Boating - - FEATURES - — Randy Vance


Too many wannabe salt­wa­ter an­glers forgo their sport, think­ing it takes $100,000 to pro­cure a sea­wor­thy boat. That may be so for off­shore an­glers, but the 18-foot out­board is still the sweet spot for fam­ily ad­ven­ture at the in­let, along the beach and in big bays. That’s where we re­cently tested the Wellcraft 182 Fish­er­man and found it ready to pur­sue red­fish, stripers, floun­der and more, and do it for un­der $35,000. The 182 not only speaks to the an­gler, but it also shouts fam­ily fun and does it with ben­e­fits you wouldn’t ex­pect at this price.

For starters, take the stan­dard cus­tom trailer matched to make your boat roll with you. We noted the livewell on the fore­deck, plumbed with a stout pump and boast­ing a tem­pered-glass front wall for easy bait mon­i­tor­ing. At night, turn on the LED in­side and let your kids en­joy the aquar­ium show. In an 18-footer you wouldn’t ex­pect this large of a cen­ter con­sole ready to ac­cept au­dio, nav­i­ga­tion and sonar elec­tron­ics and a VHF ra­dio.

Rod hold­ers on the gun­wales are stan­dard, but there’s a stain­less-steel up­grade ($473) that in­cludes two more shot­gun rod hold­ers that dou­ble as cup hold­ers be­tween the tran­som seats.

The T-top is a $2,500 op­tion but adds shade you’ll want in south­ern cli­mates, and it’s pow­der-coated, a fea­ture that usu­ally comes at more ex­pense.

We also noted the roomi­ness of the cock­pit, giv­ing an­glers space to work be­tween the lean­ing-post cooler and the tran­som. Also thrown in are jump seats aft and a for­ward seat on the front of the con­sole. Even more note­wor­thy is the head com­part­ment be­low the con­sole. Raise the front con­sole panel and a chang­ing room pops up with room for a por­ta­ble head.

Our test boat was equipped with the Scarab pack­age ($947) that gave us a three-color hull, the strik­ing Scarab hull­side logo, and surf-mat pads at the helm and fore­deck.

For fam­ily fun, there is a re­mov­able tow py­lon op­tion ($267). The re­board­ing lad­der is stan­dard and ideal for snorkel­ers but adds safety should emer­gency re­board­ing be nec­es­sary.

You can power this boat with a 115 hp out­board and bring the price in at un­der $30,000. At this af­ford­able price, it will be hard to keep mak­ing ex­cuses for stay­ing off the wa­ter.

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