Here's a report I purchased prior to buying my 2320:
Parker 2320 DV
The Parker 23-foot Sport Cabin is a stripped-down, but well-constructed, fisherman that will get you where the Gradys go.
As Parker went to a semi-deep V hull several years ago, it opened a new blue-water market for its Carolina fishing boats.
We first spotted the Parker line of fishing boats at a show more than a year ago, and the simple, classic designs—at prices well below those of “name” brands—intrigued us. We focused in on the 2320 Sport Cabin and spent a lot of time figuring out what a Parker is and isn’t.
The Parker 2320 isn’t the best looking boat you’ll ever see—in fact it’s a little homely—but it is handsomely made. It doesn’t offer a lot of amenities, but it sells at a reasonable base price. It doesn’t come with a big rep, but it also doesn’t carry the inflated (often non-negotiable) sticker price some models boast. In short, it’s a solid, if plain, sportfisher that will get you out to the same fishing grounds with just as good a ride and just as quickly as the name brands.
Design & Construction
The lines of the Parker 2320 clearly show its heritage as a descendant of the working fishing boats of the North Carolina coast. Linwood Parker, company president, grew up on a small island off the coast amidst small boat shops and fleets of commercial fishermen and crabbers. The rule was, Parker said, “If it doesn’t have a function, it isn’t on the boat.”
Parker began his boatbuilding career in the commercial area, building larger trawlers, head boats, and sportfishermen, switching from wood plank to fiberglass in 1979. About the same time, the company built its first 25-footer, with a few added amenities to appeal to the growing recreational fishing market. “There was an evolution from a necessity to a desire to own a boat,” the owner said. In all, the plant produces about 500 center consoles, walkarounds, and sport cabins a year, ranging in size from 17-25 feet.
Hull form was fairly traditional as well, with a moderately flat V—14 degrees deadrise at the transom—to provide quick planing and a stable platform at rest. That, too, has changed as owners could afford more horses to push a deeper V through the waves at speed. About three years ago, the 23-footer was converted to a deeper 20 degree-V at the transom. The boat’s new blue-water capability convinced Don MacKenzie of Boats Incorporated in Niantic, Connecticut to add the line to a line that includes Albemarle, Grady White, and Whaler.
“It opened up a whole new market for us, in terms of affordability,” says MacKenzie, who carefully checked out the boat and visited the plant before becoming a dealer.
Switching to the deeper V also placed Parker in the mainstream of current hull design: Such diverse boats as the Seaswirl 2600 Striper and the Glastron 249 family cruiser/ski boat sport 20 degrees of deadrise (often referred to as “semi-deep V”); the Pursuit Denali 24 we’ll review soon and the Mirage speedster we featured last month are a bit deeper at 21 degrees. The 2320 has two solid-glass lifting strakes per side, the topmost pair running all the way aft, the strakes nearer the keel ending about four feet from the transom for smoother water flow. At the bow, the V increases to a good 60 degrees, complemented by a sharp entry and what Parker’s Jason Tilghman calls a “classic North Carolina flair.” Three-and-a-half inches of reverse chine adds some lift (but not too much, Parker says) and stability that helps compensate for the slightly deeper V.
The laminate is straightforward but solid, with three layers of woven roving sandwiched between five layers of 1.5-ounce and 3.0 ounce mat on the bottom; strakes and keel are reinforced with 25/15 bias material. The sides have two layers of 24-ounce woven roving and five layers of mat, with 24/15 stiffener at the flange. The gelcoat is 18-20 mils thick, according to the factory. This is a fair amount of glass that produces a dry weight of 4,000 pounds—fairly substantial for a 23-footer.
The hull-deck joint is the tried-and-true shoebox variety, fastened variously with through-bolts and screws, which secure the rubrail; in all, there’s a fastener every six inches around the boat. A rubber gasket is inserted between the halves before bolting, and then a seal of 3M 5200 applied after hull and deck are joined—a curious (if time-saving) practice, especially since 5200 is as much adhesive as sealant. Most builders who go the bead-of-sealant route use a less expensive material.
The stringer system is of the egg-crate type, with Greenwood XL-10 seven-ply cores, coated with fiberglass cloth then glassed to the hull. Stringers and other voids are injected with foam, which serves to stiffen the hull, add sound insulation, and provide extra flotation. All the laminate and structural work that we could examine—quite a bit, in fact—was extremely well done to our eye.
