Jeff Steen had a couple of months between boats to think about storage solutions. The longtime Louisiana fisherman and boater had just sold his Robalo 246 Cayman, and his 266 Cayman, one of the first hulls built of that model, was still being built. While waiting for delivery of his new Robalo 266 Cayman, one of the first built, Jeff Steen had a couple of boatless months to think about storage upgrades.


Jeff Steen's Boat Outfitters Collaboration

A leaning post tackle center was easy. Steen’s new 266 would have an identical leaning post to his 246, so he could simply duplicate the tackle center from his old boat for his new boat. He had designed that unit in partnership with Boat Outfitters back in 2018, and the company still had the files, so they were able to easily machine and assemble another one.

Boat Outfitters still had the design files for the custom tackle center Steen had spec’s in 2018, so machining and assembling a duplicate for the new boat was easy.

Steen made only two changes to the tackle center: switching the color of the drawer fronts to dolphin gray to match the new boat, and adding a small keeper rail around the top of the unit to keep tackle and tools from rolling or sliding off.

Unusable Space

The bigger challenge was what to do with the console interior. Steen had ordered the boat without the standard marine head, which left a cavernous but more or less unusable space in the console. “I made it 47 years on boats without a bathroom,” he says, “and I’m not starting now. I know who has to deal with that at the end of the day.”

Steen ordered his 266 Cayman without the standard marine head, leaving a massive but largely unusable space inside the console.

On his 246, he had attached what amounted to a large canvas clothes hamper to the inside aft wall of the console. “People would come on the boat and say, ‘Okay, where do I put this stuff that it will stay dry?’” Steen says. So the bin in the console turned into a catch-all, full of towels, changes of clothes, wallets, shoes and so on.



A Better Way

Those couple months without a boat gave Steen time to think about other options. “I thought, ‘man, there’s a better way to do this,’” he says.

So, with a preliminary design in his head for a cabinet unit that would span the console and rest on two ledges protruding from either side, he called Boat Outfitters to start the process of making his idea a reality.

The final design, arrived at after several iterations, features a deep center bin for towels, jackets and other bulky items. A vented front makes it easy to see the contents and allows plenty of airflow to let wet items dry out and keep mildew and mold at bay.

On either side of that are open cubbies for stashing wallets, keys, koozies and other small items. A small cabinet with shelf is below the port-side cubby. A deep drawer is below the starboard cubby. On top, two sets of keeper rails keep phones put.

Tackle Center

As for the leaning post tackle center, its most distinctive feature is a full-width compartment at the top with a net for retaining contents. It was inspired by a large, open bin in the leaning post of one of Steen’s previous boats, a Wellcraft. “I missed that thing,” he says. “You could throw anything in there — bait net, knives, fish rags, tackle trays, whatever.” So he spec’d a similar catch-all on his new custom tackle center.

The most distinctive feature of the leaning post tackle center is a full-width, open catch-all at the top. Below that are a cabinet door with four Plano tackle tray slots and four bulk storage drawers

Beneath that, a center cabinet door hides slots for four Plano-style tackle trays, while four drawers provide bulk storage for line and leader, tools, gloves, measuring devices, bagged plastic lures, etc. The entire unit is mounted via tabs on the leaning post legs, avoiding any penetrations into the deck.

I just kind of dreamed it up after seeing different stuff on other boats,” Steen says. “But everybody that sees this thing loves it.

Note: For 2023, the Robalo 266, 246, and 226 Caymans as well as the R200 and R230 Center Consoles and 222 and 242 Explorers all share the same leaning post frame, so Steen’s tackle center would be a direct fit for any of these seven models. Give Boat Outfitters a call for purchasing details!

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