I remember a time when a 30-footer qualified as a luxurious, fairly sizable fishing boat. Today, although even more luxurious, most would consider it small - a pocket battlewagon or some other hackneyed term. Whatever you want to call it, the Winter 30 custom center console is a gorgeous, solidly built "little" boat that turns heads as it passes.
Fear not that this hull sports only a single 575 hp Caterpillar C9 Acert diesel, for I can promise you that when combined with the Volvo QL bow thruster, there is nothing your average recreational boat handler can't do when maneuvering this vessel.
This hull - cold-molded with two layers of quarter-inch Okoume marine plywood in the topside and two layers of half-inch Douglas fir in the bottom and encapsulated inside and out with West System epoxy combined with 1808 biaxial fiberglass - weighs a mere 15,000 pounds. Yes, that's light for a 30-foot inboard with a big diesel. And it's perhaps too much power for my taste. The Winter 30 is more than plenty fast, and I think the future models with smaller power and better fuel economy might be even more to my liking. But then I go against many of today's offshore anglers for whom top speed represents the Holy Grail.
With that said, the Winter 30 reached a very respectable top end of 35 knots at 2,550 rpm, consuming a mere 29.2 gph. Back her off a bit and you get a very comfortable cruising speed of 28 knots while turning 1,850 rpm and using just 15 gph.
On the hellacious day that we ran the Winter 30 in Beaufort, North Carolina, eight- to 10-foot seas roared into the inlet and the surf broke to either side. When I turned the boat beam-to the maelstrom, we experienced a very gentle roll moment with equally gentle transitions, almost as if the boat knew the danger and was taking care. The 30 also sports a prop tunnel, which boosts efficiency, allows for more shallow running and increases stability at slow speeds in a beam sea.
You can't mistake this hull's Carolina heritage, with its big belly and tumblehome in the transom and freeboard, the pronounced bow flare, teak decks and cap rails. Every surface inside and out is faired and coated with Alexseal paint.
The molded hardtop with observation station comes with recessed teaser reels, Rupp Top Gun Z30 outriggers, four rod holders across the back and built-in running lights.
Anglers will especially appreciate several design elements: the great walkaround space from bow to stern, the lack of an outboard so you can fish straight down off the transom, the refrigerated stainless-steel fish box under the deck forward of the console, a huge livewell on the back of the leaning post, the wraparound seating with ample storage underneath, the tackle drawers under the helm leaning post to starboard and the more-than-adequate rod storage throughout. All of these elements come together to make this boat a tradition-bound angler's dream. Perhaps the only shortcoming I could truly find concerns the anchor locker: It's small. Oh, it's fine for general anchoring, but if you happen to be a bottom-fisherman in deep water, be prepared to carry your anchor line and hook in a separate basket.
Tim Winter has built some extraordinarily beautiful big boats - most notably his 62-foot convertible that we tested last year. Showing his versatility, Winter recently completed this 30-foot diesel inboard center console as well as an equally lovely 22-foot outboard model, also unmistakably a Carolina hull. So if you love the look of Winter's boats but can't quite justify the cost of a 62-footer, these smaller gems might be exactly what you're looking for.
Power......575 hp C9 Caterpillar Acert diesel**
Winter Custom Yachts / Apex, North Carolina / 252-659-0595 / www.wintercustomyachts.com