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50K Cabin Boats

Which suits you best?

January 6, 2009
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SHOOTOUT 50K CABIN BOATS

What’s better: a waterfront cabin with a back porch, or a cabin-equipped boat on the water with a cockpit? Hey, it’s no contest! With a small economical cabin boat you get tax-free waterfront property and a view that’s constantly changing. But with all the cruisers, fishers, and weekenders out there, the only problem is picking the best one for you. So we lined up four interesting models and put them to the test to help you make the right choice.

C-DORY 22 CRUISER

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www.c-dory.com

253/839-0222

THE BASICS

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LOA 22’0″

Beam 7’8″

Draft (max.) 2’4″

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Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o engine) 1,925

Transom deadrise

Max. cabin headroom 6’2″

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Fuel capacity (gal.) 46

Price (w/75-hp Honda) $44,695

DETAILS

This boat is stunningly well equipped with everything you need for a weekend getaway: single-burner stove, 20-gallon freshwater system (foot pump activated), windshield wipers, and a portable MSD. This is one of the smallest boats with a true pilothouse. Four can cruise in comfort whether it’s raining, snowing, or blowing. Inexpensive black plastic trim, simple one-color cushions, and visible wiring chases mean it’s not a boat for those who need to impress.

PERFORMANCE

This unusually light boat needs an unusually small powerplant, and the economy shows. It’s the only boat in the fleet to top 5 mpg, and even at WOT fuel economy is way ahead of the rest. On the flip side, speeds are lackluster, and although the nearly flat hull design is extremely efficient, it can’t go fast in rough water. When you back off on the throttles and keep the V of the bow in the water, however, the ride is excellent.

CONSTRUCTION

In the cabin, teak trim work and cabinet-ry of phenolic veneer over marine ply is plain but solid and easy to maintain. The hull, deck, and hardtop are balsa cored, which explains the boat’s light weight. The deck is bonded to the hull while the hull is in the mold, ensuring a solid, seemless fit. Interior and exterior fabrics are Sunbrella. The quality of hardware and fittings is surprisingly high considering the boat’s low cost.

HIGHS & LOWS

HIGHS Tops the efficiency charts with a low-power, low-cost outboard. Full wheelhouse offers plenty of protection for all. Surprisingly low price, even with that long standard list. Its light weight means it’s easy to tow.

LOWS Flat bottom design won’t let you zoom through rough seas. Big cabin reduces cockpit space. Interior is plain. With its small outboard, top-end speeds are low by today’s standards.

RINKER 230 ATLANTIC

www.rinkerboats.com

574/457-5731

THE BASICS

LOA 22’0″

Beam 8’6″

Draft (max.) 3’0″

Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o engine) 4,950

Transom deadrise 20°

Max. cabin headroom 4’5″

Fuel capacity (gal.) 50

Price (w/250-hp stern drive) $41,838

DETAILS

Made for serious overnight duty, with such space-eating amenities as the stowable head and single-burner stove. One of the few offering a fishing package ($1,750) with built-in tackleboxes, rodholders, fishfinder/GPS, and removable cockpit carpet. This also makes it the most all-sport capable of the bunch. Cruisability gets a boost from a standard 10-gallon freshwater system and Bimini top — a hardtop isn’t an option.

PERFORMANCE

The only stern drive boat in our mix, it posts numbers that are respectably middle-of-the-pack. Best efficiency is just a hair less than 3 mpg, which is partly due to this boat being significantly heavier than the competition. Its weight, however, helps squash waves, smoothing out the ride. Its top speed of 43.2 mph is surpassed only by the Scout, and it pops onto plane remarkably fast with no lingering bowrise.

CONSTRUCTION

Simulated-granite countertops and lids are a step above the molded glass pieces seen on other boats at this price. Steering is power-assisted, bowrails are welded stainless steel, and the trim gauge uses LED lights. Marine-ply stringers are encapsulated in glass and laminated to the solid fiberglass hull. It’s a beefy structure that weighs more than foam-cored stringers. And although that weight may reduce efficiency, the ride is noticeably better for it.

HIGHS & LOWS

HIGHS Minimal bowrise, good speed, and seakeeping abilities make running this boat a pleasure. No rattles or vibrations when hitting waves. The V-berth converts into a comfortable settee. Vinyl headliner and bulkheads are easy to maintain.

LOWS Heavy weight means it’s not the most efficient. There’s no access to the anchor locker from the cabin — a problem with the optional windlass. No nonslip on the starboard sidedecks.

