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Hell's Bay Marquesa v Professional

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

New to the forum, but long time lurker. After reading countless threads and spending hours on research, I am left with the difficult (although fortunate) decision of purchasing a new Hell's Bay Marquesa versus a Professional.

A little bit about me: I will primarily be using the skiff in Charlotte Harbor. We do a little bit of everything here - from snook and redfish in backwater creeks to tarpon in the deep water pass. I also plan to use this skiff for extended weekend trips (probably 10+ per year) to the keys, everglades, and mosquito lagoon. I will be making full use of my Simrad NSS Evo and FMT chip.

Now before you suggest other boats or other models, I am only interested in the above two boats. I have owned a Beavertail (Will & Liz are phenomenal), spoken in depth with East Cape (Kevin is great to work with. Their skiff designs and customization options are truly top notch), Ridden and fished on a friend's Maverick (Love everything about the boat except for the lack of direct to consumer sales approach), and seen several Chittums (I believe this to be the best skiff on the water, but I don't want to support all of the bashing they do - even though some of it may be deserved - thats another story altogether between Hal Chittum and Chris Peterson). Unlike many on this forum, I support all builders and believe all of them make exceptional products. Each of these builders build boats that will perform roughly equal give or take an inch, a hundred pounds, or 2 mph for each boat in a given category.

I have chosen Hell's Bay for the following reasons:
- History of the Company
- Quality Fit and Finish
- Support of Charitable Organizations such as BTT and CFCW
- Good Looks
- Community (Captains, Owner's Tournaments, Inner Circles)
- Customer Service

Anyway, I have had the chance to test both boats and love them both equally. The professional is lighter and easier to pole (I refuse to mount a trolling motor on my skiff) and drafts 4-5" less. The Marquesa is about 15 mph faster, has room for 4 people, and handles open water much better. I believe each boat will fit my needs while making compromises here and there.

Which would you choose in this situation?

P.S. - Boat is being delivered in August and I am excited to share pictures of the build process and final product once my hull choice is decided.
 

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For the Marquesa... book a trip with C.A. Richardson - make a point of asking him not only what he does like...but also what he doesn't like about it...

Then do the same with someone that works out of a Professional.

Good luck - so much of any skiff's character will revolve around what you want to do with the boat - and what you actually do with it... and in the end whether it actually meets your needs....

And of course, please tell your audience what you choose and why -once the dance is over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
For the Marquesa... book a trip with C.A. Richardson - make a point of asking him not only what he does like...but also what he doesn't like about it...

Then do the same with someone that works out of a Professional.
Hi Capt LeMay,

I have reached out to Capt C.A. on instagram, but haven't heard back. He is obviously very busy between his classes and charters. You're right though, that might be a good idea. I forgot to mention that I've never actually poled a Marquesa, so don't know how difficult that may be.

As for the pro, I have reached out to Capt Benny Blanco. He suggested basically the same as "K3Anderson". Essentially, if you're poling 50% of the time or less, go with the Marquesa. But if you plan to pole 80% of the time or more, go with the pro.

At this point, Im leaning towards the pro, but still anxious to hear other opinions.
 

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Hi Capt LeMay,

I have reached out to Capt C.A. on instagram, but haven't heard back. He is obviously very busy between his classes and charters. You're right though, that might be a good idea. I forgot to mention that I've never actually poled a Marquesa, so don't know how difficult that may be.

As for the pro, I have reached out to Capt Benny Blanco. He suggested basically the same as "K3Anderson". Essentially, if you're poling 50% of the time or less, go with the Marquesa. But if you plan to pole 80% of the time or more, go with the pro.

At this point, Im leaning towards the pro, but still anxious to hear other opinions.
having owned a pro and fished out of a marquesa a lot, here’s my .02

pro is a great poling skiff. Shallow draft and the 17.8 length gives you a good amount of room when you have more than 2 people. Just know when the waters get rough you’ll feel it. It will get your home every time though. Nothing ibuprofen and a stiff drink can’t fix.

Marquesa- bigger, faster, drier, heavier. That equates to deeper draft and no where near the poling abilities of a Pro. The marquesa is heavy on the pole. Could you do do it?Absolutely, Just know you’ll have to work hard to get going into a wind and current.

Good luck on your decision.
 

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After poling my old Maverick for many years I’ll bet that Marquesa would feel like a feather...

You also might want to hook up with Armando (Sotilloa1078). I hear his new skiff will put the ones you’re considering to shame.
 

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will pole for food
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My buddy has a Marquesas with no trolling motor and a 90 zuke. We pole 100%, and it is no problem. I think the skiff poles just great, and I’m used to a gladeskiff type hull. In his boat, we pole through all of the shallow oyster ponds and yet cross big sloppy water to get there. If you are looking for a nice a ride and want to pole mostly, Marquesa can still be an option, depending on your draft needs. Just make sure you rig it as lightly as possible, and dont skimp on a good push pole. Another friend has a new Marquesa with a merc pro xs 115, iPilot and lithium batteries. Not as easy to pole, but again, I don’t find it bad all.

If you’re looking to get in less than 7-8” water, then you’ll have to go with the pro.
 

