9 Low-Cost Boats // Boat Buying Tips // Honda PWC - 02/17/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter February 17, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here.
Boattest.com: Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- The New Normal
- Tigé RZ4
- World Cat 250 DC
- Nitro Z-7
- Honda Aqua-Trac F-15X
- Platinum Equity Warranties
- Sailfish 2660 CC
- Sun Tracker Party Barge 25
- Alumacraft Lunker 165
- Kayot S225
- Sea-Doo RXT-X 260
- Crestliner Fish Hawk 1700
- Reggie is Back
- Shurhold Products
- Royal Purple
- Send to a Friend
- Carp A La Carte
- Aussie Builds Pontoon
- Justice of the Week
- Boat Buying Tip
- Grady-White Owners
- Pictures of the Week
- Work with BoatTEST
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

The New Normal
In New Boat Buying

Solar Boat
The Great Recession has caused things to dramatically change in the boat business and boat buying will never be the same. Get ready for the New Normal.

After every great American economic crisis and financial downturn the face of boating has changed. Little wonder since boating is probably the most tenuous major item on anyone’s shopping list. With each financial disaster follows two to four years of economic hardship for the boating industry and as it struggles to survive it usually morphs into a different form. That process is going on right now before our eyes. Join us as we look at the future of boat pricing, boat selecting, and boat buying. Folks, for better or worse, it will never be the same...

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Tigé RZ4: Make Wake or Break!

Not only is the RZ4 a cool looking boat, it’s a great performer, and gives easy control of the wake.

Tigé has been telling us for months that they have been trying to push the envelope with style and performance with their line of wakeboard boats. So it was finally time to see the latest things they’ve come up with. We sent Capt. Steve down to Texas to visit Tigé’s Abilene factory to see firsthand what’s hot with their new RZ4. As it turns out, he had a lot to say about this good looking watersports multi-tasker. Check out his test video and full report here...

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World Cat 250 DC:
Bowrider on Steroids

World Cat 250 DC
If you’re looking for a very capable bowrider, then you owe it to yourself to check out the World Cat 250 DC.

If you take all the qualities of a bowrider, add in the stability of a deck boat, the roominess of a pontoon boat, and the cockpit of a far larger express fishboat -- what do you get? To our eye, the answer is the World Cat 250 DC. In fact, this boat has so much muscle, it probably makes a better fishing boat/work boat than it does a family boat. World Cat stopped short of adding the cruising-oriented features, such as cockpit entertainment center, coolers and sink, but one thing’s for sure... there are very few jobs it isn’t up to.  Check out Capt. Rob’s video tour of the 250 DC and see what we mean.

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Second Look

Nitro Z-7:
Value-Oriented Bass Boat

Nitro Z-7
The Nitro Z-7 has all the right stuff for fishing and will get you on the water for less money.

There’s little sense in getting a boat if you feel guilty every time you choose not to use it. That’s why the folks at Nitro tell us that they build their boats with an “everything the bigger boats have for less money” strategy. And it seems to be working. The Nitro Z-7 comes to you, nicely equipped with a no hassle, no haggle price of only $21,995, including a 150-hp Optimax and trailer. Many of our members have purchased a Nitro and they tell us that they are quite pleased. So this is one affordable bass boat that we think you should check out. We sent Capt. John Wenz out to give it a test and his video and captain’s report is available here...

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Honda Aqua-Trax F-15X
It's Turbocharged and Comfortable!

Honda Aqua-Trax F-15
This all-new Honda F-15X AquaTrax seats three and is powered by a 1470 cc four cyl., 4-stroke turbocharged engine.

When most people hear the word “Honda,” they think “car” and reliability. Well, time to change that to, -- think “PWC.” Not known as a major player in the PWC market, Honda has just unveiled its new AquaTrax F-15X. This machine is powered by a 1470 cc liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder engine with intercooled turbocharger. Honda has also designed it with a dry-sump to ensure an even supply of engine oil no matter how many Gs you’re pulling. Starting at $13,999.00, the Honda F-15X AquaTrax, in our opinion, is deserving of serious consideration by anyone contemplating a new PWC in 2010. Let’s take a closer look...

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Industry News

Warranties Honored for Four Winns, Wellcraft, Glastron, Ranger, Stratos, Champion!

Production of Glastron boats will be moved from Little Falls, MN to Cadillac, MI for the 2011 model year, as part of the Platinum Equity consolidation of Genmar assets.

