Everyone wants a comfortable, dry ride. The 246 Cayman SD—with its 16 degrees of transom deadrise—achieves that, riding tall in the water, which provides a marked feeling of security, and enables it to deflect bow spray when it isn’t just plain outrunning it.
We experienced the Robalo soft ride during our test drive on a windy day near Daytona, Florida, where we ran over a constant 1-foot chop and frequent sizable wakes on the Intracoastal Waterway. The stable deck underfoot, minimal vibration, and lack of oil-canning and drumming as the hull crushed the chop were clear signs of top-notch design and solid construction. Sharp chines, crisp strakes and the sharp keel held in turns, sliding slightly but maneuvering decisively.
If the weather turns south, the Robalo’s ability to stay on plane at 3,000 rpm under 20 mph makes returning to port uncomplicated and comfortable. At 3,500 rpm, it makes 3.3 mpg at 21 mph, giving an excellent fishing range of 270 miles using 90 percent of its fuel capacity.
The 246 Cayman SD takes full advantage of its wide beam to achieve a spacious layout and a skinny 12-inch draft. And while running or at rest, it offers a steady platform welcomed by those who occupy the upper station, easily accessible from each side by powder-coated ladders designed for durability and styled for good looks. Coveted by sight-fishermen pursuing tarpon on the flats or pelagics offshore, the upper station features a seat for two people, and a dash with room for a Yamaha Command Link display and a chart plotter. For offshore fishing, the hardtop can be equipped with outriggers.
The boat has ample freeboard inside and out, and the deck is above the waterline, even when loaded, so hull scuppers always drain overboard. The wide foredeck makes adding a trolling motor simple, and the swim platforms in the rear easily accept dual Power-Poles.
Rod stowage proved impressive. Rocket launchers totaled 12, with four in the hardtop, four in the upper-station seat’s backrest, and four more in the leaning post. Undergunwale racks on both sides accept fly rods, and on top of the gunwales, there are four rod holders on each of the covering boards.
Dual livewells afford 80 gallons of bait-carrying capacity, have removable dividers allowing separation of bait species, and are easily accessed in the forward edge of the casting deck, on each side of the jump seats. And our test boat was equipped with a 114-quart cooler beneath the leaning post that slides out for easy access or to create a rigging surface.
Two insulated compartments are located inside the C-shaped, wraparound seating that doubles as a step to the casting deck. They serve as fish boxes or dry storage, and the one to port has removable rod hangers inside to serve as a rod locker. Both compartments have hatches with gas shocks to help them open and close safely in bumpy seas, and they are also hinged at the forward edge so they can be opened from the cockpit with one hand.
The cockpit step is covered with removable cushions that add seating comfort for cruising, but once you reach the main deck, you find a tackle storage box and anchor locker under dual hatches aligned on the centerline. Inside the anchor locker is an optional power plug pre-wired for a bow-mount trolling motor.
The bow seating area incorporates two removable backrests to turn bench-style seating into recliners, handy cup holders, and a stowable picnic table in the center. There’s a jump seat on the front of the console, and the entire front panel swings open to reveal a head compartment offering tackle storage and access to electronics wiring, as well as providing the space and privacy for a marine toilet.
The center console is protected by a tempered glass windshield, another Robalo nod to quality over price point.
Aft seating folds up from the casting deck and is nested between the livewells. The livewell lids are watertight to keep water from sloshing onto the seats during aggressive driving or bumpy conditions.
In the world of multi-purpose boats, the 246 SD is one of the few that boasts the fishability required by the saltiest charter captains and the comfort demanded for family fun.
Length: 24′6″ | Beam: 9′ | Draft: 12″ | Fuel: 90 gal. | Weight: 5,000 lb. w/ engine | Max HP: 350 | Price: $87,395 | Robalo Boats: robaloboats.com
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees | Location: Daytona Beach, Florida | Wind: Southeast 8 knots | Sea State: Light chop | Test Load: Two adults, 35 gallons of fuel