In Boat Buying
In case you haven’t noticed, boaters are not buying boats the way they used to. We don’t mean that sales numbers are lower (although that is certainly true), rather we mean that boaters are going about the “buying process” in a new way – we call it the “Big Shift.” And it is not just the way people are buying boats, it’s also the way they are now buying most every big ticket item. Not only are the old days of the “hard sell” long past, but the days of nearly any type of “pushy” selling is over. Consumers have tuned out the barrage of advertising dumped on them. They no longer want to be told what to buy, and are unimpressed with pretty pictures and claims of heaven-on-earth and world’s-best-performance. Consumers now want hard information and knowledge. With that in hand, they’ll reach out and select the products they want – when they’re ready!
In most categories of boats there are a lot of choices, and it is very easy to pick the wrong one for a specific application and circumstance. These days consumers know that. They also know where not to look for advice. Who’s going to tell you if a particular brand or model is cycling out of favor, or if a product is on the wrong side of its life cycle, or that the crusty old boat builder of the brand you love just sold out to a quick-buck slickster? Consumers are now looking for the insights that will give them mastery of the art of boat buying. Have you made the shift or are you still buying the old-fashioned way? Come into our parlor and we’ll tell you about the major “Big Shifts” that are taking place...
New Mainship 35 Trawler:
Starter-Trawler for a Couple
If you have been thinking about moving up into the cruising life but are not sure if you (or your spouse) will like it, then the new Mainship 35 might just be the ticket for you. Don’t think that just because this boat is only 35’ long you can’t do long-distance coastal work in her. You can. Remember that the now much-revered Grand Banks line of trawlers started with a 36-footer. The new Mainship 35 is affordable ($315k MSRP), easy to handle (has both a bow and stern thruster standard), and is equipped with dependable diesel engines, either twins or a single, for economical operation.
Let’s take a closer look...
Sunseeker Predator 64:
A Yacht That Walks the Talk
Sunseeker created the Predator 64 as a replacement for the 62. It’s a semi-custom
yacht allowing you to re-configure certain aspects to suit your needs. As an example, you can opt for a 2 cabin layout, or three, a queen berth, two doubles, a single and an office, or a dinette center opposite the galley. And you can enjoy your ride in fully enclosed climate controlled comfort, or slide open the aft doors to “bring the outdoors in”. Sunseeker tells us that the Predator 64 will reach 35 knots with 2200 PS engines, and cruise at 28, so it’s a safe bet that your ride will be exhilarating. But this boat is not about performance. Sunseeker has gone to great lengths to foster its image of building boats that clearly lets others know you’ve arrived, and have done so in style. Check out our tour of the Sunseeker Predator 64 and see if it can make a statement for you.
Sunseeker Predator 64 video...
Video Details of ZF’s
New Joystick Maneuvering System (JMS)
While ZF Marine’s JMS system is relatively new, we’ve been hearing a lot of talk
about it in the industry -- all positive. In fact, a recent test we conducted showed
how impressive its capabilities are on a 60 Viking convertible.
It certainly made a believer out of our test captain. Now, we give you
a video look at the components that go into a typical installation so you can see
firsthand what it takes to either retrofit the system to your boat, or add it to
a new build with little fuss. Maneuver your mouse here...
And if you missed the test video, it’s right here...
Larson Cabrio 330:
We Compare Her to the Competition
In the day-express cruiser category, boats in the 30’ (3.1 m) - 33' (10.06 m) range are exceedingly popular because of their large accommodations below and because
their size is not
intimidating. They’re easy to maintain, which makes them more fun to own, and when taking a weekend away from the hassles of the office, easier is better. Today, we take a look at Larson’s entry into the field, the Cabrio 330. She has the look and feel of a much larger express cruiser, and her layout can actually accommodate 6 adults. The Cabrio 330 also excels in fuel and water capacity, which means she’ll have longer legs than the competition. Step aboard with us as we take a video look at the features of the Cabrio 330 by Larson and compare her performance to the competition.
Complete video tests on the Larson 330 series.
Formula 31 PC:
A Lesson In Finishing Details
You saw our recent test of the popular Formula 31 PC, and now we take you on a video
tour of her features and layout. To be sure, this boat isn’t for everyone. Formulas
are somewhat more expensive than most boats in class. Nevertheless, no matter what price-point and no matter what brand you select, you should know what top-quality looks like. With this knowledge you can better judge the value of what you are getting no matter how much or how little you pay. When buying any boat you need to exercise your boat-detail connoisseurship to see how it measures up to the price you are paying. The Formula 31 PC is a benchmark of excellence.
Step aboard and see what we mean...
Big Game Hunting
Rampage 41 Express:
Taking the Fish to the Next Level
Rampage continues to impress not only with its versatility in the cockpit layouts, but also in the fit and finish of its cabins. For cockpit versatility, we love the removable/swap-able pod units that allow you to customize your layout to your fishing style. Down below, if you entered the boat with your eyes closed, you’d never know you were on a fishing boat. Teak and holly sole, cherry wood interior finished to perfection, a full galley... the list just goes on and on. This model comes standard with ZF drives with trolling valves which means you can upgrade to the JMS joystick system anytime you want. Check out our video of the Rampage 41 Express and you’ll see what we mean.