“Absolutely!” David Huls answered, when asked whether Platinum Equity would honor warranties. “We will honor all warranties for the brands that we bought.” David Huls is President and CEO of “Project Boat Holdings”, the corporate umbrella -- all bought Platinum Equity is using for Four Winns, Wellcraft, Glastron, Ranger, Stratos, and Champion from the Genmar Chapter 11 proceedings. “Rest assured that we will stand behind all of the published policies and warranty programs for those brands,” he said adamantly yesterday to BoatTEST.com’s editor, Jeff Hammond. He also said, “We are one of the best capitalized businesses in the boating industry and we will be investing in these businesses going forward.” To read more...

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First Look

Sailfish 2660 CC Pilothouse:
Not Just Another Center Console

Sailfish 2660 CC
The Sailfish 2660 turned out to be one of the three nicest equipped boats we’ve seen lately in class.

When browsing the boats at a boat show, they can all start to blend in to one another after a while. But then you catch sight of a boat and you have to give it a second look. Such is the case with the Sailfish 2660 CC Pilothouse. It was such a stunner that our Capt. Steve decided to move in for a closer look, and bring the cameras with him. Now obviously, the “CC” stands for center console, but this boat also has the “Pilothouse” moniker. Likely, because when we first saw it, it had the console surrounded in an isinglass "pilothouse." Those familiar with Capt. Steve’s reviews are well aware of his feelings towards isinglass, so before the cameras went on, the curtains came off. Then he was able to focus on what a quality boat this is. Check out his video and see for yourself.

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Second Look

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25:
A Barge Fit for Cleopatra?

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25
Sun Tracker got it right when they called this toon a “Barge.” To find out why, keep reading.

The International Maritime Dictionary defines “barge” as “A term applied to a flag officer’s boat...or, to an elegantly fitted boat, or craft of ceremony...reserved for the use of high officials.” If you thought a “barge” was something to haul gravel… that is the second definition. Remember Elizabeth Taylor lounging under palm fronds on her Egyptian barge with Richard Burton dropping peeled grapes in her mouth? With a long list of elegant features that would be sure to impress even Cleo, the Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 is not only dressed to impress, it’s priced to move, something the Egyptians never figured out. With Sun Tracker’s no hassle, no haggle pricing structure, you can walk out the door with this boat tagging along for only $35,995 including a 150-hp Optimax. Let’s join Capt. Rob as he hunts for Cleopatra...

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Alumacraft Lunker II SC:
$10k with 25-hp OB and Trailer

Alumacraft Lunker 165
The Alumacraft 165 Lunker II SC (Side Console) has a 76” beam (1.95 m) and is rated to handle up to 40-hp and five people.

The Lunker 165 II SC package is a sign of the times: a 16’6” freshwater fishing boat with a 25-hp Yamaha 2-stroke engine and trailer for $9,999 base price. Alumacraft has been in business since 1946 and has more different models available than virtually any other boat builder in the world. It has a double aluminum bottom, marine plywood sole and decks, and of course, it won’t sink and should float level if swamped. If you want to get on the water with a new boat and think you can’t afford it, then this is your ticket to boating bliss. Read our Captain’s Report...

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Kayot Comparison

Kayot S225:
Outboard or Stern Drive?

Kayot 225
The Kayot S225 with stern drive power has a huge swim platform that extends over the lower unit.

There are not many models of boat on the market where the builder has given the consumer choice of outboard power OR stern drive power. Usually the builder reserves that decision for its own engineers and marketing executives. Before 1957, all sportboats were either outboards or inboards, and most were outboards. Then the stern drive was born and by the mid-1970s they powered virtually every sportboat, except the tournament skiboats which remained inboard-powered. So after 35 years or so of I/O power, the folks at Harris Kayot have decided to give deckboat consumers a choice. We like that, so let’s take a look at the Kayot 225...

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Sea-Doo RXT-X 260:
Bringing Muscle to the Water

Sea-Doo RXT-X 260
If you’re looking for a docile and placid watercraft, then you’re looking in the wrong place.  Only real men need apply.

Muscle cars have their place in the world, and so do muscle bound watercraft. The Sea-Doo RXT-X 260 is, quite simply, a power shot of adrenaline that’s sure to get your heart pounding. With proprietary features like intelligent brake and reverse, X-Steering, and iControl, your need for speed will be met with confidence in your controllability. Check out this video here.

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Crestliner Fish Hawk 1700
For Freshwater Fishing

Crestliner Fish Hawk 1700
The Crestliner 1700 Fish Hawk is an affordable multi-species fishing boat that has all the basic fishy features in a reliable package.

