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Our First Impression
SUN TRACKER® has always been a sure bet for economical, user- friendly designs that just beg for you to "put the boat to work." Our first glance at the FISHIN' BARGE® 21 confirmed that and a lot more. This boat appeared to be an ideal platform for some serious fishing.
Consumer Test
Fromits seating arrangement to its amenities and storage features, this boat is all about versatility. We noted three flip- up swivel chairs that come standard with the boat, but there are actually five stations to choose from: two forward, two aft and one just in front of the console. The fishing seats are simple but more comfortable than many of the more elaborate units we've encountered. Part of this is surely a result of SUN TRACKER®'s upgrade to a high-density foam, covered by a 29- ounce marine vinyl with stain-resistant topping. Overall seating comfort on the boat-including the aft L-lounge and oversize bucket helm seat-was well above average.
Thestarboard foredeck station has an aerated livewell, corner storage for tackle and easy access to the trolling motor hookup. At the aft station (behind the corner lounge), we found another aerated livewell, added corner storage and plenty of cupholders. Opposite this aft station is an easy- access rear entry port, including a large flip-up ladder (perhaps a bit too large, for purely aesthetic reasons). The sundeck back here is modest in size but flips up to reveal an extra tall change room.
TheSUN TRACKER® console makes excellent use of limited space, with easy-to-view gauges and a nice padded basin in the dash for whatever you need to throw down in a hurry. Ergonomics were good in terms of throttle position and leg room. At the helm's front is a basic refreshment center, including cutting board, cupholders, a trash bin/ice box and 36-quart cooler down below.
Inspection Test
Wefound quite a bit more "move-around" at the back than what we've seen in the past. This is a result of last year's design change at the transom, where the motor pod has been extended to open up more useable floor space ( a total of 17 1/2 feet fore-aft). On this particular boat it makes a huge difference.
Oneof the more obvious features is the flooring itself. SUN TRACKER® opted for vinyl rather than the more traditional carpet covering. Obviously for fishing purposes, this makes great sense. Along with the boat's stainless steel hardware, it also adds credence to the boat's billing as a Coastal Series model. (In addition, zinc anodes are placed at the transom.)
Weldquality was excellent on this boat. We found no sharp edges, and above-average quality for the below deck wiring.
Performance Test
Thistook steady, flat turns and held well into corners. Acceleration was good with the Mercury® 50 outboard, and sound levels rarely exceeded 80 decibels. We pushed the boat just shy of 20 MPH, plenty enough for its intended purpose.
Final Thoughts
Thisis a full-featured fishing toon that has some impressive versatility, including a number of amenities that make it a great boat for long days on the water. Its application for saltwater is a definite bonus, making this economical do-it-all boat one of the best fishing/entry-level options available.
Boat Specs
DryWeight.......1,615 lbs.
LoadCapacity...13 people
FuelCapacity.....30 Gallons
Engine & Propellers
Engine............................Mercury® 50 ELPTO
LowerUnit Gear Ratio..1.62:1
Propeller........................121/4 x 9 Pitch
RPM vs. SPEED vs. DB-A
Base$10,495, As Tested $13,560
Thewashdown vinyl decking is a great idea, as is the decision to place five pedestal mounts for layout versatility. We also love the design change at the transom, where the motor pod has been extended out the back for more useable floor space.
Therear entry ladder is handy and functional as they come, but in the flip-up position it is a bit of an aesthetic distraction.
Reprintedwith permission of PDB Magazine, Jan. 2005.