It’s definitely a fishing machine, but not at the exclusion of the non-anglers.
Coming from the world of large-ish sail- and powerboats, I was in for a big surprise when I showed up for my first center-console test ride about a decade ago. I wasn’t prepared in the slightest for the speed, the rough ride or the drenching I got. In the brisk wind, I think I may have swallowed an entire hairball — of my own hair.
“One hand for the boat and one for your notes” (to keep them dry) was a hard-learned lesson that day, and it stayed with me. Since then, I’ve tested numerous brands of center-console fishing boats, but it’s funny how I always judge a boat first by its ability to keep occupants dry and second for its steady ride, so passengers can move about without needing to grow a third arm.
With my (short but hard-learned) checklist in mind, I met Scott Lampe of Big Bay Yachts at the dock in San Diego. The Cobia 277 tied up alongside it was showing off its lines and $40,000 worth of options aboard. The first thing I noticed was a single-level deck that makes it easy to move from bow to transom when casting. There were no toe-stubbers anywhere. The optional T-top was powder coated, and on our test boat, it was painted to match the “wheat” colored hull. It’s a beefy piece of fiberglass and steel construction and holds quite a bit of gear: four speakers, two lockable overhead stowage boxes, three dome lights, forward and aft LED deck lights, and twin Top Gun outriggers by Rupp Marine. On our boat, an optional rod rack hung off the aft end overhead.
Below the T-top, two bolstered helm seats with a hidden foot bar provide a secure and comfortable ride. The 40-inch dash has an efficient layout with room enough for two 16-inch multifunction displays. Our test boat was equipped with a single 12-inch Garmin GPSMAP 7612XSV touchscreen plotter, a Garmin VHF radio, Yamaha’s 6YC digital display, Lenco electric trim tab switches, a Fusion stereo and 16 toggles for every pump and light aboard. Our boat was equipped with sonar but did not have radar or an autopilot. (Lampe figures the future owner can spec exactly what he desires. According to Lampe, the profile of the typical buyer may be someone who wants to get out for a quick day of local fishing or keep this boat as a toy that accompanies a larger vessel, in which case radar and self-steering may not be necessary.)
To the right of the upgraded Edson wheel were the throttles for the twin 200 hp Yamaha F200XCA outboards (the standard power package). Twin 250s are available as an upgrade and may add just a little speed at the top end, but that may not be a desired tradeoff with fuel economy. A wide glove compartment with a 12v outlet is below the wheel and has room for cellphones, keys, sunglasses and what-have-you. The dash and driver are protected by a high and curved windshield.
Below the seats are three batteries (a fourth is optional) and behind them is a tackle station with numerous drawers that would keep most any angler organized. Forward and integrated into the console is a seat that tops an insulated 62-quart cooler. Together, the seat and cooler form a swinging door that leads into the surprisingly large head, which is tucked below the console. Included here are a standard manual marine toilet, a small freshwater sink and a mirror. Headroom is ample (6 feet, 1 inch), so even grownups can use the space as a changing station.
The Cobia 277 can do double duty as a fish boat and a fun family cruiser. The convertible bow has an electric table that levitates out of the sole on a two-stage telescoping leg. The first stop makes the bow a casting platform or a cushion-covered sunpad, complete with two manual backrests that swing in from their outboard stowed positions so passengers can sit and ride facing forward. The second level brings the sole all the way up to form a table with a V-shaped settee around it providing seating for at least four.
The anchor roller exits through the stem to keep ground tackle from snagging any lines. Even the pop-up forward nav light is flush to the bow, so it presents no casting hazard until manually deployed. A small Lewmar electric windlass (wireless remote available) manages the 300 feet of line aboard. Hip-high gunwales add a feeling of security, as does the recessed stainless steel handrail that runs from the console to the bow on both sides. A nice touch are the six pop-up cleats that won’t grab lines or clothing.
- The Cobia 277 is, first and foremost, a fishing machine … but it can do double duty as a fish boat and a fun family cruiser.
The Cobia 277 is, first and foremost, a fishing machine, so there are twin 47-gallon insulated fishboxes with macerator pumps and a soothing blue 42-gallon recirculating livewell with a clear top cover. Stainless flush-mounted rod holders and eight under-gunwale rod racks mean the owner can bring a couple of friends and all can have multiple rods working simultaneously.
Aft is another bench that will seat two, facing forward. It is integrated into the transom and when not in use, it’s flush. The backrest is removable, again to keep the aft end clear for fishing. With the touch of a button, the whole seat module rises electrically to reveal good access to two Yamaha fuel/water separators and most of the pumps aboard.
Passengers can board with the standard “leg over the gunwale” swing or by stepping onto the transom just above where the swim ladder is stowed and next to the freshwater shower outlet. That means the swimming half of the family can do their thing while the fishing half casts off the bow, and everybody wins.
Lampe untied the docklines, and we headed out onto San Diego Bay. With two crew, 40 percent fuel in the 189-gallon tank, and a one-foot chop in the bay, we ran our test against a 10- to 12-knot breeze. With the 21 degree deadrise, the 277 has a nice flat aft section and comes up on plane in just under five seconds, at around 2800 rpm. We found wide-open throttle around 5200 rpm as we topped out at 44 mph. The most economical cruise was around 3000 rpm and 21 mph, where the outboards burned 9.2 gph, which translates to a 430-mile range at 2.3 mpg. That means you can run quite a way offshore to find tuna and still come home plenty fast without running out of gas.
Purchase the optional trailer, and lakes and rivers can be added to the offshore fun, to mix it up a little.
We doubled back on our own wake, which the 277 took in stride. The ride was smooth. When Lampe said “hang on” as he pulled hard turns, all I did was press my backside into the seat bolster and continued taking notes without being jostled. The deep-V of the bow parted the wind chop and although we didn’t get out into a four-foot swell, it was clear that this was a dry boat. In fact, we made it all the way back without a single drop of water or smudge of salt spray on that crystal-clear windshield.
Our ride confirmed that the Cobia 277 is one sweet and dry ride. No extra appendages and no hairballs — check. Notes dry — check. Fun — double check.