The Tidewater 252 LXF rides on a proven offshore fishing hull from the company's successful 252 CC Adventure, and though she's clearly designed as a family-first, seaworthy do-it-all boat for everything from towsports to diving to picnic cruises, the bones of the sportfisherman are still evident.
She's available in six gel-coat colors plus white, and judging from the brochure, the darker colors are particularly striking in this design thanks in part to the stainless steel rub rail and trim. Darker colors, however, are also noted for fading when a boat is stowed in direct sun long term, so if your boat lives outside, this may be a factor.
At the Bow
An unusual feature forward is the large flat area creating a bow deck ahead of the forward seating. Combined with the Tidewater's 9'3" beam, this allowed designers to place three-across padded seating at the bow, facing aft. That elevated bow deck will also, no doubt, become the favorite fish-spotting location in the boat when she's used for fishing.
The standard upholstery here is diamond-stitched heavy gauge marine vinyl with piped edges and two speakers are inset into the backrest.
Another uncommon feature at the bow, for a boat of this size, is the optional through-the-stem anchor and hidden Lewmar Freefall windlass. This polished stainless steel assembly is not only a huge convenience, giving full anchor control from the helm and thus allowing ease of operation when there are no "deck apes" aboard, but the anchor also becomes a style feature, almost like a hood ornament on the front of the boat. It complements the stainless steel rub rail, another upscale touch that's standard here, as well.
There are stainless-steel step-on switches on the starboard side of the storage compartment to allow control of the windlass at the bow as well as from the helm, and these switches are broad enough to be easy on bare feet.
The two polished stainless cleats at the bow are pop-ups, keeping them out of the way unless needed, and there's an added cleat inside the bow storage box to allow pinning the anchor when underway. This box provides storage for a standard anchor and lots of rode if the windlass option is not chosen.
Stainless steel grab rails are inset into the top of the gunwale, a nice touch that makes them convenient without being in the way of anglers or altering the lines of the boat.
There's 33.5" of interior depth both at the bow and amidships thanks to the arched sheer line, giving security for crew. This tapers to 27.5" aft, making fish handling easier. The arched sheer and bow flair also make the boat more seaworthy, particularly on those nasty days when you have to take on an inlet where wind and tide oppose. The design should also cut down on spray on upwind runs, and it doesn't hurt that it adds a salty look to the overall design.
The most eye-catching feature amidships is the unique chaise seatback arrangement on the starboard side of the console. Here, a removable seat turns the front seating area into a chaise. When not needed, it can be stowed out of the way, restoring passage around the side of the console.
There are standard pop-up spring-line cleats amidships, often an extra-cost feature, and under-gunwale rod racks on both sides.
At the Helm
There's plenty of real estate on the console for a 12" or larger display directly in front of the helm station on the port side. The racing-style switches are mounted to starboard, as are the digital engine gauges. The stainless steel tilt steering wheel includes a spinner and can be positioned horizontally, as many standing skippers prefer, or at a tilt towards the leaning post, easier for a seated captain.
A binnacle-mount is molded in for the throttle controls, and there are two stainless steel cupholders to starboard. The console design overall is very clean and workmanlike, in part because the hardtop assembly is standard on this boat, so the powder-coated supports are integrated into the design. It gives a much better appearance than some optional make-fit hardtops.
On top of the console is a molded in tray to hold sunglasses and the like, with a non-slip liner to keep things more or less in place. The compass is mounted on the center of the console, while the wheel is on the port side -- most skippers running long distances offshore prefer the compass to be mounted directly in front of the wheel for easier sightlines, though this is not nearly so much of a factor as it was once before almost everyone relied solely on GPS navigation. GPS, of course, does not ALWAYS work, which is why we still need compasses mounted in front of the skipper.
A pass-through on the port side provides easy access to the swim platform without cramping the seating across the transom thanks to the 9'3" beam.
The swim platform includes a telescoping stainless steel ladder on the port side with an inset to prevent it from snagging toes or tow lines. Both freshwater and raw water washdowns are included, a big plus in keeping mud, sand, and seaweed under control as well as in knocking the salt off swimmers and gear in coastal areas.
Twin Evinrude E-TEC G2's proved a good package with the Tidewater 252 LXF, delivering a combination of excellent WOT performance along with good acceleration and superior fuel economy. Turning 15" x 20" Evinrude RX4 four-blade stainless steel props, the advanced V6 two-strokes provided plenty of oomph to get the boat on plane fast and keep her there economically.