Bottom line: We’d judge hull construction, despite some quirks, as solidly conventional. Although it’s hard to make predictions about a boat with less than 10 hours on it, the hull we took out had a distinctly substantial feel about it.
Cockpit & Deck
The Sport Cabin, with a pilothouse forward, offers some pros and cons for the fisherman. In colder climates, the obvious advantage is a place to get out of the weather. The equally obvious disadvantage is a sizable superstructure between fisherman and the foredeck, although Parker does its best to make the trip forward a secure one.
Stripped down, the Parker 2320 provides the basics with which to go fishing—a good size self-bailing cockpit, 26 inches deep, with a built-in fishbox under the sole, a pair of rod holders per gunwale, and one under-the-gunwale rod rack per side (plus three more in the cabin). There’s room for another four-six rocket launchers on the cabin rooftop. Otherwise the cockpit is bare, if roomy. Here’s one place where Parker differs from, say, a Grady, where you’ll get a fish box that drains overboard (as well as a transom sink). Here it’s part of the “full transom” package for outboard models that will provide you with a transom-wide fish box and aft deck for about $1,200. In lieu of that, we’d definitely take the optional poly splashboard (under $200), and we’d also take the raw water washdown ($425) on the port side of the transom notch. Parker does provide two through-bolted U-bolts on the transom for stern tieups (just like Grady), but the swim platform, which provides a nice step over the transom and is also a nice safety feature, should come standard on the outboard model and not as an option, in our opinion.
The pilothouse on the 2320 gives protection
from the weather. Windows all around allow
Gas tank installation is one area where Parker falls down, in our opinion, with the single aluminum tank (albeit 5052 grade) foamed in after fastening to the stringers. Linwood Parker notes that the company makes sure to prevent water absorption into the foam of the stringers, for example, but moisture accumulation in the area around the tank inevitably leads to corrosion—eventually—in our experience. And while there is plenty of access for inspection or for reaching components, such as hose clamps or the sending unit (there's a total of four \"pie plate\" ports in the cockpit floor), there is no way to remove the tank without cutting the floor. We'd pay extra for better access.
Hardware is rugged on the Parker: The bow, spring, and stern cleats (recessed with stainless-rimmed hawseholes) are eight inches and rugged, the one-piece welded bow rail a respectable, if not spectacular, 18 inches high. It is difficult to judge the quality of hardware on a new boat—how will it stand up to the marine environment. One reader, who owns an 18-foot center console, said the stainless fixtures on his two-year-old boat were showing signs of rust despite regular washdowns; nevertheless, this owner had high praise for his boat and plans to move up to a 25-footer upon his retirement.
Aiding the trip forward is a 1-3/4\"-high toe rail and several stainless grab rails—along the cabin roof, on the sides, and forward. We’d add a pair of vertical handholds to the rear of the house for the comfort and safety of cockpit passengers while under way. Nonskid—the brochure says molded-in, but it looked rolled-on to us—was the grit type, adequate enough, if a bit tough on the knees, and on just about every surface you might step onto.
At the bow, the standard anchor locker measures 22-1/2 inches by 7-1/2 inches and can take a good 250 feet of 3/8 line plus some chain; the stock groove is 20 inches—long enough to take up to a 14-pound Danforth, which is a suitable working anchor for a boat this size. There’s good access to the locker from above and below and Parker remembered to include an eye for tying off the rode. And while our option list is adding up, we’d still opt for the bow pulpit with roller ($800), which not only is functional but adds a lot to the looks of this boat.
You can get an (optional) outside steering station on the 2320, but most people will want to steer from inside, where there is 6' 2\" of standing headroom. The hardtop is standard on this boat (or you can take the no-cost option of open back with drop curtains) and provides not only shelter but also a significant reduction in engine noise. The Springfield adjustable helm seat was comfortable enough and visibility for the steerer is excellent, with safety glass on all sides, including the rear bulkheads and door. Screened side windows are standard, but you’ll have to pay for venting windshields. We’d consider that, but definitely spend extra for wipers, considering the spray we encountered plowing into a three-foot chop.
Our particular boat came with a headliner and teak trim, which softened the interior considerably. But it's not a necessity by any means, and the hardcore fisherman might well do with the plain hull. MacKenzie suggested that Parker offer an optional passenger bench instead of the standard pedestal seat. This adds comfort as well as storage below, but we’d also like a handhold for the passenger for when the speed picks up.
