Winterizing Tips // Stern Drive Issues // 9 Reviews - 11/04/2009
BoatTEST Newsletter November 4, 2009 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- Cobalt 276
- Yamaha 242 Limited
- Scout Abaco 225
- Stern Drive Systems Issues
- Bayliner 205 Bowrider
- World Cat 290 CC
- Stratos 201 XL Evolution
- Find the Right Sportboat
- Manitou 20 X-Plode Cruise SHP
- Jupiter 29' Tournament
- Crownline 220LS
- ABYC Standards
- Time to Winterize
- Sea Ray and Tracker Owners
- Royal Purple Motor Oil
- Interview with TA Flats Skipper
- Crownline Boats Back
- Looking for a New Boat?
- Tigé RZ2 is Fierce
- USCG Training Skeleton Coast
- How-to Tie a Bowline Knot
- Boating Course for Christmas
- Anatomy of a Successful Rescue
- Compare Up to 6 Boats
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

The New Cobalt 276:
A Pedigreed Bowrider

Cobalt 276
Cobalt 276 is a luxurious sun-worshipper for lakes, rivers or inshore coastal waters. She has more than a little Riva in her – Lake Como, anyone?

Cobalt has been building boats since 1968 and suffice it to say, they have boatbuilding down pretty well. The Cobalt 276, introduced a year ago, is a roomy, well-crafted, thoughtfully-designed example of the ethos that has kept the company around so long and made it rise to the top of the sportboat pyramid in the minds of American boaters. Cobalt has taken its design and build cues from the world’s marquis names both in boat building, but from other endeavors, as well. Their boats are in the highest price tier, so buyers need to know what they are getting for their money. MSRP $105,892. Find out more about the Cobalt 276 --

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New Boat

New Yamaha 242 Limited:
Refinement at Both Ends

Yamaha 242 Limited 2010
The Yamaha 242 Limited is much more than the grown up version of the 232. Both ends have been re-engineered for maximum enjoyment while maintaining Yamaha’s trademark affordability.

Not only does Yamaha get high marks for safety with their jet drives, they also score big on innovation. It all started with the “transom patio” that no one seems to be able to exactly copy because of Yamaha’s low-profile twin engines. Now, they’ve given the boat a facelift and made it even better. Not willing to sit on their laurels, Yamaha took a stab at the bow area while they were at it, and the result is one of the most innovative seating arrangements we’ve seen. Capt. Steve takes you on a video tour of the new Yamaha 242 Limited. MSRP $44,599. Which will be your favorite end...bow or stern?

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New Boat

New Scout 225 Abaco:
An Affordable Sports Utility

Scout 225 Abaco
Designed for fishing or day cruising, the new 2010 Scout 225 Abaco has a lot of advantages over a sportboat with cuddy.

For years Scout has been making good boats at affordable prices by keeping its eye on the ball and not being distracted by the latest gimcrack of the month. Now the company has introduced the new 2010 225 Abaco which we think might make a fine sportboat for coastal areas, as well as being a fishboat. MSRP $57,446. To find out more about this new Scout model --

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Stern Drive Survey

Stern Drive Systems Maintenance Issues

Rusty Riser Shift and throttle controls bellows
Exhaust risers and manifolds are frequent places for engine trouble. A good maintenance regimen can save nine. Shifting and throttle linkage controls are a common place for problems "fly-by-wire" solves the problem. Stern drive bellows are places where trouble can occur and most people take them for granted and neglect inspection.

Several weeks ago we asked our readers to describe how their boats performed with the stern drive systems they had. We received good feedback which will help new boat buyers zero-in on the horsepower and lower unit best matched for their application. Our sampling also indicated that, on average, owners of stern drive engines are not as satisfied as are those of outboard engines. Perhaps that is not surprising given the fact that modern stern drive systems have much more equipment outside of the engine housing, there is far less competition, and both makers start with the same Vortec blocks. To find out what were the major complaints --

This week we are asking readers who own stern drive propulsion systems who have not yet answered our survey to let us know how satisfied they are with the system they currently have. Please give brand of engine, horsepower and model of lower unit. Deposit your feedback--

MerCruiser Volvo Penta
MerCruiser Volvo Penta

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New Boat

Bayliner 205 BR:
Capt. Steve Takes A Critical Look at Details

Bayliner 205
Capt. Steve has a few suggestions for improvements on the Bayliner 205. In this case the engine hatch isn’t latched down. See his new video...

