Boat companies take a calculated risk when they retire one of their best-selling models. When noticeable improvements are incorporated in the replacement, consumers quickly embrace it. Case in point, the Sea Fox 266 Commander, which supersedes a popular 25-foot center-console. In addition to an extra foot in length, this thoughtfully designed boat not only offers a wealth of angling features, but also many the entire family will appreciate.
Weather: Partly cloudy
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Wind: Light and variable
Sea State: Light chop
Test Load: Three adults, 105 gallons of fuel
The 266 has composite-core deck and hull, both finished with Isothalic gelcoat and vinyl-ester skin coat for durability, and Sea Fox offers a lifetime warranty on the latter. Stainless-steel hardware and components are used throughout, including the rub rail, through-hulls and compression latches on the hatches. The two-tone marine-grade vinyl is heavy-duty and made in-house to ensure proper fit and finish.
Sporting an aggressive entry and 20-degree deadrise at the transom, this Sea Fox provides a soft ride. The stern bites and holds in tight turns for predictable handling. While the 266 Commander is rated for up to 400 horsepower, our test boat was rigged with a pair of Yamaha F150s, a power option that proved plenty capable. The hole shot was powerful, with the bow settling quickly, affording good visibility. We topped 50 mph with a normal load. At 4,000 rpm, we reached a pleasant cruising pace of 32.5 mph with a fuel burn of 13.5 gph. Even more impressive were the numbers with a single engine. After lifting one outboard totally out of the water, the boat eased on plane and ultimately produced a top speed of 32.3 mph at 5,000 rpm. That’s reassuring if you ever drop an engine 30 miles offshore and need to get back in. Other power options include a single 300 or 350 hp outboard, or twin 200s.
The 266 comfortably accommodates a large crew or family. Forward console seating pairs with bow lounging, with optional folding backrests for those beach or sunset cruises. And there’s no shortage of seating in the rear where a folding transom bench complements twin jump seats in each corner. Several hull color choices, plus accent stripes, can be ordered to add a custom look.
And this center-console comes ready to fish. Rod holders are everywhere: Four vertical ones are located aft over the splashwell, there are eight flush-mounted on the gunwales, and horizontal racks accommodate more rods underneath. Two spacious overboard-draining fish boxes in the cockpit deck are augmented by another huge one in the bow. The bow also includes companion lockers, plus a molded compartment to hold the requisite 5-gallon bucket. A large tackle center on the starboard console houses numerous tackle trays and stores leader spools and bigger items, like downrigger balls or weights. There’s a choice of a 48- or 72- quart removable cooler, depending the leaning post option, and a 55-gallon livewell in the transom. Raw- and freshwater washdowns, coaming pads, plus a rack in the head door for a measuring stick round out the long list of features.
Our test boat came with the optional leaning post with flip-back bolster seats, cushioned footrests and an extra pair of rod holders. It was also equipped with the Ultima hardtop, which incorporates recessed LED spreader lights, a seven-rod rocket launcher, molded electronics box, Kicker stereo system and Climate Cool system with twin misters. Other notable add-ons include a console coffin box, three-bank battery charger, windlass and a couple of leaning-post configurations, including a second livewell. Tilt hydraulic steering and trim tabs are standard, with power-assist steering and an LED indicator for the tabs available as upgrades.
The two-tone console adds a stylish look for the Command Link digital gauges compass. A spacious dash easily accommodates large electronic displays. A console door to port steps down into the head compartment, which is roomy for a boat this size. Twin port lights provide ambient light in the space, which allows access to the helm rigging. A portable head is standard, but an electric one with a holding tank is an option.
The 266 Commander represents substantial improvements over Sea Fox’s discontinued 25-footer. For anglers looking for value in a capable sport-fishing package, this latest model deserves special consideration.