Alumacraft’s 2072 Bay gets a Coastal Edition makeover that transforms this beast of fishing boat into a beauty.
Everyone knows aluminum boats are for fresh water, right? Nope, not if it’s the Alumacraft 2072 Bay Coastal Edition. Aluminum boats used to have a bad saltwater rep, and decades ago that might have been the truth. Briny water does have a tendency to bring out the worst in a boat — especially one made of metal — but an aluminum boat executed correctly has a number of big advantages. And Alumacraft has been building boats for 70 years, so it has this metal boat thing down pretty well.
Airplanes aren’t built out of fiberglass for a reason: aluminum is really light, which fiberglass isn’t, and very strong. There aren’t many fully-laden 20-foot center-console fishing boats you can tow with a Volkswagen Golf, but at just 1,175 pounds, the Alumacraft 2072 Bay can be pulled by practically anything with a trailer hitch, which makes it ideal for running in areas with shallow water that bottoms out at a foot or so. Most aluminum boats made for fresh water are tiller-steered and have dual consoles or one console on the starboard side. But the 2072 enhances its salt-cred with a center-console design that makes it comfortable for a driver to stand and drive, which makes it easier to visually judge skinny water depths or see likely fishing holes.
The Coastal Edition is new for 2016 and adds some panache compared to the 2072 Bay Standard version’s generic-esque white hull. Our test boat popped with a copper-colored hull that was enhanced by matching piping and accent panels on the seats and color-coordinated flecks in the spray-on bedliner-like deck and gunwale coating, which just begs to be abused. The fiberglass helm also matches the hull color. Extensive use of stainless steel on the console’s grabrail, leaning post and fold-up cleats completes the upscale makeover. But wisely, Alumacraft didn’t blow up its affordable price point, keeping it south of $30k, even when powered by the more expensive Yamaha VMAX SHO 115.
An aluminum boat such as the 2072 Bay doesn’t need a lot of power to yield great performance. The 2072 Bay is 725 pounds lighter than a fiberglass Skeeter SX-200 bay boat, which weighs 1,900 pounds despite being four inches shorter (but two inches wider) than the Alumacraft. That’s the equivalent of kicking the two heaviest players in the NFL off your boat. The 2072 Bay is rated for up to 150 hp. Ours had 35 fewer horsies than that, which is usually a regrettable move, but the Yamaha VMAX SHO 115 is a beast and proved to be a great match. The holeshot was excellent, as the 2072 Bay got on plane in 2.7 seconds with minimal bowrise. Time to 30 mph was 7 seconds, and 30 mph proved to be a good cruise speed for this boat, with the engine working at 4500 rpm, smack dab in the middle of its power curve. Top speed was a sprightly 44.5 mph with the Yamaha spinning up to a lusty 6300 rpm. With a 150, the 2072 Bay would easily scare 50 mph.
Nothing ruins a boat driver’s fun more than a steering system that’s inadequate for the job, and buyers of ’tweener boats in the 20-foot range often fall for the false economy of going with cable steering for engines less than 150 hp. The result is a pain-to-drive boat that constantly wants to turn thanks to its prop torque. Our test boat had the SeaStar hydraulic steering system upgrade — the best $1,290 you’ll ever spend (it comes standard when you upgrade to the VMAX SHO 150) — which made driving the 2072 Bay really easy. Being light helps make it nimble, and nine prominent speed bump-like strakes (counting the keel) make it track really well. Its modified V-hull has 11 degrees of deadrise, so it doesn’t drive like a car on ice, like it might if it were Jon-boat flat. The strakes also help protect the 0.105-inch-thick aluminum hull that’s formed from a single piece of aluminum sheeting. It’s an all-welded hull, so you don’t have to worry about loosening rivets. It’s tough enough to do battle with the odd oyster bar without causing the owner to freak because of deep gouges in a fiberglass boat’s gelcoat.
The 2072 Bay can do double duty as a ski- or pleasureboat, but its primary mission is fishing, and it can be used to pursue just about anything from bass to kingfish. Rod storage abounds in the twin lockable rod boxes set into the deck just forward of the console against the gunwales. They can hold at least four rods apiece and serve as a step-down for people boarding from the side. Additionally, the center console has six rocket launcher rod holders on its sides. The large front deck makes a great casting platform, has a storage compartment and can accept a pedestal fishing chair. There’s even room for an aft-deck pedestal fishing chair that, like the one in the bow, comes standard.
Our boat was equipped with the optional Riptide 70 trolling motor ($1,170), which is saltwater-ready and moves it at a brisk pace. Alumacraft wisely put the twin batteries for the 24v trolling motor under the center console on the centerline for better balance and improved holeshot. A jumpseat in front of the console sits atop an 18-gallon livewell. A needed item is a fishbox/cooler, if you are using the livewell for bait. A carry-on cooler sitting on the deck will have to suffice. Another omission is the lack of a boarding ladder.
Other than the optional items mentioned, about the only other items to add are fishing electronics. The top of the fiberglass helm has plenty of room for gimbal-mounted electronics, and Alumacraft offers up to a 10-inch screen. Our test boat had a Humminbird Helix 5SI that’s affordably priced at $705. The leaning post is standard and has a large coaming pad for calf comfort. Flanking the leaning post are two flip-up jumpseats that fold down to form a really solid base and create more usable aft deck space. The Coastal Edition (a $2,065 upcharge) gives you a choice of four hull colors: Mica Black, Galaxy Blue, Sonic Red and Orange (what, just plain ol’ orange?). Our boat was clad in the latter color, but it was closer to copper than Fanta orange.
Since Alumacraft is independently owned, buyers can choose whatever brand outboard they prefer, starting at 75 hp (don’t do it!). They even offer a no-engine option if you already have one, and the Coastal Edition boat-only price comes in at a modest $15,284.