Resident Rocket Ship
A Cutwater C-24 Coupe served as a chase boat during the editors' adventure in the Pacific Northwest. With a top speed north of 42 knots it was more like a "chased boat."
There was a time when my definition of “island hopping” was regulated to aquamarine waters and sugar sand beaches. Oh, ye of little mind. Such a narrow definition was firmly recalibrated on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. Arriving in Seattle, the San Juan archipelago stretched out before us, a collection of over 400 islands—only 128 of which are named—each begging to be explored.
Wearing an Army green Seahawks hat, Matt Ouilette, VP of Sales at Bellingham Yacht Sales, volunteered a Cutwater C-24 Coupe as chase boat for our expedition. A native of Bellingham, Ouilette has been selling boats in these parts for years. According to him, the all-new, competitively priced (around $100,000) 24 hits a sweet spot among his clientele of young families looking to enter the sport and older passagemaking couples looking to downsize.
Standing at the helm, I looked down at the chartplotter and noticed miles of existing tracks winding this way and that had been logged before our voyage. Such a discovery reaffirmed the obvious. This wasn’t this particular 24’s—or Ouilette’s—first rodeo in the San Juans. Considering Cutwater and Ranger Tugs are locally built by Fluid Motion—all in-house, near Seattle, by a team of 200 skilled tradespeople—this made sense. Our 24 was equipped with a 250-hp Yamaha outboard, more than enough horsepower to get us cruising around 28 knots, with a top hop of over 42 knots. And that was with four people on board.
It didn’t take long to realize the versatility of the 24’s double-stepped hull design. A deep cockpit and over 8-foot beam managed to fit a BBQ, livewell and baitwell, while a ski pylon stood at the ready to pull tubers and skiers. A medium-sized berth could be used in a pinch. And she was certainly easy to operate solo: From the helm, it wasn’t too much trouble to tie off a fender from the starboard side window.
No matter where we went on our island-hopping adventures, Mt. Baker loomed large in the not-so-distant horizon. An active volcano, it lent an unmistakable credence to the wildness of these shores. Everyone wanted to drive the 24, so a game of musical chairs became our de facto approach to cruising. When I wasn’t at the helm, I’d sit back on the best seating arrangement: an aft-facing, reversible dinette seat, with an eye peeled in our wake for an eagle or a pod of orcas.
Maybe most impressive of all was her fuel burn. It was 30 miles from Roche Harbor to Bellingham—the last leg of our voyage—and at our average cruising speed, we only burned 16 gallons. The 24 certainly won’t break the bank. And as we tied up to the dock, I thought back to what Ouilette had said about one of the most underrated features. “Nice thing about a boat this size, it doesn’t take long to give her a wash.” No complaints here.
Cutwater C-24 Coupe Specifications:
Displ.: 4,900 lbs.
Fuel: 116 gal.
Water: 30 gal.
Standard Power: 1/250-hp Yamaha outboard
Cruise Speed: 28 knots
Top Speed: 42.3 knots