation light fixture that minimize snagged lines. Kids will like it, too, as it can also be a diving platform without protrusions to stub toes.

    There are low-profile stainless steel handrails along each side of the bow seating area to meet ABYC specifications. A pair of padded seatbacks turn these benches into forward-facing lounges, and those seatbacks are set into zero-degree rod holders (meaning they hold the rod vertically), with nylon inserts so they mount solidly, slide in and out easily, and, thanks to the rod holders, add to the fishing-feature list as well as the family comfort package.

    A hinged step fills between the forward end of these benches. It uses two-part hinges to allow the step to be removed easily. The step is latched in place in the down position by a stainless barrel bolt on its underside.

    A Picnic Table. There is an optional table with a gas-assist hi-lo pedestal that mounts between the benches. With the table in the low position, a filler cushion makes this a large sun pad area. With all of the cushions stowed, this area becomes a casting deck.

    Southport 33 FE bow
    The bow has a pair of welcoming benches suitable for lounging. The step at the forward end also has a filler cushion (not shown).
    Southport 33 FE non skid
    We would like to see a more aggressive nonskid finish atop this hinged step. Two-part hinges mean it’s easy to move out of the way.
    Southport 33 FE optional table
    The optional table can turn on its pedestal to simplify seating around it. The table and the eating add immensely to the boat’s utility.
    Southport 33 FE bow table
    The bow table seats six comfortably. It has a gas-assist, dual-height pedestal that allows it to lower to make a casting platform or with cushion, a sun pad.
    Southport 33 FE filler
    Here we see the bow of the 33 FE in full sunning mode. It’s large enough for three people.

    Standard Ground Tackle System

    The broad foredeck area has a hatch for access to the ground tackle. There’s a horizontal Lewmar windlass to retrieve the anchor, and it has a cable snubber to keep it from deploying unintentionally. An 8” (.20 m) pull-up cleat is on the centerline. There’s good access to the rode in the locker to manage tangles.

    Southport 33 FE windlass
    The Lewmar windlass is mounted inside the bow chain locker and there is good access to either side to the rode.
    Southport 33 FE wide deck
    The wide covering boards on the sides and clean bow surface enables more secure access from fixed piers at low tide.

    Construction

    Southport 33 FE vacuum bagging
    Vacuum bagging and resin-infusion makes for a lighter hull that is just as strong as a heavier one, because the ratio of glass to resin is optimum.

    State-of-the-Art Construction

    Another strong point of the Southport 33 FE is her construction. Like virtually everything else in the boat, it is done right and with the latest industry "best practices." All major parts are made with vacuum-bagged resin-infused lamination. This permits a glass-to-resin ratio that maximizes strength and minimizes weight. Even today, not all premium builders of center consoles in class use this technique, and still use hand lay-up which is inevitably resin-heavy.

    Any Color

    Southport says that any color may be selected by the customer for the gel coat. After the gel coat is applied the builder says they hand-apply a double thickness of vinylester resin. This is what keeps the hull from blistering and stops water osmosis. All strakes are filled in with a solid, proprietary composite material and then covered with two layers of 45-degree knit glass fabric, according to the builder. This is a good practice for two reasons: 1) it keeps the strakes from being easily damaged; and 2) it adds extra stiffness to the bottom.

    No Woven Roving

    Woven roving, usually 20 or 24-oz. used to provide the major strength of boat hulls, and still does in many. However, more high-tech builders have gone to other fabric weaves that have been developed over the last decade or two that soak up less resin and provide more strength. Knitted, bi-axial glass fabric is placed in strategic locations where stresses are greatest. Southport says that it uses the same laminate scantlings that are employed in offshore racing boats.

    All Vinylester Resin

    Once the sheets of glass are placed into the hull, the vacuum bag is placed over the hull and the boat is infused with a pre-measured amount of vinylester resin. Here is another place where Southport departs from virtually all other builders -- they tell us that they use 100% vinylester resin in the hull. This is a huge difference.

    Not only is it stronger than the polyester resin most builders use, and stops all possibility of water migration in any direction, but it is also much more costly. We only know of a handful of builders that go to the expense of using 100% vinylester resin in hulls, rather than just a skin coat or two to prevent blistering.

    Southport 33 FE airex
    The Airex composite transom spreads the load across the hull.

    Handsome Transom

    No part of an outboard-powered hull receives more abuse than the transom. It is here that the torque of the outboard engines -- up to 700-hp in the case of the 33 FE -- and the G forces of a couple of thousand pounds of iron bouncing up and down on the transom are all directed to what we call the boat's "epicenter of stress". To handle this challenge, the builder uses a "full width section of high-density Airex PXC-385 reinforced structural foam.”

