After reviewing the Duckworth Offshore Series you might agree: “The road to happiness isn’t a road after all.” ©Duckworth Boats
Story by Troy Buzalsky
Alaska’s vibrant and cold-water seas are home to a remarkable variety of life. Crustaceans, fish, seals, sea lions, sea otters, walrus, porpoises, whales, and more occupy these revered waters, and few places offer such large-scale magnificence and bounty. Alaska is the biggest US state by far, (sorry Texas), and its surrounding waters even more imposing in size and diversity.
The Alaska offshore region encompasses roughly 1.5 million square miles of open water and includes the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Chukchi Sea, and Beaufort Sea. Add to the list accessibly popular nearshore waters that include Prince William Sound, Resurrection Bay, Cook Inlet, Kachemak Bay, Marmot Bay, Kvichak Bay, Icy Strait, Elfin Cove, and Yakutat Bay to name a few, and it’s crystal clear; Alaska is a massive sport-angler mecca with near limitless angling opportunities.
Alaska produces more than half the fish caught in waters off the United States coastline. With this kind of productivity, it’s no wonder why Alaska’s nearshore and offshore angling is so popular, not to mention why finding that perfect fishing boat is so important.
Dewey’s Cook Inlet
Anchorage, Alaska’s Dewey’s Cook Inlet is one of the most established and respected marine centers in Alaska, opening their doors in 1964 selling inflatables, sailboats, and outboards. Since its beginning, Dewey’s has carved a niche and grown to meet its customers’ needs, while surviving through thick and thin. Today, after 59 years and counting, they still live by their motto: “Your one-stop marine store where quality just costs less.”
Dewey’s Cook Inlet is marine only, making them experts in the marine marketplace while offering the highest quality products and the best service possible. Their focus is 100% marine.
To maintain their reputation as your one-stop marine store, Dewey’s sells and services Hewescraft, Duckworth, Smokercraft, SeaArk, Lund, RH Aluminum, G3, and Marlon boats. Plus, they sell Yamaha outboard motors exclusively as well as EZ Loader trailers. They also maintain a large inventory of boats in their storage yard and a huge marine-accessory inventory.
Sticking with the nearshore- and offshore sportfishing theme, this Boats column is going to explore the Hewescraft Adventure, their granddaddy offshore cruiser, as well as the Duckworth Offshore lineup. These two manufacturers have more than 127 years of boat-building heritage in their portfolios. Let’s jump in the cabin and take a peek!
The Hewescraft 290 Adventure comes standard with a functionally buoyant offshore bracket and the boat’s hull is rated for 600 HP. These twin Yamahas are a perfect match, and Dewey’s Cook Inlet sells Yamaha outboards exclusively. © Hewescraft
As we near the midpoint of 2023, we are entering prime Alaska nearshore- and offshore fishing seasons, and there might not be a better way to fish and explore these waters than from the Hewescraft 290 Adventure series, designed to fish and cruise in comfort.
There’s little doubt, size matters when it comes to boating performance and big-water capabilities. Rarely do you hear anyone talking about having too big a boat, especially while exploring the vastness of the briny deep. Big boats handle big waves better, offer better protection from the weather, have more collective space for gear, equipment, and ancillaries, have greater payload capacities, and are typically rated for higher-horsepower motors, which leads to better overall performance.
Alaska produces more than half the fish caught in waters off the United States coastline. With this kind of fishing productivity, it’s no wonder that Alaska’s nearshore and offshore angling is so popular, and why you just might want to check out the Hewescraft Adventure. © Hewescraft
In some boating communities it’s called “two-foot-itis,” which means a person always wants a boat two feet longer than they have. Coming in at an overall length of almost 32 feet, and just under 10 feet at the beam, the Hewescraft Adventure is the biggest, toughest, and most capable boat in the Hewescraft lineup. It’s tailor-made for Alaska’s saltwater. Visit Deweys Cook Inlet to check Hewescraft boats out in person.
Hewescraft has been passionately building boats since 1948, perfecting their design while being recognized as the highest selling boat brand in Alaska. Hewescraft is also highly regarded as one of the safest boats in the industry. Every Hewescraft that leaves the factory, including the 290 Adventure, exceeds the US Coast Guard floatation requirements to include strategic placement of recoverable floatation. To top it off, every hull is leak tested in the factory, something almost unheard of in the industry.
