by Capt. Steve
Bringing up the Rear
With outboard power, the 196 has dual, integrated swim platforms to port and starboard of the outboard well. Obviously the swim platform on a sterndrive boat would be larger and more desirable, but if a buyer wants outboard power he’ll have to compromise on the swim platform. But I found the two relatively small platforms on the Rinker 196 OB not as difficult to use as I thought they might be. While the outboard motor is in the middle of the transom, the fact is that the outboard well is still available to handle the “stuff” that a swimmer might have in hand, things like a small towable, line for a ski tow, swim fins, mask and snorkel, and the like. Of course a boat’s engine should always be turned off before people enter the water and having the outboard motor right there in plain sight is about as good a reminder as anyone is likely to get. Rinker managed to find room to add small non-skid steps behind the sloping gunwale. The stern cleats are up high outside the trip zone. There are two storage compartments just forward of the motor well and they make a great place for planting wet towels and suits.
The Cockpit Bench Seat
The bench seat forward of the storage compartments has additional space under the two end cushions for more stuff. It is on these two end cushions that people will step going forward from the swim platform. In the prototype four plastic dowels were inserted into each seat bottom to keep it in place over the openings in the fiberglass liner below. The two end seat cushions were somewhat difficult to remove because of the dowels and the fact that they were partially under the backrest. I’d like to see the seats have a reversible side with some sort of carpeting on them. That way, the seat could be flipped over and not soil the cushion side when someone steps aboard. (Call me an obsessive-compulsive neatnik, if you like.) The center seat is a bit wider than the outside seats and covers a 36 qt (34 L) carry-on cooler that is recessed into the deck to keep it in place. The front of the cooler storage is open to the cockpit so you can see the cooler, but it can’t be accessed if someone is sitting on top of it -- unless they get up and move. This is a typical situation faced by all builders of sportboats, particularly small ones where space is limited. My solution for all builders is to simply allow the cooler to slide out from underneath the seat.
For safety, the wraparound windshield runs well aft and raises the height of the bulwarks to 38" (96.5 cm), a feature that will bode well with families with small children.
Helm and Companion Seats
In the center of the cockpit are dual bucket seats that wraparound, are open in the lower backs for improved ventilation on hot days, and they both swivel and slide. Flip-up bolsters are optional and I wouldn't want to live without them on any boat. The observer gets a stainless grab handle just over a spacious glove box that measures 10" (2.4 cm) x 18" (45.7 cm) with a 4" (10.2 cm) opening. Just above is a standard stereo with a 12v supply right next door to power your MP3 player.
The Italian Isotta wheel is flattened at the bottom to facilitate swinging your legs past without having to feel squished. I'd like to see a higher footrest molded into the deck, just abaft the consoles, as my short legs didn't quite reach the deck and I felt like a kid with my feet swinging. I’m 5’-8-1/2” (1.73 m) with a 16''/ 40 cm popliteal so skippers who are taller will probably fit the existing layout quite nicely. In fact, some sportboats under about 21’ (6.46 m) have seats which are too low or cramped for many people.
Instruments and Controls
The skipper gets a basic and functional helm with classy Faria gauges with chrome bezels. The center gauge is a four-in-one to reduce panel clutter. Options allow for tilt steering, a depth gauge, and a stereo remote to starboard of the helm. To the right of the wheel are the circuit breakers. I also found the engine control to be mounted a tad high for me when seated, but when I sat up on the bolster it was more natural feeling. And, obviously, when standing at the helm, the control level will be easier to reach than if it were lower. So take your pick. (Also, as with all boats, if you like the boat overall but find that one or two things are not ergonomically correct for you, talk to the dealer about modifications that could be made by the factory or the dealership itself.)
The bugaboo of many small sportboats is that when seated the average person is too often looking right into the upper part of the windshield frame. Unfortunately, in some boats there is no easy fix for this problem. Happily, on the Rinker 196 OB prototype I had no such problem, and this probably one of the most important aspects of the boat’s design.
