I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Rinker; they’ve never had the lowest priced runabout on the market but they’ve always been pretty close – and they’ve generally managed to achieve their resounding affordability despite offering a slew of standard features few entry-level builders can match. This value for the money was plainly in evidence on the Rinker Captiva 236 BR, the bowrider version of the new 236 CC. So it’s no surprise to see the prolific Rinker yard follow up that successful launch with a keenly anticipated cuddy boat, which we got to check out at the Dusseldorf boat show.
Step into the cockpit and it is very striking that, despite the use of a large portion of the boat’s length for the forward cabin, a broad beam of 8’6” is enough to generate some very useable cockpit space – and Rinker has used every inch of it to the utmost. Starting aft, the sun pad over the engine hatch features a fold-up backrest to create an adjustable aft-facing bench, ideal for watching a skier or for reclining in comfort without feeling constrained by the boat’s internal dimensions. If you lift the hinged starboard section of the sunpad, a molded walkway (common throughout the Captiva line) takes you from the swim platform into the main body of the cockpit itself.
Again, there’s far more ingenuity on display than the fairly conventional ‘bolster-seat-and-aft-bench’ layout suggests. For instance, the center of the bench features a rectangular panel that lifts out to reveal a sliding hatch on top of the cooler. Known as the ICE System, it means you can access cold drinks without having to heave the cooler free of its housing, or unnecessarily exposing its contents to the warm air. On the port side of the sun lounger, there is another similarly concealed cushion section that hides an integrated bin system. However, this boat’s really outstanding party trick centers around the seating. On either side of the bench, a pair of lateral jump seats is neatly concealed within the coaming. To deploy them, you simply fold them down, hinge the steel legs forward, and within a few seconds your simple bench has become either an L-shaped seating section or a full U-shaped arc, encompassing the whole aft perimeter of the cockpit. Install the table and rotate the helm seats, and this becomes a dining area as vast and inclusive as any 24-footer could reasonably be expected to achieve. And if you remove the table and install the optional fill cushions instead, you can create an enormous two-tier sun lounge that extends all the way from the back of the helm seats to the forward edge of the swim platform.
Down below, the design team’s hard work continues. At the aft end of the cabin, a pair of inward-facing seats employ backrests that can be folded down to generate extra length in the double berth. On the face of it, this seems quite similar to most small V-berths, but here the folding mechanism means the seat base is positioned lower down. That creates much more headroom for seated occupants. In combination with the portable MSD, which is again smartly concealed within a hinged, cushion-topped box, it all makes for a very serviceable cabin indeed.
As to the downsides of this hard-working internal arrangement, the fat, stiff cushions with their thick hinges do make some of the new features quite clunky and awkward to use. And the wholesale mission to crowbar big family versatility into a tapered planing hull means that with everything fully deployed, there’s virtually no standing room beyond the narrow deck hatch between the helm seats. However, there’s no doubting the diligence of the designers, the clarity of their thought processes, or the value of their results – and Rinker deserves enormous credit for that.
Features, features, features…
In traditional Rinker style, the standard features list is extremely comprehensive. In addition to a snap-in carpet, bolstered bucket seats and a portable cooler, you also get a cockpit table plus an anchor locker with a mount to hold the stocks firmly in place. Up at the helm, you’re treated to a curved, wraparound, step-through windshield made of tinted safety glass, plus a fully adjustable five-position steering wheel, a digital depth gauge, and a Bluetooth-equipped Sony stereo. This is tucked safely away in the lockable port glovebox and operated from the helm with a waterproof remote.
Look elsewhere and the good news keeps coming. In addition to LED lighting in the engine space, you get stainless-steel pop-up cleats, an integrated swim platform with stainless steel ladder, a portable MSD and a color-coordinated Bimini top. In short, this is one of those rare instances when the individual parts seem to add up to far more than you would pay for the finished boat. As a man who continually hemorrhages vast wedges of cash to smiling chandlers for even minor fixtures and fittings, it seems implausible that so much can be offered for so little. And yet here it is, dripping with features, with a starting MSRP just a hair under $62,000 (at the time of this publication).
|Fuel capacity||41 gal.|
Now I have obviously only seen the 236 CC at its premiere in Dusseldorf, so it is impossible for me to lavish similarly glowing reports on its dynamic abilities. But given that it adds under 100 pounds to the weight of the perfectly well-behaved 236 BR (and given that Rinker has been building approachable, novice-friendly leisure boats since the 70s), it would seem highly unlikely that this latest model will allow uncharacteristic handling quirks to spoil an excellent package.
Rinker’s Captiva range comprises bow riders and cuddies in a broad range of hull lengths from less than 19 feet to more than 30 – and yet few make a more persuasive case than the 236 CC. Rarely will you see a small cuddy that combines so affordable a price with so generous a range of standard features and such compelling versatility in the arrangement of space. If you add the optional wakeboard tower, transom stereo remote, foredeck sunpad and fold-down jump seats with filler cushions, this is not just a cuddy at the top of its game – it’s proof that a modest budget doesn’t always have to mean shackling your aspirations.
Other Choices: The Four Winns Horizon Sundowner S235 is priced about $2,000 higher than the Rinker, but comes with 20 more standard horsepower and a full bowrail. A slightly larger, more expensive option would be the Cruisers Sport Series 259. For more information on cuddy boats in general, read Cuddy Cabin Boats: Family Friendly Fun.
For more information, visit Rinker.