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2021 Hell’s Bay Marquesa being built, 2013 Hell’s Bay Marquesa sold, 2017 Ankona Shadowcast 18
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I just polled my Marquesa all day yesterday into some too skinny for fish water with full fuel, trolling motor and a client and had no issues. When running home in the afternoon chop it was comfortable and dry. I’ve fished 3 people in it and it can be done. Smaller boats are only very slightly easier to pole, but they are not as good in an afternoon sea weather you are running or on the anchor along the beach. Putting more than 2 folks in narrower boats feels pretty cramped. When polling a boat generally you are creeping along quietly not pushing fast unless for Tarpon and then I would re-evaluate the no trolling motor idea because it helps when you are in 6+ feet of water.
 

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I totally don't understand the "refuse to put a trolling motor on my skiff" crowd. Its just silly. Sure it ads weight but the draft change is not much different. And its an easy solution. Just rig it so you can remove the TM and batteries. But there are so many circumstances where a TM is such a good tool.

Now that said you are really asking us to recommend between two boats with vastly different purposes. Can you pole a Marquesa? Sure. Can you run a Pro in some big water on occasion? Sure. But like others have already said if you want a poling skiff then get the Pro. If you want a big water boat get the Marquesa. ONLY you know your day in and day out expected uses.

Oh on last point in favor of the Pro. None of us are getting any younger and each year the Marquesa is going to be harder and harder to pole all day....lol.
 

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Wish'n I was Fish'n!
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^^^^^^^

I chose my Marquesa over a Professional for the following reasons.

0) I fished Biscayne Bay with Joe Gonzales in his Marquesa on January 2nd years ago, and through the course of the day he demonstrated that its the right boat for him and his waters.
1) Wide enough for bench seat in front of console, and has 4 person rating.
2) Live well large enough for redfish tournaments, that doubles as an anchor locker.
3) Way faster with 115 that is really fun to drive, plus has water sports potential with grand kids.
4) I don't like sponsons.
5) I also use my boat for bay scalloping, free diving, and manatee hunting.

My guess is there are probably more HB guides running Marquesas now than Professionals. Al Keller just got his new Innegra boat down to Marco. He told me it feels a little lighter, and may be a little quieter than his former Kevlar boat.

Conversely the only reasons to get a Pro are:
0) The Marquesa is over your budget.
1) The fish you're targeting are consistently in waters that are inaccessible in a boat that drafts over 9".
2) Poling effort exceeds the physical capabilities of the poler.
 

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So you believe Chittum makes the best boats on the water, but you are going to drop $70k+- on a second or third place boat?

I'm not being a dick. It just boggles my mind how powerful brand loyalty can be. And how damaging shenanigans on social media can be to sales.

I owned a Pro. It was a nice boat. Nothing earth shattering compared to others in that class. Certainly more expensive.

I'm intrigued by the Marquesa as I have been gravitating toward bigger water.

The real purpose of my initial statement is you may not have to choose between poling and ride if you got over your dislike for Hal and his loyal following. You're about to drop a lot of money and don't have to settle. Are you going to be poling a beast of a Marquesa thinking about a Chittum but happy because HB supported BTT?

For what it is worth, I felt the same as you, but after talking to Hal a few times I realized that a purchase should be more about the product than the stigma.

I struggled with the size of the Marquesa just like you. After talking with several owners, I believe poling it is doable. This is especially true if you aren't guiding out of it and aren't on the water ever day. You can probably pole anything two or three days in a row. It may not be ideal.

At the end of the day, you know this boils down to how you use the boat the most.

Good luck. Regardless, you will end up with a nice skiff.
 

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Fishing the Lagoon or the Glades = Pro

Lots of wisdom in the above comments. #edit-I posted before post number 16

I fish areas where I have to get over a bar to get to fish, so my Pro does that well. It also sits on the beach well when Its advisable to be out there.

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I totally don't understand the "refuse to put a trolling motor on my skiff" crowd. Its just silly. Sure it ads weight but the draft change is not much different. And its an easy solution. Just rig it so you can remove the TM and batteries. But there are so many circumstances where a TM is such a good tool.
Very good points, ifsteve. I agree that a trolling motor is an immensely valuable tool and I have had ipilots on each of my previous boats. Heres what I have against them: I don't like the way they look on the boat, constantly snagging fly line (sure you can remove it, but then you're left with an ugly puck), they add weight, extra batteries take up all of my storage space, extra thing to clean at the end of the day / maintain every 6 months. Also by having one on the boat, I tend to rely on it too much in situations where poling would be much better. I'm really going for a purist vibe on this next skiff and want to challenge myself to become a better fisherman without the need for too many extra toys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Will this be your only boat?
Yes. My original plan was actually to purchase the new ElDora (something I wanted) plus something like a Boston Whaler (something the wife wanted) to take the family out on weekends. After visiting the HB shop, I was able to convince the wife that we really only need one boat to do it all. I really didn't want to deal with the hassle of extra storage and extra maintenance.
 

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Yes. My original plan was actually to purchase the new ElDora (something I wanted) plus something like a Boston Whaler (something the wife wanted) to take the family out on weekends. After visiting the HB shop, I was able to convince the wife that we really only need one boat to do it all. I really didn't want to deal with the hassle of extra storage and extra maintenance.
I'm considering doing a poor mans version of that and picking up a big Carolina Skiff for family trips and keeping my 17T for poling trips.
 
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