It’s like this: Here is a brand new model for Stingray. The company that builds sporty deck boats has crafted a center console. And it’s so new that I’ll be riding on the prototype, not even hull number one. I’ll be the first journalist to ride along and write along. It’s out of my usual comfort zone of size, and that’s cool.
About 30 minutes out, I called my contact, Aaron Dumont, regional sales manager at Stingray Boats, for instructions on my final approach. After a few miles on side roads, I could smell the salty air permeating the car’s cabin — a sure sign I was moving in the right direction. After turning into the park, the Ranger gave me directions to the boat ramp. Here we go!
As I pulled into the parking lot, the 186CC was evident right away. Proudly perched on her single axle trailer, the 186CC glistened in the sunlight, thanks to the metal trimmed rubrail and polished gelcoat hull. After greetings, Dumont went right into explaining the features and highlights of the 186CC, not so much as a salesman, but as a proud employee showing off the next best thing since sliced bread. Dumont’s passion was evident, as his background and family life is pretty much centered on boating and being on the water. The 186CC is his baby, and he has an enviable job of showing it off to the world.
Put through her paces
The 186CC has a low profile with just under a 5-foot bridge clearance. If bridges are a concern in your boating area, this may be a solution. The package may fit nicely inside a home garage; I would prefer that over storing it in a rack, unless I can get the coveted top row.
Launching and securing is easily a one-man operation, so stepping on and getting out was a breeze. After checking out the local scenery, it was time to hold on as Dumont put the 186CC through her paces.
Powered by a single Yamaha 115-hp outboard, I noticed the hull do two things: One, it cut through the chop nicely and held its track during the range of speeds and turns, thanks to the 19-degree forward deadrise and 15 degrees on the transom. My other observation was that when on plane, the point of contact with the water surface is back behind the bow, almost midship. This not only makes for a dry ride, it also reduces the noise level of the water on the hull. Credit has to go to the Stingray exclusive Z-Plane hull, where strakes have no vertical edges that can trap air bubbles, thereby reducing performance. The 186CC topped out at about 42.5 mph — an exhilarating speed on an open boat.
Bells and whistles
Stingray has created a fun, stable and convertible platform. The center console has a helm seat for two, with a backrest that swings forward for rear-facing seating (and opt for the ski tow). There’s also a forward helm seat with padded backrest. Grabrails on either side of the helm pod are beefy and stable, and also secure the forward windshield. A sport-style wheel with a suicide knob is easy to handle thanks to the electronic steering. The dash has two beveled, chrome-ringed analog rpm, mph, voltage and fuel combo analog gauges. There’s plenty of room to add a 10-inch fishfinder/plotter display. Power jacks and in-dash storage are included, as well as cup holders and room to mount ancillary gear on the console top.
Additional seating can be found in the center aft padded seat with backrest. Oh, and the two aft walk-through openings (so you don’t have to step on the seating) flip up for two more jump seats with backrests.
Want storage? Stingray has really figured out the best utilization of space in my book. Here’s a list: Foredeck center is the anchor gear locker flanked by port and starboard storage lockers, great for fenders and lines; the center console that once unlatched flips back to reveal not only access to electronics and battery, but storage for gear; the forward helm seat houses an 18-gallon cooler or optional livewell; the main helm seat has a 26-gallon livewell (hey, you have to store the bait, right?); and rear storage (great for a large cooler) is under the aft seat. Don’t forget about the side rod storage. Whew!
And speaking of rods, Dumont and I did wet a line during our tour to prove that this is not only a fun cruising boat but also a viable fishing platform. With full walkaround access, a large foredeck, tackle drawers and 12 rod holders, battling a finned foe is easy. Opt for the forward fishing seat and you have a flats boat, too, thanks to the shallow draft. By the way, that seat is securely mounted to the deck, as tested by my 250 pounds of beefcake — the diet starts tomorrow.
Founded by Al Fink in 1979, Stingray Boats (named after his affection of the automobiles of the same name) has a 225,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Hartsville, South Carolina. Family owned and family oriented, Stingray produces 18- to 25-foot boats, from cuddies to sport boats and deck boats. And now for the 2017 model year, center consoles.
Looking around, I saw more features and options, including integrated swim platforms, stereo and speakers with Bluetooth, padded bolsters along the gunnels, backing plates to mount a T-top, courtesy lights, tilt steering, a trolling motor, rubrail, LED navigation lights and more.
The ride home gave me time to reflect. My instincts were right and the butterflies were real, even afterwards. Get your own butterflies on the Stingray 186 Center Console. You will not be disappointed.
Standard Equipment List
3-Year Hull Blister Protection Plan
Bilge Pump 1100 GPH Auto/Man
Certifications: NMMA, USCG
Exclusive Z-Plane Hull
Limited Lifetime Hull Protection Plan
Cooler/Storage Box with Overboard Drain
Backlit instruments & Circuit breakers
Dash Accessory Plug 12V
Integrated Electric Horn
Nano-Block Stain Resistant Vinyl
Oversized Cup Holders
Self Bailing Cockpit
Fiberglass Cockpit Floor Liner
Power Trim and Tilt
Zero Torque Steering