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March 17, 2009

Cobia 237 CC

If you're searching for an affordable family fishing boat, add the Cobia 237 to your list of possibilities. This brand just keeps improving with age.

When Maverick Boat Company acquired Cobia a couple of years ago, many of us welcomed the news. It was time for a fresh approach for this venerable brand. MBC president Scott Deal and his design team went to work, and in short order splashed the 296 and 256 Center Consoles, examples of well-executed fishing machines that meet the family budget. Using those same parameters, the latest 237 CC is a continuation of this trend.

With help from longtime Cobia dealer Homosassa Marine, I jumped aboard the 237 recently for a chilly shakedown cruise. After making our way down Florida's picturesque Crystal River and its numerous manatee zones, we throttled up into the open Gulf of Mexico. A stiff northern breeze greeted us, but the pocket center never skipped a beat. With its 8-foot-9-inch beam and variable deadrise hull, the 237 rides and performs like a much bigger craft. The sharp entry parted the chop like a honed fillet knife, while the bow flare deflected the gust-driven spray. The beamy hull transitions to 21.5 degrees at the transom for a soft, sure ride, but despite this aggressive angle, the boat is extremely stable. Even in hard beam-to seas, I couldn't duplicate the snap-roll that's common with some deep-V bottoms.

Our test model was rigged with the standard 250- horsepower Yamaha four-stroke. With the digital throttle, the response was immediate with little stern squat. The bow settles quickly for unobstructed sight lines. Although the engine was barely broken in, we made a top speed of 46.7 miles per hour in very cold water. Give the engine time to loosen up and in normal boating conditions, and I'm confident the GPS would broach the 50 mph mark. While the single outboard is a good match for the hull, twin 115 hp four-strokes are also available for those anglers wanting to venture way offshore with peace of mind.

The designers at MBC love to fish, and that focus is readily apparent here. A full level deck means no pole vaulting with hot fish. The beefy cleats are all flush-mounted, while the low-profile bow rail is practical yet unobtrusive. The helm leaning post comes with a four-rod rack across the back. A convenient rigging station is housed underneath, complete with multiple drawers and built-in boxes for terminal tackle. Horizontal rod storage under the gunwales and mounted rod holders will stow the extra outfits.

A 28-gallon tinted livewell is nestled into the transom next to a swing-away gate. The covered telescopic boarding ladder is immediately aft for those who like to snorkel or wade-fish. Forty-gallon macerated fish boxes straddle the cockpit deck. In the bow, an extra-large storage compartment is also located in the sole, just forward of the insulated 72-quart console cooler/seat combination. The oversize anchor locker will easily hold an offshore hook and retrieval ball.

Our test boat was rigged with the optional T-top, and I can't imagine ordering a center console without one. It comes with an overhead electronics box, life-jacket storage, spreader lights and a four-rod rocket launcher. It is solidly designed and built. Salt- and freshwater wash-downs, outriggers and a choice of weather enclosures highlight some of the other available add-ons.