Yamaha 242 Limited S: One Owner's Final Report - 05/25/2011
Last year we followed a family of six -- including four teenaged boys -- with their Yamaha 242 Limited S over the entire summer, receiving reports from them every two weeks or so. Here is their final report explaining how each used the boat, along with their feedback and opinions about its functionality and durability.
For readers who my not have read the series of articles we ran last summer in "real time" as a family experienced their new Yamaha 242 Limited S, here is a quick synopsis: A family, which was a neighbor of one of the BoatTEST.com staffers bought a Yamaha 242 Limited S for his family late last spring. We thought it would be fun to find out how the owner, his wife, and his four sons, aged 14 to 18, used and abused the boat. Regular readers know that we like owner reports because we think that the best boat test of all is the test of time.
Owner Report on the Yamaha 242 Limited S—
Seeing a new boat in the dealer lot is one thing, but getting it back home and parking it in our driveway really demonstrated just how large the 242 was. The first item that took getting used to was the tower, at just under 11’ we quickly learned to be aware of low bridges both when trailering it around town and taking it down rivers and creeks.
Getting the Hang of Jet Drives
Taking the 242 out on the water the first time was a bit tricky. I was used to operating outboards and sterndrives, but this twin jet-drive boat was different. At first it seemed as if there were going to be issues getting it back on the trailer or docking against a strong current or wind. However, after a little experience, it became clear that if you change your approach to driving just a little, the jet drive was actually easier to drive than conventional power systems.
After a week or two, getting back on the trailer was so easy, even in really windy conditions that other boaters at the ramp looked like amateurs in comparison.
If you have ever owned or operated a wakeboat or sterndrive boat with a tower you notice right away that the tower on the Yamaha 242 is different. Yamaha has mounted the tower farther back and bowed it out and forward. One of the nice benefits of this is that you have access to the mid cleat while at the helm and the tower is not in your way should you want to grab the dock.
Maintenance is Easy
One of the best features of this boat was how easy it was to maintain. We changed the oil three times, not as scheduled maintenance, but rather just because I was a cautious owner and I wanted to baby those two high-reving engines. Each time was a breeze: pump out the old, remove and replace the filter on the side of the engine, in with the new oil and on your way in 30 minutes.
We waxed and compounded the topsides just after getting the boat, an ideal project for the four boys, and with all of that elbow grease it was done in a jiffy. That would have held the gelcoat in good stead for the summer, but again, just to be on the safe side and to give the boys something to do, they waxed and compounded it two more times, the last time being before layup. We had the best-looking gelcoat finish on the dock!
No Fouling Worry
Other than that, there was nothing else to deal with. We operated the boat in saltwater, but since we trailered the boat we really didn't put the running gear through much of an anti-fouling test. The Yamaha dealer told us that because the jet drive components are made from special aluminum alloys, there wouldn't be any corrosion or fouling issues to deal with.
Speed is its Middle Name
Performance was very good. In fact, as the season went on, the performance got better as the engines became broken-in. Toward the end of the season we reached a top speed of 55 mph. Most days we cruised around at 30 to 35 mph using 10 gallons per hour. When it came to towing tubes or wake boarding, the jet drive proved to be awesome due to its acceleration. The boat gets up on plane in no time.
The one thing that was a negative was how difficult it was to get both engines in sync. I would spend what seemed like several minutes trying to get them close in rpms with the cable-control throttles. In the age of digital throttle controls, the Yamaha jet boats need this feature.
No Shoal Water Terror
The whole family -- me most of all -- loved the fact that we could take the boat into very shallow water where no other boat could go. I probably appreciated that attribute more than the kids because I didn't have to worry about dinging the running gear. And, the kids didn't have to worry about the Wrath of Dad. This is not to say that the intakes are not immune from sucking things up.
The last bit of feedback is about towing. Since the boat is less than 4K pounds, it was easy to tow it with the family minivan. And tow it we did, all the way from CT to our favorite New Hampshire lake for an August vacation, and back and forth to the ramp each weekend back at home.
What Mom Thought
Space to lay out in the sun and work on her tan was something that Mom liked about the boat. Occasionally she would install the filler cushions in the bow and have a large sun pad area, but she was more likely to just convert the portside seat to a lounger to catch the rays (and be out of the wind). Much has been said about how great the stern of the Yamaha is as a watersports venue, but when just the two of us were at anchor, I noticed that she liked to dangle her legs in the water and read there. Yes, read, can you believe that some people enjoy doing that on a small boat?
