by Dom Wiseman

There are some boats that just scream summer fun and the bowrider style of boat is one of those. They are designed to make the most of on water activities and are comfortable as an entertainer, social water sports vessel or simple fishing platform in the right conditions. It is little wonder that there are so many of them across a wide range of manufacturers. Their appeal lies in the versatility of the platform, but they are also immensely fun to drive and sporty too. Their popularity has led to an amazing selection of brands that span a broad price range, meaning in this style you are almost assured of finding something that meets your budget.
The Rinker Captiva 186 is an American brand that isn’t at the top end of the market although the finishes are sufficiently durable, the styling is sporty and the performance is exhilarating. In short they are a good value option.

The Rinker Captiva 186 is a bowrider so you are going to spend a fair portion of time at the front of the boat entertaining or just relaxing. The seating arrangement will provide a comfort spot for two if your want to stretch your legs out or three using the rear facing backrest at the bow with legs in the space between the seats. The cushions are comfortable but the Rinker lacks the storage behind the backrest cushion some of its high-end competitors have as standard. The hull also has a narrow entry restricting space up front slightly. The bow area is accessed via a swinging centre window in the glass windscreen.
Rinker Captiva 186 7
Rinker Captiva 186 9The passenger gets a glove box for small items and a semi bucket style seat. The legroom here is restricted by the design of the boat where the fibreglass curves around on the outer edge restricting room against the side of the hull. It is the same on the drivers’ side and while the seats are adjustable, creating sufficient legroom left me a little too far from the steering wheel. Like the grab handles, the steering wheel is plastic which reduces costs for owners but also lowers the feel overall. The dealer has also added an aftermarket stereo and speakers in the test boat. The driver gets a bolster which allows good vision up and over the windscreen when docking or even if you’re new to boating and want to feel comfortable. Between the seats there is a large in-floor ski locker that will easily accommodate a standard ski, but may struggle to accommodate a wakeboard.
The dashboard is fairly standard with analogue gauges sitting across the top. They are easy enough to see but hardly inspiring. The switch panel is located slightly behind the steering wheel making them hard to get to at times. The steering wasn’t adjustable and the throttle, mounted on the starboard side of the hull is reachable either seated properly or on the bolster. It’s a bit of a reach standing but is still manageable. There is a moulded cup holder to the far right.
The rear bench seat is spacious with the back half of the Rinker Captiva 186 appearing very wide. Three will fit here easily. The seat includes an icebox in the centre which will hold any drinks you need for a day on the water. It’s a 40-litre capacity and drains into the bilge which isn’t ideal. The clip in carpet is comfortable underfoot. At the end of the day, you can remove it and hose out the fibreglass floor. If I was using the boat to fish I would remove the carpet, despite it being comfortable under foot, because fish hooks are unlikely to come out easily. The test boat was also fitted with an optional bimini that provided much need sun protection.
Rinker Captiva 186 6
Rinker Captiva 186 10The rear sun lounge is spacious and hides the Mercruiser sterndrive engine underneath the centre with storage either side. The cushion is thick and comfortable to lie on. There is a small moulded swim platform that doesn’t allow much space for anything really. The boat also comes standard with a boarding ladder on the starboard side and a ski hook.

Mercruiser provide power for this vessel in the form of a 4.3-litre 190hp inboard engine. This is an excellent powerplant that has been used in many sports boats by many boat manufacturers. The dealer network for Mercruiser is excellent giving new owners’ peace of mind when purchasing a new boat.
The 4.3-litre engine provides plenty of power and is capable of speeds in excess of 70km/h (38 knots), which is considerable when you’re literally sitting at water level. At wide open throttle we managed 73km/h (40 knots) at 3800 revs although the conditions were exceptional. A cruising speed of 45km/h (24 knots) at 2400rpm is much more comfortable.
With that power, you would be able to wakeboard and ski behind this boat.
Rinker Captiva 186 1
Rinker Captiva 186 13ON THE WATER
The driving position in most bowriders is exceptionally low and the only thing I can liken it to is a go cart. You sit so low in the hull that any speed literally feels thrilling. The seat itself is comfortable and the steering wheel, while not adjustable is at a comfortable height and the throttle controls within easy reach. While seated, vision through the safety glass windscreen is good.
The hull felt light as we hurtled across Lake Macquarie side on to the chop and wind. When heading with the waves, it cut through the chop well and had extremely light steering. For the novice owner, I would venture to say it was too light. Cornering hard, the hull could bounce at times like some others in this category but it’s unlikely anyone would be going as hard into a corner as I was on the test day. More natural driving had it feel like a jet ski with a nice predictable slide through a corner while still allowing power to be added mid turn.
The gauges are extremely easy to read and give an immediate indication of speed, revs and other necessary readings.

The Rinker Captiva 186 is aimed at family buyers who are looking to get out on the water at an affordable price without having to spend additional dollars on extras. The finishings aren’t high-end but the design offers a level of usability that will allow new owners plenty of options while out on the water. For anyone looking for more serious water sports options such as wakeboarding an aftermarket tower would be one addition I’d consider.

Rinker Captiva 186 2
Spacious cockpit

Lack of leg space in helm

Price: (as tested) $35,990
Construction: Fibreglass
Length Overall: 5.77m
Beam: 2.26m
Draft: 0.91m
Weight on trailer: 1513kgs
Engine: 190hp Mercruiser
Fuel Capacity: 99-litres