The Back Story
If you’ve been around boats for a while, you’ve probably heard of Mariah, but it might not be this Mariah: The company was originally started by Jimmy Fulks in 1989. He built the first boats in his garage in Benton, IL, but the company grew until it eventually employed 360 people and had $50-million-plus in annual sales. The boats were high-end, luxury products; and they even caught the eye of the editor of the Robb Report once. Fulks even patented his method of integrating the molded floor and stringer system. He was also a community leader and major contributor to a number of important local services.
Then the resin hit the fan, and in May, 2001, Fulks closed up shop at short notice. In a letter to his dealers, he said it was due to National City Bank of Cleveland calling in his $750,000 credit line, combined with dealership failures. Rather than close the company, Fulks handed it over to the bank. In 2002, Sea Fox purchased the Mariah Boats trademark and many hull and deck molds, but redesigned the interior components. The Sea Fox folks build the boats in Moncks Cornor, South Carolina. Today, the Mariah line includes many new designs, including the R19.9. (Fulks-era Mariahs are still popular, though; check the online owners’ club for more info: www.mariahownersclub.com. Registration is free.)According to company P.R., “Mariah Boats follows the philosophy of ‘more for less’ by building affordable, hand-crafted boats that offer outstanding performance, quality and value. At Mariah Boats we pride ourselves on expert craftsmanship, wood-free structural construction and hand-laminated hulls.” We haven’t tested the boats so we can’t attest to any of this.
Designed for Fast Fun
The R19.9 is one of six bowriders on Mariah’s roster, ranging from 18’4” to 25’2”; the R19.9 is 19’2” overall, 8’1” beam. (Why there are six boats shoehorned into less than seven feet is a question you’ll have to ask the Mariah folks.) At 3,650 lbs., it’s trailerable by a normal-sized pickup or SUV. Power is a single Mercruiser stern drive up to 225-hp; a nice choice would be the 220-hp 4.3 MPI. Although we didn’t test this boat ourselves, owners report speeds near 50 mph with this power, plenty fast for a boat this size. Figure on cruising in the mid-30s for max fuel economy. Thirty-eight gallons of gas should be enough for a long day of fun if you don’t lean too hard on the throttle. The MPI Merc will provide extra boost for launching a skier or wakeboarder – if you’re thinking young, you’re thinking wakeboard – even with a boatload of folks onboard.
The R19.9 isn’t an offshore speedboat. Although deadrise is a healthy 19-degrees, sharp enough for relatively comfortable riding when braced against a leaning post or jammed in a bolster, aboard the R19.9 you’re sitting down. In any kind of chop, at top speed your lower back will be begging for mercy. Some things about aging we can’t overcome with thinking young. (The helm seat includes a flip-up pad that creates a quasi-bolster, but it’s probably more effective for improving the helmsman’s sight lines than for rough-water running.) The standard companion seat doesn’t have the flip-up feature, but it’s available as an option.
There’s draining stowage under the cockpit sole for water skis or wakeboards, just what you need in a boat that begs you to have fun. A wakeboard tower with rack is optional, too. Aft, there’s the usual full-beam bench seat with stowage under, in this case including a handy niche for a removable 36-qt. cooler. Aft of that is a sunpad with engine access underneath, and aft of that, a swim platform. No surprises here, but how else would you lay out a boat this size with these features? If the standard, molded-in swim platform isn’t enough for you, an add-on extension, with ladder, is optional. We like this option because it extends over the prop which means swimmers can slip into the water with out worrying about getting cut by the prop. Mariah uses a premium 33-ounce vinyl with UV and mold protection, so your upholstery should last quite a while before fading or deteriorating – even longer if you invest in the optional cockpit and bow covers. A full enclosure is also an option, and will be handy for boating in cooler weather: Why not use your Mariah late into the fall?
Riding the Bow
What makes a bowrider is, of course, the bow, and aboard the R19.9 this is a cozy, well-equipped space that’s fine for a couple of kids or maybe just a single adult. It’s nicely padded all around, with grab rails, drink holders and, optionally, stereo speakers. A Jensen stereo/CD player with MP3 connection is standard, but with just two speakers in the cockpit; the bow speakers will cost you extra. There is no anchor locker, so you’ll have to stow it under one of the seats, which should become your dedicated anchor locker. We advise you not to place other stuff over your anchor gear because then it’ll be covered with other items and inaccessible when you need it. A filler cushion is optional.
Built to Last
Structurally, the R19.9 is typical of boats in this size range. You don’t get exotic resins and fabrics, nor esoteric lamination method, in 19-footers, but Mariah uses proven hand-layups based on knitted fabmat and polyester resin, finished with high-gloss, long-lasting isophthalic gelcoat. The hull and deck are joined with both adhesive and mechanical fastenings, the joint protected by a stainless-steel rubrail. The composite cockpit sole (there is no wood in any Mariah boat’s construction) is fiberglassed directly to the foam-filled stringers to create a rigid structure, and covered with 20-oz. marine carpet; finished fiberglass in place of carpet is optional. The transom, traditionally a source of problems when cored with plywood, is in this case built around composite Penske board. Construction is NMMA-certified, and Mariah covers the boat with a limited lifetime hull warranty.The rated capacity is for 10 people, but we don’t know where you put them call comfortably. All builders follow the AYBC and USCG as they must. These capacities are based on formulas and other criteria that are often impractical. Please use you own common sense, which in the boat would limit the capacity to seven, which is about what one should expect in a boat this size.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
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