BoatTEST Newsletter 02/25/2009 - 02/25/2009
BoatTEST Newsletter February 25, 2009 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust

New Boats & Video Reviews

- Hydra-Sports Vector 2200 VX
- Premier 235 SunSation FS
- Stratos 201 XL Evolution
- Smoker Craft 171 Pro Bass

Also Inside:
- Capt. Rob Looks at Seaswirls
- Yanmar's New Stern Drive
- Four Winns SL 222 Wins Award
- Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS
- New Boat: Triton 301 CC
- Second Look: Bayliner 245
- Boat Buying Program
- New Dolphin Boat Has Porpoise
- Yamaha Does the Financing
- Capt. Steve Explains PFDs
- Honda Wins 4-Stroke Honors
- Evinrude Takes 2-Stroke Honors
- Accident of the Week
- Mako 18 LTS Wins Award
- How Not to Launch Your Boat
- Select a Phone for Marine Apps
- What is Your Boat Worth Now?
- Danforth's Customer Service
Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Capt. Smith Looks at
Striper Boats by Seaswirl

Captain Rob on Seaswirl
Director of Testing, Capt. Rob Smith, takes an in-depth
view of Striper boats by Seaswirl.

Seaswirl was started in the American Northwest in the late 1950s but didn’t become a national brand until about 15 years ago. Five years ago it moved its production east to take advantage of Genmar’s production economies. Now the company builds 15 models from 18’ to 33’ in center console, walkaround, and dual console configurations. Most of the Stripers are designed differently from many center consoles, most notably because of their high freeboard forward, deep, secure cockpits, all composite transoms, and affordable price. By building a solid basic boat without lots of frills, they keep the price low, allowing you to add only what you want so you don’t pay for what you don’t need. Capt. Smith compares the Striper line with other brands and discovers a few things that may surprise you -- see video here.

See tests of all Seaswirls --

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Boat Tests & Reviews

Smoker Craft 171 Pro Bass

Smoker Craft 175

The 171 Pro Bass is one in a series of three bass rigs from Smoker Craft. Her hull has a 10 year warranty and the carpeting carries a 5 year warranty. The hull and sides are constructed of heavy 0.100 gauge welded aluminum. She has a large 50” fishbox/livewell in the stern casting deck.  See complete test and video of Smoker Craft 171 Pro Bass.

Hydra-Sports Vector 2200 VX

Hydra-Sports 2200 VXTo design a serious fishing boat, it helps to be serious about fishing. The folks at Hydra-Sports are fishing fanatics. They’ve designed the 2200 VX for fishing and for fun. The Vector 2200 VX has big boat features in a single-engine package. The basic boat is ready to fish, right off the production line. Yet it’s also very versatile. A cuddy cabin, extra fuel capacity, and a large cockpit, provide a platform for all kinds of waterborne activities.  See the Hydra-Sports Vector 2200 VX.

Stratos 201 XL Evolution

Stratos 201 XL EvolutionStratos sprints into its 25th year of cranking out hand-crafted fishing rigs with the 201 XL Evolution.  Alan Stinson designed this high performance, tournament-ready bass fishing rig that is ready to satisfy competitive fishermen everywhere. The 201 XL Evolution is ready to compete right out of the showroom with standards like the Minn Kota 24-volt trolling motor and Humminbird 767 electronics.  See test video of the Stratos 201 XL Evolution.

Premier 235 SunSation FS

Premier 235 SunSationPremier's lineup ranges from simple, no frills doubles to high-end triples to the PTX versions. Just below Premier’s high-end models, you’ll find their touring boats, which include the SunSation family. The 235 SunSation FS offers your family the perfect platform for sightseeing, watching the fireworks, or enjoying watersports. Hop onboard and start creating lasting family memories.  Captain John Wenz takes a look at the 235 SunSation FS from Premier.

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Yanmar News

New Yanmar Stern Drive
Takes on Bravo III

Yanmar ZT350 Yanmar ZT350 Yanmar ZT350
Yanmar’s new stern drive was tested for years in the harsh saltwater environment
by Japanese commercial fishermen.

There is no tougher condition on a stern drive lower unit than saltwater. For years Yanmar has developed their stern drive units for Japan’s competitive commercial fishing business where reliability is a given -- and problems can’t be ignored or swept under the rug. Failure in Japan is not an option because it means loss of face. Little wonder, then, that Yanmar waited until it was quite confident in its stern drive unit before launching it on the marine market worldwide. Yanmar’s stern drive is called the ZT350 and it is squarely targeted at Mercury’s Bravo III. The transom plate and bolt holes are the same so that it is easy to repower your Mercury unit with the new Yanmar option. Join us for a video look at Yanmar’s new stern drive --

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Four Winns News

Four Winns SL 222 Wins
TrailerBoat Magazine Award

Four Winns SL 222 
The SL 222 is breathtaking and her beauty is far more than gel coat-deep.

