Your First Boat//Prop Right//10 Boat Reviews 13'-26' - 03/31/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter March 31, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- First-Time Boat Buyer
- Bayliner 160 OB
- Mako 184 CC
- Axis A22
- Bennington 2574 RLi
- Hurricane SunDeck 2400
- Yamaha VX Cruiser
- Sailfish 2660 CC
- Alumacraft 165 Lunker
- Glastron GT 205 Ski & Fish
- SeaSwirl 1905 CC
- Ranger Boats: Behind the Boat
- Sea Tow
- Royal Purple Oil
- PowerTech Propellers
- Shurhold Snap-Stick
- No Carp Found
- Rescue of the Week
- Accident of the Week
- Boat Explodes after Refueling
- How to Refuel Safely
- Have BoatTEST Work for You
- Calling all Larson Owners
- Pictures of the Week
- Looking for a New Boat
- Sign Up a Friend
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Advice for
First-Time Boat Buyers

First-Time Buyers
When you are ready to move up to the real thing, following a few simple rules can make buying your first boat a pleasing success.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they decide that it is “now or never.” That moment may come because of one’s age, their children’s age, economic circumstances, health issues, or any number of other reasons. It makes no difference when that day comes, but when it does, our advice is to act on it, because chances are that your subconscious has been rolling the idea around for a long time, and it is now speaking to you directly.

The biggest reason that many people never become boat owners is not because of the cost involved but, rather, because of fear of the unknown. These people fear that they will make a mistake, buy the wrong boat, pay too much, end up having an accident, or will simply be overwhelmed with boat maintenance or some other imagined problem. We all remember what FDR said about fear, and his sage words apply to this subject as well. Here’s our advice for the beginner on which boat to select...

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New Test

Bayliner 160 OB:
Boating Freedom for Young and Old

Bayliner 160 OB
The Bayliner 160 OB is probably as pain-free as boating is ever going to get.

Seven years ago, Bayliner was cranking out 16’ (4.88 m) boats and people were buying them. But then production stopped and the mold was put on a shelf, sitting like a kid’s toy that doesn’t get played with anymore. This year, Bayliner did a favor for a lot of people and dusted off that mold and started making the venerable testament to the simple life, the 160 OB, yet again. We think that’s good news but some are asking, who would want one? The answer is... a lot of people! For starters, retired people wanting to take a boat on vacation, veteran boaters who only plan to use a boat a few times each summer and don’t want to invest a pile in something bigger, and young people starting out on their first boat and want to see if they really like our sport. In fact, our own Capt. Steve’s first boat was a 16’ (4.88 m) outboard and it started a career now spanning 30 years. That’s why, when it came time to test this new 160 OB out, we knew just who to turn to. Check out Capt. Steve’s video review and full captain’s report on the new Bayliner 160 OB here.

View latest MagLog from Bayliner...

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New Video

Mako 184 Center Console:
The Simple Life

Mako 184 CC
The Mako 184 CC has a LOA of 18’4” (5.6 m) a beam of 8'2” (2.5 m), she carries 5 persons and 56 gallons (212 L) of fuel.

Not every boat has to be a complex twin-engine offshore cruiser and not every buyer wants a high-maintenance battlewagon. Sometimes, getting back to the simple things in life is just the ticket to relieve the stress of a long day, or for that matter, a long week. It’s also a great way to introduce your kids to the art of boating and fishing. With that said, the boating life doesn’t get much simpler than a center console. Mako’s 184 CC has all the ingredients of an easy day on the water, and a great day of fishing. Today, we take you on a video tour of the boat and show the features that make it a keeper. And at a no hassle, no haggle price of $21,995 that includes a 115 ELXPT Optimax, you won’t have to kill yourself working eight days a week to pay for it. The simple life never looked so good. Check out the 184 CC from Mako...

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New Boat

The New Axis A22:
Less Is More

Axis A22
The Axis A22 is an affordable wakeboat from a new company spun off from longtime wakeboat builder, Malibu.

