2024 Southport 30 FE - Volvo Penta D6 DPI

Boat Reviews

Boat Review by: Richard Crowder


“Volvo Penta and Southport Boats of Maine have partnered to produce a sleek new version of the boat builder’s 30-foot center console model, with a focus on versatility to accommodate the boating interests of everyone onboard.” This quote is direct from Southport’s website and it describes to a tee this exciting new model. The 30 FE is a practical yet uncompromising concept in the emerging center console market.

As indicated above, the 30 FE (Family Edition) Center Console is not new for 2024. Southport started in North Carolina in 2003 and moved to Maine in 2011. Their 29 FE was first introduced in 2013 to award-winning acclaim. A second generation Southport 29 was introduced in 2015, and after moving to larger manufacturing facilities in South Gardiner, Maine in 2017, they introduced the Southport 30 FE in late 2019 as a replacement for the 29.

So, with that being said, the outboard-powered 30 FE has been around for a couple of years. What is radically new for Southport, and for all center consoles of this size, is the replacement of outboard power not only to sterndrive power, but also to diesel sterndrive power as well. To take it one revolutionary step further, the engine is not mounted inside the transom of the Southport 30 FE like you would normally see with sterndrive power, but it is further forward in the cockpit, just aft of and beneath the mezzanine seat, and connected to the Volvo Penta DPI outdrive by jackshaft.

“So what?” you may be asking. Well, if you are a fisherman, watersports enthusiast, or any boating afficionado, there are immediate benefits to this arrangement. Instead of having a pair of outboard motor cowlings to potentially snag or interfere with your fishing lines, you now have a huge full-width and extra large swim platform close to water level, around which you can work the fish. This platform also aids greatly in landing your fish.

This same great platform also caters to watersports enthusiasts and all-round family water enjoyment as it replaces two relatively small “wings,” which normally bracket the outboard motors. This larger platform is perfect for launching and retrieving all manner of water toys as well as just for lounging. Divers will love its large size.

By moving the engine further forward in the hull of the 30 FE, the center of gravity and the center of buoyancy both shift forward to aid both ride and handling characteristics. By utilizing diesel instead of gasoline power, fuel efficiency and maintenance requirements are also improved. Note that only one engine is required to replace the two outboard motors, thus potentially further improving annual running and maintenance and winterizing costs.

The engine in the Volvo Penta Aquamatic Sterndrive D6-DPI features an in-line, 6-cylinder, 5.5-liter common-rail diesel engine with double-overhead camshafts and both turbocharging and supercharging. It is available with 300, 340, 380, 400, or 440 crankshaft horsepower, comes with electronically controlled fuel injection with the DPI DuoProp outdrive, provides electronic shift and throttle functions, as well as Electronic Vessel Control.

The wide 10’6” beam on the 30-foot LOA Southport 30 FE Center Console aids enormously in enhancing cockpit space and amenities, while at the same time providing wider gunwales to enhance fishing enjoyment. Moving forward from the large swim platform through a hinged starboard side transom door leads to the cockpit on the same level.

Along the transom next to this door is a large top-loading insulated cooler cum fishbox. Next to this on the transom port side is a 30-gallon recirculating livewell. On the front of the transom cooler is a double-wide flip-down stern seat. On the aft side of the helm leaning post is an aft-facing double-wide mezzanine seat with built-in cooler beneath the seat cushion.

The helm leaning post features a pair of high-back chairs with armrests, footrests, and individual forward flip-up seat bolsters. Beneath these chairs on the port side is a tackle box locker with multiple slide-out containers and on the starboard side, a dedicated locker with trash container. Beneath the center portion of the helm chairs is another dry storage locker.

This entire leaning post console with helm chairs and mezzanine seating and storage containers is hinged to the cockpit sole at its forward lower edge and electrically raises up to reveal the Volvo Penta D6 diesel engine mounted beneath. It is a neat and tidy looking installation with all normal service points including sea strainer, fuel filter, and oil filters mounted right at the top of the engine for easy access.

Within the cockpit on each side of the leaning post is a large insulated fishbox, each with a macerator. Tucked up under the port gunnel are horizontal rod holders and on the starboard cockpit side between the forward and aft-facing seating is an optionally available opening dive door with portable ladder with dedicated storage.

The helm chairs face a console which is straightforward and functional. The portside helm chair faces an Edson® stainless steel tilt steering wheel with power knob. The lower level on the dash features all of the DC rocker switches to the far right with the throttle binnacle, trim tab controls, and stereo system control panel closer to the steering wheel.

The huge flat upper surface of the dash is reserved for your choice of up to a pair of 16” screens or a single 22” screen. Below the dash is a storage drawer plus a storage box providing access to the dash electronics. A 12-volt DC power outlet is provided as are USB charging outlets.

A full-height acrylic windscreen features an articulated wiper with freshwater wash. A large fiberglass aluminum-framed T-top with fore and aft LED floodlights, six aft-mounted rod holders, raised radar mounting position and glassed-in outrigger plates is standard equipment. Powder coating for the aluminum frame is available. On the inside of the T-top above the helm are a pair of multi-coloured LED overhead lights.

A lockable door on the starboard side of this console leads to a stand-up head compartment and change room complete with countertop, sink, and fresh water marine head. Horizontal rod storage is also provided, as is a portlight. The front face of the console features a forward-facing double-wide seat with insulated storage below the hinged seat cushion.

The wide beam of the Southport 30 FE provides a spacious bow seating area with bench seating on both sides with removable backrests which encourage forward-facing stretch-out lounging. Beneath each seat is a dry storage compartment. An available dual-height table with cushions converts this area to a sunpad or to a forward casting platform.

A hatch in the large flat foredeck covers the anchor locker with standard windlass and thru-hull plow anchor with dual controls. A handy foredeck washdown hose resides in this locker. Fresh and raw water washdowns are also found in the aft cockpit as is a fresh water shower. Six stainless steel flush-mounted rodholders are provided as is LED cockpit courtesy lighting and six stereo speakers.

The hull of the Southport 30 FE boasts a 22-degree Deep-V design and a significant bow flare, both of which should contribute to comfortable and dry running when the going gets rough. Construction is all-composite including the high density transom with resin infused, vacuum-bagged hull, deck, console, and hardtop.

Other options may include replacing the mezzanine seating with an entertainment center which includes a countertop with both fresh and raw water sink, center icebox, and aft-facing customizable drawers and cabinets. An electric grill and refrigerator are optional. To enhance docking, a bow thruster may be added to provide single engine joystick control and going even further, Volvo Penta now offers joystick driving at speed.

Southport’s 30 FE Center Console may not be a totally new model, but when powered by Volvo Penta D6 DPI, it is not only new but revolutionary in the world of center consoles of this size range. Not only that, it is also versatile and appealing to nearly all forms of pleasure boating. It’s well worth checking out.

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Length: 30' 9.1 m
Beam: 10'6" 3.2 m
Dry weight: 7,900 lbs 3,583 kg
Fuel Capacity: 232 gal 878 L
Base Engine / Drive: Volvo Penta D6 /DPI Outdrive
Engine HP: 300 - 440
Fuel Type: Diesel
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