The Rae Line 186 offers a fresh new approach to the traditional grp cabin boat, with a modern finish look, all packaged at an affordable price. Barry Thompson went to Lyttelton Harbour to check it out.
Rae Line first started building boats in 1999 and today is one of the major players in the New Zealand GRP production boat building scene. As a sister company to Sports Marine, (Australasian Sea Ray dealers) there has always been a close relationship with the big US brand and so it comes as no surprise to find that their heritages have become closely entwined.
The Rae Line 186 was a transition boat from Sea Ray to Rae Line as a completely new boat, designed by Rae Line in 2005 as a sterndrive model, with power options from either the 3 litre or 4.3-litre petrol or 1.7-litre diesel Mercruiser. Since then over 300 have been built. In Dec 2013, the outboard version was released, to coincide with the release of the new Mercury 150 4S, the same engine that was on the transom for our test. Production got underway in early 2014 and since then there has been a gradual transition from the sterndrive to the outboard version of the 186, despite the stern drive being at a lower price point.
The change to outboard also required a new hull mould and transom design, although essentially everything forward remained unchanged from the sterndrive model. The Rae Line 186 also comes with a full inner liner that is foam filled underfloor and up to the side shelves for extra buoyancy.
As Rae Line export some their models to the Europe and the UK, the 186 carries a CE rating. While Scott admits exports to Europe have not been strong in recent years, the improving exchange rate and a resurging European boating market, are good signs for future export growth. Australia remains a strong export destination for Rae Line, with dealers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Western Australia.
Rae Line builds five models, starting with the 180 bowrider sterndrive, 185 bowrider outboard, the 186 cabin, in outboard or sterndrive and the 235 cabin/hardtop. The 180,185 and 235 are all ex Sea Ray.
Slippery When Wet
Lyttelton Harbour was reasonably calm when we arrived and conditions were great for boating, well that’s if you not mind a 5 deg air temperature. Blue sky and about 10 knots of wind made for a pleasant few hours on the water. This was my ﬁrst time on the water with a Rae Line so I didn’t know what to expect. While the hull is obviously, Sea Ray inspired, Scott assured me that it was a newly designed hull by the Rae Line team. The first impression was the ease of which the boat got onto the plane with a low attitude and was planning by 2000 rpm. I gave the throttle full punch and saw the GPS quickly climb to 44.5 knots (51 mph) @ 5500rpm. The Mercury 150 hp is the top rating for the boat and certainly offered plenty of power. If top end speeds not your thing, then an 115hp outboard would still be fine.
The Rae Line186 carries a generous 2.30m beam at the chines, with wide chine flats that help with its ability to slip easily onto the plane. It also proved extremely stable at rest and in hard fast turns hangs on without excessive heeling. It also didn’t need much trim throughout the range and I was impressed the way the boat ran so ﬂat at speed. I would have no hesitation in recommending the Rae Line 186 to a ﬁrst time boat buyer.
At 30 knots (35 mph) @ 4000 rpm I found what I call the ‘ sweet family cruise spot’, where the boat is riding very comfortably for the conditions. However, I did feel there was excessive hull noise from the forward area when I drove the boat into the short chop. However to be fair when I turned the boat around and ran with the sea, the chattery noise dropped considerably.
I didn’t get to run the boat in any rough water because there wasn’t any, so I can’t comment on its performance in adverse sea conditions. The driving position when seated was perfect and the one piece Taylor Made toughened glass screen kept away the extremely chilly breeze. When standing, I would personally like to have had the Softrider helm seat mounted a little further aft, so it didn’t touch the back of my legs. Simple thing to change with a slider but we didn’t have one.
Quality Cabin Image
One of the reasons there is an obvious Sea Ray similarity is that many of the components that make up the Rae Line 186 are purchased directly from Sea Ray. For example, all the upholstery from the cabin headlining to the seat material is brought in bulk from Sea Ray. So too are the windscreen, deck hardware, steering, dash panel and seat moulds. Rae Line has their own in-house upholstery shop that does all the cutting, stitching and ﬁnishing, using the very latest fabrics as seen on all new Sea Ray models.
I loved the different approach by Rae Line to the hood lining and accented side panels in the cabin. The light coloured fabrics (far nicer than the commonly used grey), gives the impression of a much larger space. There is ample head height and squab space for three adults to sit comfortably and the berths (with the optional inﬁll) could be used for overnighting if need be. With no hint of grp inside, it also adds a classy look to what is often a very bland space.
In-cabin storage is provided in side trays behind padded backrests and under both squabs. If you don’t have a capstan or auto winch installed, then you’ll need to use the deck hatch and stand to do your anchoring chores.
The Rae Line 186 comes in two versions, outboard or stern drive, so there is some variance on the aft seating arrangement. With the outboard model, you virtually get a full-width rear bench seat with the two side squabs removable. In the case of the sterndrive version, the centre section is taken up by the engine box and the two side seats are fixed in place. The starboard side is battery storage and the port one is used for the fuel tank. While the stern drive model looses some of the seating inside, it gains with a full-width platform and clear sightlines over the transom.a bait board.
The transom area of the 186 outboard model is designed for both casual family boating with plenty of seating or can be easily transformed into a more practical fishing boats with the side squabs removed. The central ski pole doubles as the mount for a bait board.
The forward seating remains unchanged with the standard package being a single pedestal helm and back to back on the passengers side. Storage under the transom looks after single or dual batteries, plus some extra space for your fishing tackle. A handy built-in wet locker under the centre squab is a great place for a few coldies or as a bait locker.
A fully lined wet locker under the cockpit sole allows you to keep wake boards and skis nicely stowed and would also handle a couple of dive bottles. The standard 120-litre fuel tank is situated aft of the locker and is available in a variety of sizes, from 90-180 litres.
Our test boat was fitted with the basic instrument and dash package, although there is space enough for a 7” flush mounted MFD. VHF and Fusion stereo packages if required.
The Rae Line 186 outboard cruiser is quite simply a very well packaged, finished and priced family cabin runabout that will appeal to both the first time boat owner or someone looking for a good all-rounder.
With production out till February 2016, Rae Line has plenty of order’s in hand for all of their five models. To date, the company has built over 700 of the 180 BR sterndrive and close to 300 of the 185 outboard boats. Currently, the 185 BR outboard is the most popular, but the 186 outboard is not far behind.
- Model: Rae Line 186 Outboard
- Priced from: $NZ58500
- Price as tested: $NZ62900
- Type: Cabin Runabout
- Construction: GRP
- LOA: 5.70m
- Beam: 2.30m
- Deadrise: 19 deg
- Height on trailer: 2.20m
- Trailerable weight: 1550 kgs
- Test Power: Mercury 150 4S
- Propeller: Inertia 19”
- Power options: 115-150 hp
- Fuel capacity: 99 litres (std)
- Trailer: Shorelander
Notable Items on Test Boat
Three step ladder, foam filled hull, Clip on carpet, Bimini top with clears, softrider helm seat, in floor storage locker,
NB: Speed is rounded off to nearest .5 knot