    Airex has perfected the art of closed-cell, glass fiber-reinforced foam that has very high mechanical properties. It is especially strong in compression and sheer and is ideally suited as a core material in this application. It replaces plywood that has traditionally been used in boat transoms. In fact, there is no wood used anywhere in the 33 FE's hull, deck or other structures.

    Southport 33 FE stringers
    The 33 FE's molded stringers in process, one of the four large lamination that make up the Southport 33 FE structure.

    Molded Stringers

    Like many of the best boat builders, Southport laminates its stringers in molds which means the outer surface is smooth gel coat. The traditional method of stringer-making was to use plywood or contoured foam as the form and then slather resin and glass over them by hand. Because Southport uses molds, the outer surface of its stringers are as smooth as the boat's hull. Further, the molding method ensures precise dimensions, exactly the right glass-to-resin ratio, and means that there are no rough edges to chafe through wires and fuel lines. The stringers are then foam filled and chemically bonded to the hull with Plexus, the methacrylate adhesive that is used by the best boat builders. It is actually stronger than the fiberglass laminate itself. Methacrylate has revolutionized boat construction over the last decade or so and is one of the reasons there are so few hull-to-deck failures these days on even the most abused hulls.

    Southport 33 FE arrows
    Arrows point to the wire chases and the channel for the fuel fill.

    Below Decks

    Once the stringers have been placed in the hull, the wiring, plumbing, fuel lines, storage bins, and polyethylene fuel tank (note that it is not aluminum which can corrode), the whole area under the deck and between the stringers is foamed which keeps everything in place and protected, in addition to creating flotation and making the boat more quiet when running through chop.

    Final Assembly

    Next, the molded liner is installed and bonded to the stringers and hull with methacrylate, and the deck is put on the same way. Finally, the helm console, leaning post assembly, and T-top are all installed. They are built off line where it is more efficient.

    Note the intricate mold work for the trim tab assembly.

    Other Quality Items

    Needless to say on a boat of this level, all hardware is 316 stainless steel and through-bolted with backing plates. Most boats these days come standard with either stainless steel or bronze thru-hull fittings. Southport departs from those metals, preferring instead to use ABYC-approved, non-corrosive Marelon thru-hull valves.

    Southport 33 FE helm seat
    The optional refrigerator goes under the helm seat.

    Options to Consider

    There is virtually nothing that we could recommend for most people to add to this boat as an option. Scuba divers or aging baby boomers might want a side door. Those planning more than casual entertaining should consider a grill on the leaning post console. Keen fishermen will want to add a few things in the aftermarket, but that is about it.

    Southport 33 FE side door
    The optional side door seen from the dock.

    A Thruster. Some boaters moving up might be concerned about docking a boat this big in a tight marina with cross currents. They may want to consider an optional bow thruster, or the Yamaha Helm Master with joystick. We think a bow thruster will do the trick and it saves a lot of money as well.

    A Shady Proposition. Owners planning on using the 33 FE mostly for picnics and classy outings with friends might want to consider an awning for the bow seating area. While such an aftermarket addition will shock center console purists, the fact is that family boats that will be at anchor any length of time during the mid-day simply need more shade. We are beginning to see stow-away awnings on three or four poles used on center consoles in the Mediterranean and our guess is that the idea will make its way to the U.S. in time.

    Price

    Base price with twin 300-hp Yamaha engines is $309,000.

    Southport 33 FE gelcoat
    Southport says it will mold in any gel coat color wanted. We'll take the Navy Blue seen here.

    Observations

    The Southport 33 FE is a boat designed and built for connoisseurs of fine yachts. She is not intended for Joe-six pack and his friends, nor is she intended for people with lots of funny money who have no interest in the finer things in the boat-building art. They will not appreciate the Southport 33 FE for the jewel that she is. Nevertheless, the 33 FE is expensive by nearly any measure. And sadly, it simply costs a lot of money these days to build a boat as well as it can be done, even for a company like Southport which is located in Maine. But for those who appreciate fine yacht-building and who know the value of it, we think this is a boat that one can be proud of for a very long time.

    Test Result Highlights

    • Top speed for the Southport Boats 33 FE (2018-) is 48.7 mph (78.4 kph), burning 52.8 gallons per hour (gph) or 199.85 liters per hour (lph).
    • Best cruise for the Southport Boats 33 FE (2018-) is 24.8 mph (39.9 kph), and the boat gets 1.5 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.64 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 401 miles (645.35 kilometers).
    • Tested power is 2 x 300-hp Yamaha F300 4.2L.

    Standard and Optional Features

    Systems

    CD Stereo Standard
    Head: Fixed Standard
    Washdown: Fresh Water Standard
    Windlass Standard

    Exterior Features

    Outlet: 12-Volt Acc Standard
    Swim Ladder Standard
    Transom Door Standard
    Side Door Standard

    Warranty

    Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!

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