Renaissance Prowler 246: New Rules

Its time has come.

Test a few hundred boats, and they all start to seem the same - until you run into one like the Renaissance Prowler 246. Here's a cat that's built like it ought to cost a hundred grand selling for half that much. It can run with the big dogs in the roughest weather, delivers excellent top-end performance, and is amazingly economical to operate.

How can a boat be so well built yet remain so inexpensive- Factory-direct sales help keep some costs down. The vacuum-bagged, foam-cored hull weighs in at 2,700 pounds, as much as 1,300 pounds lighter than some similar-size boats, yet it feels as solid as concrete. The tunnel is taller than other cats, adding more cushion when the going gets rough. Venting ports aft allow trapped air and water to escape, which prevents sneezes (mist blown back out of the tunnel), and full-length lifting strakes help it plane easily. Our test boat, overpropped with 22" four-bladers, turned only 4900 rpm yet topped 45 mph. With less pitch and a few hundred more rpm, this boat will surely go faster. Fuel efficiency is also well above average; at 3500 rpm and a 31.8-mph cruise, we got an absolutely astonishing 3.5 mpg.

Fishing features on the Prowler 246 are also top shelf, with a 40-gallon livewell in the leaning post, two tackle stowage boxes in the transom, four gunwale-mounted rodholders instead of the usual two, and coaming pads all around. A pair of locking rodboxes are built into the bow, so your rigs stay salt-free as you cruise to the fishing grounds.

Look belowdecks and you'll see incredible precision in the 90-degree wiring turns, PVC-protected harnesses, and neat labeling of everything in sight. The Prowler 246 is pretty on the outside, too, with color-matched rubrails, T-top, and upholstery trim. What about the gel coat? It's mirror-like. Although the Prowler 246 is nicer, competition includes the well-finished World Class Cat 246SF. It weighs in at 4,000 pounds and goes for $33,000 without power.

Another key feature of the Prowler 246 is stowage. Every inch of the hulls is fitted with gel-coated stowage boxes, so you'll never run out of space for your gear, and the fully finished anchor locker is large enough to hold 500' of 5/8" line. Even gear-crazed anglers will find enough space.

LAST WORD. An excellent combination of top-quality construction, remarkable fuel economy, and superior ride. All in all, this cat is tough to beat.

LOA..........24'6" ** **

Beam ..........8'6" ** **

Draft ..........2'3" ****

Displacement (lbs., approx.)........2,700 ****

Bridge clearance.. 6'4" ****

Minimum cockpit depth ..........2'2" ****

Max. cabin headroom ..........4'3" ****

Fuel capacity (gal.) ..........120 ****

Water capacity (gal.) .......... 16 ****

Price (w/o power) ..........$28,900 ****

Price (w/test power) ..........$53,000

STANDARD POWER: None. ****

OPTIONAL POWER: Twin outboards to 300 hp total.

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 135-hp Mercury Optimax V-6 outboards with 153 cid, 3.50" bore x 2.65" stroke, swinging 14 3/4" x 22" four-bladed ss props through 2:1 reductions.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Hydraulic steering; 270-qt. insulated fishbox; 94-qt. removable cooler seat; 40-gal. aerated livewell; leaning post/tackle center; 4 gunwale-mounted rodholders; transom door; dive platform; locking rodboxes.