A family day boat that is responsive and versatile. It’s a delightful expression of the classic down-east runabout.
By: Craig Ritchie
Boaters who appreciate the beautiful, classic lines of traditional down-east runabouts yet who also appreciate the benefits of modern engineering will find themselves right at home behind the wheel of the 23-foot Vanquish 23 Bristol Harbor Cuddy. This is a stylish, elegant, yet practical runabout that makes the most of its classic open stern design to provide a nice balance of comfort and everyday versatility.
Stretching just over 23 feet in length and riding on a generous eight foot, five-inch beam, the Vanquish 23 Bristol Harbor Cuddy features a traditional down-east style hull with a wide, flared bow, a closed front deck and an elegant four-panel windshield. It’s clearly designed as a sporty day boat, but a small cuddy cabin under that closed deck provides a place to overnight if necessary, with twin berths of six feet, seven inches each, and surprisingly generous headroom. A Porta-potti can be added here for additional comfort, and is a popular option among families who like to stay out on the water all day. The cuddy also provides plenty of secure, dry storage space for gear, and that’s likely more important than overnight accommodation for families on the go.
Mid-ships consoles create a separate conversation area in the stern, while providing space for amenities like an available cockpit refrigerator.
Dual fiberglass consoles located amidships divide the cockpit into forward and aft sections while supporting the seat back for riders facing aft. They also provide space for storage, or adding amenities like the available cockpit refrigerator. With the full-width transom bench seat, this creates a comfortable and spacious cockpit area for conversation and entertaining. The gunnels are wide and sturdy, allowing anglers plenty of options for installing accessories like rod holders and downriggers.
Removable cushions in the centre of the transom bench seat provide access to a full-width swim platform.
The middle section of the transom seat folds down, providing convenient access to the full-width rear swim platform. That’s an unexpected treat on a boat with outboard power. Placing the engine on an Armstrong bracket aft of the transom not only gives the Vanquish 23 Bristol Harbor Cuddy far more interior space, it allows the builder to provide a proper swim platform with much more space than the twin ledges found on most outboard-powered runabouts. Moving the engine to a position aft of the transom also gives the prop more bite and torque, which with the Vanquish’s contemporary hull design add up to deliver some truly impressive performance, with blistering hole shots and genuinely impressive handling.
The helm is no-nonsense, with a large stainless steel steering wheel and plenty of space for flush-mount electronics.
Drivers get spoiled in other ways, too. The pilot and navigator both ride on plush bucket seats which both come with flip-up bolsters for enhanced visibility when traveling through confined areas. The helm is clean and contemporary, with space for a large MFD above the standard five-spoke stainless steel wheel, which comes complete with a turning knob.
Rated for outboards to 200 horsepower, the Vanquish 23 can attain top speeds of over 40 mph.
Rated for outboards of up to 200 horsepower, the Vanquish 23 Bristol Harbor Cuddy cruises nicely at a brisk 28 mph, and can reach speeds approaching 40 mph at wide-open throttle. Fast, responsive and versatile, it’s a delightful expression of the classic down-east runabout with an elegant, modern flair.