The instrument panel was minimalist—our boat had Yamaha’s dual-function display—so there’s plenty of room for such (optional) gear as compass, etc. Steering is hydraulic (Teleflex). A plastic fold-down panel on the backside of the instrument panel provides excellent access to the gauges and switches and an 11-circuit DC panel, which has room for expansion. Access was sufficient for us to note that Parker used regular blade friction connectors, which may have had enough pull resistance to qualify for ABYC approval but still are a notch below more secure ring or captive spade terminals.
Forward of the helm, with an opening to port, is a small cuddy with enough room for one or two adults to lie down for a spell. There’s storage space underneath some of the cushions and room for a portable toilet, as well as access to the electrics and the anchor locker. Two small screened ports and an overhead hatch provide some natural light (there's fluorescent lighting as well) and ventilation, but we wouldn’t want to spend much (conscious) time in here. The pull-out Tempress plastic compartment covers are tricky, especially when you’re pulling up and away from yourself; this is something you’d either get used to or find a perpetual annoyance, and it’s part of the cost, we suppose, for a lower sticker price.
We took the 2320 out onto Northern Long Island Sound on a fall day that had a little bit of a breeze and a short, three-foot chop in open water. The Parker comes with a variety of power options, including I/O, twin outboards (130 hp each), and single outboard, from 200-250 hp. We went out with a single Yamaha 200 Saltwater Series II V6 that represents the power of choice for many Boats Incorporated customers, MacKenzie said.
The Parker has a good working foredeck with
a sizable anchor locker, strong 8-inch cleats,
and a sturdy one-piece rail.
With three of us on board and 3/8 tank of gasoline (150-gallon capacity), we were on plane smoothly at 3200 rpm. Running north, with the waves, the ride was smooth; heading south, into the chop, we were pounding considerably at just over 18 knots (3500 rpm), although steering was comfortable, with no throttle creep, and the boat tracked very well. A few knots faster and we were sending up a ten-foot rooster tail, although the cockpit, protected by the wheelhouse, remained dry. No doubt the bow flair has something to do with this, too.
One tester noted a slight delay in steering response at speed (the other did not), probably due to side slippage while on plane with the wetted surface reduced. In any event, the delay was minute enough not to lead to oversteering, and the sort of hitch an owner would quickly get accustomed to.
Otherwise, the boat handled perfectly in turns, at both high and low speeds, with never a hint of instability or sluggishness. Even at high speeds—about 45 mph on runs inside on the Niantic River—hull noise was muted to little more than a ripple effect. MacKenzie said optimum cruising speed would be about 4,000 rpm in calm water, which would produce a speed of about 23 knots while providing a respectable cruising range of 337 miles on a 90 percent-full tank, according to our data.
The V6, like all outboards, had its own preferred operating range—4100 rpm up to close to 4500 rpm—at which point running became smoother (“Like a sewing machine,” MacKenzie said), the dB level dropped noticeably, and speed picked up to 30 knots. This also produced the maximum cruising range of 391 miles.
Bottom Line: A nice little peformer, with enough deadrise to part the waves and make offshore runs comfortable and safe at reasonably fast cruising speeds.
If you’ve just got to have that brand-name status, if it would kill you to be known as the owner of the (slightly) ugly duckling at a dock filled with Gradys and Pursuits, then the 2320 Sport Cabin probably isn’t for you (although differences are muted with the smaller center consoles). If, on the other hand, you don’t have the extra $20,000 or so to spend (or you prefer to save it for other things), the Parker will get you out to the fishing grounds just as nicely and at comparable speeds. Those who prefer more speed or need to make longer runs might opt for a twin-outboard installation.
We think the Sport Cabin is especially worth looking at for coastal fishermen or anyone who faces a chop and prefers a deeper V to flat-out planing speed. The pilot house is a big plus in colder, wetter climates, while a dedicated fisherman might prefer Parker’s 23-foot walkaround.
Despite its reasonable price, the 2320 isn’t a bargain-basement boat. Construction standards are good, fit and finish is excellent, and Linwood Parker says the boat is being bought by customers who are “moving down” from more expensive brands, as well as those looking for an affordable entry into the sportfishing life.
There's not enough sales data on Parkers to determine how well they'll hold their value on the used-boat market, but if you've bought a good boat at a reasonable price, chances are you'll do all right when it's time to sell. And while not as well known as some makes, Parker has a national presence with about 35 dealers from coast to coast.
2320 DVSC "Puddleduck"
Fishing All Over