FISH TRI­ALS

Meld­ing Off­shore-Fish­ing Fea­tures with Ver­sa­til­ity and Com­fort

Sport Fishing - - CONTENTS - BY JIM HEN­DRICKS

A fresh­en­ing north wind pushed hard against the re­lent­less Gulf Stream off Boyn­ton Beach, Florida, as foam-streaked waves built to 4 feet. But the boat un­der my feet, Cobia’s new 280 Dual Con­sole, pro­vided a sta­ble and se­cure plat­form as we trolled for mahimahi, sail­fish and wa­hoo.

This Cobia im­pressed me with fish­ing fea­tures, plenty of deck space, com­fort, and weather pro­tec­tion. Above all, the 280 Dual Con­sole of­fers ver­sa­til­ity for fam­i­lies who want to max­i­mize their new-boat in­vest­ment.

“It’s re­ally a boat for fam­i­lies who want to en­joy just about ev­ery­thing on the wa­ter,” says Capt. Ryan Buel, who joined me and Sport Fish­ing videog­ra­pher Christo­pher Balogh to see how well the 280 DC fishes. Buel also works for Marine Con­nec­tion, the Cobia deal­er­ship in West Palm Beach.

With a 27-foot-7-inch length over­all, the 21-de­gree deep-V hull of the Cobia 280 DC lets you safely ven­ture out­side the in­let in pur­suit of fish, whether you’re drop­ping baits on a wreck for snap­per and grouper, or trolling the edge of the Gulf Stream for blue­wa­ter species. A sharp en­try smooths the ride in choppy seas.

DUAL-CON­SOLE AD­VAN­TAGE

Ear­lier in the day, as we ex­ited the Boyn­ton Beach In­let, it dawned on me that a dual-con­sole lay­out can of­fer ad­van­tages over a cen­ter con­sole. For one, the stainless-steel­framed tem­pered-glass wind­shield spans the width of the 280’s in­te­rior. With a door that closes off the passthrough to the bow, the full wind­shield pro­tects the en­tire aft cock­pit.

In ad­di­tion, the con­soles are po­si­tioned far­ther for­ward than on a sim­i­lar-size cen­ter con­sole, and that opens up more room astern. This, com­bined with a 9-foot-8-inch beam, gives the 280 DC an aft cock­pit that mea­sures 93 inches wide by 62 inches long, re­sult­ing in about 40 square feet of deck space.

That ex­tra space is a won­der­ful area for en­ter­tain­ing, es­pe­cially if you or­der the op­tional hide­away bench seats along both in­wales. Add th­ese to the stan­dard fold­out tran­som bench and op­tional aft din­ing ta­ble, as well as the wra­paround bow seat­ing, and you can host a large group.

The roomy cock­pit gave Buel plenty of el­bow­room as he de­ployed five trolling lines. As many as three crew mem­bers could eas­ily work side by side. Be­low the deck is a pair of 41-gal­lon fish lock­ers.

STA­BLE AND ABLE

The wide beam also meant ex­cel­lent sta­bil­ity, es­pe­cially while trolling in the trough. The di­a­mond non­skid sole as­sures trac­tion, and padded coam­ing bol­sters sur­round­ing the aft cock­pit help pre­vent bruised thighs.

Five flush-mount rod hold­ers across the tran­som kept our sticks se­cure while un­der­way, and also served as trolling-rod hold­ers for the cen­ter flat line and lines fished from plan­ers se­cured to the stainless-steel pull-up cleats on each stern cor­ner. A 25-gal­lon livewell re­sides in the port quar­ter, and you’ll find a tran­som door in the star­board quar­ter.

The 280 comes stan­dard with gun­wale rod hold­ers — two on each side. But my test boat was equipped with the op­tional hide­away side bench seats, and th­ese pre­vent the in­stal­la­tion of gun­wale rod hold­ers. How­ever, Cobia com­pen­sates for this by in­clud­ing three an­gled rod hold­ers along the aft stan­chions of the stan­dard fiber­glass hard­top. The low­est rod hold­ers on each side served well for se­cur­ing the rods for the two out­side flat lines. The hard­top fea­tures spreader lights fore and aft, as well as bi­color (se­lect blue or white with the flip of a tog­gle switch) dome lights.

ERGONOMIC HELM

Dur­ing my turn at the wheel, I found the helm seat par­tic­u­larly com­fort­able, whether seated and en­joy­ing the an­gled footrest at the base of the star­board con­sole or stand­ing and us­ing the flip-up bol­ster as a leaning post. My test boat fea­tured the stan­dard SeaS­tar So­lu­tions hy­draulic steer­ing with a tilt-and-lock helm, but I rec­om­mend up­grad­ing to the SeaS­tar Op­ti­mus power steer­ing for eas­ier con­trol of the twin Yamaha F200 out­boards.

