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Test Drive: Sea Fox 328 Commander…

When Sea Fox designed the newest and largest member of its popular Commander series, the builder addressed every major need for the serious angler and incorporated a layout that leaves ample room for the crew to stretch out. The elegant appearance and the soft-riding stepped hull add to the appeal of this burly center console, and a close inspection reveals attention to detail and superb fit and finish.

In case fishing tournaments and lengthy angling expeditions are in the plans, Sea Fox includes an array of desirable design elements and equipment as standard. Rod storage for 36 outfits can be augmented to hold 50, with dual in-deck racks for two rods midship, one for six rods inside the console, an undergunwale rack for two more to starboard, seven flush-mount holders across the transom, 12 along the covering boards, another six on the end caps of the bow seating, two rod tubes in back of the helm-seat module, and 11 more on the frame of the Ultima hardtop.

The tackle storage and bait-prep center within the fiberglass helm-seating pod incorporates a double sink with a stainless-steel bait tray, cutting board, Corian countertop, and pullout freshwater sprayer, plus two storage drawers, a trio of tackle trays, and tool and leader-spool holders shielded from the elements by a portside hatch. Smaller twin hatches provide dry storage for larger items on both sides, and a 65-quart Yeti cooler sits underneath on an electric slide-out facing the cockpit.

Live-bait-capacity 55- and 35-gallon pressurized livewells, lighted and finished in calming blue with clear lids, sit on the transom. The latter sports an ­aquarium-style window to monitor baits. Four large insulated fish boxes with overboard discharge sit parallel to the gunwales’ underfloor hatches. When more space is needed, twin storage boxes beneath the bow seating are insulated and perfectly suitable as additional fish boxes.

At the bow, the anchor locker comes complete with anchor roller chute, windlass system and rode access. Recessed grab rails help with footing up front, and toe rails in the cockpit do the same for anglers locked in battle with fish. All-around coaming pads provide a cushy surface to lean on during the fight.

Seating arrangements, fore and aft, allow crew members to socialize at the dock or while running to and from the fishing grounds but are designed to fish around without feeling cramped. Raised compartments with storage underneath form U-shaped seating at the bow, with triple aft-facing backrests as well as dual foldout backrests for lounging forward. A sizable in-deck compartment holds a ­5-gallon bucket or stows fenders up front.

The forward console seat includes fold-down armrests and tall backrests for two, integrating a 52-inch coffin-box-style lounger that provides substantial dry storage inside. A portside door affords access to the in-console, step-down cabin complete with an electric toilet, sink, pullout faucet/shower, Corian counter, storage netting, and large cushioned pad that serves as a comfortable berth for two.

Covered in black acrylic to minimize glare, the dash holds dual Garmin 7616XSV touchscreen 16-inch ­displays, LED gauges and an array of switches, leaving real estate to accommodate trim-tab switches, a mobile-device charging station and more. The throttles and tilt wheel with SeaStar electronic power steering — perfectly situated to drive while seating or standing — sit just below the dash. A three-tiered, integrated footrest provides added comfort for the skipper. Triple bucket seats with flip-down arm- and footrests supply the helm seating for the skipper and two companions.

At the stern, a bench seats three and folds away when it’s time to go to work, providing elbow room in the cockpit and access to both livewells and rods on the transom. A jump seat lifts to reach the livewell drain valve, or to stow a cast net or a second 5-gallon bucket. A cockpit side door to port aids in boating large game and simplifies boarding and loading. Inches away, an in-deck, insulated cooler keeps frozen bait or chilled beverages handy, while a raw-water washdown helps keep the decks clean.

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With all those standard features, there aren’t many options left to add, other than radar, autopilot, joystick control, and one other worth considering by those likely to overnight or spend extended summer hours aboard: 3.5 kW air conditioning to cool the cabin and blow cold air to the helm.

On the southern reaches of Miami’s Biscayne Bay, the 32-footer proved zippy and surprisingly nimble for its footprint and staunch yet lightweight build. It clocked the same 7.5 seconds during several zero-to-30 mph runs and reached a maximum speed of 57.9 mph at wide-open throttle with the wind at our backs. We found neither squatting at takeoff nor vision-hindering bow rise. It’s also worth noting that spray, which began about even with the console at planing speed, never made it over the gunwales, despite an 11-knot breeze.

Overall, the performance and capabilities of the Sea Fox made a great impression. Anyone looking for a feature-rich center console with the speed to reach distant fishing grounds quickly and the range for extended trips ought to take a 328 Commander for a spin.

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