Eighteen-foot bowriders are a staple of freshwater boating, as ubiquitous as french fries in a fast food restaurant. But see one in the salt and your first thought is the driver Googled the wrong launch ramp. Small runabouts are versatile but take a beating in the bigger water, and some boatbuilders’ answer is the dual console — a more rugged boat designed to meet an entire family’s coastal boating needs. EdgeWater’s new 188CX (which stands for Crossover) perfectly fits that bill.
EdgeWater started building dual consoles again three years ago, around the time certain buyers began adjusting their demands for specialization toward a single do-everything model. The company first built a 20-footer, then a 24-footer, and now offers the 188CX as an entry-level boat.
It may be smaller, but the 188CX packs a lot inside, seating six comfortably with room for seven. The bow area features runabout-like seating, with two sturdy powder-coated aluminum grab rails that provide a secure, comforting grip during turns. There’s an optional filler cushion to turn the entire bow into a sun pad. The standard seat cushions snap out when you’re ready to fish. Underneath, there are two built-in insulated coolers that drain outboard rather than into the bilge. Also note the dedicated anchor locker, a rare element on small bowriders.
Fishermen will not feel shortchanged. Coaming bolsters are standard in the bow and in the main cockpit, which measures 66 square feet. Two gunwale-mounted rod holders come standard, and the inwale rod racks hold three 7-foot-6-inch rods per side. Just forward of the motorwell sits a standard insulated cooler that can be plumbed as a baitwell. A raw-water washdown is another option.
As a tow boat, the 188CX will do just fine when you add the optional arch or ski pylon. Our test boat held plane at 3,000 rpm and 18 mph and topped out at 48 mph, with three adults aboard. Ditch the arch and we would have broken 50 mph. It doesn’t turn as sharply as a sterndrive, but it still has plenty of handling for deft tubing maneuvers.
Comparable model: Grady-White Freedom 192