Too many wannabe saltwater anglers forgo their sport, thinking it takes $100,000 to procure a seaworthy boat. That may be so for offshore anglers, but the 18-foot outboard is still the sweet spot for family adventure at the inlet, along the beach and in big bays. That’s where we recently tested the Wellcraft 182 Fisherman and found it ready to pursue redfish, stripers, flounder and more, and do it for under $35,000. The 182 not only speaks to the angler, but it also shouts family fun and does it with benefits you wouldn’t expect at this price.
For starters, take the standard custom trailer matched to make your boat roll with you. We noted the livewell on the foredeck, plumbed with a stout pump and boasting a tempered-glass front wall for easy bait monitoring. At night, turn on the LED inside and let your kids enjoy the aquarium show. In an 18-footer you wouldn’t expect this large of a center console ready to accept audio, navigation and sonar electronics and a VHF radio.
Rod holders on the gunwales are standard, but there’s a stainless-steel upgrade ($473) that includes two more shotgun rod holders that double as cup holders between the transom seats.
The T-top is a $2,500 option but adds shade you’ll want in southern climates, and it’s powder-coated, a feature that usually comes at more expense.
We also noted the roominess of the cockpit, giving anglers space to work between the leaning-post cooler and the transom. Also thrown in are jump seats aft and a forward seat on the front of the console. Even more noteworthy is the head compartment below the console. Raise the front console panel and a changing room pops up with room for a portable head.
Our test boat was equipped with the Scarab package ($947) that gave us a three-color hull, the striking Scarab hullside logo, and surf-mat pads at the helm and foredeck.
For family fun, there is a removable tow pylon option ($267). The reboarding ladder is standard and ideal for snorkelers but adds safety should emergency reboarding be necessary.
You can power this boat with a 115 hp outboard and bring the price in at under $30,000. At this affordable price, it will be hard to keep making excuses for staying off the water.
* Powder-coated T-top supports add big-boat luxury.
* Cooler under leaning post is convenient.
* Leaning-post seat back reverses for aft-facing seating when fishing.
* A little more transom angle would increase negative trim for a flatter hole shot.
* Having an acrylic panel on the livewell might prove more shatter-resistant.
Mako’s 184 is a keen competitor, and you’ll have to spring for an extra $4,000 to upgrade from a 115 to a 150. Mercury makes one of the strongest 115s we’ve run, and it might just do the trick. The 184 is priced with a galvanized trailer and can be equipped with a Bimini or T-top.
Price: $34,476 (base with test power)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engine: Yamaha 150
Drive/Prop: Reliance 14 1/4″ x 17″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 2.00:1
Fuel Load: 40 gal.
Crew Weight: 700 lb.
Wellcraft Boats – Cadillac, Michigan; 231-775-1351; wellcraft.com