By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
If the high price of fuel has you thinking about abandoning your cruising plans or if the increasing cost of docking and storing your boat has you considering giving up boating altogether, you may want to take a look at this versatile compact cruiser. Built by Nova Scotia boatbuilder Rosborough Boats, the RF-246 offers one of the best combinations of handling, livability, portability and equipment options of any boat.
It is no mistake that the RF-246 has a traditional, almost workboat appearance. The company, founded more than 50 years ago by James D. Rosborough, has its roots in the Nova Scotia fishing vessel industry and began to focus on the pleasure boat market in the early 1980s. The development of the RF-246 was the result. In the more than 20 years since this model was introduced, more than 430 RF-246s have been built. Three basic configurations are offered; the sedan cruiser (shown here), a wheelhouse version (longer cockpit, shorter cabin) and an open cockpit version (cuddy cabin only).
The semi-displacement hull form resembles that of the more familiar New England lobster boats and features an integral keel and moderately deep forefoot with rounded sections forward that hardens to a radius chine and nearly flat bottom at the transom. The nearly plumb bow is quite high for a boat that has an overall length, without appendages, of 25 feet. Beam is 8' 6", draft is 18' to the bottom of the keel and the weight without equipment, fuel or water is 5,400 lbs.
Rosborough hulls are constructed of solid fiberglass laminates and the primary structural reinforcement comes from a fiberglass liner that forms the foundation for the V-berth and longitudinal chambers that are fiberglassed into the hull bottom and run nearly the entire length of the boat. These chambers are sealed and filled with foam to provide buoyancy that is sufficient for "100% positive flotation", according to the manufacturer. It should be noted that, due to its overall length, the RF-246 is not required to meet the U.S. Coast Guard level flotation requirements and the company's claim of positive flotation may not assure the boat floats level if flooded.
One rather unique construction feature of the RF-246 is the manner in which the deck and hull are joined using a combination of methods. First the hull is built with an inward flange or lip which the deck is set on but the deck is also molded with a "shoebox" flange around the perimeter so the hull and deck are joined with a five-inch, angled bonding surface. This is the toughest hull to deck joint I know of on a 25-foot boat and one that should stand up to some punishment.
Deck space and arrangements are dependent on two things - the model chosen and the propulsion package chosen. The foredeck and cuddy cabin are common to all models and although the forward and side deck area is small, a stainless steel bow rail and stainless steel hand rails on the cabin top and side of the windshield are within easy reach. The small aft cockpit on the sedan model is about six feet deep and seven feet wide with room for a couple of deck chairs. The wheelhouse version nearly doubles the size of the useable cockpit space but at the expense of accommodations.
Likewise, accommodations are dependent on the model. All have a V-berth forward that doubles as a dinette with a pedestal-mounted triangular table. There is a small head to starboard head and storage locker to port. Up two steps the wheelhouse model features a pedestal-mounted starboard helm and port mate's seat with a very compact L-shape galley behind the mate seat. The sedan cruiser model has a larger bench seat at the helm, a mate's seat, a galley that extends 6 feet along the port side with a convertible dinette opposite the galley. Both the dinette berth and the V-berth are 6' 6" long. Rosborough's claim that the convertible dinette is suitable for two children or a single adult is both honest and refreshing. Many manufacturers would tout this as a "double berth". The V-berth is six feet wide at the shoulders and will accommodate two adults.
The list of available powering options for the RF-246 seems almost endless and certainly too long to cover. Choices have ranged from a single inboard diesel, to a gas engine inboard/outdrive (IO) package to twin 150 outboard engines mounded on a transom bracket.
Although the RF-246 will do more than 30 knots with twin 150 hp engines, it's not recommended to push those limits in anything but calm conditions. Economical cruising speeds range between 12 and 18 knots, depending on the power option, and the RF-246 is quite capable of cruising to the Bahamas, among other destinations, when operated by an experienced crew.
New RF-246s are available from the manufacturer or through their dealer network and I quite easily found more than a half-dozen used models offered for sale. In 2007, the asking prices ranged from less than $40,000 for a modestly equipped boat to more than $130,000 for a nearly new model with an equipment list so long I found it difficult to comprehend where they put everything. Nearly all boats for sale were offered with tandem-axle trailers.
The Rosborough RF-246 offers go-anywhere economical, compact cruising for two and the only down side I can see is that you will need a rather substantial vehicle if you intend to tow her to remote cruising destinations.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.