Bayliner 245 Cruiser
By Capt. Rob Smith
Bayliner continues to focus on getting more people into the leisure boating scene from their first bow rider to their first pocket or trailerable cruiser. The new 245 Cruiser takes many features found on most cruisers and adds some sensibility and practicality to them for a first cruiser experience. You have heard of the 245 before, but that was a Sun Bridge, while this is a brand new cruiser.
Making that initial transition from bowrider to cruiser, you often are making sacrifices. You are adding space for overnights, cooking and entertaining, but often giving up some of the sporty handling and opportunity to enjoy watersports. Bayliner managed to combine many of the features of popular cruising designs with dayboat design to give you more of the pleasures you want.
Starting off from the dock, the swim platform is a large integrated platform with room to enjoy cavorting at anchor as well as launching your favorite water toys. The swim ladder is tucked underneath, although I like a concealed ladder on top for easier use. It is over on the starboard side so that the helmsman or driver can see that someone is safely on board or at a safe distance back to stretch out the tow line for fun. The transom shower is connected to a six gallon water heater so you don’t have to have that cold water shock when you get out from a refreshing dip.
Getting into cruising life means you have more power requirements and therefore more attention must be paid to managing that power. I have seen the battery switches tucked into some rather interesting places. For a cruiser, you should do what Bayliner has done on this model. The switches are just inside the transom door under the port side cockpit counter. You can reach under the canvas and put the switches into position easily which is wise design. If you have ever crawled under the canvas and through the cabin door to fumble around in the dark to turn switches on, you can appreciate this feature.
If you maintain your own equipment you will also appreciate another feature on this cruiser. Think back to the last time you were finally in the right position around the engine and realized you didn’t have the needed wrench, pan, or whatever, and had to get back out. Yes, most of the time it meant closing everything to get back off the boat to go to the truck for the missing item. Bayliner apparently thought about this as they have a usable ledge around the engine hatch that you can use to get back on the dock without closing the hatch. So besides having tons of room in the engine compartment, you have room to do maintenance without being an Olympic gymnast.
Up in the cockpit, seating is plentiful for your family and the neighbors, or for the kids’ latest friends to join you. The helm seat is comfortable for one, or slip over a tad and have your navigator handle the chart and keep the chilly beverages topped off for you. At anchor or in the slip, the helm seat back converts to an aft facing seat back adding significant room for the space. The windshield has more of a sport boat design like your bowrider did rather than the flat glass look of some current designs I have seen. Of course, the upholstery needs to be durable and Bayliner uses 30 ounce, 42 gauge material that is kid friendly and simple to maintain. The dash has wood grain accents and enough room to upgrade to a flat panel display of your choice.
A lot of cruisers in this range have the steps molded into the dash which is ok, but my size 13s and my “big bear” body have a tough time negotiating the steps up through the windshield with grace and safety. Bayliner molded their steps into the cabin door which made it both safe and convenient, even for the “Oso Grande” to scamper up. Topside, you have typical working space for handling lines or relaxing. The hatch is about 18” square which will be a squeeze to use as an emergency exit, but given the motivation, most could probably find a way out in times of dire emergency. Good planning and safe operation should prevent you from ever having to do it, but prudent operation says to plan for the worst and enjoy the rest!
Once inside, I found I had interior height of 6’2” which was impressive for an entry size pocket cruiser. The overhead in the head was less, but still reasonable for this model. The most impressive design feature was the open feeling due to the large side frameless windows. That really kept it from feeling small and dark. The galley is to port with basic gear for meals and the head was to starboard just inside the cabin. An aft crawl-in space will be cool for the kids to play in or a large storage space when the kids are not along.
The Bayliner 245 Cruiser measures out at 25’1” length overall and 8’6” across the beam. She tips the scales at 6,144 lbs with the standard 260-hp 5.0L MPI MerCruiser with Bravo III sterndrive installed. She has a fuel capacity of 70 gallons and a fresh water capacity of 20 gallons. When I took her out to the Intracoastal to see how she drove, she handled with ease. Around the docks, underway and in turns, she proved she was capable and consistent. She is on plane in 6.7 seconds and the horizon was easily in view the whole time. She reached 30 mph in 14.6 seconds and maxed out at 35.8 mph at 4800 rpm. At a comfortable 3500 rpm, she runs 24.1 mph and delivers 140 miles on a full tank.
If you have been considering the move from the day boating life to more entertainment and occasional overnights, the Bayliner 245 offers you a lot of features, fashion and fun at a good price. You owe it to yourself to check it out before making your decision.