At the Miami Boat Show TrailerBoat Magazine presented its 2009 “Zenith Award” for design excellence to Four Winns for its new SL 222. The company calls the hull design a “split chine” as the boat’s hard chines do not come together at the stem but rather rise to the deck in the bow area. TrailerBoat editor Ron Eldridge said the SL 222 “...stood out because of its overall utility, advanced features and style...[she] a trendsetter that’s raising expectations of what a boat can be.”’s Director of Testing, Capt. Rob Smith, gave the SL 222 a thorough examination last year. He also reviewed the SL 222's big sister – the SL 242 and tested the huge SL 262. To see what everyone is talking about, check out our video review of the SL 222 --

See review of Four Winns SL 242 See all tests of Four Winns boats
See test of Four Winns SL 262 Request Test Drive

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 PWC News

Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS
Showered with Kudos

Sea-Doo GTX Is 
BoatTEST’s Christopher Hughes reviewed the GTX Limited iS last fall and raved. He was not alone.

Rarely do we see a new product win praise from so many different quarters, but that is what has happened to the Sea-Doo GTX Limited iS personal watercraft, introduced last year. Two boating magazines, the Boating Writers guild, and the U.S. Coast Guard have all bestowed their coveted awards on the new PWC. The unit has several innovations that contribute strongly to both comfort and safety. The USCG gave an award to BRP’s president for the introduction of an “unprecedented electronically controlled hand-braking system.” The BWI/NMMA award for product innovation went to the GTX and the judge said, “It’s good enough to make an average rider, like me, feel like a pro.” Motor Boating Magazine gave the GTX their "Best of the Year Award." See our video review -- 

See all Sea-Doo tests --

New Boat

Triton’s New 301
Has a Big Boat Feel

Triton 301
The new Triton 301 CC has a 10’10” beam and
a 22-degree deadrise at the transom.

At the Miami Boat Show we took one of the new Triton 301 CCs out for a spin on Biscayne Bay to get a feel for the boat. As we stepped aboard the first thing we noticed was that it was like stepping onto a concrete dock instead of into a 30’ boat. Next we walked around her and it became clear that the 10’10” beam makes this a really big 30-footer. It’s the widest 30’ CC we know of and that pays off in side clearance around the console, extra room everywhere, and in stability. To find out how she felt running -- cast your mouse.

Price Quote

Second Look

Bayliner’s New 245
Entry-Level Cruiser

bayliner 245
The 245 is Bayliner’s smallest trailer cruiser and is a good move-up boat for sportboat owners and has 6' 2'' headroom.

Bayliner is well-known for entry-level boats and its 245 Cruiser is no exception. Once the kids are off to school or starting a career it is time for Mom and Dad to begin enjoying the pleasures of the cruising life. A good way to begin is with a trailerable boat and at 6100 lbs. this package is about as light as they come. Moreover the 245 is a good transition boat from a runabout as you can still waterski or wakeboard behind it. Equipped with a galley, head with shower and a convertible bow settee, the 245 offers a place for candlelight cocktails and a cozy nest for weekend overnighting. If you haven’t thought about the cruising life, there is not a better time than now. The Bayliner 245 has an MSRP of $60,497 with a single 250-hp 5.0 L stern drive.  See complete test video --

Request Test Drive See all Bayliner tests


Larson 370 Cabrio


BoatShop24 Banner

Regulator Banner

yamaha waverunner

Prop Info

Formula Escape

Glastron Banner

boat history

Boat Show Direct


Ranger Banner

MasterCraft Banner

yamaha boats

First Again
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Member Services

Boat Buying Program

Buying 1 Buying 2 Buying 3
No matter what type and size of powerboat you are looking for
Member Services can help you.

Are you a boater looking to buy a specific boat?  BoatTEST’s new FREE Member Services Boat Buying Program helps consumers find the best values. Quite often the best new boat deals can not be publicly advertised. Already BoatTEST has helped dozens of boat buyers find out about good deals they would not have found on their own. If you are in the market for a boat -- sign up here.

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New Boat

New Dolphin Boat
Has a Porpoise

Porpoise 1 Porpoise 2 Porpoise 3
The new Innespace “Sea Breacher” jumps out of the water, does snap rolls, goes underwater and turns heads wherever it goes. It holds 2 people... gulp.