My test boat was not equipped with elec­tron­ics yet, but Buel rec­om­mends flush-mount­ing a 12-inch mul­ti­func­tion dis­play, such as the Garmin GPSMap 7612xsv (avail­able as a fac­tory op­tion), in or­der to make room for other in­stru­ments on the 22-inch-wide dash panel. A Garmin GMR 424 radar is avail­able as a fac­tory op­tion in con­junc­tion with the 7612xsv dis­play.

I found the glove box just be­low the dash to be a handy place to stash truck keys, sun­glasses cases and tubes of sun­screen. I also dis­cov­ered stowage in­side the star­board con­sole, and this is where Balogh and I tucked away our cam­era and video gear.

With the trolling spread out, Buel took over at the helm while I ex­plored fur­ther. The port seat con­verts quickly from a back-to-back con­fig­u­ra­tion to a lounger that lies flat with the back­rest swung for­ward — great for catch­ing a nap un­der the shade of the hard­top. Un­der­neath is a 145-quart cooler where we iced our drinks for the day.

LUX­URY AP­POINT­MENTS

In­side the port con­sole, I found a sur­pris­ingly roomy walk-down head com­part­ment with an elec­tric marine toi­let, sink and fresh­wa­ter faucet. Abaft the helm seat is a kitch­enette. In stan­dard form, it fea­tures a faux-gran­ite coun­ter­top, sink, fresh­wa­ter faucet, wine rack and cooler. My test boat fea­tured the op­tional cov­ered elec­tric grill and fridge.

In the fore­peak, I found two com­part­ments. One houses the an­chor locker with a Lew­mar wind­lass, an in-stem chute with a roller, and a rawwa­ter wash­down hose. The sec­ond com­part­ment houses a re­mov­able board­ing lad­der for the bow. It mounts in a pair of sock­ets, al­low­ing crew to eas­ily climb in and out when pulled up on a quiet shore.

Just as I was fin­ish­ing up my in­spec­tion, the clicker on the port flat line sounded the alarm. A sail­fish was at­tack­ing the rigged mul­let, but the hook failed to find a home. I raced back to grab the rod just as the sail bat­ted at the bait again, but it didn’t eat it. The fish then darted to­ward the star­board bait and grabbed it too, but no hookup. The sail sank away, as did our hopes of a glory fish.

We trolled for two more hours without a bite, and by 11 a.m., the winds were gust­ing to 25 mph as the seas built to 6 feet. It was time to tack for home. That put the nose into the steep seas, but the bow re­fused to dip, in­stead ris­ing nicely to crest each frothy wave top.

PER­FOR­MANCE PROOF

I col­lected per­for­mance data in­side the calm wa­ters of the In­tra­coastal Wa­ter­way. Equipped with 18-inch-pitch Re­liance three-blade stainless-steel pro­pel­lers, the twin F200s vaulted the 280 DC to plane in 4 sec­onds. It reached 30 mph in 9.5 sec­onds en route to a top speed of 49.5 mph at 5,700 rpm. Op­ti­mum fuel ef­fi­ciency oc­curred at 4,500 rpm and 37 mph, where the twin 200s burned 18.4 gal­lons per hour for 2.01 mpg. That equates to a cruis­ing range of more than 340 miles based on the 172-gal­lon fuel tank.

The Cobia 280 Dual Con­sole fits nicely be­tween hard­core fish­ing ma­chines and pure plea­sure craft by blend­ing the fea­tures that off­shore an­glers want with the ver­sa­til­ity and com­fort that nonan­glers crave — and it all rides on a sta­ble, sea­wor­thy hull that helps keep ev­ery­one aboard safe and se­cure.

Pow­ered by twin Yamaha F200 four­cylin­der out­boards, the Cobia 280 Dual Con­sole achieved a top speed of 49.5 mph.

The hard­top for the Cobia 280 Dual Con­sole is avail­able with a tele­scop­ing canopy to shade the aft cock­pit. The mo­tor­ized canopy de­ploys and re­tracts at the press of a but­ton on the star­board con­sole.

The helm sta­tion on the star­board con­sole fea­tures a tilt-and-lock wheel, glove box, an­gled footrest and room for a flush­mounted 12-inch mul­ti­func­tion dis­play.

The ver­sa­tile port­side seat­ing aboard the Cobia 280 Dual Con­sole eas­ily con­verts from back-to-back chairs to a com­fort­able lounger. Un­der­neath the seat­ing is a cooler.

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