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By Walt Pich

For fair weather anglers, the choice of fishing boats is almost limitless. But dedicated sport fishermen are a demanding group, and it is not as easy to find a boat to suit them!

The year-round fishing schedule of many Northwest anglers can be a true test of a vessel’s strength and reliability. Arima Marine International of Auburn, Washington, is one of only a few builders that designs boats tough enough to meet these demands.

Arima’s line of seven fishing boats, from 15 to 19 feet in length, features hard-chine, modified V-Hulls designed for the ever-changing waters conditions of Northwest waters. These boats have developed a reputation for getting anglers out of a jam when sudden Pacific squalls roar in.

High decks and upturned bows deflect spray, keeping passengers dry. Arima’s ride is soft and stable, even in rough water.

Not only are Arima boats rugged enough for traveling to and from fishing hot spots, they are top performers on location as stable mooching and casting platforms. Even the 790 pound, 15 foot Sea Sprinter, the lightest boat of the Arima line, provides firm footing for anglers playing a big Chinook in choppy seas.

Fishermen appreciate the fact that Arimas hold a steady track for slow trolling and have plenty of unobstructed area in which to play a fish. Each of the three 17 foot models and 19 foot Ranger have full walk around decks. Other amenities include an oversized keel-aligned fish box, cooler, 10 gallon live bait well and gunwales that are strengthened to hold downrigger mounts.

Company founder Juichi Arima is a recognized expert in hull design, but unlike some designers, he uses the boats he builds. He is a sport angler who makes regular salmon fishing trips throughout the inside waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and out on the open ocean, all in Arima boats, of course.

This combination of expertise on the drafting table coupled with hands-on fishing experience gives him a unique perspective in boat design. “Thinking strictly at the desk can be very limited,” he said, with a crafty smile. “Thinking on the water leads to good design.”

Arima holds a master’s degree in industrial design, and spent 10 years as a design consultant for Reinell Boats and Fiberform. He left to establish his own designs, differing with conventional boat building trends of putting ever-larger stern drives on boats. The reason? Arima believes that bigger is not always better.

“I wanted to design and manufacture the smallest boat to satisfy all fishing needs,” Arima explained.

“Aside from being able to handle rough water, the ideal bottom design should allow the boat to run efficiently with the smallest possible motor. With today’s smaller cars, a boat has to be light enough to allow a four cylinder engine to pull it.”

They may be built light, but Arima boats are strong, thanks to a three-mold construction process. The hull is double-layer fiberglass with a foam core sandwiched between.

In flotation tests, Arima boats exceeded Coast Guard specifications. With a 12,000 pound load of lead, the 17′ boat still floats. it even floats with holes in the 15′ hull and a 650 pound load of lead. Not surprisingly, all Arima boats come with a five year warranty on materials and workmanship.

Arima’s first fishing boat off the drawing board was the 15 foot Sea Hunter, introduced at the 1981 Seattle Boat Show. It was quickly accepted by Northwest anglers, and Arima boats began showing up at Point Defiance, Sekiu, Westport, the Columbia River and just about every other productive Washington fishing area.

At first, Arima boats were marketed only around Puget Sound. Later, dealerships were established throughout the United States.

The Sea Hunter 15’s design proved successful enough to keep the Auburn, Washington, plant producing boats at full capacity for nine years.

Thousands of boats later, Arima’s 1997 Sea Hunter 15 looks much the same as the original. Only minor modifications were made to the hull, deck and superstructure, for angler convenience.

To broaden the product line, Arima added a 16 foot Sea Explorer with a six foot cuddy after the Sea Hunter 15 became widely accepted.

A series of 17 foot models, Sea Chasers, Sea Pacers and Sea Rangers, was added later. Each offers an eight foot beam, 1,600 pound load capacity and variations in layout and forward interiors.

While his vessels may not be perfect for every water sport enthusiast, Arima said his boats are special because they are built for those who created boating: “The boat was born with the fisherman.”

Gaff Magazine Article

by Marc Grove

My first memories of Arima Boats harkens back to my Salmon and Albacore fishing days on the West Coast of Northern California. The water is numbingly cold, cold enough to quickly cause hypothermia resulting in certain death in about 30 minutes. The fact of the matter is the hardy breed of sport fishermen and women that use Arimas to pursue the Albacore tuna and Salmon are very selective about which craft they operate in the big Pacific.

It is common to run 50 miles from the dock in potentially rough and really cold conditions. I was lucky enough to captain a 26′ diesel powered boat that was owned by someone other than myself. It was a 26′ Fortier built in the North East, a very seaworthy vessel. I also took note of what other boats fisher folk put their faith in, especially the small ones. There is one that everybody knows and that is the venerable Boston Whaler 17 Montauk. The concept of the “unsinkable boat” was quite marketable and had a certain air of invincibility. The regular use of foul weather gear for a casual cruise or a long fishing trip was a detracting feature however, as these boats were not only known as very seaworthy but also very wet and somewhat less than comfortable. I have distinct memories of people on 16′ Arimas with the standard soft top up, way out in the Pacific with the “big boys “looking as though the world was right and without discomfort or worry.