SCOUT 222 ABACO

www.scoutboats.com

843/821-0068

THE BASICS

LOA 22’2″

Beam 8’6″

Draft (max.) 2’8″

Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o engine) 2,400

Transom deadrise 20°

Max. cabin headroom 4’8″

Fuel capacity (gal.) 90

Price (w/150-hp Yamaha F-150) $54,374

DETAILS

Its finish is at the top of this class, but it’s also the most expensive of the group. The unique layout has cockpit seating for seven, a center-entry cabin, and a standard equipment list that includes such goodies as a stereo and sink with a stowage locker. The cabin is roomier than expected and has a berth longer than 6′. But all that interior space makes the sidedecks narrow.

PERFORMANCE

A fun boat to run, skimming over waves large enough to slam other boats. Yet even with 200 horses, it gets better than 3 mpg and comes close to 4 at its sweet spot, 25 mph/3500 rpm. It also revs up to better than 45 mph, making it the fastest boat here. With its standard hydraulic steering, 20-degree deadrise, and bucket seats, the Scout feels like a sports car.

CONSTRUCTION

Like all Scouts, the Abaco is wood-free, has a reverse-shoebox hull-to-deck joint, and sports an integrated motor bracket that’s tied into the two main stringers, spreading the stress of 200 or more horsepower throughout the boat. When the boat punches through a wave, it feels like a single solid unit. Rails, fittings, and accessories all feel solid as well.

HIGHS & LOWS

HIGHS One-of-a-kind layout lets you entertain a crowd, overnight, ski, fish — whatever. With a 200-hp motor it’s the fastest in the fleet. Construction makes for a solid feel when striking waves.

LOWS The most expensive boat in this crowd. No hardtop option for extended season cruising. All that seating makes the cockpit feel cramped.

TROPHY 2302 WALKAROUND

www.trophyfishing.com

800/544-6220

THE BASICS

LOA 23’5″

Beam 8’6″

Draft (max.) 3’0″

Displacement (lbs., approx.; w/o engine) 3,990

Transom deadrise 20°

Max. cabin headroom 5’0″

Fuel capacity (gal.) 125

Price (w/225-hp Mercury OptiMax) $49,686

DETAILS

Nicely finished, and its deep-green topsides, oversized windshield, and color-coordinated canvas look sharp. The cabin is unitized so options (such as a sink and stove, $614; freshwater system, $300; and portable head with pumpout, $286) can be added as needed. However, plastic latches on the aft seat need beefing up — one on our test boat broke. Wide sidedecks make anchoring easy. There’s an optional extended hardtop ($3,464) for all-weather boating, too.

PERFORMANCE

Expect to get 3 mpg at cruising speed from the OptiMax two-stroke power- plant. The 40-mph-plus top end is noteworthy, and with engine options to 300 hp, there’s plenty of room for more speed — it could probably break the 50-mph mark. Punchy two-stroke acceleration and a quick hop onto plane mean this rig works well for waterskiing and tow toys, too. However, in a short chop the ride was a bit bumpy at high speeds.

CONSTRUCTION

Foam-filled glass stringers are bonded to the solid glass hull. The poly fuel tank is integrated into the stringer system, as are the aluminum mounting plates for the hardtop’s pipework. The bowrails are oversized and hit passengers at thigh level for security, though flexing is noticeable. The nonslip is grippy yet easy to clean, unlike many common diamond patterns.

HIGHS & LOWS

HIGHS Performance is zippy. Even with the base power, this boat breaks 40 mph, leaving much of the competition in its wake. Rich with fishing features. Colored hullsides and coordinated canvas look great.

LOWS Cost quickly rises over $50K as you add options. Lots of plastic parts and a flexing rail foretell potential wear. In a tight chop its ride is a bit bumpy.

The BOTTOM LINE

Boaters who like to extend their season and save money on fuel will choose the C-Dory 22 Cruiser. But it’s not our pick because it’s the slowest of the bunch by a big margin. Anglers will love the Trophy 2302 Walkaround, but its ride in a head sea and cost-increasing options make us think twice. The Scout 220 Abaco scores high for efficiency and posts excellent speed numbers, but its cramped cockpit and high price hold it back. The Rinker 230 Atlantic, however, can cruise in tough conditions and fills the needs of cruisers, fishers, and watersports lovers while providing excellent accommodations and plenty of pep. If it had better efficiency, we’d love it even more.

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