What we think: Carolina Skiff just introduced this able 19-footer as the smallest hull of the new Elite line. It blends the company’s popular modified-V, DLV skiff design with the upgraded fit and finish of its Sea Chaser models. At the boat ramp, we inspected the chines and saw a reverse lip for deflecting spray, and 10 degrees of deadrise at the transom. Carolina Skiff says this boat also features an integrated stringer system versus the standard logs of a traditional skiff.
On the water, we found steady acceleration to a top end of 36.4 mph with our test boat’s four-stroke 90 hp outboard and four people aboard. Rigging max horsepower — 115 — on the transom should produce speeds in the low 40s and cost only slightly more to operate. In hard-over turns, the boat proved extremely stable, curving to port and starboard with very little centrifugal force. The ride, in a light chop, is an obvious improvement over a flat-bottom design, though we note the boat is at home near shore or in calmer bay waters.
On the deck, the 198 Elite appears larger than its 19 feet, and offers both family-friendly and fisherman-friendly standard features. Anglers will appreciate the 12/24-volt trolling-motor panel with plug and the 22-gallon aerated lighted livewell in the transom; order high-speed pickup as an option. The console, transplanted from the Sea Chaser bay boat line, includes vertical rod storage. We also found horizontal rod storage beneath both gunwales.
Families will love the rear flush-mount fold-down jump seats and the optional bow cushions and rail. The 198 also features a quick-disconnect windshield for more vertical clearance and easier garage storage.
Who should buy it: Novice or seasoned anglers wanting to explore inshore and very nearshore saltwater fishing with their families. Boaters who enjoy coastal nature touring would also find this boat to their liking.
Vital Stats * Length Overall: 19′ * Beam: 8′ * Dry Weight: 1,475 lb. * Weight Capacity: 2,200 lb. * Fuel Capacity: 32 gal. * Max HP: 115 * MSRP: (boat only): $17,417 * NMMA certified: Yes
(Editor’s note: Carolina Skiff does not package boats and engines. Select your power from the outboard companies that work with your dealer.)
Max HP: 115
A boat with the same basic dimensions as the featured boat, but built with fewer features and a smaller fuel tank.
DLV 218 Elite
Max HP: 150
Move up to the 218 to gain a little length and add a little horsepower; otherwise, it mirrors the 198.
Test Drive * Test Engine: Yamaha F90 * Test Prop: 13 x 19, aluminum * Test Load: People (780 lb.); Fuel (23 gal.) * Top Speed: 36.4 MPH @ 5,700 RPM * Time to Plane: 3.5 sec.