For too long, ski and wakeboat builders have clung to the notion that their boats can be expensive, and enough people will pay the price to make it a good business. Indeed, for decades, ten to twelve thousand people a year paid a hefty premium to own an inboard-powered, specially-designed and superbly-built skiboat from one of five or six builders in class. Well, the folks at Malibu, a longtime builder of performance ski and wakeboats, have introduced a price-point wakeboat that is not only affordable, but capable of holding her own in the competitive wakeboat realm. The result is an entirely new company called Axis Wake Research, and its first launch is the Axis A22. Sure, you lose a little in the features department, but not much, which means you still get a very capable boat. Capt. Steve gives a tour of one and his video is here for the watching...

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Pontoon Boats

Bennington 2574 RLi:
Waterfront Luxury for a Toon

Bennington 2574 RLi
The Bennington’s “R” series of pontoon boats bring luxury to the lake, and more people to your party.

The 2574 RLi is part of the luxury line-up that Bennington offers. With four entry points, plush seating, and a raised helm, this is not only a comfortable boat, but the possibilities for customizing it to fit your needs are vast. A long list of options ranging from simple flooring and stereo decisions leads into the more versatile amenities such as chaise lounges, galley choices, storage, and entertainment centers. The result is a pontoon boat that has been adapted and built to your specifications and needs, rather than having you adapt to the boat. With that said, it all starts with the boat. Today, we take you on a video tour of the 2574 RLi. What you add to it is up to you.

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New Boat

Hurricane SunDeck 2400 OB:
Boating’s Swiss Army Knife

Hurricane SunDeck 2400 OB
Can’t decide what kind of boating you’re going to do today? If it’s cruising, fishing, skiing, or wakeboarding, then the Hurricane SunDeck 2400 OB has got you covered.

Need a boat that will keep everyone happy? The Hurricane SunDeck 2400 OB has the versatility to make your day. By removing the cumbersome engine box from the I/O version and replacing it with an outboard engine, the cockpit has been opened up, creating new entertaining possibilities. Today, we take a look at some of the features that make the 2400 SunDeck such a hit, and we go over some of the available options worth considering as well.  Remember, Hurricane is the company which invented the deckboat, so it should know what it's doing.   Grab your swimsuits and check out our full report.

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PWC Test

Yamaha VX Cruiser:
Entry Level and Affordable

Yamaha VX Cruiser
Not only is she affordable, there’s room for three with typical Yamaha performance thrown in.

“Entry Level”, “Affordable”-- call it what you will. It’s definitely not a stripped down version of a PWC, that’s for sure. This Yamaha VX Cruiser is made for getting on the water and having the most fun for the least amount of money, but you don’t get shortchanged on features. This machine has an expanded seating area, larger swim deck, re-boarding step, and a host of other features that will put this on your short list. Add in the low price and this Yamaha model becomes compelling. Check out our short video on the VX Cruiser and read the full report before you buy any PWC. A-cruising we will go...

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Center Console

By Popular Reader Demand:
Video Review of the Sailfish 2660 CC 

Sailfish 2660 CC
Sailfish listened to customer feedback and added in a lot of features that are lacking on other boats when they created the 2660 CC.

Sailfish is doing something in the marketplace because we are getting a lot of reader mail asking for a review.  It looks like Sailfish has discovered that if it's going to build a center console, the only way to keep from “blending in” with every other CC on the planet is to add little touches that make a difference when fishing. We found the 2660 CC by Sailfish to not only be a serious eye catcher, but upon closer inspection, we also found a whole host of items that others seem to forget to put in. To frost the cake, as it were, Sailfish also added isinglass to create a “pilothouse” by surrounding the entire center console, making this truly an all-weather boat. We haven’t tested this boat yet, but with her high freeboard and wide flared bow, she’s obviously made for kicking it offshore. Join us as we take a video tour of some of the standout features that make a difference on the Sailfish 2660 CC. You'll see why are readers are interested...

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Entry Level

Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS:
One of the Best Values in Boating?

Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS
While it may not have a ton of bells and whistles, the Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS has a ton of value.

Sometimes a "bargain buy" works out better for the builder, like when they get cheap parts from overseas and have robots doing the assembling. However, in the case of the Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS, we’d have to say that the buyer is definitely the one getting the better part of this deal. Dollar for dollar, this boat, at under $10K, consistently delivers its value to satisfied customers, and if our reader emails are any indication, they also give one of the best customer service experiences in the business -- which is unusual for a price-point aluminum boat brand. If you’re looking for a boat that can be towed by just about anything, and be launched just about anywhere, then check out our report on the Alumacraft Lunker 165 CS. It’s a get-r-done kind of boat...