Another big hit with the lady of the boat was the amount of storage the 242 has. And my lady is one of those "a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place" types. I had taken the locker under the runs under the starboard bow seat to under the helm console for "ship's gear." There I put lines, fenders, snorkeling gear, a five gallon bucket with cleaning supplies inside it, the fire extinguisher and other boat gear.
To port, Mom used the changing compartment and stowage under the port bow seat for beach towels, blankets, foul weather gear, and individual beach bags dedicated to each person so everyone could have a change of cloths. We did not use the compartment for a porta-potty, just as a changing room.
The storage compartment on the centerline in the cockpit sole was almost big enough for two of my boys to get into. There we kept two wakeboards, our towables rolled up, an air compressor to inflate the toys, a large cooler with drinks iced down, and a large beach umbrella. We also kept four fishing rods there.
In the cockpit there are port and starboard stowage bins under the seats. To starboard I kept an extra battery, beach chairs, fenders and dock lines. The portside locker was Mom's and there she kept all of the plates, flatware, napkins, cups and glasses in a large picnic basket, along with another cooler for food and condiments.
The one negative things about the 242 layout was that it was impossible to access the drink cooler without opening a hatch -- either the one under a seat or the one for deck stowage. That is why we kept the drink cooler in the sole, so that someone would not have to get up every time there was a call for a fresh soda.
My wife has always been careful about how much sun she would expose herself to each day, so after 45 minutes to an hour, she usually would pull back the Bimini top which lived along the aft edge of the towing arch. Because the Bimini has only one strut on each side it was easy for her to deploy. Be advised that you cannot use the arch for towing and have the Bimini up at the same time.
What the Boys Liked
My oldest boy liked driving the most, being a dock hand and launch driver at the local yacht club, he appreciated the handling as much as I did. He also loved learning to wake board behind the boat since it was much easier to get up out of the water than from behind his uncle's sterndrive. If you haven't experienced the incredible acceleration of a jet boat from a standing stop you have a treat in store.
From the Peanut Gallery
The oldest boy was also the biggest fan of the multi-color lighting on the tower. He said it looked cool when hanging out at night at the dock. I wonder what that was all about?
The middle son loved beaching or anchoring out and just swimming or fishing off the swim platform all day long. He also drove Mom a little crazy by monopolizing the stereo with his iPod connected to it for what seemed 24-7. He also learned to drive over the summer which was his first time at the controls of any boat. After a few days he ended up being his older brother's driver for wakeboarding.
Boys Suck it Up
The two youngest sons (twins: age 14) also had their first boat driving experience on the 242 with great success. At one point they set up a small competition to see who could dock the best. The results were inconclusive due to the fact they were both very good at it -- for the most part. On one occasion one of the twins drove over the tow line while he was driving. It was immediately sucked into the port jet drive intake.
Luckily, Yamaha provided large clean-out ports located under a panel below the transom seating to access the jet pumps if they become fouled. In order to reach the impellers a safety plug has to be twisted out which automatically shuts off the engines. Then it is safe to reach down in the pump housing and pull out whatever has fouled it. In this case it was 20 feet of tow line which was not an easy chore to pull out, but after about 30 minutes my two boys managed to clear the pump. After replacing the two safety plugs, the engines were restarted and the kids were off on their way again. Neither they or the water jet were any the worse for the mishap.
As far as things that could be improved upon on the Yamaha 242, I would put having lockable hatches high on the list. Yes, someone can always break in if they are determined no matter what you do, nevertheless, locks are a deterrent. I have already noted the need to put a drink cooler somewhere that it could be conveniently accessed.
I also wish that the engine throttles were not tucked under the cap rail. When standing, it is awkward having to twist your wrist to reach the throttles under the coaming. Also, when sitting there is nothing to rest your forearm elbow on when your hand is on the throttle. That plus the engine synchronizers would be helpful.
On the positive side, never did a screw come lose or an item break from over use. The engines started and ran like thoroughbreds everytime the key was turned. An important factor for our family was safety; not having to worry about prop injury was a huge plus, along with no worries about tearing off running on an uncharted rock.
When you look at the overall quality and strength of the boat, the high performance advantages of the jet drive, I think this total package gives a family a lot of recreational fun for under 50K. Even with four teenaged boys and heavy usage over five months, except for one scratch one of the twins put on the bow when docking, the boat looked as good as new after a summer of heavy use.