Written by Karl Anderson.
The serious fishing walkaround is getting a lot of attention these days, and it’s mostly due to the good-looking, well executed 46- and 43-foot versions of the genre that Release Boatworks turns out. The new 43 provides a great platform that appeals to many who are looking to move out of a large center-console to the creature comforts this type of boat can offer. Conversely, these boats offer up a great option when downsizing, or for use as a game boat to accompany a large yacht. The walkaround style lends itself to versatility, giving this inboard-powered boat some of the best attributes of a center-console and a large inboard sport-fisherman.
I got to check out the new Release 43 Walkaround at the Miami International Boat Show, and it did not disappoint. From her clean hull lines (an open tribute to the storied Merritt 43) to her highly customized interior and thoughtful out – fitting, our test boat reaffirmed my appreciation for smaller sport-fishers. Over the last decade, most of the custom builders have focused on building 60-foot-plus sport-fishermen, so it’s refreshing to see a serious little fish boat that sports all of the tools needed to take a serious crack at any big-game fishery.
Powered by a pair of 715 hp Caterpillar C-12 diesels, the Release 43 boasts plenty of spunk, yet she can clip along at a nice economical cruise. She slips up on plane easily with little bow rise, offering up excellent visibility throughout the power range. Her sweet spot lies somewhere around 1,850 to 1,950 rpm, with a cruise of 27.5 to 28.5 knots. At that speed, she burns around 42 gallons an hour. With four of us aboard, and with three-quarters fuel, we saw 36 knots in the corner with a peak fuel burn of 68 gph.
She trolled beautifully, with a clean trail even at 8 knots, and offered a clean wake for a good working spread.
The Release 43 showcases the expected agility of a boat in this class, and was quite capable of backing down faster than an angler could gain line. She spun on her own axis with a just a nudge more speed on the reverse side, and she reacted perfectly to her wheel while in reverse gear and turned with one-finger control while up and running. The 43’s hull pockets give her a 34-inch draft, so looking for lobster condos on the Bahama Banks or eeling for stripers in the shallow bays of the East Coast is totally in the game plan.
Offering 360-degree fishability, all of the Release walkarounds open up possibilities, including flying multiple kites with plenty of room; chasing multiple hookups with anglers both forward and aft; driftfishing jiggers along either side; or fighting big fish conventionally from a cockpit chair. All this fish-fighting capability, yet you still have room below for a galley, storage and a couple of bunks, as well as a helm deck loaded with seating, storage, refrigeration and an accessible helm.
Fully forward, the Release 43 sports an extremely accessible anchor locker and windlass, flanked by two 10-gallon livewells, one on each side, that are ideal for any kite-fishing situation. I really liked the under-gunwale access that allows for easy service and maintenance of the plumbing. The large walkways along each side allow you to move for – ward and aft quickly with rods or when walking a cast net back to the main well.
A teak cap rail and toe rail accents trim the boat beautifully, just as you would expect on any custom boat.
Our test boat was rigged with a customized marlin tower, complete with L-shaped lounge seating and ample room for electronics and gear in the closable boxes on the dash. Palm Beach Towers built the tower using husky pipe and finished it off nicely with a fiberglass buggy and hardtop. This is more of a hangout, but the beauty of building a custom boat with the guys at Release is that you can get what you want, so I’d suggest adding a serious fishing tower to really set the boat off and give you a good tool for chasing showering sails on the reef or tuna under birds.
The cockpit on the 43 seems well laid out, featuring a large tuna door and gate, as well as a built-in transom livewell fed by two pumps in the bilge. There are two large in-deck fish boxes on either side of the cockpit. Our test boat came with a teak rocket launcher and plenty of room for a full-size fighting chair. The teak deck and teak covering boards, with a rolled edge to the teak coaming, added to the custom-boat look and feel.
The comfortable mezzanine deck comes with all the same features you’d find on a much bigger boat. You’ll find a bait prep station with drawers and a drink box under the landing to starboard, and two deep freezers under the mezzanine to port. You can also plumb the two giant storage boxes under the port seats for refrigeration as well.
The helm deck is comfortable, with good seating to port with storage underneath. To starboard, you see a small bench seat forward of the bait prep cabinet. The helm station lies forward on the starboard side and features a nice two-person high bench seat that offers great visibility of the bow and cockpit areas. It also houses an ice maker. Her varnished teak helm pod with single-lever controls is positioned directly in front of the electronics cabinet, offering easy access and great visibility of the engine gauges, electronics screens and autopilot.
The entrance to the engine room is through a hatch in the helm deck floor. The engine room is nicely laid out, and even with the shortage of space belowdecks inherent in the walkaround design, the guys at Release did a nice job of engineering the equipment space. The basics were accessible with hoses, pumps and other equipment neatly chased and mounted. This boat came with a 750-gallon-per-day HRO watermaker and an Eskimo ice maker.
The four-step entrance below is offset slightly to port and leads to a nicely appointed interior with teak and holly flooring and a full head and shower to starboard. A well-labeled and nicely executed electronics panel rests along the port side just inside the door. The galley, starboard and forward of the head, has a refrigerator/ freezer drawer, a convection microwave in a cabinet and plenty of storage. A built-in sink with drawers underneath sits just forward of the refrigeration drawers, giving the 43 everything she needs to feed a traveling crew or day-tripper.
Our test boat featured a large bunk along the starboard side with a cavernous storage locker underneath. This setup offered a great place to store rods or spare parts. The forepeak has two bunks and offers a good deal of storage as well.
There’s no doubt that I really like this style of boat, and I tip my hat to the folks at Release for building them. It’s no simple task to create and deliver someone’s dream, but they’ve handed over several boats now, and each one comes with its owner’s personality attached. I fully expect Release to be building a bunch of these 43-footers in the near future, mainly because they make so much sense for many fishermen. The Release 43 Walkaround jumped right to the top of my wish list.