Juichi Arima and Don Gross were and still are boat builders based in Seattle. They worked for a company called Fiberform. Fiberform built big boats for the, cruising, and commercial fishing market. There are many Fiberforms still running to this day and have a sterling reputation as a strong and seaworthy West Coast boat. Don and Juichi are both sport fishermen that love the great Salmon, Cod, and Dungeness Crab fisheries, as well as the beautiful cruising opportunities available in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. They felt there was a need for a smaller, but equally seaworthy craft for the sport angler and cruiser. A boat that could be towed by a small to midsize vehicle, kept in ones garage or driveway, and still allow for comfortable and economical use in the less than tropical conditions of the Northwest. Thus, Arima Boats was founded 22 years ago.

Arima Marine is still a small company located in Auburn, Washington. Their model lineup consists of 15′ through 22′ foot models. The construction technique is totally handmade throughout the entire process utilizing all composite “unsinkable” structural materials and genuine human craftspeople .The designs are concepts that work for the long term with innovations such as foam filled stringer systems, and after planes on the hull which have been widely copied by numerous manufacturers .The early boats were small and tested extensively until the desired results were obtained. One of the many long-term employees told me of a picture of Don and Juch towing a 16 footer behind a Volkswagen Beetle. That gave me a familiar and historical feel to my middle aged sensibilities as well as making a statement to efficiency. Speaking of the long term, the average length of employment for Arima Craftspeople is around 10 years, which is unheard of in the fiberglass industry. Arima has employed a few for 20+ years and that says a lot in my book. A good “non corporate” company with longevity, making a good product is unusual in today’s marketplace. Perhaps “old fashioned” is an applicable term.

I now reside on the Gulf of Mexico in Northern Florida. I have developed a new respect for a boat design that is comfortable and capable in the “Square Chop” By that I mean waves that are equal in height to their distance apart. That is a common condition in the Sounds of the Northwest as well as the Great Lakes and the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I think that there is far more challenge in the design and execution of boats when intended for use in these conditions. In the big rolling swells of the Atlantic and the Pacific the challenges of design are different .But if it works in the Square Chop it will work well just about anywhere. Arima has combined the design, quality, and the style to appeal to Gulf Fishermen as well as intercoastal cruisers. It’s not a boat based on an image or status or “lifestyle” as much as the reality of years of testing and day-to-day function. That is an enduring statement in itself.

My wife and I recently had the opportunity to sea trial a 17-foot Sea Chaser in a couple different scenarios. That is the model with the smaller cuddy cabin. The feel is of a far larger boat with room to stow amazing amounts of gear and still have what has been termed as the “spousal approval unit ” otherwise known as the porta potti. The cockpit is deep and you stand at water level making gaffing or netting an easy job. The side mounted controls [as opposed to a “Center Console”] design allows for front to back utilization of space. Another unique Arima Feature is the forward driving position. The visibility is great and with the 50-degree entry dead rise the ride is excellent even though you are at the front of the boat. The boats are all made to plane with lower horsepower motors at slower speeds than most boats. In rough water it allows you to pick a comfortable speed we were able to make 18 miles an hour in 2-3 foot seas. In bigger swells the boats short length allow it to “fit” in between swells. In smooth water you can still get up and go. The boat we tested had a silky smooth 70 Suzuki 4 stroke. One of the impressions you get immediately is how stable the boat is at rest. The beam is 8′ and this is on an 17 foot boat! It is almost as wide as it is long. The boat is capable of comfortably fishing 4 anglers with plenty of gear. The built in insulated fish boxes in the floor save space and there is a cover over the motor that provides a place for cutting bait, rigging tackle, and holding a beverage with the included Aroma Cozies. There are bait wells in the corners of the transom that are quite handy .One is plumbed as a live well and the other is plumbed to the fresh water tank located in the bow. Scenario 1 was a King Mackerel Trolling Day. We ventured out to the reef and found the boat to be really comfy to fish on .We were out about 20 miles and felt very safe and comfortable. Scenario 2 was a Scallop diving trip with another couple .We loaded a 200 Qt. SSI cooler in the back along with all our snorkeling gear, food, etc, and headed west in the intracoastal waterway for an 85 mile round trip to the scallop grounds. Every piece of gear had a place and there was room to spare .The boats draft with all aboard was about 12″ and the side mounted dive ladder worked well .The economy was great as we burned just 17 gallons of fuel on our adventure.

This may not be the boat for everybody, but if a boat with a classic design and very high quality construction that serves multiple purposes in an economical way appeals to you, it might just be worth looking at. Their website is: This site is quite informative and well worth a look .If this sounds like a boat you can use and enjoy contact one of their full service dealers for more information and a sea trial.”

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