Big berth, twin suspension seats up front, full dinette and kitchen, and trimmed in a nautical theme are just a few of the creature comforts available with the Hewescraft Adventure. ©Hewescraft
The 290 Adventure is technically a 29-foot vessel and sports a 55° bow entry that creates a smooth and dry ride as it slices through swell and chop. The 48-inch sides give plenty of freeboard, keeping rough water out while creating a safe and comfortable fishing height at the gunnel. Speaking of fishing, the aft fishing platform is a whopping eight feet by nine feet—big enough for you and five of your buddies. When fishing is hot and heavy, you’ll find an insulated 40-gallon transom fish box as well as three in-floor fish boxes totaling 205 gallons. That’s a lot of fish storage!
The cabin on the Hewescraft Adventure is spacious, stylish, and full of creature comforts. Available as one of two extra-long cabin (XLC) configurations, the cuddy includes full V-berth carpet, V-berth head closet with sink and stand-up shower, full sleeping bunks for four adults, screened windows port and starboard, under-seat storage, and a bow anchor-access hatch. The cabin itself is 8 feet by 10 feet, with a standing height of 6 feet, 4 inches. Trimmed with nautically themed mahogany, strategically located grab bars, and a forward-slanting windscreen, the Adventure series is perfectly adept in the open waters or the protected cove. Coupled with its 245-gallon fuel cell, it will guarantee to get you there and back in style, comfort, and safety.
Imagine…Just imagine leading your crew to your secret hot spot in the 29-foot Hewescraft Adventure. Check it out at Deweys Cook Inlet © Hewescraft
As mentioned earlier, the on-the-water performance of large-footprint watercraft is well worth consideration. The Hewescraft 290 Adventure comes standard with a functionally buoyant offshore bracket and the boat’s hull is rated for 600 horsepower (HP). The Adventure’s Coast Guard rated capacity is 11 passengers, with an overall payload of 1,815 pounds. Hewescraft’s published performance data utilizing twin 300 HP Yamaha four-stroke motors demonstrates a top speed of 47 miles per hour (MPH) running at 5,900 revolutions per minute (RPM) and managing .9 miles per gallon (MPG). At 3,500 RPM, the boat cruises at 27 MPH and runs at 1.6 MPG. With a tank full of fuel, cruising at or below 30 MPH, you can expect a range of nearly 400 nautical miles.
Pulling shrimp pots is just one of the activities this Duckworth owner enjoys with his 26 Offshore. ©Duckworth Boats
In the heavy-gauge, all-welded boating arena there are few names more symbolic or iconic than the late Ernie Duckworth. Ernie’s passion for boats began when helping his dad mine for copper above Idaho’s Salmon River. He observed Everett Spalding and Norm Riddle boating on the river and imagined himself navigating the wild waters someday. He purchased his first boat in the late 1960s and not long after wanted to improve the durability to reach his goal of taking on the mighty river.
The no-nonsense cabin on the Duckworth 26 Offshore is 100% fishing functional, with Mariner suspension seats, a dinette, and side-mounted seats with storage. © Duckworth Boats
This inspired Ernie to design and build an aluminum boat that was welded, rather than riveted. His uniquely designed, well-built boats soon caught the eye of many people, and the Duckworth brand soon developed its legendary, loyal following. In the ‘70s he founded Ernie’s Marina, which later became Duckworth Boats. His boats were popular for fishing, sport, and commercial use, but were mostly revered as “The All-Purpose Family Fun Boat.” The Duckworth brand has changed hands a few times both during Ernie’s tenure and after, today being owned and operated by Clarkston, Washington’s Renaissance Marine Group, and serves as their category leader and the most sought-after brand in the heavy-gauge, aluminum-boat market.
It’s a fair question: Why would a Snake River Canyon boat builder who specializes in jet-boating whitewater build an offshore boat? The answer makes perfect sense. Duckworth Boats answered the demands of the courageous few who ran the storied Snake River, home to whitewater so fierce that boats are tossed effortlessly by the heaving waves that cascade down Hells Canyon, one of the United States’ most remote and unforgiving rivers. These testing grounds provided the arena to design a boat that will take a licking and keep on ticking, and provided the structural foundation to the Duckworth Offshore Series of heavy-gauge, all-welded aluminum boats.
