A wonderful all-Canadian fishing machine.
By Brad Roberts
Each fall, just as the leaves are beginning to turn colour, Princecraft Boats hosts their annual Media Days on Lac William in Quebec. Power Boating Canada, and myself, get an invitation each year to travel down to test out the all-new, and the newly updated models for the coming year.
I was excited to test the new Princecraft boats for sure. But in addition, this year I was also excited to test the all new Mercury outboards which I was really hoping would be attached to their transoms. It’s a full day of driving to get from my home to the test site, but as tired and hungry as we were when we arrived, I headed down to the dock first to see what presents would be awaiting us the next morning on test day. Like a little kid the night before Christmas, as I saw the new boats and engines there, I got giddy!
Morning couldn’t come soon enough! The day was overcast and gloomy, cold and damp with rain threatening. No matter – “let’s get to it” – was my attitude.
The 2019 version of the Princecraft Xpedition 200 was the last boat I was assigned to in the days’ test schedule. (Read our 2019 Test Annual and Boat Show issues to see what other models I tested first.) It sat there in a unique matte black optional finish with the optional and very catchy-looking Team Princecraft fishing decals adorning the sides, and a brand-spanking new Mercury Verado 250hp outboard.
Princecraft first introduced the Xpedition series a few short years ago now with a seventeen foot version that had three very different layout options: windshield (WS), side console (SC) and tiller (BT). I remember testing the first Xpedition and being very impressed. In 2013, a twenty foot model was added to the lineup signaling that this big boat fishing machine might become a permanent part of the Princecraft lineup. And for good reason – this is a big boat designed and rigged for serious fishing on any body of water its’ owner might fancy to test their luck on. For 2019, the Xpedition comes in an 18’ and a 20’ version.
As I stepped aboard this 2019 model, I wondered what they could possibly do to improve upon what was an already great boat. What you can’t see when the Xpedition 200 is in the water is the wide reverse chines in the hull below the waterline. This gives the Xpedition incredible stability both at rest (at the dock or casting into a honey-hole) and while underway. The hull is made from 5052-H36 marine grade aluminum alloy that is 25% stronger than the aluminum competitors boats are made from, and the hulls are riveted together with extra twin plating at the chines and from bow to mid-ship. The result is a deep-v hull that simply doesn’t flex no matter what you throw at it, or into it.
I’ll admit I was attracted to the stern first, largely because of the new 250hp Verado (more about it later). The transom features a deep splashwell, room to add an optional kicker motor to port, and a folding stainless reboarding ladder to starboard. The grey deck of the aft casting platform extends right to the transom on both side allowing you to utilize the full length and beam of the boat to work your fish in.
The aft casting deck is wide and flat with a flush-mounted seat base just to port of the centerline. That’s because the ski tow bar mounting base is dead centre (because Princecraft designers know that while you might want to, your family doesn’t want you to fish all the time.) There’s a 44” 20 gallon ProFlo Plus aerated livewell, battery storage compartment, and an additional storage compartment under the casting base. Our test boat was fitted with the optional RSP combo: twin flip-fold seats, two cup holders and grab handles. When you flip this seat base down, it nearly doubles the size of the aft casting platform, so that it now comes up to right behind the floor-mounted pedestal seats. That’s a reason to get this option right there, never mind the additional seating capacity.
Moving forward, twin single pedestal mid-back seats sat almost amidships in our WS dual console test boat. (The Xpedition 200 also comes as a side console or a dual console version both with a windscreen instead of the full windshield. The windshield makes the most sense in Canada to extend your fishing season.) The seats are well padded and supportive in all the right places. The companion console features a glovebox, a storage drawer, and floor storage area behind an elastic mesh retainer. Of course there’s a cupholder, and to port you’ll find storage for up to four additional fishing rods.
The helm features large white-on-black analog gauges: speedometer, tachometer, voltmeter trim and a fuel gauge. There is plenty of room behind the Veralux windshield for you or your dealer to add aftermarket electronics. The throttle falls comfortably under your right hand whether seated or standing. There’s a convenient storage drawer, a cupholder, and plenty of legroom for even the tallest of fishermen.
Between the dual consoles, underfoot as you head forward, you’ll find a massive rod storage locker with space for up to 10 rods, with additional battery storage space underneath. To help in wiring your aftermarket electronics, an underfloor wiring tube runs from the transom to the console, and from the console to the bow. The Xpedition 200 comes pre-wired for your choice of 12V, 24V or 36V trolling motors. Our test boat was fitted with the MinnKota Terranova with i-Pilot.
Through the windshield, if you look closely, you’ll find that the raised bow casting platform is perfectly level when the Xpedition is not underway. It’s a small thing perhaps – but you’ll notice it makes a big difference after a full day on your feet casting. There’s a second aerated livewell up front and to port, and there are three additional storage compartments, plus the one for the footpedal of the trolling motor. The mount for the seat pedestal is dead centre on the platform. I like the cupholder right up front in the foredeck!
The wide gunwales that run the entire length of the hull support the ingenious Prince Track system. This system lets the owner add-on, and position anywhere around the boat they wish, a wide assortment of fishing accessories.
Our test boat was equipped with Mercury’s all new 250hp Verado. This all new V-8 outboard was just launched this past May. It features a 4.6L displacement 64 degree V-8 powerhead with Dual Overhead Cam, 32 valve design and computer controlled EFI. The Verado took just a one second click of the key to start and purred almost silently as I let it warm up a minute before leaving the dock. I recorded a time to plane of 1.6 seconds!! Blistering! The Xpedition hull jumped up out of the water with very little bow rise. The
Verado pushed us to a top speed of 61mph at 6,000 rpm – that’s 100km/h on the water – and in complete control the whole way from throttle down. At top speed the boat felt settled in and very stable, confidence inspiring to both captain and passenger. The power and torque curves that this new Verado puts out feel like a straight line from trolling speed to top speed. Our test boat wasn’t equipped with digital Smart Gauges so I can’t share our real life fuel economy. What I can share is that the engine is powerful, smooth as silk, and amazingly quiet thanks to the Advanced Midsection (AMS) and undercowl noise dampening. The hatch in the top to easily access the oil dipstick is a real plus as well.
If you’re looking to avoid the current tariff issues, would love to buy a Canadian-made product that has the fit, finish and performance reticent of a fine automobile but in a boat that will last you for generations and take you confidently out (and back) on any water you choose – check out the 2019 Princecraft Xpedition 200 at your local dealer.