Several weeks ago we showed you Capt. Steve’s video on the performance and handling of the Bayliner 205 BR. Frankly, he was surprised at what he discovered. This week he takes a critical look at the boat’s ergonomics, construction details, and some things that could use some improvement. Take a look at Capt. Steve’s video and decide if perhaps he’s being too demanding of a boat intended to be “affordable.” After viewing, let us know what you think. MSRP $30,645. See Capt. Steve parse the Bayliner 205 --

See Capt. Steve’s Bayliner 205 performance and handling video...

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Cat News

World Cat 290 Center Console:
When the Going Gets Tough...

World Cat 290 CC
The World Cat 290 CC is a serious offshore performer for anglers who don’t let a little rough weather interrupt their fishing.

We love checking out new boats, and even new models of boats that have been out a few years. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes a new model that breaks the mold and makes you say “why didn’t I think of that?” And it’s even worse for a builder when someone else comes out with these new cool ideas. Well for now, World Cat is that “other builder” that will be watched closely, and more than likely copied, just as they have copied some of the best ideas around from other builders. It is the nature of the business. Their new 290 CC has so many fishy features that we've stopped counting. MSRP $177,000.
Join Capt. Steve as he takes a look at the new World Cat 290 CC --

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Bass Boats

Stratos 201 XL Evolution:
Survival of the Fittest

Stratos 201 XL Evolution
Capt. Rob gave the Stratos 201 XL Evolution a thorough testing and was impressed with the handling, speed and comfort of this red rocket. And she is loaded with pretty much every fishing amenity a tournament basser could want.

The peak bass boat buying season is January through March – which is just around the corner. There is nothing like getting out on the lake as soon as the ice breaks up and the bass are spawning. (That’s a great time to get the big ones, men.) Then, it isn’t long until the tournaments start. If you are looking for a loaded boat with all of the fishy gear, comfortable seats, a huge 86” by 61” casting platform, and so light (1800 lbs./818 kgs.) you can tow her behind most anything, then the Stratos 201 XL Evolution should be on your very short list. (Think of all the money you’ll save on a bigger tow vehicle.) Her 2010 MSRP is $51,295 with the 250 ‘Rude which makes her the top of the Stratos line. If this is more boat than you can handle, then consider the 176 Stratos with a 50-hp engine for $14,500 MSRP. See Capt. Rob’s report --

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Boat Buying

How to Find the Right Sportboat?
Answer These 10 Easy Questions

Formula 240 Bayliner 185 Four Winns H260
There are over one hundred sportboat models to choose from 18’ to over 30’ so finding one should be easy, right? Wrong.

Ever noticed how many used boats there are for sale? Ever wondered how many of them are for sale because the owners bought them, then found out they didn’t really like them? Plenty. The problem is that with so many attractive choices it is easy to go wrong. That’s why you need to use your head, not your heart, to zero-in on the right ones for you. Answer’s 10 questions and you’ll find that the list of prospects narrows quickly. Here’s how to do it --

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'Toon News

Manitou 20 X-Plode:
A "High-Performance" Tri-Toon

Manitou 20 X-Plode CruiseManitou 20 X-Plode
Capt. Rob takes a detailed look at the Manitou 20 X-Plode tri-toon and puts her to the test. The results were as impressive as many monohull boats.