The space between the consoles is about 21" (53.4 cm) which is wide for a boat in this class. Our test boat was equipped with the optional twin doors below the opening windshield, but I didn't need them on the 70-degree day on Lake Michigan. However, with the doors and windshield closed they should do a nice job of blocking the wind on cool mornings. The doors are held open by magnets. The prototype did not have a strap and snap holding the windshield in the open position.
The sole storage locker is huge and accessed by a hatch with an irregular geometry that is hinged from the front rather than the sides. We suspect that the Rinker 196 was designed this way so that wakeboards or other large objects could be stowed there. It has a gas-assist strut to make it open easier and to hold the hatch open. While the compartment is certainly large enough to hold all your gear, and possibly even the next boat's as well, when I arrived on the boat after a hard rain storm the night before the compartment had collected quite bit of water. I'd like to see a surrounding gutter to channel water away, and perhaps a rubber gasket surrounding the opening, too. While the compartment on the prototype was not self-draining we’re sure it will be on the production run. FYI, a scupper in the cockpit drains into the bilge, so water from this space might as well go there also.
In the Bow
The bow seats were separated from each other by roughly 20.5" (52.1 cm) which is enough space to allow two adults to sit facing each other without knocking knees. This is noteworthy because some sportboats this size are pinched forward. When lounging, I couldn't quite stretch my legs out their full length but I was still comfortable. The usual storage lies beneath the seat cushions. The storage compartment is fiberglass lined, I'd like to see carpeting to protect the contents and keep items from sliding around too easily. 14" (35.6 cm) of gunwale height should keep everyone secure, and lengthy stainless grab handles are functional and comfortable to rest your arm on. There is no anchor locker on the 196 OB, something that is omitted on many sportboats this size. The reason is that most boaters in this size range don’t anchor much. Of course every boat should have an anchor and there is plenty of room for one under the bow cushions. The two bow cleats are mounted on the side of the cap rail.
Performance and Handling
Driving the 196 OB was a joy and it had a smooth feel throughout the turns. The steering was a little firm and took two hands to pull out of the hard turns. What most impressed me was the way the boat carved through the self-generated chop, and when catching air, it exhibited a gentle re-entry that had spray thrown well to the sides. Try as I might, I couldn't manage to soak the windshield. That has a lot to do with the way the chines continue to the bow to form spray rails.
With an empty weight of 2,350 pounds, full fuel, two people, and the Yamaha 115 we had a test weight of 3,416 pounds (1,552 kgs). Top speed came in at 6000 rpm and 36.2 miles per hour. At that speed we had a fuel burn of 9.8 gallons per hour, and we were getting 3.7 miles per gallon for range of 140 miles. Best cruise came in at 5000 rpm and 28.9 miles per hour where we had a 6.4 gallon per hour fuel burn while getting 4.5 miles per gallon for range of 172 miles. Our time to plane was 4.7 seconds, we reached 20 miles an hour in 15.5 seconds, and cruised through 30 miles per hour in 24.1 seconds.
Observations on Power
However, those numbers don't really portray the feel of the 196 with the 115 bolted to the stern. I found her to be a bit sluggish in acceleration, and even though we reached planing speed relatively soon, the bow still took it's time coming down. The 196 OB is rated for 200-hp and I think that's a much more reasonable power choice, evidenced by the testing I did on this boat’s sister, the 196 IO which did have 200-hp and performed quite nicely. Certainly the weight of the whopping 43-gallon (163 L) fuel tank, which was full when we started, didn't help with this size engine. It does, however, give the 196 OB a cruising range of 172 miles with the 115-hp Yamaha, a distance that is anywhere from 20 miles to 65 miles greater than most boats in class.A prototype means just that, and Rinker has a few small items to iron out, but overall I found the 196 to be a comfortable boat and a nice handler. Certainly her weight contributed to the solid feel. Rinker is an independent builder, so you have a choice of outboard brands.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Rinker 196 Captiva OB (2012-) is 36.2 mph (58.3 kph), burning 9.8 gallons per hour (gph) or 37.09 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Rinker 196 Captiva OB (2012-) is 28.9 mph (46.5 kph), and the boat gets 4.54 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.93 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 172 miles (276.81 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 115-hp Yamaha.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!