Stingray 236cc

Thoughtful amenities and eye-opening performance make Stingray’s newest center console an appealing choice for active families.

by Craig Ritchie
There’s no question that center consoles have completely dominated North American boat sales in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why.

Specifications

  • LOA: 23'8"
  • Beam: 101"
  • Draft:
  • Weight: 3,648 lbs.
  • Fuel Capacity: 68 gals.
  • Water Capacity: 13 gals.
  • Power: 300 hp
  • Price: Contact dealer

stingrayboats.com

There’s no question that center consoles have completely dominated North American boat sales in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why.

Building off their hardcore fishing roots, today’s center consoles have evolved into true multipurpose boats that are equally at home trolling big water for trophy fish as they are taking the family for lunch stops in distant ports or towing the kids around on a tube. Their low maintenance and approachability appeal to boaters who don’t want to spend hours tidying up at the end of the day. And, perhaps most of all, center consoles are just really fun to drive.

For Hartsville, South Carolina-based Stingray Boats, approachability and family fun have always gone hand-in-hand. Perhaps that’s why its all-new 236CC is already catching the attention of boaters across the Great Lakes.

The third entry in the company’s center console line, the 236CC builds upon the benchmarks that Stingray established when it unveiled its 19-foot 186CC and 20-foot 206CC models last year. More than just a larger version in the lineup, the 236CC advances the overall design and incorporates further enhancements to give it even greater capabilities and performance. 

Best seats in the house

The fun-to-drive part begins with Stingray’s Z-plane hull. The so-called Z-planes incorporated into the lower hull surface act as horizontal planing faces when the boat is idle, helping it leap onto plane quickly once power is applied. With the boat up and running, the Z-planes control spray and ensure that the boat’s running surface passes through water that’s free of any bubbles or vortices that could reduce performance. The smooth flow of water generated by this design is said to also allow the propeller to gain a smoother bite during both straight-line speed and hard-cornering maneuvers. The other advantage of the Z-plane hull is that it allows the boat to achieve impressive performance with less than maximum horsepower. But more on that in a moment.

The Z-plane hull’s computerized design has taken Stingray’s manufacturing accuracy to incredible levels; to tolerances of a near- microscopic 1/1,000 of an inch. This level of precision let’s designers create a 3D computerized model of the boat. It even lets the designers plant scaled 3D human models into the seats and up on the decks during the design phase, allowing Stingray to actually form the inner hull around the driver and passengers. It sounds pretty cool, but to truly appreciate the benefits of the design you have to step aboard.

The big, open bow offers twin forward-facing lounge seats with integrated seatbacks and side coaming for comfort. Between them, a flat fiberglass, non-skid surface provides easy access to the bow; pop in a removable filler cushion for additional seating and sunning options. A fishing boat at its core, the 236CC offers an available mounting pad for a bow-mount electric motor, complete with an adjacent wiring harness.

There’s a ton of storage space beneath those bow seat cushions, which are offset by handsome stainless steel grabrails and convenient in-gunnel stainless steel beverage holders. Pull-up cleats recess into the deck when not in use, reducing the possibility of stubbed toes or snagged fishing lines. The bow on many center consoles is usually a bit of a dead zone, but not so on the 236CC. To the contrary, the bow on this boat might offer the best seats in the house. A pair of stereo speakers located up front flood this area with sound. 

Elegant cabinets bookend the bow loungers, each complete with a solid-surface countertop and storage below. The starboard cabinet features a stylish sink with a collapsible faucet, while the portside cabinet offers a drainable covered tray, which works equally well for discarded popsicles or fishing bait. 

The main cockpit fiberglass floor is hard-wearing, non-skid and fully self-draining: Rain water simply runs down the deck and over the side. This sensible arrangement makes it a cinch to keep the boat clean; simply rinse it out with the optional wash-down hose at the end of the day and you’re good to go. For those who prefer it, seagrass flooring is also available as an option.

The bells and whistles 

Look around and you’ll notice fishing rod storage racks in each of the gunnels, which just as easily secure boat hooks, mops and other bulky gear. A pair of stereo speakers reside in the gunnels as well, positioned amidships. The gunnel tops offer four flush-mount, stainless steel rod holders and two stainless steel beverage holders per side, and still leave plenty of space at the stern for installing downriggers or other accessories. 

Across the stern you’ll find more innovative engineering in the form of a convertible full-width bench seat. The corner seats are actually jump seats that fold down flush when not required. The removable center cushion can quickly convert this space into a full-width raised casting deck. Two lids in the deck just inboard of the jump seats provide storage space and access to the standard aft 14-gallon livewell.

