New boaters feel at home steering the craft; experienced mariners admire its flexible design.

Fishermen can smoothly propel the vessel offshore on an anglers’ excursion, while families can comfortably carry eight passengers for a day cruise. And, it’s all on a boat costing less than $60,000.

Manufactured in Moncks Corner, the 2016 Sea Fox 226 Commander provides storage bins, cushy seats, rod holders and a port-a-potty, and extends close to 23 feet.

“This is our best seller,” said Brent Rodgers, sales associate at Palmetto Boat Sales. The top seller includes a Bahama blue hull with white powder coat and matching T-top, he said. The model costs $58,000 at the Savannah Highway boat dealership and is available with features including a 200-horsepower Yamaha engine, Garmin electronic package and specially fitting aluminum axle trailer.

Local boat dealerships typically kick off their sales seasons with the Charleston Boat Show in January but the year’s full-scale launch begins in May, Rodgers says. “This is our busiest,” he says. “The first warm weekend really sets it on fire.”

The 22-and-a-half-foot long Commander reels in traffic based on its capacity to please anglers.

“Friends and guests can go offshore,” Rodgers says. The 226 sports a livewell, 75-quart cooler and places to carry bait and reels. Schools of fishermen can travel “where it’s comfortable.”

The roomy vessel, too, can excite recreational boaters. Special touches include drink holders next to every seat, swimming ladder off the bow and an optional multi speaker audio system. Extra space opens up from an aft bench and front facing seats next to the center console. “Probably one of the most family-friendly (features)” involves chairs that can face forward or be removed to provide more viewing space from rear cushions, the sales associate says.

Another advantage of the Commander 226 is the boat’s smooth-riding hull features. A “variable degree dead rise” at the bow gives way to a 19-degree slope at the transom, Rodgers says. The result, he says, is “a nice soft ride.” At the same time, abundant wave-blocking “‘flare’ keeps the boat dry.”

The Sea Fox model, introduced four years ago, can be fitted with a central soft top that protects the helm, driver’s seat and instrument panel from rain or relentless sun rays. Sea Fox too carries a hard top, which is loaded up with electronic storage boxes, eight speakers, LED “spreader” lights and overhead freshwater misters — there’s also fresh water to wash down the boat.

“Everybody wants the hardtop these days,” Rodgers says.

To keep prices competitive, Berkeley County-based Sea Fox lists “only a handful of options,” Rodgers says. The base price covers a well-appointed boat rather than a teaser rate requiring buyers’ to stock up on scores of extras, he noted.

Sea Fox, which opened its boat-making plant along U.S. Highway 52 in 2001, offers an owner-friendly bonus with all its models — a lifetime hull warranty.

The Commander can reach 50 miles per hour with the standard Yamaha engine and 55 mph with an optional 250 hp motor, Rodgers says. The most economical cruising speed at 36 mph produced 4-and-a-half miles per gallon. Housing a 100 gallon tank, the boat can travel close to 450 miles with a careful eye on the speedometer. A fishing crew can go offshore and back on an extended trip without using up more than half a tank of gasoline, he says.

“One thing we like to show on test runs” is the boat’s hydrostatics, such as how well the vessel hugs the water on turns, Rodgers said. Due to a sophisticated hull design, the craft fashions a “very predictable ride. It doesn’t skip,” he says.

On a 30-minute excursion this week into Charleston Harbor, the 226 Commander delivered as advertised, easily traveling at cruising speed without bumpiness on waves or oversteering. The wheel, which includes a grab handle to ease turning, felt comfortable at all times. Even on a purposeful circular turn, the craft stayed in control.

The Commander’s moderate sized length and girth, rather than lacking the openness of a larger boat, felt like the “right” configuration, particularly for a novice captain. Even so, the vessel provides ample space for fishing gear and more than adequate seating. Drink holders ranged from metal rings to shapely gaps built into the fiberglass body.

If the 226 Commander were to upgrade, it could add length and bulk — even six inches and a few hundred pounds — to provide more sturdiness on offshore trips. But that’s an unscientific answer. And Sea Fox apparently put a lot of research into the Commander, in particular on the hull, and came up with a successful design.

Just ask all the buyers.

Reach Jim Parker at 843-937-5542 or