1,222 kg w/ eng
|Deadrise/Transom||17 deg.||Water Cap||
37.8 L (optional)
|Max Headroom||open||Bridge Clearance||
|Std. Power||1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L TKS|
|Tested Power||1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L TKS|
1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L
by Captain Steve
Bayliner's 197 SD (Sun Deck) has bow -- and how! For people with lots of friends, or a big family, Bayliner's remarkable deckboat may be the ticket to Ryde.
Dual Entry -- Bow or Stern
One of the most useful aspects of a deckboat is the ability to board from either the bow or stern. Not everyone is adept at backing into a slip, and if you're one of those captains, then fear not. Drive her straight in and you're good to go. The fact is, many marinas in Europe are set up for just that kind of boarding and the boats' have twin bow rails to hold on to.
Our Capt. Steve blasts down a Tennessee river with the hammer down to see if he could rip off the optional Bimini top. He could not as through-bolted hardware and strong canvas and stitching all passed his test.
I also like to see consideration for those who are not fortunate enough to have a floating dock, and need a way to step down into the boat from a fixed pier. Bayliner has you covered again with the 197 either way. If you have a floating dock, then board on the aft swim platform which will be about the same height. If you are boarding from a fixed pier, then it should be just one easy step down to the bow of this cleverly-designed deck boat.
Here is the aft walkthrough. The hatch on the top step is for a wastebasket. Notice the track (A) to the side of the walkthrough opening that holds the seatback in place. You need to open the engine hatch to lift the seatback out. The big socket (B) ahead of the gas strut holds a large pin that keeps the hatch closed. Most people will probably just step over the seatback, but you can get it out if you really want to.
An extended swim platform is available as an option as is a transom shower and I wouldn't buy the boat with both of these options. The extended platform is lower to the water, and therefore makes an ideal staging area for putting on the skis, easing onto the tube, or even just lifting yourself out of the water without using the 3-step reboarding ladder. The extended platform also reaches over the lower unit when it is in the down position. I'm a saltwater boater, and don't care for the feeling of dried salt on my bod, so a freshwater washdown when I get out of the drink is a must.
At first glance I thought the aft pad was a bit small, but I did grow to like it after spending time on and around it. Our camera crew used it to sit on and with the walk-thrus port and starboard I grew to see that it is actually quite handy. Tall, leggy ladies who want to lay out and work on their tan can do so forward (more on that later). And another thing… I had a regular sized soda bottle, and the cameraman had a big gulp sized drink, and the drink holders at the aft pad had both size holders. Nice touch.
At first I didn't care for the small sun pad on the engine box, but then I came to appreciate its utility. Two storage compartments are to the sides, and the port can hold skis. Notice the extended swim platform that adds 2' (.6m) to the LOA. It's also much lower to the water.
There are two places to store your skis on the 197, a roomy compartment at the aft walkthrough, and the equally spacious sole storage compartment. But that was just the start of the storage on this boat. A dedicated space for a carry-on cooler (not included) was under the center aft seat cushion, and all the seats have the usual bin underneath, with the exception of the ones covering the non-skid steps.
And then there's the missing sun pad. Not having a place to lie out just won't do on a boat, especially with one called a "Sun Deck". Not to worry, I opened the port seat storage compartments and, voila, there were the four optional filler platforms and cushions neatly put away. Add the cushions and now the entire forward half of the 197 is a massive, and I mean massive, sun pad. It's also just ahead of the bimini top and nicely out of the shade zone that I covet so much.
Here is the overall layout. Notice the different sized drink holders on the engine box, and you can see how the closed engine hatch lies over the seatback to the walkthrough.
Here is the bow seating area with the sun pad in place. Notice the leg under the filler platform so it can support bodies better. I found the grab handles positioned at the caprails to be convenient.
Life's a Beach
If you're into beaching your boat then the 3-step beach reboarding ladder at the bow will come in handy. But that leaves sand coming into the boat, so I'd like to see Bayliner add an optional shower at the bow to rinse the feet off before stepping onto my snap-in carpet. (Yes, I'm a neatnik, but my family has gotten used to it.)
The wide, squared-off deck in the bow is why the design is called a deck boat. I'd like to see a shower here as well as on the aft deck. Notice the quick storage in the bulwarks.
I was comfortable at the helm, and the bulwarks aren't overly high so resting my arm on the caprail was natural. My hand also fell quite easily onto the engine control but I'd like to see that control moved just a bit further forward. When advanced to the horizontal, my knee kept hitting the trim toggle switch on the lever. If it was forward the problem is solved and the drink holders that are now ahead of the engine control could be moved to a new position just behind.
The panel features full instrumentation including the much coveted trim gauge. An optional depth gauge is available and I wouldn't leave home without it. I appreciated the power rack and pinion steering as well as the standard tilt wheel. These are two important items of standard equipment on the Bayliner 197 and you do not see them as standard on all price-point boats.
Here's the textbook version of the Bayliner helm. To the right of the wheel is a cubby (A) that I'd like to see angled down inside. When I hit the throttle (as I do) the contents dumped out on my lap. I like the handy stereo controls (B). Check out the wide caprail that makes a comfortable armrest.
… but with the engine control in the high speed cruise position, my knee kept hitting the trim switch (A). An easy fix for the next version.
As for the handling characteristics, it is in a word… not bad. Ok, that's two words, but the 197 SD was carving nicely through the turns with neither a tendency to fall off the turn nor dig in too badly so that it would become uncomfortable. The 197 bled off enough speed in hard turns that if you don't have the foresight to slow down and keep your guests comfortable, then the boat will do it for you.
Trimming is pretty basic. Come up on plane and bring the trim up to just about the 1/4 mark on the gauge. You'll feel the boost in performance and the steering will loosen up just a bit. If you go higher than that, you'll start the bow oscillating. If that happens, then you lower a notch or two and you're back in the sweet spot.
The 197 cuts a nice profile, especially with the optional extended swim platform and Bimini.
I've already mentioned the bow filler cushions, shower and extended swim platform. I'd also check off the Bimini top and cockpit cover as there are no canvas packages on the standard list. There is also a "Flight Series Package" that consists of a wakeboard tower, extended swim platform, and cool hull side graphics. Truth be told, I'd probably skip this as this seems to be more of a relaxing ride, or tubing boat, as opposed to a wakeboard boat, but there are those that would disagree as I saw several Flight Series 197's being shipped from the factory where I was testing.
I tested the 197 SD in a river in Tennessee which was the environment that she was designed for, plus lakes. Her low freeboard and relatively shallow deadrise make for good performance in these kinds of protected conditions. The top speed that I recorded with her 135-hp sterndrive engine was 39.1 mph. Her most economical cruse speed was 27.1 mph. For complete test data with fuel consumption, noise levels, range, time to plane, etc.., just click on the "Test Results" tab at the top of this report.
The standard engine provided is the 135-hp MerCruiser MPI/A1 3.0 L CARP compliant gas engine and Alpha 1 sterndrive. The base MSRP price with dealer prep and freight is listed as $30,249 in the U.S., except in California. Of course, the dealer sets the actual price.
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
= Standard = Optional
|Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.|
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!