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COBIA 296 CENTER CONSOLE

Time-proven as Cobia’s flagship center console, the 296 CC is currently one of the best deals out there for a seaworthy 30-footer in a crowded marketplace.
By Capt. John N. Raguso
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COBIA 296 CENTER CONSOLE

Introduced a few years back as Cobia’s flagship center console, the 296 CC is currently one of the best deals out there for a seaworthy 30-footer in a crowded marketplace. With a name that’s been around since the 1960s, Cobia Boats have high recognition value. However, it’s been over the past several years that Cobia has really been making a name for itself, in a very positive way. Ever since the Maverick Boat Company (makers of noted inshore and flats boats brands like Maverick, Hewes, Pathfinder, etc.) decided to get into the offshore boat business, things have really been picking up with some very positive momentum.

After the takeover, the MBC team took a fresh approach to the Cobia lineup, upgraded some designs and eliminated others, moving the manufacturing operations to their Fort Pierce facility to better control design and quality. Like its smaller 21-, 23- and 25-foot center console sibling, the 296 CC is a totally new design from the keel up and bears little resemblance to similar sized Cobias from the past. These next-gen Cobias are designed intelligently to provide their owners with maximum ergonomic functionality and are manufactured using the latest hi-tech fiberglass and composite materials.

NEW WAVE
I had the chance to jump aboard the Cobia 296 CC at this past February’s Miami Boat Show and it was one of the most impressive boats of my trip down south. When you look at the level of quality and detail that the Cobia folks are putting into these new wave boats for their very reasonable price tag, it’s hard to find a better value for your investment anywhere in today’s competitive marketplace. Even though she would be perfectly adept at performing family beach buggy and water taxi duties, or hauling a six-pack of friends to a waterside eatery, make no mistake about it - this Florida girl is a fishing boat, pure and simple. She is never to be confused with a mild-mannered, multi-tasking waterborne family SUV. With her standard appointments, 240-gallon fuel capacity and fire-breathin’ twin Yamaha 4.2L V6 outboards, she’s ready for a long distance canyon run from the get-go.

The layout of this classic center console is set up to take a crew of four to five anglers to their favorite fishing spots and bend the rods with total efficiency. Starting aft and working forward, some of the most notable fishing features include a pair of 28-gallon recirculating livewells in the transom cap and a pair of cavernous 80-gallon macerated fishboxes below the aft cockpit sole. Speaking of the cockpit, there’s 28 inches of internal freeboard aft, coaming bolsters for max crew leg support and 30 square feet of unobstructed dancing room aft of the leaning post/rocket launcher set-up, which includes plenty of tackle stowage. Rodholders are not an afterthought on this sportfisher, with a total of three flush-mount units in each gunwale, two vertical mounts in the transom, plus a trio of horizontal racks under each covering board. There’s a pair of smaller storage bins set forward of the twin aft main fishboxes that will stow a variety of items including bait, spare lines, bumpers, or whatever. An anchor locker set in the forepeak will store your hook and rode, keeping it ready for immediate deployment when it’s time for some sinker bouncing over your fave wreck or reef. The one-level cockpit and low-profile bow rail allow you to fight a large pelagic in a true 360-degree circle around the total perimeter from bow to stern with no hang-ups. But if sight casting is your thing, a Starboard insert snaps into place between the forward bench seats to offer a solid elevated casting deck to smooth the process.

Notable comfort features on this bluewater center console include a fold-down double-wide bench seat set into the transom bulkhead, twin forward bench seats in the bow with insulated boxes and overboard drains, plus a roomy standup head with an ultra-cool swing-out companionway set in the front of the console command module for easy access. The dash panel features a 24 x 12 vertical panel to flush-mount your preferred marine electronics and a waterproof accessory panel affords the operator fingertip control over all critical operations. Both hydraulic and power steering systems are standard, making maneuvering this 30-footer offshore an easy job, whether at the marina or when pulling into the fuel dock.

PERFORMANCE PLUS
Although you can opt to go with a pair of Yamaha 300s on this rig, if this were my ride, I’d probably stick with the standard 250s. According to factory tests, top speed with these big-block 4.2L Yamahas is an impressive 54 mph with a half tank of fuel and two persons onboard, spinning 15.25 x 19 Saltwater Series II three-blade SS props. These twin 250s will give you an impressive 2.05 mpg at 3500 rpm, hitting 32.4 mph on the GPS while drinking only 15.8 gph. Bumping the twin electric fly-by-wire throttles up to four-grand will put you in the fast lane, turning 37.8 mph at 21.7 gph, for a bottom line of 1.74 mpg.

The 296CC I was on in Miami was powered with twin Yamaha 300s, sporting a T-Top and rocket launcher, LED lighting and a marine head with holding tank. The MSRP was $145K, but the show price was only $116K, which is a steal.