I applaud the great effort fishing-boat manufacturers make today to include families in the design equation. Many of my peers with kids or grandkids so value their own childhood boating experiences that they want to extend the legacy. Good for families. Good for boating.
Cobia certainly had families in mind when it developed the new 186 Center Console, which represents a crossover-style vessel blending aspects of a traditional, modified-V center console with a bay boat. However, Cobia – owned since 2005 by the Maverick Boat Company – also considered serious fishermen.
An approaching front had me itching to fish on the warm spring morning I motored out of Hickory Bluff Marina in southeast Georgia’s Camden County – my own backyard. But the tide was still quite high in the marsh, and I wanted to find some chop out on spacious St. Andrews Sound, the better to put this 18-footer to the test.
After idling past the small cluster of docks and boats, I throttled up. The boat responded smoothly and planed in about four seconds. Our particular hull carried a 90 hp, two-stroke Yamaha, although this boat is rated for a four-stroke 90 as well. Tested with that heavier engine, the Cobia planed in 4.7 seconds on average, according to Yamaha.
Without the optional trim tabs, the 186 ran with a slight bow-up attitude, a good position to handle chop. I trimmed up the engine at full throttle, and the Cobia sprinted to nearly 40 mph at 5,500 rpm. Yamaha’s test results with the four-stroke showed a top end of 38.7 mph at 5,800 rpm.
Hard-over turns accelerating from idle showed excellent stability. (When such a turn happens by accident aboard vessels that lack such integrity, passengers may be caught unaware and flung outboard; some boats lean far enough to swamp.)
At cruising speed, the boat carved crisp turns, though I found the standard cable steering made me manhandle the wheel a bit more than I like. Out on St. Andrews, the light breeze created only minor wave action. I ran the boat in circles to bolster the chop. With watery peaks finally formed, I ploughed through. The 186 merely jostled, landing solidly and dryly.
On a high tide, south-Georgia anglers have fewer inshore options due to the excessive amounts of water in the marsh, so I contented myself fishing a creek mouth where water poured out past a small oyster reef.
The bow of the 186 features an expansive deck, well-suited for tossing a net or bait, rimmed by a raised gunwale and a molded mounting area for a trolling motor. Aft, the pocket transom provides a smaller platform to cast from that also allows easy swimming access. A folding ladder that deploys off the port transom lets swimmers and skiers re-board just as efficiently.
Cobia provides a 12-gallon livewell ahead of the transom bulkhead for an ample supply of liveys. To convert to cruising, cover the well and the adjacent areas port and starboard with Cobia’s completely removable, cushioned bench-style seating that stretches the full width of the beam.
Rod storage includes horizontal racks to port and starboard for four rods total, as well as in-gunwale vertical holders on either side of the aft deck (two more may be ordered as options).
Livewell and storage hatches are gasketed, and the forward hatch comes with hydraulic assist. Anglers will appreciate the flush-mounted, pull-up cleats that keep line tangling to a minimum on deck. The boat also comes with a small anchor locker at the bow.
Design and Construction
The running surface of the Cobia 186 has its roots in the tried-and-true Pathfinder design. The hull’s 12-inch static draft means anglers can navigate fairly skinny waters.
Modest freeboard on this 186 makes it tend a little toward the bay-boat design. But Cobia has removed vertical rod storage around the console, which provides a safer environment for youngsters and ample inboard room to move. Cobia also offers a swing-back bench with a cooler beneath as standard helm seating – usually a more comfortable option on a family boat than a leaning-post design. The console’s windscreen and grab rail fold down to meet standard garage-height requirements.
The NMMA-certified hull is hand-layered with varying weights of multi-axial knits backed by chopped-strand mat and bound with vinylester-blend resin. The stringers are built from a quad-axial knit-and-mat combination and are filled with urethane foam, then tied into a urethane transom for integrity and stiffness.
The resulting combination creates a family-friendly, highly fishable and ultimately affordable center-console boat.
LOA……18 ft. 5 in.
BEAM……7 ft. 3 in.
HULL DRAFT……12 in.
WEIGHT……1,680 lb. (w/o engine)
MAX HP……90 hp OB
MSRP……$23,856 (w/ F90 Yamaha)
**Cobia Boat Company / Fort Pierce, Florida / 877-262-4238 / **www.cobiaboats.com