Call us Ishmael. Just when things were slowing down a bit on the personal watercraft scene, along comes a new specie – the personal porpoise craft, or PPC, for short. Sea-Doo and Yamaha hold on to your handlegrips, because you haven’t seen anything yet! Powered by a 215-hp Rotax engine the new, trailerable two-person “Sea Breacher” is capable of speeds up to 40-mph, can breach, dive, roll over, jump into the air and come splashing down upside down. It is a great craft for wakeboarders who don’t want to get wet! The two men who  built this purposeful personal porpoise have made some terrific videos and have cooked up some big plans. To find out all about it and how you can be the first in your yacht club to have one -- fiddle your flipper.

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Yamaha PWC Promo

Yamaha Does
the Financing

Yamaha Financing
Capt. Steve fills us in on Yamaha’s new
factory-direct financing program.

With all of the talk about banks not lending money unless you have Bill Gates' credit score, we’re glad to report that Yamaha has stepped into the breach with its own program. Capt. Steve says now is the time to get a great deal and financing, too -- 


On all new Yamaha WaveRunners,
you can choose: --

$0 down, and 0 payments and 0 interest
for 120 days... 
$0 down and as low as 8.99% APR
for up to 60 months... 

$0 down and $59/month at 6.99% APR
for 24 months.

See tests of Yamaha PWCs --

Allstate Safety Tip

Capt. Steve Explains PFDs from Type I to V

Captain Steve PFD
With so many choices and types, finding the required PFDs can be confusing.
Capt. Steve makes it simple.

PFDs are required in all boats, but figuring out which types -- I, II, III, IV, or V -- can be confusing at first. Moreover, there are now many different styles and brands of the five types, each with their own unique attributes, making proper selection even more perplexing. The USCG tells us that the single most important thing you can do aboard to protect yourself, your family and guests is to make sure PFDs a worn at all times. That is particularly important in boats under 26’. Capt. Steve explains the PFD mystery in one quick video --

This segment was brought to you by

J.D. Power News

Honda Wins 4-Stroke Outboard Honors

Honda 225-hp Wins J.D. Award
Capt. Rob Smith explains what sets Honda’s
225-hp engine apart.

Honda ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction in the 2009 J.D. Power study among owners of 4-stroke EFI outboard engines. Overall customer satisfaction index scores are based on performance across seven factors: starting ease, quietness at cruise, reliability, fuel economy, shifting smoothness, lack of exhaust fumes and ability of boat to accelerate rapidly. Honda Marine pioneered 4-stroke engine technology and the blocks used in their outboard engines are the same as those used in their automobiles. Honda has won the 4-stroke outboard Power award four out of the last five years. The J.D. Power Study 4-stroke EFI rankings were -- 

1.  Honda 907 points
2. Yamaha 902 points
3. Suzuki 895 points
4. Mercury 878 points

J.D. Power News

Evinrude Takes
2-Stroke OB Honors

Evinrude 225-hp
Capt. Rob Smith takes a good look at Evinrude’s 225 DI engine.

Evinrude won the 2-stroke DI outboard engine category in the 2009 J.D. Power study, beating Yamaha by 15 points and Mercury, which was in last place, by 21 points. A J.D. Power spokesman said Evinrude demonstrated “considerable improvement in both satisfaction and quality in 2009...and performs particularly well in shifting smoothness, fuel economy and reliability.” Todd Markusic, the Power spokesman, said, “Engine hesitation during acceleration and the engine running roughly have the most significant negative impacts on customers’ satisfaction with their engines.” This is the third time in eight years that Evinrude has won the 2-stroke DI award; the other years were 2003 and 2007. This years' rankings were --

1. Evinrude 907 points
2. Yamaha 892 points
3. Mercury 886 points

Accident of the Week

A 60-MPH Spin Sinks Speed Boat

Boating Accident
Florida boater Wesley Szanyi clung to the bow of his high-performance boat until he was rescued by the USCG.

"I was hanging on that bow as the boat was vertical," said Wesley Szanyi, owner of a $75,000 high-performance boat that reportedly "hit a wave, lost its engine, and started taking on water," off Cocoa Beach, Florida last week. In a local news video broadcast Szanyi was all smiles but he admits he was on the verge of panic as his boat was slowly sliding vertically underwater. To read the rest of the story --

See local news video interview of owner and boat sinking --

Active Captain

How to Buy a Phone for Your Boat

Phones for Marine Apps
Above are some examples
of featured mobile phones.

