Nowhere in the country will you find a region with a stronger boat building heritage than on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. A culture created around hardworking people carving out a living on the water in self-built boats, has produced some of the most sought after fishing boats on the water today. The Croswait 21 was born out of this this tradition and is now being produced one at a time by Aaron Croswait, the third generation of a custom boat building family that includes his father Bobby Croswait, and grandfather Buddy “Capt. BC” Cannady, both widely respected boat builders and watermen. A common thread found within this culture are boats built out of the need for a platform to work on the water- with only the features necessary to accomplish this work efficiently and comfortably, rejecting unnecessary trim or gadgets. As the demand has spread outside of the Outer Banks for these boats, the finish work and style demanded by this market has transformed traditional Carolina charter boats into luxury sport fishing yachts in both appearance and performance that stand tall against boats built anywhere in the world.

The Croswait 21 is a prime example of an idea for a simple work boat evolving into something entirely different. Originally planned for use as a “Duck Boat” to ferry hunters, guns, gear, decoys and dogs around the shallow Albemarle Sound, a design was conceived for a wide and stable boat that could handle a payload and choppy weather while having the ability to cross extremely shallow water in the process. Starting with a 21-foot long by 9-foot 6-inch wide footprint ensured an extremely stable platform with interior room to spare. Utilizing a 35-degree deadrise at the bow and quickly flattening out to 15-degree angle center and nearly flat 5-degree transom would allow softening of the weather across the bow while still offering a modest 10-inches of draft. The need to cross waters in single digit depths led to a unique tunnel design. With the advice of Glen Bradbury, (a local crab boat designer) a unique “Reverse Tunnel” was built into the Croswait 21 design. The reverse tunnel at its widest point, begins at the hull center and forms a 6-inch deep pocket tapering down in width back to the transom creating a forced water supply to the propeller. With the engine raised on a jack plate above the transom/chine the boat will run across 6-inches of water, a feat I witnessed firsthand. The original “Duck Boat” design performed better than expected and quickly raised eyebrows around the waterfront. Before long it was being discussed at length how many other practical uses the design would be good for.

After spending a day on the boat and putting it to work in multiple different scenarios I would strongly agree. The Croswait 21 would be equally at home fishing the rips of Nantucket for stripers as she would be drifting Boca Grande Pass for tarpon. She excelled on the beach looking for cobia and sat like a duck at anchor on the reef snapper fishing. This boat enjoys the appearance of a nicely finished custom sport boat while retaining her work boat sensibility at the core. A wide open deck around the center console is completely free of obstructions and allow space for 4-5 anglers to work uncrowded around the boat. The deck is also completely sealed to the bilge, free of any hatches creating a watertight bilge area. Storage inside the console and an anchor locker forward beneath a foredeck large enough to stand on or throw a cast net from along with a traditional Carolina fish box across the transom are the only storage/hatches you’ll find on board, again sticking to the work boat sensibility.

From a style standpoint the boat lacks nothing. A beautifully styled pipework hardtop with second station added a sporty profile to a boat trimmed out in Ocean Grip decking and covering boards along with a “Faux Teak” Toe Rail that looked straight out of a Palm Beach boatyard. This boat certainly drew plenty of admiration and questions wherever we went which doesn’t surprise me. A new model comes along now and then that everyone wants a ride on and this little gem is poised to start taking numbers.

Croswait 21 specifications:

Length: 21 feet

Beam: 9 feet 6 inches

Draft: 10 inches (6 inches running)

Deadrise: 35 forward/15 center/5 transom

Dry weight: 1900 pounds

Min/Max horsepower: 115/250

Fuel: 42 gallons

MSRP: base with 115 HP- $50,000.00 ($86K as pictured)

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