If one of the trends in today’s boat buying is finding value in low-cost boats, Crestliner has been way ahead of the market. They have been building low-cost aluminum boats with high value for decades. We think their 1700 Fish Hawk is a good example of an ideal multi-species freshwater fishboat that can get the job done without breaking the bank. Crestliner is owned by Brunswick and recently announced that they are moving production from Little Falls, MN up the road to New York Mills, MN, home of Lund, which is also owned by Brunswick. With this kind of consolidation, Crestliner should be an even stronger brand than before. To find out more about the 1700 Fish Hawk...

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Industry News

Fountain Powerboats is
Out of CH. 11
Reggie is On a Mission

Reggie Fountain has taught some West Coast investment suits a thing or two about justice in the land of the Good Old Boys and about the value of being the man. Ring one up for the Tar Heels! Ring another up for Reggie!

Oxford Investments of La Jolla, California offered $8.75 million to the court for the assets of Fountain Powerboats without Reggie being CEO of the going-forward business. Liberty Associates offered a million dollars less, but with Reggie running the company. If you were the Federal Bankruptcy Judge in the Eastern District of North Carolina, which firm would you have awarded the business to? If you said the low bidder, then you understand why Judge Randy Doub ruled as he did. FYI – Liberty Associates has owned Donzi and Pro-Line for years, so they know what the boat business is really like and have no illusions.

To find out more about how Fountain got out of Ch.11 and what Reggie plans to do now, pedal to the metal...


Pro Polish from Shurhold

Shurhold's Pro Polish
This PWC still has a showroom luster after a week of use and several washes, all we did was towel dry.

When the team at Shurhold told us that their Pro Polish was “Better than an old fashioned wax” and one of the reasons was that it was a “polymer based formula with cosmetic grade ingredients”, we just had to send it to our skunk works for testing. The results: when applying you could see swirl marks and water spots disappear, and when buffed off, the resulting finish looked just as advertised, a nice deep luster with a showroom shine. But that was not enough, so after a week of use and four washings, with only drying the surface, we took a picture. We’d say this passed the test.

Shurhold Pro Polish
Get complete product information here...

When you order you can get 10% off Pro Polish any size.
Coupon code: btp10
This offer is good through 2/28/10.

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Royal Purple Goes 100 Hard Hrs Without a Hitch in Test PWC

Aussie Pontoon
Royal Purple has oil for both two-stroke and four-stroke engines.

We decided to put Royal Purple synthetic engine oil to the test last season in one of our test engines. We replaced the oil and oil filter on our Yamaha four-stroke, 1812cc supercharged PWC, then used it hard and fast all season for a total of 102 hours, when normally we would change it every 10 due to hard use. It was used in fresh water for over 30 hours and salt water for the remaining time. We ran test numbers just before we put the Royal Purple in and as soon as the weather gets back to the same temp as when we first tested, we will run the numbers again and see how she does. Stay tuned for the results.

To learn more about Royal Purple, check this out.

Free Gift Idea

Give This Newsletter
To a Boating Friend

Aussie Pontoon
The BoatTEST.com e-newsletter is issued 50 times per year and is filled with boat reviews, engine reports, how-to info, and lots of boating news that you will get nowhere else.

Why not share the information you get in the BoatTEST.com weekly newsletters with your boating friends? They’ll thank you for this thoughtful gift. Best of all, it is free! Now, we are really making it easy for you to pass along the email addresses of your boating friends – just copy and paste your email distribution list! Our trusty webmaster, Sunny, has made it quick as a click. Right here...

* Remember, BoatTEST does not spam. Your friends will be sent a link that they may use choose to opt-in with or not.

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Carp Fiasco

Carp A La Carte

The U.S. government is now promoting the eating of carp. Being patriotic, BoatTEST.com is now doing its bit to help. Doesn’t the baked carp above look mouth-watering?

Buried deep in the new Federal Government’s Save Lake Michigan from Carp plan, was a $3 million allocation to promote the eating of carp by Americans. Hard to believe isn’t it? We were just kidding a month ago when we said that Mayor Daley told President to “Let them eat carp.” In fact, he must have told the President to “Sell them on Carp,” because not two weeks later came the new government ad program. We assume that this is the Government’s fall-back position in case the electric carp barrier does not work. Just sell the citizenry on a carp feeding frenzy and hope that commercial fishermen fish out the carp, just like every other species that they go after. Ready for some recipes?

Australian News

Aussie Builds His Own Pontoon Boat

Aussie Pontoon
Watch out, Yanks, there is a new pontoon boat maker in Australia and he is all gassed up and ready to go.

An Australian BoatTEST member recently wrote: "Over the last 18 months I have contacted various (maybe around 15) companies throughout the US asking for price on pontoon boats and shipping costs to Australia and have never had a reply – nothing, not even a note to say they weren’t interested. Sooooo I went to the US to source furniture, built my own pontoon boat. And now I’m awaiting my second shipment of furniture to build my second pontoon boat." Get the full story here...