We consider them requirements, and so we compiled a list that can act as a primer on how to buy a mobile phone for marine applications. If you are looking to purchase a new phone, we suggest you consider the list while comparison shopping. If you already have a phone, it may help you decide whether to keep it or to look for a new one. Learn more about our requirements for purchasing a mobile phone for marine applications.

Innovation Award

Mako 18 LTS Wins Writers’ Award

Mako Wins Award
Mako’s “Rapid Planing System” enables
low-speed planing with no
bow rise in skinny water.

If you have ever owned a small boat that had horrible bow rise before it would get on plane, then you will appreciate the Boating Writers International/NMMA Innovation Award to Mako for their new 18 LTS. The bay boat has a patent-pending “Rapid Planing System” that not only pushes the boat up on plane quickly, but it can do it in only 24" (60.96 cm) of water. The boat has a stepped hull. The BWI/NMMA Innovation Awards are given out each year at the Miami Boat Show. The judge said that the boat gets out of the hole quickly in skinny water and does it at an affordable price (as low as $16,495 according to the Mako website). 

See tests on Mako boats --

Trailering Tips

How Not to Launch Your Boat

Trailering Tips
“Hey, Dad, the breaks just didn’t work.”

If you are new to boating a little apprehension about your first launching is perfectly normal. There are definitely some basic rules you need to follow when launching and most boaters know them well. If you are new to boating, not to worry, it is all a piece of cake, as long as you are careful. All it takes is a lesson or two, observing others, and some practice. A good place to start is right here --

How not to lauch video #1 --

How not to launch video #2 --

BoatTEST safety trailering video --

Boat Buying

What’s Your Boat Worth Now?

What is Your Boat Worth?
BoatTEST now has over 100,000 classified listings. Is this boat listed among them?

It is no secret that used boat prices, just like homes, corporate planes, hotel rooms and most everything else are fetching lower prices than they did a year ago. That’s the bad news. The good news is that in all likelihood your boat’s value has not fallen nearly as far as your stock portfolio. Traditionally boat dealers and boat owners could refer to several used boat price guides to check trade-in values with some degree of accuracy. But these days the price guides can’t keep up with changing market. Now your best bet is to use classified ads as a guide. That’s what the dealers are doing. Happily, BoatTEST’s classified section now has over 100,000 listings. Keep in mind that these are retail prices and dealers will offer you less in trade because they must re-sell them. Also, we’d kick out the highest and lowest prices and go for the mean.   Visit BoatTEST’s 100,000 classified listings --

Customer Service

Danforth Wins Customer Service Ducky Award

Less than 48 hours after an Australian boater’s email to the U.S. Danforth office for help with his compass, a replacement unit arrived at his doorstep in New South Wales.

Occasionally a letter crosses our desk that cries out for publication. With seemingly everything going wrong these days, it is heart-warming to hear about things going right, even a small something. In this case good customer service from a huge multi-national conglomerate publically traded company is what got our attention! In honor of good – and quick! – customer service in the marine industry, is instituting its “Customer Service (Coveted) Ducky Award.” The first winners are Roberta Frusteri, Export Customer Service Manager of ITT Rule, Jabsco, et al, Gloucester, MA, and Martin Basham, managing director of RW Basham Pty Ltd, Waterloo, NSW.  Find out what good customer service really is --

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Capt. Steve's Lesson #25

Rules Pertaining to
Different Types of Vessels

Captain Steve's Lesson of the Week 

A vessel unable to maneuver is unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.

This week Capt. Steve covers basic rules of the road in these ten new lessons and guidelines on: different categories of boats and who must keep out of the way, restrictions on working vessels, fishing vessels and all other vessels which may not be able to maneuver because the nature of their work, sea planes, and why one should never anchor in the middle of a channel. These are basic rules which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of Capt. Steve’s USCG-approved boating course called “Smart Boating.” Watch Capt. Steve's video boating lessons every week on

View this week’s lessons --

View past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

whats going on here?
Thank you Rob Aitchison for sending BoatTEST this image.

First Place

"Don't worry Captain, I saved the doughnuts!"  - F. Cuteri

Second Place
"I would hate to be the guy locked up in the back seat." - C. Broomfield

Honorable (Almost) Mention
"Don't worry honey... They're professionals!" - P. Williams

"I said we need to be under cover, NOT UNDER WATER!" - M. Burton

What's Going on Here?


You write the caption! Will you win the coveted "Ducky Award" for best caption?

Simply fill in your caption and you may get lucky -- quack here.

Please send all submissions by 3/1/09.

We Need Reader HELP! 

If you have a picture that you feel needs some explanation by our witty and clever readers, please send it to:

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