Rinker Fiesta Vee 266 December 1998 Boat News, Review & Advice

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Rinker 240

Rinker Fiesta Vee 266 (December 1998)

Equally suitable as a weekender or a dayboat, the Rinker Fiesta Vee 266 seduces summer boaties with its comfortable above-deck entertainment areas and spacious fully-featured cabin

Okay, I’m pushing the boundaries of dayboating with the Rinker. More a commodious cabin cruiser than a sunpad, this all-American 26-footer charms on more than one level. While you will find a come-hither entertaining space calling out in the sun, there’s a cabin inside which could accommodate you for an entire weekend.

But like all good entertaining platforms, the Rinker Fiesta Vee 266 comes with the mod-cons and the mollycoddling amenities to seduce those who drop in for the day.

Guests can hang out on the lounges and toe-tap to the Clarion four-speaker marine stereo system. They can swing open the transom door and dive off the integrated boarding platform. They can step aboard from the water or shore on a neat boarding ladder. Or they can step up and over the windscreen and lay down their towel to sunbathe on the foredeck.

But you’ll probably find that your guests will be loathe to leave the cockpit. After all, it has an L-shaped lounge on the bridgedeck which functions as two sunpads. It has a separate aft lounge that seemingly hangs over the water like a good table at a harbourside restaurant. And the skipper has a deep bucketseat which affords a good view across the bow and loaded dash.

Built-in to the fully-moulded one-piece deck, covered in lift-out marine carpet over a sandy-feeling non-skid, is a useful array of hardware.

While the transom door was a little low for my liking, it opens with a simple lift-and-swing action, rather than the usual fiddling required with a ring bolt.

And there are recessed cleats, a boarding ladder you can reach from the water, stainless rails where you need them, and drink holders always at hand. There is an anchor roller with a deep chain locker, transom lighting and deck shower, removable cockpit table, and dockside power system with 15-metre cord.

But more fun than all that put together is a remote-controlled Rayline spotlight on the pulpit, which can help you find that public mooring after sundown. And with this wide-bodied and deep-footed boat, your dayboating will tend to roll over into weekending.

The first thing you’ll notice is the depth of the cabin. The Rinker Fiesta Vee 266 is probably the deepest 26-footer I’ve set foot aboard. Headroom defies waterline length but, as one report from America rightfully points out, not at the expense of style.

While many mid-range cabin cruisers from the States resemble great ugly white wedges, reminiscent of a Reebok sandshoe in their efforts to gain space, this boat has a low-profile foredeck, clever European lines, and integrated pinstriping to cut back on the profile.

In other words, there’s a lot of boat in the water and when you wander below, the sense of space will inspire overnighting trips with friends or family. But the amenities and roomy feel suit dayboating as well.

The head, for instance, isn’t a pokey little portable loo tucked under a vee-berth. Rather, it’s a standing-height room with a sink, shower, pump-out head, vanity, mirror and easy-clean moulded surfaces.

The galley is equally useful, with a small 12-volt fridge-freezer, microwave, single-burner electric stove for cooking the bacon and eggs and a sink. The galley is immediately to port as you go below, with the head opposite. So whether you’re helping with lunch or in search of the loo, guests won’t have far to look.

But perhaps the most impressive feature is the sheer size of the cabin. The forward area has a big dinette and there’s lots of leg room around the moulded table from the curved lounges, which have backrests.

There’s also a quasi-magazine rack and storage beneath the cushions, which converts to a roomy vee berth which can sleep two people. Overhead hatch and side-opening portholes, along with the volume of the cabin and the wide opening leading into it from the cockpit, means you won’t feel cramped.

Even the second cabin, a transverse berth tucked back under the bridgedeck, has room around the pillow end and a big hatch nearby to draw light and fresh air inside. With a white headliner, full fibreglass liner, and a mirror in the aft cabin, the sense of space is palpable.

Rinker 270 Fiesta

But all this would count for nothing if it wasn’t put together properly. And while Rinker might be a new name to local boaters, it’s a famous family-owned powerboat marque in America. The history reads like a good novel, starting when ol’ Lossie Rinker gave up dairy farming to build fishing boats.

Today, the Rinker range of boats extends from 18-33ft and from nifty bowriders to sportscruisers. Construction meets or exceeds US Coast Guard guidelines and each model comes with a five-year hull warranty.

You can sense the boats are solid, something derived from hand-laid fibreglass, up to five layers of 24oz woven rovings, balsa-cored and Coremat decks, and a stringers system built from plywood encapsulated in glass. And the quality touches extend to such things as pre-stretched marine vinyl upholstery so, after lounging about for weeks on end, the seat covers don’t sag.

But the best bit is still to come — at least it was on the Rinker 266 I took for a drive. Despite its wide beam, deep body and full-headroom interior, the hull isn’t inclined to lay on its side. Nor does it bang around. All Rinker boats are built on a deep-vee 20° hull, which makes some other American midrange cruisers look tame.

I’d rate the performance of the Fiesta Vee 266 as excellent. Fitted with just a single 330hp 7.4L MPI MerCruiser (how many 26-footers need twins?) the boat reached around 36kt at 4250rpm. And with a Bravo 3 sterndrive, which has a counter-rotating prop, you could throw the boat around and it wouldn’t let go of the water.

In fact, Rinker’s 26-footer is a snap to drive. Vision is good over the foredeck, the skipper’s seat is adjustable, and the dash is brimming with goodies including depth sounder, American VHF radio, compass, stereo remote, and switches for the windshield wiper, spotlight, trim tabs, bilge pumps, blower, horn and hot water heater.

From a standing start, the deep hull jumps out of the hole without unduly lifting its bow, and it will hold plane down to just over 10kt or 2600rpm. Easy-does-it cruising comes in at 2800rpm and 16kt, while the boat fairly zips along at 3400rpm and 26kt.

So, what more do you need than smart looks, a fully-loaded interior, performance to satisfy the sports-minded, and space to carry six guests or a family of four — not only for day trips but weekends at a time.

You need around $127,500 for the boat you see here. But, when you stop to consider what’s provided, that isn’t bad for a dayboat/weekender/sportscruiser of this calibre.


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