Testing the versatile Scout 235 across a chilly Patapsco River with Marine Max Baltimore Scout’s new 235XSF is a carefully crafted example of a new genre of hybrid fishing/family center-console boats. Its size hits a sweet spot—big enough to be safe anywhere in the Chesapeake in reasonable weather, roomy enough for serious fishing and family day cruises, but small enough to run well with a single engine and to tow on a dual-axle trailer without special permits behind a full-sized SUV (Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe). The 235 XSF’s center console, located in the deepest part of the 20-degree hull offers something dual-console boats can’t—4-feet, 2-inches of headroom for changing clothes or using the (optional) head. It’s a comfortable space even for an adult male (we checked), with excellent access to the electrical panel, the backside of the gauges and electronics on the dashboard, and several useful storage compartments.
Our test boat, fresh from January’s Baltimore Boat Show, ran a 300-hp Mercury Verado, a new option for Scout Boats. The more common power is Yamaha’s 4.2-liter V-6 with 250- or 300-hp. Both brands and sizes are well-proven choices, but the 250-hp versions form the more practical option. With this Verado we touched 45 knots on a flat-calm Patapsco River. That kind of speed is rarely comfortable or practical on the choppy Chesapeake. No wonder Scout recommends the 250s, with just as much load-carrying power, a top speed of 40 knots, lower initial cost, slightly better fuel efficiency, and the ability to run well on regular gas instead of premium.
Scout 235 XSF
LOA: 23′ 8″
Beam: 8′ 6″
Weight: 3,655 lb (dry without engine)
Max power: 300 hp
Fuel: 100 gal
Conditions on the Patapsco didn’t allow our Scout to show off its rough-water ability, but I have spent extended time in its smaller sister, the 215XSF, in 2- to 3-foot seas. That boat’s variable-deadrise hull performed very well, cleaving the short chop easily at speeds around 25 knots. On sea trial day in that boat, a flooding upper Chesapeake tide fought against a fresh 12- to 18-knot northwest wind giving us an ideal combination of short, choppy seas to challenge us running in all directions. She met that challenge softly and gracefully, with a remarkably dry windshield to boot. The 235 XSF will ride even more smoothly in those conditions, with its longer hull bridging the chop more effectively to reduce up-and-down motion. Scout’s unique “reverse shoebox” hull-to-deck joint, stringer grid, and Strata-Mount engine mounting system tie the boat’s parts firmly together, for a solid feel in rough water.
Both boats are built on Scout’s convex NuV3 hull, in which the deadrise increases moving outward from the keel, opposite the shape of most builders’ variable deadrise hulls. The shape tends to push water outward from the hull. Scout founder and President Steve Potts compares the performance with hitting the water with the curved back of his hand, pushing water out instead of catching it with the cupped palm. Two strakes, a wide, reversed chine, and a pair of topside accent lines on each side add lift and further dampen the spray. The 235 XSF bow has a graceful flare as the final defense against mist blowing back on passengers.
The design also provides the boats firm stability at rest. NuV3 hulls handle well in rough water at speeds up into the mid-30s, though happy speeds on snotty days will be in the mid-20s, with a fuel burn of 9- to 12-gallons per hour. The 235 XSF comes standard with large Lenco trim tabs, which are useful complements to the engine’s trim for adjusting fore-and-aft running angle and for raising the windward side when quartering into seas.
Molded rocket launcher with grab bar and cup holders. Spacious instrument/switch panel, even more beverage holders, and an adjustable tilt helm. Clear-top live well
So, the 235 XSF’s design and construction inspires confidence for family excursions and hard-core fishing, but what about the onboard amenities? First, it’s obvious that the Scout design team members have plenty of on-the-water experience, and they do a good job listening to customers and dealers. That attention to detail shows in little touches like strategic placement of grab rails, beverage holders (plumbed to drain to the bilge), and small bins with non-skid surfaces to hold sunglasses, suntan lotion, and cell phones. The accommodating center-console dashboard offers a locking glove box to starboard with USB outlets inside, plus cup-holders. In the middle of the dash sits a gauge package, flanked to port by an intuitive Garmin 942XS touchscreen electronic display that can run anything from GPS and sonar to engine data. The console top includes a standard compass with a non-skip pad for miscellaneous small, non-magnetic gear. The T-top is a patented Scout design with sturdy supports and an acrylic windshield with side panels that provided welcome shelter from the Verado-generated wind-chill on our sea trial. A Fusion Bluetooth stereo with four 6-inch speakers is standard, with two upgrades available.
While hard-core anglers generally prefer to stand, the 235 XSF offers plenty of seating. The cushioned bow seats form an upholstered U-shape (dry storage under all around), while the front of the console offers a lounge with capacious storage beneath, including a fishbox with overboard pumpout. The bow seats come with removable forward-facing seatbacks. A teak picnic table for the forward cockpit is optional. The helm’s leaning post holds four rod holders and three cup holders on the aft side, with a 72-quart Igloo cooler beneath, or an optional Yeti upgrade. An optional helm seat offers twin folding seats and a tackle station with a cooler beneath for lunch and appropriate beverages. The center of the transom mounts a sturdy, cushioned fold-down seat for two. To starboard is a transom door leading to a full-width swim platform with a fold-down ladder.
Fishing? Oh, yes! There’s a 15-gallon livewell in the transom to port and two-rod horizontal storage under the gunwales port and starboard. A rocket launcher on the aft side of the T-top is an option, as are multiple in-gunwale holders. Need to carry fly rods? Hang ’em horizontally under the sides of the T-top. Both forward and aft cockpits offer plenty of space for casting, jigging, and fighting fish, while the swim platform makes it easy to handle a net.
Yes, Scout’s new 235 XSF offers multiple capabilities. No, with a 20-inch draft, it’s not a boat for skipping over sand bars or flats, but otherwise, there’s not much a water-loving Chesapeake family could ask of it that it can’t deliver.
Base price with a Yamaha F250 is $95,000. For more information, visit www.scoutboats.com.