Where’s the Transom?

Posted: September 1, 2012  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: Roger McAfee

I’ve noticed a number of new boats that seem to have no transom. There’s a swim step, then up two or three steps to the helm station. Why no traditional cockpit/transom? Is there anything wrong with that design?
I have recently tested two different boats of the type you describe. They both operated very well, but in assessing any boat you should always ask the following question: What is the boat going to be used for? A boater who wants a globe-circling ride doesn’t buy a high-speed race boat. Boats to be used in ice are generally built of steel, not fiberglass. And so on. These new “transomless” designs are for boaters who want to use water toys or dinghies off the stern of their boat while being able to stay at the helm. Rearward visibility in such vessels is unparalleled. Serious fishermen have also taken a liking to this design, with its wide-open aft end making it easy and safe to net a good-size salmon or skid a 200-pound halibut on board. It is unlikely this use was considered by the original designers, but the law of unintended consequences seems to have come into play.

Both of the test boats are fast — 28-plus knots — and handle rough water quite well. They have excellent accommodations and all the usual bells and whistles. There is one question that is almost always asked: How well does a transomless boat handle a following sea? During the test, I positioned the boats stern-on to a large ferry, and the resulting wake did nothing more than get the swim step wet. The designers seem to have accounted for that eventuality.

These boats are likely to become more popular as family vessels because of their versatility.

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