Today, Duckworth Boats produces 12 different series of boats, including their Offshore lineup, which includes the 26 Offshore, 28 Offshore, and 30 Offshore XL. Duckworth Boats have evolved, no longer offering just inboard-jet models. All boats are now built around outboard engine power plants, and are hand built, one at a time.
The captain and four anglers have plenty of elbow room on the Duckworth 28 Offshore. © Dave Haukeli
When you step up to a 26-foot boat you enter the true offshore arena, and the Duckworth 26 Offshore is an offshore design to its core. Starting with a hull that’s a full 28 feet in length from pulpit to the end of the offshore bracket and shaped with a variable deadrise incorporated with a full reverse chine, the boat is big-water ready! The bow deadrise is 39°, the forward deadrise is 26°, and the transom deadrise is 19°. Each profile is designed and engineered for optimal on-the-water performance.
The Duckworth Offshore series looks as good as it performs. The boat’s sides are styled with a single or dual rub-rail guards that nicely offset the half-side paint scheme that includes ten color choices. The boat’s bow tapers forward and jumps up at the cabin bulkhead, giving it a nice, aesthetic flair—you can tell it’s a Duckworth boat. The fore-leaning windscreen with protective eyebrow helps keep the windscreen dry while the full-slide side glass gives great visibility with functional ventilation. The full-wrap bow rails provide nautical appeal and enhanced safety. And to top things off, the aft cabin roof is set up to fish, complete with a baker’s dozen roof-mounted rocket launchers, ready to rock and roll. The cabin is available in a 96-inch or 116-inch configuration.
Captain Haukeli and deckhand Erik (Dirty E) Erdman offload their daily catch after a productive day chasing the ocean’s bounty. © Duckworth Boats
The fishy Duckworth 26 Offshore has a lockable, weather-tight bulkhead complete with padded bunks and storage, with a porta-potty or flush-toilet option. The captain and co-pilot seats are Mariner suspension swivel seats and interior options offer a flexible configuration that can include twin bench seats with under-seat storage, galley with sink, fridge, diesel stove, stand-up head and a full dinette that converts to sleeper. The cabin also includes in-floor dry storage, carpeted sidewalls, and vinyl-wrapped floorboards. For those early mornings and late nights, floor courtesy lights and aft-deck light-emitting diode (LED) work lights efficiently keep you out of the dark.
To get you to and from the fishing grounds, the 26 Offshore comes standard with a 121-gallon fuel cell. The hull is rated for 500 HP and can be set up as a single- or dual-outboard configuration. Performance data on the 26 Offshore equipped with twin Yamaha 200s demonstrates a 47.5 MPH top speed while managing 1.2 MPG. At 3,000 RPM the boat cruises at 23.5 MPH and runs at 2.6 MPG. That’s over 300 miles of range with a full tank of fuel.
If you’re having two-foot-itis with the 26 Offshore, consider stepping up to Duckworth’s 28 Offshore. Similar to the 26 Offshore in most ways, you can expect many of the same features with an obviously larger footprint and greater payload. The cabin comes standard in the 116-inch configuration and the hull is rated for up to 600 ponies plus space for a kicker on the full extended-bottom offshore bracket.
Twin 300s power the Duckworth 30 Offshore XL. The XL stands for extra-large, providing tons of fishing space for these four anglers. © Duckworth Boats
The big boy in the Duckworth Offshore series is the 30 Offshore XL (XL standing for extra-large). For starters, the XL is just over 34 total feet in length and features an ultra-wide 9.5-foot beam, creating a massive amount of deck space. Its extra-large 225-gallon fuel tank provides the go-go juice for up to 850 HP. This bad boy is rated for up to 12 passengers or a total payload of 5,200 pounds. Like its little brothers, the 30 Offshore XL has a host of build options that include power, paint, interior, rigging, hull, and trailer choices. After reviewing the Duckworth Offshore series, I think you might agree: “The road to happiness isn’t a road after all.”
Troy Buzalsky is the Boats columnist for Fish Alaska magazine, and when not writing about boats he can likely be found chasing fish in the Pacific Northwest and the 49th state and writing about those adventures. Troy can be reached at email@example.com.
Read more about boats featured from Dewey’s Cook Inlet and more in Fish Alaska’s full blog archive.