Today’s complex fishing machines have advanced so far that they really do provide tournament competitors an unfair advantage. Many high-tech center consoles are now competing against, and beating, much larger battlewagons in highly competitive sailfish tournaments. In these prestigious events, the crews with the healthiest live bait often emerge victorious. To lean the odds in our favor, center console manufacturers have provided speed and stability, enhanced performance and unrestricted fishability, and yet another weapon to help combat the effects of insufficient water flow.
Competitive anglers who routinely fish live goggle eye, sardines, ballyhoo, herring and blue runner often deal with baitwell pumps that regularly fail due to damaged or faulty impellers—an issue that typically occurs at the absolute worst time. Corroded electrical connections are also common culprits for faulty pumps. And of course, baitwell pumps are notorious for losing prime when running hard in choppy seas. Even with a high-speed pick up, steady water flow continues to be a challenge for many boaters. Any one of these common problems can quickly ruin your day regardless if you’re competing in The World Sailfish Championship or simply trying to catch a few fish for the dinner table.
Inside the sea chest is where you’ll find the real treasure in the form of four permanently mounted 1100 GPH Rule pumps—two pumps for each baitwell.
Thankfully, leading builders have listened to our whining for long enough and have once and for all solved the problem by designing and installing innovative sea chests—an option that is quickly gaining popularity with serious tournament competitors and weekend warriors alike.
Miami based SeaVee Boats is one such builder, and with two massive onboard livewells a sea chest was an absolute must when designing our 390. Outfitted with a primary 65-gallon baitwell in the transom and a secondary 70-gallon baitwell forward of the console, capacity for hundreds of live baits wasn’t a concern. However, providing consistent water flow to our precious offerings under any conditions certainly was.
At this point you may be asking what in the world is a sea chest? To further explain, a sea chest is essentially a watertight rectangular box firmly mounted below the water line in the lazarette. The box is constructed with high-grade acrylic and is held together with stainless steel fasteners to withstand a lifetime of use in the corrosive saltwater environment. A heavyduty hose connected to a single, large thru-hull fitting feeds the sea chest. Because the box is airtight, a release valve is included in the system to allow air to escape once the thru hull fitting is opened and the chest fills and ultimately pressurizes. With a high-speed pick up under the hull, the sea chest remains full under any sea condition and while running at any speed.
Inside the sea chest is where you’ll find the real treasure in the form of four permanently mounted 1100 GPH Rule pumps—two pumps for each baitwell. Each of the pumps is individually wired so one or both can be activated at any time for either well. The bottom line is that a sea chest system provides uncompromised redundancy.
Furthermore, its own valve regulates each of the pumps so the velocity of water flow can be adjusted to suit the species of baitfish occupying each well. Obviously ten dozen heardy goggle eye require substantially more water flow than a handful of relatively fragile threadfin herring. Having this ability to customize your bait keeping abilities really results in the healthiest live bait possible. Walk the docks prior to a prestigious sailfish tournament and you’ll quickly realize how serious these guys take live bait fishing.
Regardless of how many livewells you have onboard your vessel you will benefit from a sea chest. With dual pumps for each well, you’ll never again have to worry about losing baits due to a faulty pump or insufficient water flow. Of course, to ensure the finest offerings possible you’ll need to handle your precious cargo as careful as possible by always using a dehooker and never touching the baits with your bare hands. I also recommend scooping the baits one at time when transferring from bait pen to livewell. A super scoop of baits flipping around on top of each other in a mesh net will certainly result in lost scales and the depletion of protective slime coat. You’re basically inviting infection and giving your baits the kiss of death.
As an additional benefit, our SeaVee’s saltwater washdown system is also supplied by the same sea chest, again providing consistent water flow when on the move with only a single thru-hull fitting supplying all of our saltwater needs.
For now, a sea chest is really only a viable option on a new boat build, and only from a select number of leading boat builders. However I’m sure as the benefits of this system continue to increase in popularity, aftermarket options will soon be available.