The advent of tri-toon pontoon boats has catapulted this class of boat into an exciting platform for all sorts of watersports. Capt. Rob Smith tested the Manitou 20 X-Plode, proving that its name says it all. Get this: she gets on plane in 4.3 seconds and goes 0 to 30 in 7.3 seconds! A WOT of 43.3 mph. The Manitou 20 X-Plode gets that performance thanks to the bottom shape of its three toons and a single 175-hp Evinrude E-TEC outboard. Waterskiing, anyone? And, it has a private head! Find out more about this classy tri-toon --

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Second Look

Jupiter 29’ CC:
Thoroughbred in the Color of Your Choice

Jupiter 29 TournamentColor Selection
In case you haven’t guessed, our favorite hull color is navy blue. Pick your favorite basic Imron hull color on the left, then add more black or white on the right to fit your taste.

We have had the pleasure of chopping up bait, fishing and sliding the bloody catch into the icy larder in a Jupiter 29’ on the edge of the Gulf Stream on New Year's Day with several chums (eating Hoagies and washing it down with Coors Light). And on the following day in the same boat we have enjoyed a cruise on the ICW for an afternoon picnic with demure wives aboard and had lunch forward, eating canapés, sipping chilled Pouilly Fusie. Clearly our friends will eat, drink and do most anything on the Jupiter 29, and happily the boat was an able platform for all activities. MSRP $160,000. To find out more about the Jupiter 29 and see how to select your own Imron hull color --

Visit Jupiter’s website and create your own favorite Imron color on the hull of a 29 --

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New Boat

The Crownline 220 LS:
A Well-Crafted Bowrider Runabout

Crownline 220LS
This model of the Crownline 220 LS exhibits the company’s Extreme Razor package, which has a forward-facing tower, color-matched swim platform with snap-on carpet, canned tower speakers, premium stereo system and board racks.

The Crownline 220 LS is a fine example of the bowrider runabout breed. Even in basic trim, she is a sporty, well-crafted boat. She’s not in the high price-point category, but her amenities and fit-and-finish make her look like she is rapping on those doors – and for a lot less money. This company has earned an excellent reputation over the years when it was privately held. (See accompanying story about Crownline.) Once again Crownline is in the capable hands of many of the people who built her up in the first place. MSRP $51,908. For more information on the Crownline 220 LS

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Make Sure the Boat You Buy
Meets These ABYC Standards

The ABYC now requires that hand holds be located in all exterior seating locations intended to be occupied while underway. Look closely and you will see that the young lady has her left hand on a grab handle. Note grab handle in the bow and for the stern bench seat.

Virtually every year the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) promulgates new standards to improve the safety of boats. It is done quietly, without fanfare or even any notice – except to boat builders. Over the years you may have noticed that all of a sudden nearly all of the builders start doing something new, such as placing hand holds or grab bars near seats. This was a new standard instituted a few years ago and now every boat certified by the NMMA has them. Unfortunately, not all ABYC standards are followed by all builders. See a few important ABYC standards required for NMMA Certification --

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Time to Think about Winterizing

Fram in Ice
Explorer Fridtjof Nansen was careful to winterize his vessel “Fram” and she survived 3 winters in the Arctic Ocean ice quite handily.

If you don’t know what you are doing winterizing can be quite expensive – either to pay someone else to do it, or to suffer the consequences next spring and pay to have things fixed. Happily, winterizing is not rocket science and even the Three Stooges could do it if properly instructed. Enter the professor: Paul Esterle, author of “Maintain and Improve Your Powerboat” which was just published by McGraw-Hill, and who has the website “” Here is Paul’s tutorial to get you started --

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Owner Reviews

Calling Sea Ray, Tracker &
Carolina Skiff Owners -- Rate Your Boat

Sea Ray 22 Pachanga
Sea Ray

By harnessing the reach of the World Wide Web and the incredible number of visitors to, we can literally focus the experience of the world’s boat owners on each brand and boat model to help guide future buyers. Hundreds of readers have already taken the time to “Rate” their boats to help new buyers. These “Owner Reports” go unedited into our database. No matter what boat you own, let the boating world learn from your experiences...

