The boating industry’s version of a wolf in sheep’s clothing has arrived. The Cobia 226 Coastal Deck appears from a distance to be the typical deck boat, but a closer look proves otherwise. Incorporating all the comforts of a great family deck boat, this Cobia is the first of its kind to combine accessories for skiing, snorkeling and cruising with saltwater angling for a weekend outing. Features like a center console, rigging station, and bow and stern platforms put this boat on the fishing map.
Cobia engineers took into consideration rough conditions when creating a boat meant to cruise both bays and open ocean. With the seas only 2 feet off St. Andrews Pass near Panama City, Florida, the best rough-water ride we could come up with was in boat wakes. The Coastal Deck fairly glides over the top of a light wind chop, thanks to an 8 1/2-foot beam and 16-degree deadrise.
Speed poses no problem either, as the 225 Yamaha quickly propelled us to over 52 mph. This deck boat made turns smoothly and consistently at any speed in both flat and choppy water. Cobia engineer Claude Neely agreed that the boat’s sharp cornering sets it apart. “I would say it has the tightest turning radius of any deck boat. It reacts like a true saltwater boat,” he says. The 75-gallon fuel capacity makes longer trips possible, especially at cruise speed, where the boat gets 3.3 miles per gallon.
At a 36-mph cruise speed, the Coastal offers a family all the comforts of home.
As we headed to our destination, we could even carry on conversations without having to raise our voices. A specially designed motor well that surrounds the front half of the motor greatly reduces noise when on plane.
I had difficulty picturing myself fishing a deck boat, but driving it to the fishing grounds and then fighting fish from it eliminated any doubt. From the spacious bow platform, I had plenty of room to cast and move from one side of the boat to the other. After catching a bluefish on my first cast, I was sold. The wide beam kept this boat stable, and the low bow (the gunwale a mere 20 inches from the waterline) allowed for quick and easy releases without the aid of a net.
As I became more familiar with the features of the Coastal Deck, its true fishability began to reveal itself. Wider-than-usual walking space on the side of the center console makes moving around easy. The cushions on the bench seating can be removed, which opens up more nonskid deck from which additional anglers can cast.
A rod storage/rigging station on the port side provides built-in vertical and under-gunwale storage for five rods, along with a watertight cabinet that handles three trays of tackle. A recirculating bait well and insulated fish box are part of the long checklist of equipment that will satisfy anglers’ needs.
Above all, the Coastal Deck’s strength lies in the way designers have integrated most of the features. You don’t end up tripping over tackle boxes or rods – even the ice chest goes into a storage area molded right into the hull. The fishing platforms – flat areas flanking the motor at stern and comprising the front 2 feet of the bow – spread out anglers enough to keep non-fishing passengers out of the way and out of range of flying hooks.
Design and Construction
Cobia has come a long way with major design, quality and construction improvements throughout the line since Yamaha bought the company in 1995. Making a deck boat that can do it all, while appealing to interests of the entire family – whether that’s snorkeling, skiing or simply cruising – hasn’t ever been done this well. Cobia knew it had to be truly outstanding to silence the skeptics.
Center-console controls instead of the starboard helm design typically found on deck boats allow for more fishing room, while maintaining plenty of seating capacity. The bucket seat can swivel to join a stern-facing seat beside the console if the helmsman wants to keep watch on trolling spreads or skiers.
A double-laminated fiberglass hull comparable to those in some 30-footers, along with stainless-steel hardware, make it solid and saltwater tough. Plus, a five-year transferable hull warranty shows Cobia’s confidence in the durability of the 226.
Cobia wants to be the leader in turning a deck into a serious fishing machine, and it appears its hard work has paid off.