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I have a Heron 16 on order, still a couple months away, and still undecided on which type of console to get (tiller is out of the question).

My previous experience was with a bay boat here in the Rockport, Texas. Because of the shallow waters that I fished then and plan on fishing with the Heron, I always stood when driving the boat. I rarely if ever sat while driving and then only when I was in deeper water. I found that I could avoid the too skinny stuff while standing but not when seated.

I have noticed that a lot of the skiffs have side consoles and the driver is seated while underway. Are the flats in Florida that much deeper to make that more feasible or is the water clarity so much better that you can see bottom from the seated position.

The side console seems to give more cockpit space and better balance when two people are seated side by side. With the center consode, it seems that there is really only room for one person behind the console and the other must sit on the cooler in front of the console. The side console seems to block the under gunwale rod storage though I may be incorrect in that. The center console has some storage capacity which the side console does not.

There seems to be positive and negative points to each. Since my boat will be a custom build, is there an option of offsetting the center console enough to allow two people to be behind the console without one of them sitting on the gunwale.

Any feedback appreciated.
 

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My current boat has a side console, ‘15 BT Micro, and it will be the last side console I own if I can help it. I absolutely hate running a boat sitting down for the reasons you mentioned. Visibility sucks sitting down and it really isn’t as comfortable, to me, to sit low and drive as compared to leaning against something be it a leaning post or platform.

With a side console you can have someone sit next to you on the bench but you WILL be rubbing shoulders on smaller skiffs. The first time people are on my boat there is usually a few jokes made on this point.

Side consoles ansolutly make putting long rods in the under gunwale rod storage a PITA... at least for mine it does. No long rods under the console. Maybe a different design would help with that.

Finally I know for a fact I wouldn’t miss any cockpit space that you may gain from the side console. I never have anything in the cockpit aside from a small cooler, that could and would be used as a jumpseat with a center console, and I do not fish from in it.


My vote would be a small console with a jumpseat style cooler for your #2 to sit on while underway.
 

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I really like this console from Mitzi for a smaller skiff. Especially if you added a flip down seat/stepup on the front of the platform. It allows the cockpit to still remain open. 5B12B406-4D5F-460D-9521-40E1038CA72D.png
 

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On my second side console after having a center console first. I can drive it sort of standing, one knee on the cushion(Im 6'2) but I really don't run it like that.

I don't really have a visibility issue here in Florida. Depending on where you fish, the water could be super clear to fairly clear and you can understand how to run based on the shade of the water, or the water can be so bad you couldn't see with a tower boat.

I like the extra open space and have no issue with rod storage under the console as it was designed to allow easy storage. When I run with 1 other person, they ride the benchseat with me, when I have two others, they can do the bench seat as well or I carry my 45qt cooler and have it like a coffin box where they can choose how they sit. Some of the time they face rearward and speak to their friend and other times they face forward. This cooler also allows for the second person to fish or stand on if they do not want to fish side by side on the front deck. Just allows a little more freedom.

I will say, for the driver you can run the boat harder from a center console. Standing and running you can push the boat harder than if you are sitting down at a side console. Again, depends on where you fish.
 

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After having been on a few boats and built one or two, a slightly offset center console is a win/win for me. Lots of pros and cons but if you stand a lot, the cons on a side console are overwhelming, (for me and my style). Give me a call at the factory and lets have a talk to make you feel comfortable with your decision.

thanks!

Mel
 

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Center console. Having a built in cooler and comfortable seat is of more use to me than empty cockpit space. Also with a center console you have a nice central spot for your battery and electronics. On cold days you can use your buddy as a windbreak.
 

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The only time I run sitting down is long runs in the ICW. I’ve been running shallow water skiffs in TX for nearly 20 yrs and NO WAY I’m sitting down in the shallow stuff. Way too dangerous IMO. I do think the offset console might be nice over my CC. Be carful the console is not too large for your skiff.
 

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I own a side console. Yes it makes rod storage tougher on that side. No big deal as it still works. It’s not a race to stow or remove a rod. On a small narrow skiff it really does open up the boat. Many things I do make this helpful such as shrimping. Also more room for a cooler and walking space. I also hate someone sitting in front of me such as a center console setup. I can stand if needed. But I don’t really see the need. The water is clear enough to see sitting or it’s not clear enough to see standing or spitting. At that point you either read the surface or know where you are going.
 

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With a bad back and bad knees, I generally prefer sitting at a side console with my wife often sitting beside me to my left. I have had several small center consoles that didn't lend themselves well to standing at all. The consoles were small and low. My Hoog and my Boggy Creek were that way.
 

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I definitely prefer a center or offset center console. Standing is just the way to go. Ive operated a few different side console skiffs and owned a side console as well. Not my cup of tea. Definitely prefer standing most the time, especially in tight areas.
I have no issues with my CC while someone is sitting next to me. I drive from the port side where the wheel is and put my third guest on the starboard side next to me. I've seen people do that backwards and when the driver is turning the wheel it seems to get in the way of the passenger.
 

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Many people mention being able to see. Should you hit something suddenly. Would you like to be seated or standing? Seating with arms on wheel gives more strength to brace and hold position. Standing, you will be slingshot over or around the console. Your hands just become the pivot point as your body flys.
 

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Many people mention being able to see. Should you hit something suddenly. Would you like to be seated or standing? Seating with arms on wheel gives more strength to brace and hold position. Standing, you will be slingshot over or around the console. Your hands just become the pivot point as your body flys.
Let’s be honest here. 99% of the time when you see someone driving a boat they have one hand, usually just 3 or 4 fingers, on the wheel or holding onto a knob and relaxed. Sitting or standing your going to be rolled up into whichever console you have.
 

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I think the center is good on my heron 16. I run 2 people on the back no problem and have sat 3. I’m sure you could offset it I’m just not really a fan.
 

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I’d agree with Mel. I had him build my Heron with an offset console. I wanted a larger center console than the standard offering so we used the one from the 18 Heron. Mel suggested cutting it down by 2” and it works perfectly for me. I’m only 5’9” but I can stand and run the the boat. If I stand with my feet slightly wider than shoulder width and can keep my hands on both the wheel and throttle. I think on the 16 offset is the way to go. PM me if you want pictures of my set up.
 
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