Tracker Pro Team 170 TX Carolina Skiff 2600 Sea Cahser
Tracker Carolina Skiff
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Motor Oil

Royal Purple Motor Oil Improves Fuel Efficiency 10.7% In Test

Royal Purple
In a test of a Chaparral 290 Signature with twin 5.0L Volvo Penta gas engines comparing conventional oil (“CO”) with synthetic Royal Purple oil (“RP”), the miles per gallon fuel flow was 10.7% greater when Royal Purple oil was used on average across the entire RPM range.

One of the most widely viewed tests we conducted this summer was the one we did with Royal Purple synthetic motor oil in a 290 Chaparral. We bought the Royal Purple off the shelf at Pep Boys and there were no RP personnel on site, nor did they have anything to do with the test other than to pay for it – in advance. We ran the boat with new conventional mineral oil, measured the speed and fuel flow, then replaced it with Royal Purple and measured again. No one was more amazed than the staff who are a pretty cynical lot when it comes to manufacturers' claims for almost anything. The test speaks for itself. See video of the test...

Read test methodology and Q & A about procedures...

Intruder C-21

Interview with TransAtlantic
Flats Boat Skipper

Intruder 21 Ralph Brown
The Intruder C-21 (l), built by Dream Boats, on Aug. 28 at 2:38 pm between the Shetland and Orkney Islands in 12’ seas. Video taken from a UK Search and Rescue helicopter. Skipper/designer/builder/ex-Marine Ralph Brown (r).

As we reported in our Sept. 23rd newsletter, brothers Ralph and Bob Brown set a Guinness Book Record by taking their 21’ flats boat over 6,000 miles across the Atlantic by way of Greenland and Iceland unassisted by a mother ship. Recently we caught up with Ralph Brown, the owner of the fledgling boat company, Dream Boats, which built the Intruder C-21. Given the number of center consoles that capsize offshore each year we were keen to ask Brown if he was concerned about capsize and what measures he had taken to prevent it or right his boat if it happened, and how he planned to be rescued if need be. His answers might surprise you --

See video of the Intruder C-21 taken from a S&R chopper in 12’ seas --

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Industry News

Crownline Boats Back in Production

In mid-October the first Crownline boat rolled off the assembly line.

Crownline Boats went into production early this fall with 100 employees and is now building at the rate of 25 units per week, according to a company spokesman. CEO Kevin Riem says that he expects to be moving to 30 units a week in the near future. This is good news for a brand that closed its doors in December 2008, while the venture capital company that had bought the company a year or so before (timing is everything, boys) searched around to find a buyer. Get the latest news on Crownline and see a video on the company’s re-start --

Member Services

Are You Looking
For a New Boat?

Bayliners in SA
There are plenty of new boats for sale, but which one is the right boat for you, are you getting the best price, and which one is a reliable brand?

We know how daunting it can be to find exactly the right boat for one’s specific application because so many boats look like they fill the bill. If you are in the market for a new boat 18’ or larger, our veteran staff will be glad to help you, one-on-one, by email or phone. It is part of our “Member Services” program and it is free to you. We receive no fee from builders or dealers – so we can be objective, and we can leverage our contacts in the industry to help you get what you want. To use this service you must be in the market to buy within the next 6 months. Sign in here --

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Skiboat News

Australian Says His Tigé RZ2 is Bad

Tigé RZ2
In the land of ‘Roos Tigés are on the prowl in what is being called the “Monster Energy” Tour.

The “Monster Energy” Tour was kicked off last weekend in Younghusband, Australia. Our question is, “Could a Tigé be considered a cougar?” Cougars on the hunt could be a scary thing. In any case the wakeboard dudes at Tigé are making a 16-city tour (including cool places like Warrawonga and Narrabean) that will involve over 300 wakeboarders. Sounds like fun to us. To find out more about the goings on at Younghusband --

See test of the Tigé RZ2 --


USCG Training On U.S. Skeleton Coast

USCG Training
The courageous men (and women) of the USCG were at it again two weeks ago off the California coast. See this beautiful video that is like a ballet dance on the water.