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Affordable CC

Seaswirl 1905 CC:
Beauty Through Simplicity

Seaswirl 1905 CC
We take a look at the all new Seaswirl 1905 CC at the recent NYC Boat Show.

The 1905 CC is the latest launch from Seaswirl and its beauty is not only in its simplicity but also in its graceful curving lines as your eye sweeps back from the bow to the stern. She has nice high stainless steel bowrails that add to her form and safety, where others merely put recessed grab rails almost as an afterthought. Pull off the pads from the bow and you have a non-skid casting platform. Add to the mix the fact that this boat was produced with the latest VEC Technology that significantly reduces labor and improves quality, and you now have an affordable boat that should be on your short list. Bring your rods and check out the video...

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Stealth for Fishing

Glastron GT 205 Ski and Fish:
How to Sneak a Fishing Boat
into a Skiing Family

Glastron GT 205 Ski and Fish
Those sneaky guys at Glastron! They managed to create a stealth fishing boat that hides its fishy features until you’re ready to bring them out.

We like fish and ski packages, but this...  this is a whole new twist on the theme and we love how Glastron managed to pull it off. You’ve basically got a sportboat that keeps its fishy side hidden until the urge strikes you to head off on a sick day from work. Clever use of seating and storage allows you to convert the boat over from one use to another, and with the exception of the trolling motor attached to the bow, you’d never know the fishing part exists. Even better, you don’t have to make a trip to the dock to accomplish it. To see what we’re talking about, check out the video with our Capt. Keith. James Bond would be proud.

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An “Inside Look” at a Ranger

Ranger Boats
No factory tour this time. Today we actually look inside a Ranger Boats 208 VX.

Join us as we take a look at a cutaway version of a Ranger Boats' 208 VX and see what goes into the build of one of these popular bass boats. By literally opening up various parts of the boat, we can get a much more detailed look at the technology that goes into building a strong and capable boat that should last you a lifetime. It’s a unique inside peek, and much more revealing than a simple factory tour. Join our Capt. Rob as we take a look “Behind the Boat”.  No hard hat required this time...

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Do You Have
On-Water Assistance?

Sea Tow
The best – and least costly – time to line up your on-water assistance is before you leave the dock. Take our advice, because we have done it the hard and expensive way.

Before beginning your 2010 boating season, be sure to prepare for things that could go wrong on the water. (Remember Murphy’s Law!) That includes making sure your boat is insured (50% of the boats on the water are not) and that you have adequate on-water assistance coverage. A towing rider that accompanies an insurance policy might not get you where you need to go, or even pay for a jump start, if that is all you need. Our advice is to carefully research your insurance policy’s on-water assistance benefits, then pair it with a membership to a well-known and respected on-water assistance company, such as Sea Tow.

Why? Having a towing rider on your insurance policy does not guarantee that someone will come assist you. By having a membership to an on-water assistance company you are guaranteed response by a licensed, professional captain with a properly equipped towboat. These companies provide services similar to those that AAA provides along America's roadways. We have known and worked with the team at Sea Tow for over ten years and have found them to be professional, well-organized and extremely customer-friendly – and that is why we recommend them. Our advice is to check them out and to pay particular attention to the Sea Tow Gold Card membership, which 95% of its members have.

You never know when and where a breakdown will occur, but when it does it's good to know you have reliable and low-cost on-water assistance available.

Learn more about all Sea Tow membership options here...


Royal Purple Claims to Increase Horsepower

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

The folks at Royal Purple claim their products deliver superior protection and improve performance in both gasoline and diesel marine engines, two-stroke or four-stroke. They also say that their synthetic oil increases horsepower, reduces engine wear and emissions. We can’t attest to general claims of this kind, but we can say that in tests conducted by BoatTEST of Royal Purple compared with conventional oil,  Royal Purple recorded 10.7% better fuel economy on average over a normal rpm operating range in a 5.0 L sterndrive engine, and 5.2 % better fuel economy in a Yamaha 1812 cc PWC engine.  We'll keep you posted as we test other engines with Royal Purple motor oil. Learn more about Royal Purple oil for marine applications --

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Change The Prop to Change Performance

Your prop is the key to improving your boat’s performance. Why buy a new engine or boat, when all you might need is a new prop?

