There’s nothing that can make you appreciate every precious day of the boating season like the kind of winter the Midwest just went through. So, when a new boat comes along that can help you get the most out of every day on the water and allow you to launch early and stretch your summer well into the fall, it’s time to take it for a spin. That’s just what we did with the new Rinker Captiva 236 Cuddy Cabin up on the crystal blue waters of Lake St. Clair, Mich., just north of Detroit.
Built on the same hull as its popular open-bow sibling, this cuddy is the right combination of form and function, with clean, attractive lines, exhilarating handling and forward-thinking innovative features throughout. And Rinker’s pedigree as a premier builder of express cruisers is apparent, from the sleek optional deck gelcoat color band to the beautiful interior finishes.
Starting up on the bow, there’s plenty of room to move around securely on the non-skid decking while accessing the forward anchor locker, low-profile deck hatch and stainless pull-up cleats. Moving into the cockpit from the deck through the curved walk-through windshield, you’ll find molded-in steps that mean you can move between the two areas whether or not the cabin door is open. When you need quick access to the bow, that can really come in handy.
The cockpit is deeper that you expect, with high, secure-feeling gunwales that will be appreciated by families with young children and folks that don’t spend too much time on the water. The side walls also have beautiful, color-coordinated upholstery touches, so you can lean while standing or sitting. The helm layout makes you feel like you’re on a much bigger boat, and added comfort/visibility features such as an adjustable bolster seat and angled footrest are just what the captain ordered for easy piloting.
Down in the cabin, you’ll find a comfortable V-berth with much more headroom than you’ll see on other cuddies this size. Overhead lights are individually operated and spaced throughout the cabin for easy access. This is really a nice option, so you aren’t always having to scramble for a single light switch. Handmade cabinetry with heavy-duty hardware in light-colored Brazilwood is another sign that you’re on a Rinker. That, combined with striking light-toned Corian countertops (and the oversized deck hatch) keeps the cabin from getting too dark.
One of the great innovations on the 236 is the fact that you can convert the aft part of the V-berth into two side chairs, which makes the space much more functional. With the side chairs deployed, you have plenty of room to prep food and drinks, or just kick back and relax if you want to get out of the sun for a while. That setup also provides a place to hide the portable toilet.
In the aft cockpit, there’s a cozy wraparound bench that runs side to side, offering plenty of room to spread out. And if you’re bringing along a few extra crewmembers that day, you can access two hidden jump seats that pull out of the cockpit walls. There’s even an optional filler cushion that turns this seating area into a giant sun lounge.
Once you shut down the motor, you can enjoy the expansive transom sun pad as well for Уdouble-deckerФ comfort. There’s even a hinged walk-through transom that allows you to move forward and aft for easy access to the integrated swim platform with telescoping stainless-steel ladder. These design details help make everyone in the entire rear section of the boat feel much more part of the action, where sometimes you get a more distinct separation of the areas.
Out on the water, this boat has a solid feel and is a blast to drive. The test boat had the base power package, which is a Mercury 5.0 MPI with an Alpha drive making about 260 horsepower. Although that power is adequate, you might want to consider stepping to a Mercury or Volvo option that gets you closer to the 300-hp range. With minimal bow rise, your sightlines are clear, and this boat is easy to handle. Wheel-lock turns are effortless even at speed, and you can feel the running surface slicing through chop with ease.
When you savor the beautiful summers throughout the Heartland, and you’ve got a good reason to splash in early and pull the boat out late, a cuddy is just the ticket. And the new Rinker Captiva 236 CC deserves to be on your short list. www.rinkerboats.com
Rinker Captiva 236 CC
Length Overall: 23 feet, 6 inches
Beam: 8 feet, 6 inches
Draft (drive up): 1 feet, 10 inches
Dry Weight: 4,705 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 41 gallons
Base Price: $61,742