Boat Review by: Richard Crowder
“Since 1986 Hutch Holseberg has been working to build a high quality, value priced mid sized fishing boat.” His Key West Boats of Ridgeville, South Carolina offers twenty-five models for 2013 ranging from fifteen to twenty-four feet in five series of Bay Reef, Center Consoles, Dual Consoles, Skiffs, and Walk Arounds.
The 203FS subject of this review is one of twelve Center Console models. Of these twelve Center Consoles, three, including this 203FS, are designated as “FS” models, not the normal “CC” designation meaning “Center Console.” The “FS” designation refers to “Family Sportsman.” As Key West says, “As trends change in boating we have noticed more emphasis on family activities such as water sports and cruising and less importance placed on pure fish ability. Introducing the Family Sportsman series from Key West Boats.”
And Key West certainly has added features to this center console to help make it more “family friendly.” Let’s explore these features. But first, let’s look at how they are constructed. Key West is proud of its “no wood / no rot” construction with a foam injected fibreglass stringer system, lightweight coring materials, directional high strength fibreglass, closed cell positive foam flotation, and molded non-skid inner liner, all backed with a 10-year structural hull warranty.
Starting at the transom, a pair of molded-in platforms, one each side of the motor, serve as water access / swim platforms, the port side platform offering a swing-down telescoping 3-step stainless steel boarding ladder. A full-width, three section transom bench seat with padded backrest and removable seat cushions offers dry storage plus an aerated livewell with high speed pump pickup under the centre cushion. Removing all cushions converts this bench seat to a rear casting deck.
The self-bailing cockpit itself features all stainless steel hardware, pull-up cleats, courtesy lighting, cockpit side bolsters, four stainless steel self-draining trolling rod holders, raw water washdown system, cupholders, folding stern light, and bow anchor locker with anchor. Molded, recessed under gunwale side wall rod holders are supplied for four rods on both sides. A recessed low profile bow rail is standard.
The helm seat is a two-person cushioned, flip-flop cooler seat with backrest facing the molded console with tinted windshield with full surround stainless steel grabrail and built-in storage. Sea Star hydraulic steering for the custom stainless steering wheel is standard as is the engine builder’s matched analog gauge package.
A change room within this console is accessed through a port side door. A porta-potti for inside this room is optionally available. Lots of room is provided on the flat face of this console for installation of a myriad of electronics. A forward-facing molded seat with cushion on the forward face of this console provides additional seating and optional cushions may be added to the huge forward raised casting platform to create a sunpad or additional seating. Storage compartments are provided within this forward platform.
Aside from those already mentioned, there are lots of factory options available to personalize your 203 FS center console. First off, choose from among several Garmin or Humminbird depthfinder/GPS units according to your fishing or cruising priorities. For both cruising and fishing, perhaps a stereo with MP3 port and four speakers, tilt steering, trim tabs, fresh water shower, and Yamaha Command Link 2 and multi-function digital gauges.
Again, for both cruising and fishing, you have several helm seat options from which to choose including twin captain’s chairs or deluxe leaning post with backrest and with or without a 72-quart or even a 94-quart cooler. Next will come tops and covers. You can get either a stainless steel or aluminum bimini top with boot or go for the deluxe T-top with radio box, spreader lights, and rocket launchers. You can order Sunbrella® or standard covers for almost everything on board.
For just the fisherman, order a casting seat, add recirculation to the aft livewell, three choices of Minn Kota trolling motors, a livewell in the console, and three console rod holders. For cruising aficionados, add a removable ski pole and perhaps a high bow rail for added safety, and for mood, blue LED courtesy and/or underwater lighting.
Yamaha outboard power from 115 to 200 horsepower is available with Key West recommending 150 horsepower. With a Yamaha F150 4-Stroke, Key West reports optimum cruising speed is 20.3 mph at 3000 RPM consuming 4.3 (US) gallons per hour, and achieving 4.72 miles per (US) gallon. Wide open throttle produces 48.6 mph at 5900 RPM while consuming 16.8 gph and achieving 2.89 mpg.
To sum up, in Key West’s own words, “The Family Sportsman from Key West Boats is an all around water sports platform for the whole family no matter what the day brings.”
|Dry weight:||1,900 lbs||862 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||60 US gals||227 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Yamaha F150 4-Stroke Outboard|