Many boaters are not aware that they can change characteristics of their boat’s performance simply by changing the propeller. For example, if you are the type of boater who runs at a particular speed/rpm setting for long periods of time, you can maximize your efficiency by selecting the prop that optimizes your engine’s output at that speed/rpm. Or, if you want to improve the hole shot performance of your boat, changing your prop might be the answer. Want to maximize your top speed? Again, the right prop can do that for you. You can even change the time and speed it takes for your boat to get on plane by changing the prop. Even though there are hundreds of prop design choices, finding exactly the right prop for your specific boat, engine, and use application is actually quite easy when you consult an expert. We can tell you first hand that the team at PowerTech! Propellers are some of the best in the world at matching the correct prop to every boating application. All you need do is fill out this simple worksheet to find out what prop is right for you...(no obligation)...

Visit PowerTech!'s homepage...

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Shurhold Snap-Stick: No More Corroded Snaps or Zippers

Shurhold Snap-Stick
This is a lubricant and protectant for snaps and zippers.

If there is something that all boaters can relate to, it's corrosion, no matter where it is, it’s annoying and damaging. So how about when you go to uncover the boat and you can’t get the snap to unsnap, or you can’t get the zippers to move? (#*?@&#!!) The team at Shurhold has a simple and effective product that can prevent this from happening and keep your language civil. Snap-Stick is designed to keep your snaps and zippers from corroding and also acts as a lubricant. The thing the BoatTEST team likes most about this product is that it is easy and fast to use. You just rub a little on the male end of each snap from the stick.  It's like a giant lip balm for your boat. For your zipper, it just as easy. In fact, we think you will end up finding several other uses for it just as we did. Watch a video on the Snap-Stick to see it in action.

You can get all the info on the product here.

Promo: FREE Tube of Snap-Stick with any purchase. Coupon Code: BTSS Exp. 4/30/2010

Carp Fiasco

No Carp Found in Lake
Supremes Still Unmoved

Chicago Canal
The Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal is the route that carp are likely to take to reach Lake Michigan.

For those who are concerned about Asian carp invading the Great Lakes we have some good news and some bad news. The good news: On Monday a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said that no Asian carp had been found beyond the Army Corps’ electric barrier during a six-week investigation which just ended. The bad news: Last week the U.S. Supreme Court again turned down a request by the attorney generals of several states to close the locks linking Lake Michigan to Asian carp-infested waters. For the latest news on Asian carp and their threat to Lake Michigan...

Ten Years
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Rescue of the Week

Kayaker Rescues
The Three Stooges

Rescue of the Week
The Stooges borrowed this outboard boat which they managed to capsize.

Regular readers might recall that two years ago the Three Stooges – sans life vests -- were rescued by the Coast Guard in Hawaii when their small boat capsized. Well, last week the boys were at it again – and again, sans life vests, of course – but this time the hapless (and witless) three were rescued by a passing kayak dude who was out fishing. Once the Stooges were safely ashore, the Good Samaritan retrieved the borrowed boat’s life vests which were floating in the water, not that they’ll ever be used. For those skeptics that think we’re making this up...

See local TV video...

Accident of the Week

Gas Generators
Strike Again

Accident of the Week
This houseboat was the scene of three deaths last week believed due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a gas generator.

Once again it happened on a houseboat, and once again the killer seems to have been a gas generator. Last Tuesday night, March 23rd, three adults were found dead on their houseboat which was floating 200 feet offshore in Huntington Harbor, New York. From the picture the boat seems to be an older model and we assume the same is true of its generator. Once again urges all boaters with non-CO safe gas generators aboard to turn them into scrap immediately. The life you save may be yours, a loved one, or the unfortunate and unaware person who buys the boat from you when you go to sell it. For more on this tragic story...

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Safety Tip

Boat Explodes After Refueling in Portland

A 32’ cabin cruiser is seen here burning after exploding a few feet from the refueling dock.