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Justice of the Week

Courts Tough On Drunk Boaters

K Block
Two convicted boaters will be vacationing on K Block for a total of 35 years.

Increasingly around the country juries are not buying defendants arguments that boating accidents while under the influence of alcohol should somehow be excused because a boat was involved. In two cases reported here juries deliberated just a couple of hours before turning thumbs down. And then in both cases judges sentenced the convicted boat drivers to long prison vacations. Happy cruising fellas. There have been enough boating tragedies involving drunk boaters – they happen every week in the summer time -- that all boats need to have a designated driver when returning from a party. Pass the word on. Perry Mason takes a holiday...

Buying Tip

Non-Current Boats In Short Supply

Buying Tip
It has taken over three years but numbers of non-current boats are dwindling.

“Non-current” boats are new boats from a model year that has past. For example we are currently in the 2010 model year – any “new” boat that has not been sold that was built in model 2009 or older, is considered “non-current.” The glut of these boats on the market is what was responsible for all of the great deals and factory rebates you have seen advertised the last couple of years. The word we get from the field is that – with a few exceptions – most of these boats will be gone in the next six months. So it you want a boat that has never been used for a price you’ll never again see, now is the time to start sweet-talking to your honey about it. (We hope you gave her a nice Valentine's Day present!)

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Grady-White Gulfstream 232
Grady-White Gulfstream 232
Grady-White Tournament 275
Grady-White Tournament 275
Grady-White Express 305
Grady-White Express 305

Owners Reviews
Calling Grady-White Owners

By harnessing the reach of the World Wide Web and the incredible number of visitors to BoatTEST.com, 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 pass along their experience on their boats to help new buyers. These “Owner Comments” go unedited into our database. No matter what Grady-White model you own...

Grady-White Canyon 336
Grady-White Express 330
Grady-White Canyon 366

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Pictures of the Week

Only in Dreams?

Picture of the week
This photo has not been photoshopped.

To see a large picture, when and who took the picture.

Picture of the week
This photo has not been photoshopped.

To see a large picture, when, where and who took the picture. 

Send us your favorite boating images.

Join Us

"The Experts
in Sales Impact"

BoatTEST Impact

If boaters are not considering your brand when they research, how will you sell them one of your boats? Adapt to the new market and increase your consideration among boat buyers -- guaranteed! There is a reason why the leading brands chose to have with BoatTEST.com test their boats -- we are the #1 trusted brand for third party tests and reviews of new boats and engines, globally. 10th yearTo arrange an exploratory meeting click here or email chrishughes@boattest.com
or call 203.253.2836.

"The market has changed, have you?"

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Capt. Steve's Lesson #73

Distress Signal Requirements

Lesson 73
Flares are a sure indication to other boaters that something is wrong. You are required by the Coast Guard to have both day flares and night flares aboard.

This week we’ll go over seven lessons and guidelines on distress signal requirements. If your boat doesn’t have a built-in horn make sure you have a handheld air horn. You will be required to carry a sound device as a horn, or whistle at all times. Boaters are required to have a minimum of three day flares, which emit an orange smoke, and a minimum of three night flares which emit a red light. These flares need to be Coast Guard approved and readily accessible, and like any other device aboard they must be inspected to make sure the expiration date is still valid. Even if you have flares aboard, but they are expired, you will be in violation of Coast Guard requirements. Capt. Steve will also go over what vessels are not required to carry any day signals. These videos are basic procedures and basic information which recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of BoatTEST.com’s USCG-approved boating course called “Smart Boating.” Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com. To view this week’s lessons --

To view past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"The luxury assault craft for the man who has everything, complete with passarelle powered catapult for launching missiles on paparazzi."- D. Clerk

Second Place

"Even after winning the lottery, Billy-Bob still loved to fish from the bank." - J. Miehoff

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Well YOU'RE the one who wanted to visit the Bay of Fundy." - L. Galant

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 2-17

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.

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All articles, Captains’ Reports, video content or other material which appear on BoatTEST.com and in its newsletters are accurate and factual to the best knowledge of BoatTEST.com and its staff.  All findings, beliefs, experiences, or endorsements presented are the honest opinions of BoatTEST.com or its contributors. In compliance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255 BoatTEST.com advises its readers that content that appears in its newsletter or on its website may have been produced for compensation or the prospect of future compensation. BoatTEST.com makes no claims for the voracity or motivation of reader comments, Owners’ Reports, and other contributions which are all clearly labeled as such.