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September 21, 2007

Cobia 314

No matter where you fish, this wide-open center console is up to the task.

When it comes to function and fishing versatility, the Cobia 314 has all bases covered. This is a big and brawny boat,with enough space for half a dozen anglers to fish comfortably, and the factory layout is versatile enough to handle kingfishing chores off the East Coast, as well as a tuna trip off California.

The 314 features two-piece construction, and the underfloor grid is designed for stiffness and a solid, sure ride. The stringer system is glass-tabbed to the hull. Six urethane bulkheads, three per side, provide torsional rigidity. This transverse bulkhead configuration maximizes stiffness and prevents fore-and-aft transfer of moments that would otherwise develop longitudinal flex.

Our test runs in St. Andrews Bay off Panama City, Florida, showed a fast, dry ride, quick to jump up on plane with the twin Yamaha 250 HPDIs. The 314 rode high in the water, bow proud, yet offered excellent visibility, and the high gunwales combined with the proper attitude kept us dry and comfortable as we clipped along sweetly at 50 mph. Lenco 9-by-12 trim tabs on the transom offered quick and positive response, both side to side and fore and aft, but the hull handled itself very well with no tab use at all.

Once we cleared the inlet and headed west toward the fishing fleet, the 314 settled down and came into its own as we rigged the rods and put out the cigar minnows to entice a kingfish. Even on the factory-equipped boat, this was easy to do. The placement and angles of the flush-mounted rod holders on either side of the cockpit were perfect to swim the baits, and the kings were quick to cooperate. Again, the setup was easy to work with. Each time we fought a fish alongside, the other baits stayed out of the way, evenly spaced and separated in such a way that they didn't interfere with fish fighting or gaffing. The compact console allows easy passage on either side, and there is plenty of room in the cockpit and forward alongside the console to the bow for more than one angler at a time to work a fish and never feel crowded. A conveniently placed hose bibb in the cockpit makes for easy washdown and cleanup between fish.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 30' 11"
Beam: 9' 10"
Deadrise: 20 ¿
Weight w/o engines: 5,500 lbs.
Fuel: 270 gals.
Max. hp: 500
Base price w/o power: $74,086

Just forward of the console are two fishboxes, one per side. The starboard box has a 12-cubic-foot capacity, while the port one has 5.9 cubic feet. A short bow deck has two hatches that allow access to 18 cubic feet of dry storage underneath.

In the cockpit, a 72-quart cooler nestles beneath the leaning post. In the transom is a 32-gallon recirculating bait well fed by a 700-gph pump fitted with a high-speed pickup and equipped with a standpipe overflow. A large door to starboard opens to the transom, which is fitted with a removable dive ladder. A hatch on the transom opens to a shallow bin that's convenient for storing dock lines. Two under-gunwale rod racks on each side keep outfits safe and out of the way until needed. The bait-prep station in the transom, alongside the live well, includes a cutting board shower/washdown and cleanup hose that runs off the fresh water system, so there is both fresh and raw water handy in the cockpit. Oil-fill access is to port, in the transom corner. Pump and battery access is via a hatch in the mid-transom bulkhead.

The console, though relatively compact, contains a 6' 6" berth, as well as a head. Even a big angler can sleep comfortably down here, and there is certainly more than enough room for a pile of rods to be locked up below. The electronics panel is big enough to accommodate all the electronics the boat deserves, including the large screens that are beginning to dominate the multi-purpose applications of most manufacturers. The 314 comes pre-rigged with a Yamaha multi-function fuel-management gauge, trim gauge, voltmeter, tachometer and speedometer. An indirect LCD cockpit light provides eye-easing illumination when fishing at night.

In terms of comfort, the 314 takes into account the needs of family and cruising, as well as the hard-core angler. Pads and bolsters are well placed throughout, showing up just where they should be. A full range of options, including a T-top, is available to fine-tune what is already a substantial and satisfying fishing platform.

C & C Manufacturing, Panama City, FL; (850) 769-0311; www.cobiaboats.com.