Witnesses said that debris shot 30 feet into the air when a 32’ cabin cruiser exploded after refueling. The boat’s three occupants were thrown into the water. All were quickly rescued and one is in critical condition, but is expected to live at press time. This accident is typical of what we hear year after year – an old boat which had been newly purchased explodes when an engine is started after a refueling. To find out more about this accident...

See interview of fuel station’s owner...

See Allstate refueling safety video...

Safety Procedures

How to Refuel Safely Every Time

How to Refuel Safely Every Time
Don’t rely on the fueling station attendant to tell you how to refuel. You are responsible for safe refueling.

Every year there are dozens of boat explosions after refueling. In fact, with a gasoline-powered boat, the moments just after refueling when the blowers are turned on and the engines are started is the precise time when explosions are most likely to occur. Fuel leaks can happen on any boat at any time in any number of places. While explosions after refueling typically happen on older boats, Murphy’s Law holds true for new boats as well.  How to refuel safely... 

Ten Years
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Larson 1700 LX
Larson 1750 LX
Larson Escape 204
Larson Escape 204
Larson Senza 206
Larson Senza 206

Owners Reviews
Calling Larson Owners

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 pass along their experience on their boats to help new buyers. These “Owner Comments” go unedited into our database. Give fellow readers your input, no matter what Larson model you own.

Larson LXi 218
Larson Escape 234 I/O
Larson LXi 238
Larson Escape 254
Larson LXi 258
Larson Cabrio 274
Larson LXi 288

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Pictures of the Week

Only in Dreams?

Picture of the Week

See a larger picture, when and who took the picture.

Send us your favorite boating images.

When sending, let us know what boat you were on, where and when the photo was taken.

Free Gift Idea

Give This Newsletter
To a Boating Friend

Aussie Pontoon
The e-newsletter is filled with boat reviews, engine reports and how-to info.

Why not share the information you get in the weekly newsletters with your boating friends? They’ll thank you for this thoughtful gift.  Right here...

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

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Member Services

Are You Looking
For a New Boat?

Member Services
The staff at has helped thousands of members with their new boat buying from boats 15' to over 100'.

If you are currently researching new yachts 30' or larger, the BoatTEST staff will be happy to provide their expertise and guidance to you via email or phone. This is part of our member services program and there is no charge. We do not sell boats and we are not a dealer. Our purpose is to provide you with our insights and recommendations and to leverage our industry relationships in your favor. Sign in here --

Ten Years

Just for Builders

Are You Getting the Best Advice?

BoatTEST Impact

If your advertising and marketing partner is not providing you with feedback from boaters that helps you sell your boats, then maybe it’s time for a change. With the largest community of self-identified new boat buyers in the world, imagine what you could do with the knowledge we gather each day. As the only marine media organization that maintains constant communication with boaters who are researching their next new boat, we can provide the guidance and tools to increase your contact and engagement with new boat buyers. For a consulting call, please call Christopher J. Hughes at 203. 323.9900 or email him at

"The market is evolving, are you keeping pace?"

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How to Correctly Tie Your Boat to a Dock

Lesson 78
With current on your bow, first attach the bow line, as it will prevent the boat from drifting backwards, and it will also keep the boat from being pulled away from the dock.

This week Capt. Steve goes over eight new lessons and guidelines on tying up to a dock and how to correctly use lines in order to secure your boat. Capt. Steve will explain what spring lines and breast lines are used for, and how to use them to your advantage when leaving the dock. It’s important to learn how to properly secure your boat to the dock so it won’t drift back into another boat or pull away too much from the dock. These are basic procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of’s USCG-approved boating course narrated by Capt. Steve.  Watch these 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

"Slow out of the hole but she gets on plane real nice!" - J. Beleski

Second Place

"She's the envy of the whole marina."
- M. Burton

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"The cost cutting at American Airlines had become more noticeable..." - S. Melsom

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 3-31

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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 and in its newsletters are accurate and factual to the best knowledge of and its staff.  All findings, beliefs, experiences, or endorsements presented are the honest opinions of or its contributors. In compliance with FTC 16 CFR Part 255 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. makes no claims for the veracity or motivation of reader comments, Owners’ Reports, and other contributions which are all clearly labeled as such.