The front face of the center console features a seat with a livewell in the base. The helm console features stainless grab handles on its sides for standing passengers, and a large, upright windshield with full side panels to protect the captain from wind and spray. The console is dominated on the port side by a large, stainless steel steering wheel with a turning knob and Zero Torque steering. A recessed storage nook on the center of the dash has a USB connection on one side and a 12V outlet on the other, creating an ideal spot to charge cell phones. An adjacent row of backlit rocker switches control electrical components like lighting, livewells, horn, bilge pumps and other accessories. 

Our review boat included a pair of Yamaha Command Link digital gauges to relay essential information — a worthwhile upgrade over the stock analog gauges. But most of the dash is left open as a wide, flat space for mounting large multi-function displays, such as the Garmin GPSMap SSV in our review boat. Most buyers will probably order the available 200-watt Polk audio system with Bluetooth connectivity.

A large door on the port side of the console opens to reveal a bright and surprisingly spacious head compartment, which houses an optional porta-potti. This feature is a real treat in a 23-foot boat, and one which greatly enhances the 236CC’s family appeal.

A comfortable, double-wide leaning post with bolster seats houses a removable Engel 74-quart cooler in its base. 

Overhead, an optional Bimini top provides welcome relief from the midday sun. The Bimini may be further upgraded to a full fiberglass T-top, complete with overhead lights and an integrated storage cabinet. As I acquainted myself with the boat during the sea trial on South Carolina’s Robinson Lake, the shade provided by the T-top was greatly appreciated.

Inspiring confidence

Since my sea trial took place on a hot, humid afternoon in late September, I wasn’t too surprised to hear the rumble of thunder in the distance. A pair of 236CCs awaited on the dock: One with a light blue hull and a Bimini top, and a near-identical boat with a darker blue hull and a fiberglass T-top. Although the sun was still shining, the rumbling thunder and the prospect of rain suggested I start with the boat that had the most options installed. 

I also started with the T-top version because I saw it was rigged with a Yamaha F200, one of my favorite engines right now. Its light blue sibling had an F250 on the transom and I wanted to see how the 487-pound, four-cylinder 200 would run this boat compared to the much bigger V6. Although offering 50 fewer horsepower, the 200 also weighs 71 pounds less, and I reasoned this trade-off should make a great match.

It didn’t take long to see just how wonderful a match this really is. Riding solo in the boat, the outboard tucked in with full negative trim, and the trim tabs in a neutral position, the 236CC literally rocketed out of the hole and onto plane in two seconds flat. That’s seriously impressive for a 3,648-pound boat with a half tank of fuel in it, and really speaks to the efficiency of Stingray’s Z-Plane hull design.

Nudging the trim up, the boat soon settled into a comfortable attitude, topping out at an indicated 47 mph on my GPS — which was confirmed by the in-dash Garmin GPSMap SSV — while turning the engine at an even 6,000 rpm. With the refined hum of the big Yamaha in the background and the Stingray’s large windshield and overhead T-top blocking out the wind, the cockpit was pleasantly quiet as I tore across the lake at wide-open throttle.

While the straight-line accelerations were fun, the real joy in running the 236CC comes once you start turning the wheel. The Z-planes slice the water with every steering input. The boat simply goes wherever it’s pointed, without any fuss or fanfare. It’s the kind of boat that quickly inspires confidence with its easy control and great visibility. 

Indeed, the 236CC is so much fun to drive that I temporarily forgot all about work and the electrical storm brewing just a mile or so to the south. It took a deafening crack of thunder followed by a searing bolt of lightning slashing into the trees nearby to lurch me back into the here-and-now. Glancing to the south, I could see heavy rain not far off in the distance. Stingray’s dock was on the other end of the lake, but I had a near 50 mph boat and maybe just enough time to get back before the storm arrived. So I did what any other red-blooded guy would do — I pinned the throttle and got the hell out of there. A few minutes later, I was idling up to the Stingray dock as a second lightning bolt flashed about halfway down the lake. All too quickly, the sea trials were over.

Stingray’s 236CC has a lot to offer with its comfortable seating, thoughtful amenities and spirited performance. Its 21-degree deadrise Z-Plane hull seems like a natural for the Great Lakes, while its speed and range are perfect for boaters to explore distant shores, whether it’s a day trip to a distant island or a lunch date in a far-off port. With the versatility to do it all, this is one boat that every member of the family can enjoy.  


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