By the Numbers
This boat was impressively fast with the twin Evinrude 150's, topping out at 51.0 mph. This is particularly strong for a boat with a 9'3" beam--a broad beam usually means lower top speed, but studying stop-motion video of the Tidewater, it's possible to see that she rides so high that the chines are almost completely clear of the water, all the way to the transom, at full speed. This is no doubt part of the reason for her excellent WOT performance.
Most Economical Cruise
The Evinrude 150 E-TEC G2's are noted for being very economical outboards to operate, and those on the 252 came through in style: at 3000 rpms and 24.5 mph (39.4 kph) the engines had a combined fuel burn of 8.80 gph (33.3 lph) attaining 2.78 mph (1.18 kpl) for a range of 316 miles allowing a 10 percent reserve on the 126-gallon fuel tank. The engines were equipped with Evinrude 15" x 20" RX4 four-blade stainless steel propellers.
We were not able to record acceleration times during our test runs, but with her moderate weight, shallow draft -- just 16 inches with the motors up -- and reverse chines and strakes, she's quick to pop up on top and thus a capable performer for occasional stop-and-go trips across the backcountry flats as well as handling offshore action well.
The 252 rides very high in the water on plane, with the hard chines almost completely clear of the water all the way to the transom in straight-line operation. This likely reduces drag on the hull, which allows her to deliver so much speed -- over 50 mph -- on relatively moderate horsepower. In sharper turns, the chines and two reversed angle strakes on each side dig in, giving her predictable cornering.
Standard trim tabs should make it easy to balance crew loads, both bow-to-stern and port-to-starboard, as needed, and tabs are also useful in open boats like this in allowing the skipper to raise the upwind gunwale, effectively adding freeboard and preventing spray from coming aboard. With a 21-degree deadrise at the transom and a sharp forward entry, she should provide a softer ride than most in-class in choppy seas.
As with most fiberglass boats these days, the Tidewater is wood-free, which means there's no concern with water intrusion through mounting bolt holes in the transom, no chance of rot in the stringers after the boat has had long, hard use. All hardware is secured with aluminum backing plates, a much better system than using composite backing to hold these high-load fittings in place.
Any exposed metal that is not stainless steel is powder-coated, that is an electro-static powder is applied and then baked in place, creating a very hard and long-lasting finish, which means she will continue to look good season after season.
Pricing information is unavailable at this time.
- • Deluxe drop bolster leaning post
- • Fiberglass leaning post with sink
- • Fiberglass leaning post with livewell
- • Taco 280 Grandslam outriggers
- • Bow table
- • LED interior light package
- • EPS steering
- • Glass windshield
- • Porta Potty
- • Yeti 65 cooler
- • Polk stereo with Fusion speakers
- • Polk stereo with six JL speakers
- • Factory-Rigged Garmin Electronics
- • 12-24V charger system
- • Lewmar Free-fall windlass
- • Pumpout head
- • Trim tab indicator switches
- • Underwater LED lights
It's a plus that the Tidewater has the right weight and design to run really well on a pair of 150's. This gives the redundancy all offshore anglers appreciate without the fuel consumption of larger outboards -- in fact, the Evinrude E-TEC G2's are particularly fuel stingy, giving the boat a range of over 300 miles at cruise on her 126-gallon tank. For those who want to take her island hopping -- and she appears to be plenty seaworthy enough for the task -- being able to cruise for days without taking on suspect fuel is a huge relief.
The fact that she's self-bailing with the cockpit floor and drains above the waterline, means there's never a concern about bilge pumps jamming or going bad or the battery running down when the boat is left afloat for a long period -- particularly a plus in Florida and the tropics where daily summer rains are so common.
We also like the stainless steel thru-hulls all around; while composite thru-hulls are fully functional, as a boat ages and they weather, some are prone to cracking -- get a broken thru-hull below the waterline and your boat is in trouble. It won't happen on this boat.
Test Result Highlights
- • Top speed for the Tidewater 252 LXF (2017-) was 51.0mph (82.1 kph), burning 24.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 90.8 liters per hour (lph).
- • Most economical cruise was at 3000 rpms and 24.5 mph (39.4 kph), burning 8.80 gph or 33.3 lph.
The Tidewater 252 LXF has a 10-year transferrable hull warranty.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Tidewater Boats 252 LXF (2017-) is 51.0 mph (82.1 kph), burning 24.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 90.84 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Tidewater Boats 252 LXF (2017-) is 30.0 mph (48.3 kph), and the boat gets 2.68 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.14 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 304 miles (489.24 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 150-hp Evinrude E-TEC G2 150 H.O..
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!
(It's quick and FREE!)