The intrepid USCG does not miss a chance for crew training on America’s West Coast and on October 22, 2009 it got a great chance to send two of its 47’ life boats in the way of 18’ breakers on the Humbolt Bay bar, near Eureka, California. A creative videographer captured the moment as surfers dodged the USCG in what looked like a fun day on the water for all concerned. There is no substitute for experience in rough seas. Watch and listen --

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Boating Tip

How to Tie
a Bowline Knot

Boating with Cefus McRae
Capt. Cefus teaches his wonder dog, Buck, how to tie a bowline knot.

The most basic and most useful knot for all boaters to know how to tie is the bowline. If you can remember no other knot, you must learn this one. And it is so easy, even Capt. Cefus’ wonder dog, Buck, can tie it. See Capt. Cefus every week on Nuts & Bolts Fishing TV. Now -- out of the hole, around the tree and back into the hole -- it’s as easy as that in this great how-to video...

Visit Nuts & Bolts Fishing website for program times.

‘Tis the Season

BoatTEST’s Boating Course Makes a Great Christmas Present

Smart Boating Video Boating Course. has joined with Capt. Steve to present you with an 8 CD-ROM boating course that comes in a handsome plastic box. This course covers everything your spouse, children, or friends need to know to be competent, safe boaters. It costs only $69.95, plus shipping and handling. If that is over your budget, then why not choose from one of five individual subject-area courses for only $19.95, plus shipping and handling. And, if you were really smart, you’d simply order a bunch of these courses and give them out to every boater on your gift list, and make it one-stop shopping and be done with it. Order here --

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Rescue of the Week

The Anatomy of A Successful Rescue

911 Maine State Police barracks dispatcher Shelly Humphrey took the distress call and sprung into action. The lives of four men perched on a lone pontoon in 4’ swells hung in the balance. One ringie dingie...

Last week at 9:30 AM one morning a 1987 24’ Godfrey pontoon boat with four men aboard was powering across Moosehead Lake, Maine, in “4’ to 5’ swells” when one of the toons “could have been torn open,” according to the owner/operator, and began filling with water. One of the passengers, Nathaniel Bates, called 911 on his cell phone asking for help. Shelly Humphrey, the Orono Maine State Police “barracks” dispatcher, answered the 911 phone, took down the information, and called the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department. Someone in the Sheriff’s Department, in turn, took down the information and called the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Someone there took down the information and called --

BoatTEST News

Compare Button up to 6
Boats Side-by-Side

New software developed by our trusty webmaster, Sunny, allows you to now compare up to six boats at once. The number of items compared varies from type of boat. is dedicated to the people planning on making what is often the second most expensive purchase in their life – their boat. For those who have boating as a lifestyle, or a way of life, finding the right boat is an important task and one requiring lots of research to get it right. Making a mistake can be, and usually is, quite costly. introduced the boat comparison feature in 2003, and now Sunny has made it even better, expanding its range from 3 to 6 boats. To use the comparison feature, just click on the Compare Buttonbutton at the top of each test page.

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Capt. Steve's Lesson #60

Preparing Your Boat for Transport

Preparing Your Boat for Transport
Towing your boat is a big responsibility. Make sure to follow the proper steps and guidelines when preparing your boat for transport.

This week Capt. Steve goes over six new lessons and guidelines on tips to safely trailer your boat. Before towing pay close attention to your boat’s clearance and make sure all items on the boat are stored away properly, and anything loose is tied down and secured in place, it is also important is to make sure any load aboard is properly centered. Before a long tow, weigh your trailer and load to make sure you are within regulations. Check the lighting system, chains, hooks and all components to make sure they are secure and in good shape for towing. Don’t forget your trailer must be registered, insured and inspected every year. These are basic procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of's USCG-approved video boating course narrated by Capt. Steve. Watch Capt. Steve's video boating lessons every week on To view this week’s lessons --

To view past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"I thought the White Cliffs of Dover would be bigger." - E. Cavoli

Second Place

"I was working out some scheduling issues on the computer and must have lost track of the time." - R. French

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"I said keep an eye on the ice and keep me abreast, not keep an eye on a breast that is nearly on ice." - M. Burton

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 11-4

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