Tested by Capt. Vince DanielloCarolina Skiff markets the Sea Chaser 2600 Offshore Center Console as an affordable, no frills, quality built fishing boat. After testing, I have to take exception; this is not a no-frills boat. While the features list may be shorter than some center consoles, I found many thoughtful, practical items that make this boat stand out, even among higher-priced competition.Serious Cockpit For Working FishThe most notable feature is the huge cockpit. The boat carries its beam well forward, providing wide side decks and plenty of room in the bow. The boat comfortably seats eight, with a fixed seat forward and folding seats on the front of the console and along the transom. The folding seats add versatility since they are available when needed but don’t encroach on fishing space. A bow rail and a second handrail wrap all the way around the front of the cockpit so there is always something to grab. This handrail is particularly convenient when sitting in the forward seat, or kneeling on the seat when handling the anchor. The foredeck includes an anchor locker, roller, and retracting cleat, with additional fixed cleats a little farther aft where they can be reached while standing in the cockpit, or even from the dock. Upholstered bolsters wrap all the way around the cockpit – great for fishing and line handling.Fisherman will appreciate the three long fish boxes in the deck, which can also be used for storage. There is rod storage under the gunnels and additional storage under the leaning post seat. The clear lexan lid on the 30 gallon bait well is great for fishing, but you’ll have to keep the inside of the baitwell clean and might not want to use it for storage. Our test boat was equipped with an optional upgraded leaning post, which included rocket launchers, a cutting board, and a giant, watertight tackle locker. The tackle locker holds removable plastic boxes, available at most tackle stores, which I prefer over built-in drawers. I have about a dozen of these boxes, each set up for a specific type of fishing. I take along just the boxes I need for the bite; the rest of my tackle stays home. I even have a box set up with spare dive gear parts, and another with picnic utensils.Console FeaturesThere is plenty of room in the dash for electronics, even without the optional T-top and overhead electronics box, and a stereo and two folding drink holders are recessed into the console beneath the helm. About the only thing missing is a cooler. There is a 70-quart seat/cooler listed on the options list, but if it is mounted in front of the console, it may impede opening the forward deck locker. Also, Carolina Skiff advertises a “walk-in” center console with a porta-potty. This might work for small children and shorter adults, but anyone that’s taller will have a harder time getting in and out. On the other hand, the bi-fold console door is extra wide, making it easier to access the batteries or use the space for storage. For ventilation, the center console includes a small opening port hole on the port side, and a vent on the front. Unfortunately the vent is mounted just a few inches above the deck. On a wet day, this will force water into the center console.Transom FeaturesThe transom door is fairly small and high off the deck. This may not be as convenient for boarding, but it keeps water out of the boat when backing down on a fish or if a big wave breaks on the stern platform. Similarly, the engine rigging is run through the transom high off the deck, and a large watertight deck hatch on the platform provides good access to fuel filters and the bilge without compromising seaworthiness. The handrails on either side of the transom are large and well placed; this safety feature is often overlooked, even on much costlier boats. I did not see any provisions for a boarding ladder nor was one listed as an option, but this should be a simple after-market addition.Performance and SpeedWith twin Suzuki 250 four-strokes, the boat topped out at 55.3 miles-per-hour, and jumped up on plane in 3.5 seconds, with a 0 to 30 time of 5 seconds even. Steering was overly-sensitive at high speed, making me think that 500 horsepower might be a bit too much for this hull. Then again, engines are generally chosen for the boat’s performance at cruise, not maximum throttle. At 4000 RPM, the boat cruised comfortably at 38.5 miles-per-hour and traveled noticeably over 2 miles per gallon, for a 392 mile cruising range.Overall, the Sea Chaser 2600 was better than I expected of a “budget” fishing boat. The fit and finish was good and the amenities and features were well thought out. The boat has lots of room and plenty of seating. Throw in a cooler with lunch and she is ready for a day at the beach with the kids, or bring along the tackle for some offshore fishing action.
Test Result Highlights
Top speed for the Carolina Skiff 2600CC (2013-) is 55.3 mph (89 kph), burning 47.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 178.65 liters per hour (lph).
Best cruise for the Carolina Skiff 2600CC (2013-) is 38.5 mph (62 kph), and the boat gets 2.18 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.93 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 392 miles (630.86 kilometers).
Tested power is 2 x 250-hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboards.