BoatTEST Newsletter 03/11/2009 - 03/11/2009
BoatTEST Newsletter March 11, 2009 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust

Boat & Video Reviews

- Bayliner 265 Cruiser
- Four Winns H200
- Larson Senza 206
- Ranger 208 VX
- Wellcraft 210 Sportsman

Also Inside:
- Beware the Angry Sea
- New Boat: Formula 290 Sun Sport
- Hydra-Sports' Construction
- Glastron Factory Rebate
- Capt. Steve Urges a Ditch Bag
- Which is the Best Deal?
- Can One Engine Drive to Props?
- BoatTEST Works with Dealers
- Ready to Buy a New Boat?
- Who Has Right-of-Way?
- India Discovers Boating
- Accident of the Week
- U.S. Navy Captures Some Pirates
- Monster Lure Secret Discovered
- The Most Important Gear
Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

The Angry Sea

Angry Sea
How the Gulf of Mexico might have looked in 45-knots of wind when a 21' center console capsized recently and three men died, including two NFL players.

The recent loss of three fishermen 38 miles off Clearwater, Florida might not have garnered headlines across the country were it not for the fact that two of them men were NFL football players. In fact, accidents like this one happen all of the time and are rarely reported beyond the local community. The good that can come from this tragedy is to bring basic aspects of the sea, seamanship, and boating safety to a larger audience. We think this accident could have been avoided in a number of ways, and rescue could have been effected far more rapidly had the men been properly prepared for an offshore trip. What did they do wrong? Could they have saved themselves and if so, how? BoatTEST wades in on a subject that is not much discussed and definitely cries out for more public attention among boaters --

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Boat Tests & Reviews

Larson Senza 206

Larson Senza 206

The Senza line from Larson traces its heritage back to 2005 and the traditional sportboat design. The Senza offers an edgier look with interior treatments that have a hint of the color schemes I have seen on high end sports cars, certainly not the bland white interiors you might expect. Color schemes for the hull are coordinated with a simple graphic, Sport Paint and the really cool looking Adrenaline. See complete test and video of Larson's Senza 206.

Four Winns H200

Four Winns H200The terms "hybrid" and "cross-over" are being used in many connections these days.  Wakeboarding has overtaken waterskiing in popularity and now people are wake surfing.  Leave it to Four Winns to put together a boat that meets the demands of the consumer for all of these sports in one, versatile 20' boat. The H200 Frenzy Edition has all the features you need for fun on the water.  Come aboard the H200 from Four Winns.

Ranger 208 VX

Ranger 208 VXRanger stays tuned to the market and hears many in the fishing community talking about the downturn in the economy and how they really would like to upgrade their rigs. Many weekend warriors lusted for a 520VX but it was out of reach.  Ranger now has an answer that should help keen anglers make that move. It’s not the 520VX Lite, it is the all-new 208VX which is built on the same hull and sports many of the same fishing features, ride and comfort of the 520VX. What it doesn’t carry over is the hefty payments. Captain Smith takes a look at Ranger's 208 VX. 

Wellcraft 210 Sportsman

Wellcraft 210 SportsmanFor 2009 Wellcraft has added another model to their growing Sportsman line. Much like the versatile 180 Sportsman the new 210 Sportsman features amenities that appeal to the multi-purpose boater. The 21' Sportsman has a beam of 8’6’’ and is available with nine power options.  The utility of this boat will surprise you, so take a look at Capt. Steve's video.  See complete test and video of the Wellcraft 210 Sportsman.

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New Boat

New Formula 290 Sun Sport Makes A Splash

Formula 290 Sun Sport 
The all-new Formula 290 Sun Sport has a 23-degree deadrise
and lines that would make Pininfarina proud.
Formula 290 Sun Sport Floor
This is not a bowrider – what you are seeing forward (with X-Ray vision)
is the interior of the 290 Sun Sport cuddy.

As you read this hull #1 of Formula’s all-new 290 Sun Sport is hitting the water for the first time in Miami. The boating press is so impressed with Formula’s latest creation that Boating, Motor Boating, and Boating World magazines will all have writers and paparazzi on hand to record the event. Formula is probably the closest brand built in America that captures the essence of a luxury sports car on the water – and the 290 Sun Sport has lots of parallels with the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and the 599 GTB Ferrari – but is far less expensive! And like those vaunted sports cars, there will not be many of this new 290 built, so if you are interested, you’d best get your name on the waiting list quick because it takes the Formula factory about three weeks to turn one out. To find out why this new boat is so special -- cut in line. 

See Capt. Steve’s video on Formula’s Fit & Finish -- Test Drive Button
See tests of all Formula boats --

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Hydra-Sports News

Hydra-Sports: A Benchmark
for Quality Construction

Hydra-Sports Construction 1 
Hydra-Sports takes angler feed-back and designs it into every model.
Hydra-Sports Construction 2
All H-S boats are 100% wood-free. All running strakes are solid material.
Hydra-Sports Construction 3
H-S uses computer-driven fabric cutters for a perfect fit every time.
Hydra-Sports Construction 4
Customer and dealer feedback get directly to the factory floor.

Hydra-Sports’ reputation has been built up over the years because of their SOTA fishing features and quality construction. Each new model starts with a clean sheet of paper where designers (who are anglers) draw what fishermen have been asking for and need. Then, men in the factory (who are anglers) assemble the boats as if they were for their own use. Hydra-Sports has strong shop-floor management (who are anglers) to oversee every detail of construction to make sure each boat comes out with Tiffany quality. Take a video look at how Hydra-Sports boats come together with some of the best construction videos we have ever seen.

#1 From Concept to Construction #2 Details Make the Boat Work
#3 Important Component Installations #4 1000 Quality Control Items

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Glastron News

Glastron Factory Rebate
Ends March 31st

Glastron GS 235 Glastron 289 Interior
With a 21-degree deadrise this all new GLS 235 is ready for all watersports and will give you a good ride, too.

The GS 289 is the flagship of the Glastron fleet; 
the company says it’s their best boat, ever.

We like what Glastron is doing: They are making public their factory rebate program and giving the same deal to everyone. (Some companies keep their rebate secret until you break a dealer’s arm or walk out the door, so some of their customers get it and some don’t.) The Glastron factory is giving $750 to $4000 rebates depending on the model. That works out to about 5% to 6% of the MSRP, which means you may well do even better than that! Glastron’s program runs through March 31st, so if you are serious, now is the time to get off the dime. The builder in all likelihood will schedule his orders for April and May delivery, so March is probably the last time you can custom order a boat anyway, so you might as well get the extra discount.

See the Glastron promotion --

See tests of Glastron boats --

 Allstate Safety Tip

Capt. Steve Urges
A "Ditch Bag"

Allstate safety tip 
A “Ditch Bag” is important for every boat owner;
take Capt. Steve’s word for it.

Like a lot of things in life, a “Ditch Bag” is something most powerboaters don’t think about until they need it. Capt. Steve explains what goes into it and why you should have one. In case there is any doubt in your mind, read this week’s lead story. The good captain also explains how to use a fire extinguisher like a pro. It flabbergasts us that only about 30% of the people who have boats have boat insurance. Like a “Ditch Bag” boat insurance is something that obviously many boaters don’t think about -- but they will when they need it. See Capt. Steve’s latest video explaining how to get ahead of the safety curve --

See all Capt. Steve Safety videos --

 Bayliner News

Bayliner's 265 Cruiser
Is Value-Packed

Bayliner 265 Bayliner 265 Cabin
Our test of the 265 with a single 250-hp stern drive recorded 40.7 mph at WOT and a best cruise of 25.6 mph. The cabin is versatile for dining, playing board games, and sleeping. The mid-cabin is ideal for kids.

Everyone has to start somewhere. When it comes to moving from a skiboat or a runabout into an entry-level trailerable weekend cruiser, historically Bayliner has always been on almost everyone’s “short list.” The reason for that was price. But a few years ago the folks at Bayliner decided that they would upgrade quality and materials and offset increased costs with innovative new production efficiencies – and hold the line on retail prices. They have done an admirable job of price control and the MSRP on the new Bayliner 265 Cruiser is just $46,841 with a standard 220-hp MerCruiser engine. But as we all know, MSRP is just the “suggested” retail price, and chances are that buyers this spring can do better. To find out our take on the Bayliner 265 --

See test on the Bayliner 265 --

Price Quote- Bayliner Ask for a price quote and see how well you can do -- 

See tests of all Bayliner boats --


Larson 370 Cabrio


Prop Info

Formula Escape

Glastron Banner

BoatShop24 Banner

boat history


Ranger Banner

MasterCraft Banner

yamaha boats


Cruisers Yachts




Bertram Banner
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Sea-Doo News

Which is the Best Deal:
The $52k Wake or $45k Challenger?

Sea-Doo 230 Challenger  Sea-Doo 230 Wake
The folks at Sea-Doo tell us that they have built in over $20k of options and up-grades into their 230 Wake vs. the 230 Challenger SE, yet charge only $7k more in the Wake package.

It is always a tough decision to make: Do you go top of the line with all of the bells and whistles, or do you go with a more basic model? The same dilemma exists for cars, trucks, lawn mowers, house insurance or most any complicated product one buys. Sea-Doo’s 230 Wake has lots of cool options built into its base price, such as a wake tower, ballast tank with push-button fill and release, a heater, a PA system, the “Perfect Pass Wakeboard Pro” that lets you set up to 8 individual speed settings, and more. But it costs $52k MSRP vs. $45k MSRP for the 230 Challenger SE. We like the Wake package, but maybe the Challenger will suit you just fine.  Check out our test videos of both of these boats and decide for yourself --

See video test of the 230 Challenger SE -- Contact a dealer  Dealer Contact
See video test of the 230 Wake --
See all Sea-Doo boat tests --

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Engine News

Can One Engine Drive Two Props?

Blue Print Yanmar 480
The “Geared Up” system can be used with stern drives, inboards or pod drives, replacing one or two engines with a single Yanmar diesel driving two propellers. A Yanmar 480-hp diesel drives two (note powder blue port and starboard jack shafts) Bravo I drives by using three "Geared Up" 90-degree gear boxes.
If you have ever wondered if a single engine could drive two propellers, you are not alone. The answer is yes. Have you ever wondered if a mid-size diesel with tremendous torque would beat twin, hopped-up gas engines at best cruise? (You’ll have to make the jump to find out.) Have you ever wondered what would happen to the range and ride of a center console if all that weight hanging off the stern were placed forward and low, where it ought to be? Several years ago Mastry Engine Center in Tampa, Florida, a large distributor for Yanmar diesels, began experimenting with 90-degree gear boxes and made some fascinating discoveries that have been kept secret until now. To explore the intriguing possibilities of one diesel engine and two props --

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Industry News

BoatTEST Works
With Dealers

Deal introduces buyers looking for a boat to reputable dealers. If you are an authorized boat dealer we may know a buyer you would like meet. To see a list of boats that our members are seeking -- look here.

Member Services

Ready to Buy 
A New Boat?

Ready to Buy?

If you have decided on a specific boat to buy, but you are unsure if you're getting the best deal, let us help you. Sign up for our Member Services program and we will leverage our relationships in your favor. Free --

Navy News

See How U.S. Navy Rules the Waves!

Rules of the Road
When you see a radar blip on your screen on a collision course, what would you do? Find out what the U.S. Navy does.

As hard as it is to believe, there are some people who would not give the right of way to the second largest military vessel in the North Atlantic. When you see a boogie on your radar scope at night, how do you respond? Have you been keeping up on Capt. Steve’s weekly boating lessons? Take a look at this short video and see how the U.S. Navy does it -- now hear this.

Industry News

India Discovers Boating!

India Discovers Boating
Surrounded on three sides by water and with mighty rivers flowing through it, little wonder that India is getting into recreational boating.

The Mahindra Group, one of India’s industrial giants, last month announced that it plans to build a line of fiberglass recreational powerboats from 20’ to 40’ in varying “fit out levels to suit customer requirements.” The brand will be called Odyssea. The company’s second phase could “potentially” include cabin cruisers and catamarans says the company.  To read the complete news release --

Accident of the Week

Old Boat Explodes While Refueling

Accident of the week
This is what was left of an old Uniflite
after an explosion and fire.

A used 32’ Uniflite cabin cruiser for only $4,000 sounded like a good deal when its new owner bought it. Uniflite had a good reputation for building strong, safe boats, but unfortunately it hasn’t been in business for 26 years. After the explosion the boat was cut loose and drifted into a moored 64’ motoryacht causing $30k of damage. There was one injury and one good lesson for us all. To read all about it -- inspect your mouse.

Pirate News

U.S. Navy Finally Captures Some Pirates

Reach for the sky, pirates! U.S. Navy begins
to redeem itself after “Rent-a-Cop” gaff.

A few months after a Pentagon spokesman said that catching Somali pirates was not the U.S. Navy’s job, and ship owners should hire their own on-board security, the U.S. Navy has decided to follow in the tradition of Stephen Decatur. We might add that both the French and British had shown the way several months ago by capturing boatloads of the brigands and delivering them to dungeons in Kenya. The Indian navy even sunk a pirate mother ship, or at least a vessel that looked like one. To find out what was behind the Americans’ brave reversal of policy -- hang your mouse.

"Miracle" Bait

Monster Lure
Secret Discovered

Fishing Trip
Would you like to find out how this monster (54” x 44 lbs.) Northern Pike was caught -- and where -- bite on this.

Our trusty reader Bill Noble is currently doing research on the Internet for his annual fishing trip to the north country. He came across this picture and will be enjoying his usual Coors Light payment as you read this. We’re told that it was a record for the lake where it was caught. Those fussy people at the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) would probably take exception to the bait used, but no matter, in fact bigger ones have been recorded. Now is the time for you to plan your summer fishing trip, so go where the big ones are. To find out where and how this beauty was caught -- bait your minnow.

Boating Tip

A Seacock is Your Most Important Gear

In the old days gate valves like these were responsible for more than their share of sinkings. Even shiny, new ones are verboten today on all boats.

Last fall one of our testing captains discovered a gate valve installed on a new offshore fishing boat built by a famous name.  We were appalled! Gate valves are essentially what you have behind your house for the garden hose, and above you see what happens to them on boats. Good boat builders stopped using them in the 1950s and ‘60s. The ABYC forbids them in all NMMA-Certified boats, and frankly we thought they were a thing of the past until our discovery last fall. (You won’t see that boat builder here!) Seacocks must be not only marine-grade ball valves but they must also be installed properly. They are the single most important item on your boat. Capt. Pauley of has been kind enough to send us a fine tutorial on the subject -- read or sink.

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Capt. Steve's Lesson #27

Fog Signals and Overview
On Navigation Lights

Fog Signals and Overview on Nav Lights 

Only official lights such as these are allowed to be on at night underway.

This week Capt. Steve goes over sixteen new lessons and guidelines on fog signals and navigation lights. It’s important to know what to do when fog suddenly comes rolling in and you’re cruising along in pea soup or simply a restricted visibility scenario. Capt. Steve also goes over the basics on navigation lights, what they mean, and what’s required when running at night, and at anchor. You’ll learn about requirements for boats over 12 meters, or 39 ½ feet, and what’s required for boats less than 7 meters, or 23 feet. 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?

First Place

"Awesome! I love seafood!" - F. Rogers

Second Place
"Faster Captain! She's going to eat us!"
- B. Roe

Honorable (Almost) Mention
"Tastes like chicken!" - M. Cobb

"The doc did say I needed more "iron" in my diet!" - G. Lantier

"That's it honey, we will get our money's worth next time we pump-out." - R. Banzhof

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 3/15/09.

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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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