Captain's ReportBy Capt. Vince DanielloFountain Powerboats bought Baja this spring and has been building Baja boats since mid-summer. Reggie has done some major re-tooling on the boats’ interiors, so if you are in the market for this type of boat you need to see the new models. When it comes to the structural soundness of light-weight go-fast boats, Fountain probably has more expertise than most anyone.Most true performance boats could benefit from more room. And most bowriders could benefit from enhanced performance. Baja recognized this and developed their Islander series—bowriders built on the company’s deep-V performance hull. The 247 Islander is a great example, topping 60 miles-per-hour in our tests, but still offering the seating and features not found on a traditional “go fast” boat.Obviously the bow seating area is a departure from other Baja models. Seating is pretty traditional for bow riders, with seats wrapping around the bow, and an optional filler cushion for the center section. Baja adds one new twist; the port and starboard bow seat bottoms prop up and lock in place to form leg rests. For storage forward, there is an anchor beneath the bow seat and a ski locker under the deck of the walkthrough to the bow, plus a huge storage compartment beneath the helm.Across from the helm, beneath the windshield on the port side, the impressively large head includes a porta-pottie and tons more room for storage. This 247 Islander is actually the smallest traditional bowrider in the company’s line to include an enclosed head. (The nearly identically sized 242 also offers a head, but it features an offset bow walkthrough and starboard-side-only bow seats.)Aft of the windshield, the 247’s layout is much more like that of a performance boat than of a bowrider. Port and starboard racing-style seats for the skipper and companion wrap around the hips for a secure ride even when it gets a bit bouncy, and the seat bottoms are hinged so they drop out of the way when the combination of speed and conditions make it more comfortable to stand. The helm is also much more typical to a performance boat than a bowrider. Huge Livorsi gauges are up near eye level, where they are easy to monitor while going fast. Drive trim and trim tab gauges make it easy to trim the boat for optimum performance and handling as the conditions change, with switches for both just ahead of the stainless steel Livorsi shift and throttle levers. (There is also a drive switch on the throttle lever.) All other switches are placed to make running the boat easy, even at high speeds. The stereo is conveniently placed as well, and there is an mp3 player input and 12-volt receptacle in the dash, plus a secure storage compartment beneath the steering wheel to hold important items.All the way aft in the cockpit, a bench seat spans the entire width of the boat, with storage beneath. Aft of this bench seat, a full-width sun pad sits atop the engine compartment. Behind that, a swim deck is molded into the hull. Our test boat did not include the optional extended swim platform, but the standard swim deck was more than adequate, along with the telescoping boarding ladder. We also had the enhanced stereo package, which includes a remote on the transom where it is easy to reach either from the sun pad or from the swim ladder. Of course the real reason to look at a bowrider from Baja is the boat’s performance. This 247 Islander is built on essentially the same design that the company uses for all of their boats—most notably a true deep-V hull and lots of room in the engine compartment for a hefty V-8. Our test boat’s 375 horsepower MerCruiser 496 Mag had us up on plane in 4.3 seconds and the boat accelerated through 30 miles-per-hour in 8.2 seconds. We reached a top speed of 60.1 miles-per-hour at 4750 RPM with a Mirage 23-inch pitch 3-bladed stainless steel prop on MerCruiser’s Bravo I stern drive. Slowing down to 3000 RPM, we cruised at 35.1 miles-per-hour traveling 3.44 miles-per-gallon of gasoline for a 248-mile range from onboard fuel. While these numbers are impressive, the boat is available with an additional 50 horses from the optional 425-horsepower MerCruiser 496 Mag High Output engine.While the numbers tell part of the story of the performance of the 247, the only way to really experience the difference of Baja’s true performance hull is to run the boat. It is one thing to have enough power to go fast. It is another entirely to have the horsepower in a hull that is built to take advantage of it. The 247 tracks well, turns well, had good visibility at the helm, and is very responsive to the throttle. (Some performance hulls can be a bit tricky to adjust speed—a small throttle change resulting in a larger than anticipated change in speed.) I found the 247 easy to trim too, which is also important in making the boat easy to operate. (Who wants to play with trim or throttle all day?) What little chop I could find on a calm summer day was no match for Baja’s offshore racing hull, but I’ve run other Bajas in much rougher water—with impressive results. It is worth pointing out here that Baja specifically chooses not to tweak their hulls in ways that would make them faster in smooth water, and therefore “better” on paper. Instead, they adjust the hull shape to make the boat faster offshore, in real boating conditions.All in all, taking into account the seating layout, the helm design, and particularly from its performance on the water, I wouldn’t call Baja’s 247 Islander a bowrider built on a performance hull. I’d call it a true performance boat with seating and amenities of a bowrider.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Baja 247 Islander is 60.1 mph (96.7 kph), burning 26.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 99.17 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Baja 247 Islander is 35.1 mph (56.5 kph), and the boat gets 3.44 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.46 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 248 miles (399.12 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 375-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag.
Standard and Optional Features
5-year Limited Warranty
Yes - Limited
||5-year Limited Warranty http://www.bajamarine.com/index.asp?display=ownerswarranty&tab=4&|
3-Year Limited Warranty
||3-Year Limited Warranty http://www.bajamarine.com/index.asp?display=ownerswarranty&tab=4&|
|NMMA Certification Other Certification||Yes IQ Certified|