Intrepid 400 Center Console
See why we spent so much time poking around while the Intrepid 400 was still tied up to the dock.
By Kevin Falvey
If you think that owning a big, bad center console entails begging your better half, check out Intrepid’s new 400 Center Console. The 400’s ride, range and equipment hustle you to the bite, prepared for battle, and with a smile on Mom’s face because of the boat’s comfort. This inconceivability is made possible by clever engineering and a semicustom approach to boatbuilding. Instead of loads of standards, you outfit an Intrepid with the exact features you require. If it’s not a “regular option,” they’ll just build it for you. Now, about that engineering …
Pull up to a beach and deploy the hull-side dive door. When I undid its sturdy latch, I discovered entering the water is as easy as entering the wading end of a swimming pool. With the door closed and the boat under way, not a drop of the Gulf of Mexico made it past the door’s channeled-and-gasketed stop. boating a trophy will also pose no problem.
Instead of a treacherously narrow side entry, the forward face of the console slides aside on an electric screw to access the head. Unlike tilting hatches, this one doesn’t block the helmsman’s view, allowing access while under way. The screw jack holds the door as securely while open as it does while closed, eliminating the slam-bang result of forgetful crew or worn hardware. If it does fail, a screw jack will still hold tight. The 400 CC’s loo is bright, thanks to a skylight and the reflective surfaces of its fiberglass liner. I do wish the bottom-step riser wasn’t quite so tall, though this does make the steps intrude less, increasing sole space. For comparison, similar head access is found aboard SeaVee’s 390 ($272,500 with triple f350s), another thoroughbred open boat, boasting 570 gallons of fuel capacity and combining amenity with überfishability.
Manning the helm, I nodded approval. The electric electronics pod rises vertically, taking up less space inside the console than pods that rotate into position. Overhead, extending a goodly distance fore and aft, is a beautifully finished fiberglass t-top, supported by massive 3-inch-diameter piping. Wracking was not evident during my test. The “bulletstyle” seating also adjusts with a screw jack. So does the console footrest.
Even the seacocks are operated by pushing a button rather than reaching into the bilge. (Note that I climbed into the bilge access compartment in the cockpit sole with plenty of wrenchswinging room to spare.) But the coolest application of electric actuators, the feature that makes this boat pop as a dual-mission winner, is found forward. I admIred the coffin-style fish box centered In the bow cockpit. There’s clear space to fish around it and enough stowage within for all the grouper your crew can pull on. Hit a switch, though, and the coffin divides, each half sliding against the gunwales. This creates the seating of a bowrider on steroids. Put up the table and create a conversation pit. Return the modules to centerline, place the sun pad atop, and the ladies can catch rays while you bail dolphin in the wide alleys around this unique offering, and in the acreage in front of it. Need more room? I hopped onto the wide bow deck in open water and stood secure enough to fly-fish.
A variety of fixed, folding or, as was installed on my tester, removable transom benches is available. Intrepid builds seats to suit, and this one was so firmly padded that it didn’t bottom out when I sat there while we jumped wakes at 65 mph. Tender tushies will find comfort during long, fast runs.
Intrepid kept serious fishermen at the forefront while creating the exercise in innovation that is the 400. Compartments in the bow coaming hinge open and reveal stowage for a quiver of fishing rods. A quick-disconnect fitting is installed in the aft cockpit so you can easily plumb your big, honking freestanding livewell to water, Intrepid 400 Center Console a better arrangement than the usual hassle of using the wash-down hose for this purpose. Up to three more double-pump livewells can be installed, above deck in the transom or bow or in the warren of lockers in the sole. Lockers are heavily insulated and feature lids secured by hidden fasteners.
Riding the latest refinement of Intrepid’s transverse stepped hull, and with more than 1,000 ponies pushing, I found running the 400 exhilarating. I buried the throttles and took off with a rush that caused me to first hold my breath … and then exhale slowly. I trounced through waves, performed mock emergency maneuvers and, to be honest, joyously cavorted like a 17-year-old who’s stolen the keys to dad’s new toy. Through it all, it delivered the deliberate feel and smooth recovery of a slower, heavier boat. Yet, I was hurtling along at almost go-fast velocity, without the flightiness, the chine walk or the need for carefully considered steering input when running beam to the waves. Innovative, yes. But even better in the long run, it’s a great ride.