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September 21, 2007

Scout 260 Cabrio

Scout has upped the ante among its competitors with the introduction of its new 260 Cabrio. It's an entirely new direction for Scout, and is the biggest boat produced by the company to date. But while the boat is all-new, it still retains the features that put Scout Boats on the map.

Those features include a very high standard of fit and finish, top-quality materials, closed-cell foam flotation and no-wood construction. Scouts are so well-finished that the company even gelcoats the inside of hatches, doors and consoles. It's very difficult to find any raw glass on these boats.

The 260 Cabrio is a sleek-looking cuddy-cabin model with a sizeable cockpit. The boat's fishing and cruising amenities are very well balanced. The cabin has a lot of room for a 26-footer, with a dinette forward that converts to a double berth. The table portion of the dinette is mounted on a removable pedestal, and drops down to form a filler piece to complete the berth.

Scout 260 CabrioFour rods can be hung in racks along the starboard hullside above the berth, and two more can be stored to port. There's lots of storage beneath the berth, and the portside galley has all the comforts of home, albeit in a scaled-down version. There's a refrigerator, a sink, a microwave and a stove. The head is across from the galley and has a vanity, sink and mirror. There's even an aft berth beneath the bridgedeck for a guest. Scout has done an admirable job laying out this space.

The helm is to starboard and features a gauge cluster above the helm with space below that for flush-mounting electronics. The helm and companion seats are of a unique design and constructed of stainless steel. Our test boat had a molded hardtop with a built-in electronics box, and a low-profile windshield with a stainless-steel handrail that surrounds the bridge area. The windshield gives the boat a very sporty look.

At the aft end of the bridgedeck, a centerline hatch opens to reveal a cavernous storage space below the deck. The boat's batteries, bilge pumps, and battery charger are located in here, and you can store a lot more stuff in this compartment if you wish.

Scout 260 CabrioA molded cooler/ sink combination sits at the front end of the cockpit, to port, and a similar unit to starboard contains a lighted 35-gallon live well. Both these boxes have cushioned covers that double as aft-facing passenger seats. Scout also throws in twin tackle-storage areas to port and starboard to hold all your gear.

The 48-square-foot cockpit features two very large fishboxes in the sole, the lids of which open on gas-assisted rams. Coaming pads run all the way around the cockpit for knee relief, and you can store four more rods back here in racks beneath the gunwales. And because Scout designed the boat without putting fishboxes or live wells in the transom bulkhead, fishing around the bracket and engines is a snap.

Speaking of the bracket, it's a Scout design called the Strata-Mount. The bracket is tied into the boat's stringer system to distribute weight and torque evenly. Coupled with the sloping transom, it's a very stylish setup. But form follows function, and the bracket works as good as it looks.

specificationsOur 260 test boat was an excellent performer with twin 200-hp Yamaha HPDI outboards. Scout dealer Brian Cunningham of Vero Beach Marine Center ran the boat for us in the Intracoastal Waterway along Florida's east coast, and at a 4000 rpm cruise speed we were traveling at a brisk 32.9 knots and only burning 19 gallons per hour. Wide-open, we hit 44.5 knots at 5400 rpm. The Cabrio rides great, too, with a sharp entry to cut waves, and nimble handling characteristics. The boat is simply a lot of fun to drive.

The lengthy standard-equipment list includes fresh and salt water washdowns, a battery charger, shore power, recessed trim tabs, hydraulic steering and cockpit courtesy lights. In short, Scout has produced a top-quality boat that will challenge companies that never had to worry about them as a competitor before. See the 260 Cabrio for yourself and we're sure you'll agree that it's one of the prettiest and best-built 26-footers on the market.

Scout Boats, Summerville, SC; (843) 821-0068; www.scoutboats.com.