See full report...
Long Range Cruising
With a Single Engine?
Would you drive cross-country without a spare tire? What about cross an ocean with just one engine? Twenty years ago, maybe even ten years ago there were boat builders that steadfastly held to the ideal of single-engine long range cruising, but now almost all have caved into most yachtsmens’ desire for redundancy in propulsion. But the rationale of the single engine is compelling for long range displacement cruising, and with the Chinese buying 900,000 new cars a month, how long can fuel stay at even $80 a barrel? Happily there is a middle ground. It is called the “wing” engine, and a number of builders of LRC’s offer it as an alternative to the devil (twin engines) or the deep blue-sea (a single engine).
If you are thinking about making a passage to the Marquesas someday, this is a subject you need to investigate.
You can start right here...
Cruisers Yachts 520 Sports Coupe:
Now with Triple IPS – But Is She a Fuel Hog?
Cruisers Yachts has made form and function come together in the 520 Sports Coupe that rivals express yachts coming out of Europe at twice the price. In our book there is nothing quite like American marine engineering and systems installations coming from a solid, experienced quality builder such as Cruisers Yachts. And, of course, the ergonomics of the 520 Sports Coupe are all man-sized as well. The cockpit lends itself to entertaining both dockside and underway, and the helm is among the nicest layouts we’ve seen. The interior is first-rate while remaining functional and airy, offering some of the highest headroom in class. All of this is well and good – but, ye gods, she has three engines! Won’t that mean she will burn 33% more fuel? Doesn’t that mean she will have 1/3rd more maintenance problems?
look at the test data...
The Buying Process
At Hargrave Custom Yachts
If you have never commissioned a custom motoryacht before, then at first the process might seem a bit daunting. But like most things in life, once you have done it and know the ropes, it is no longer intimidating. One of the nice things about dealing with the people at Hargrave Custom Yachts is that they are just plain folks who love boats and have been in the business for over 30 years. Each year they typically work with 20 to 40 clients at some point in the boat building process from “just thinking about it” all the way through completion and delivery of a new yacht. Typically, the cost of building a Hargrave can run anywhere from $2 to $20 million, depending on size and equipment, and while that might sound like a lot, they are usually significantly less expensive than a similar-sized yacht from a production builder where the boat you get is like dozens of others.
If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like commissioning a new Hargrave custom yacht, and having a boat built to match your unique personality, tastes and boating needs, step into our office...
Marquis Yachts 420 SC:
A Good Boat Gets Better
Marquis doesn’t exactly build inexpensive yachts, nor do they intend to. Its up-market
brand has a level of attention to detail that is a big improvement over some “mass-market” names in the same size range. What sort of quality are we talking about here? Look:
cabinets are all cut from the same piece of African Zebrano wood so grains match perfectly, outside decks are all teak, inside decks are Brazilian Cherry, and
cockpit that expands or contracts at the push of a button, depending on your entertainment needs. Most important, it was designed specifically for IPS propulsion, so you can have both joystick control and optimum performance from the hull. It’s all in a day's work for Marquis. Let’s take a closer look at the Marquis 420 SC and delve deeper into what quality means to this builder.
View our Marquis 420 SC report here...
Contact Marquis Yachts 920-822-3214
Repowering with Yanmar's
Lightweight, Compact 480-hp Diesel
One of the best ways to protect your investment in a boat and keep it from being a depreciating asset is to buy one that has already depreciated to something just above its retail "flatline." The great thing about fiberglass boats is that their hulls and decks will still be around for the next Ice Age, so all one needs to do is rehab a boat, much like an old house is renovated – new interior and equipment, paint, and engines. The engine brand and block of choice among people doing repower in the 30’ to 45’ range is the Yanmar 6LY3 ETP with output up to 480-hp. There are four reasons why this engine is so popular: 1) its superior power/weight ratio, 2) its compact size, 3) its reliability, and 4) Yanmar’s dedication to the repower market and in-depth customer service. To find out more about this remarkable engine, watch the two BoatTEST.com videos presented below.
Rob Smith explains the Yanmar 6LY3 diesel...
Interview of a builder who specified the 6LY3 Yanmar diesel...
Regal 52 Sport Coupe:
A Video Look at the Helm Layout
One of the standouts of the Regal lineup is the 52 Sport Coupe. It has so much going for it that we had to view it all in separate shoots. Today, we take the position of the owner/operator and take a close look at the helm: the layout, visibility, temperature handling, and the comfort level. All that we’re about to show you, and more, is available in a 53’ (16.15 m) yacht, nicely loaded for under $1m. It’s a “must-see” boat.
Join us behind the helm...
How To Keep Growth
Off Underwater Metal
Painting your boat’s bottom is a straightforward job: You, or your boatyard, apply new paint over old. But what about the running gear – struts, shafts, trim tabs, propellers? Bare metal, especially if you don’t use your boat often, will soon sport a luxurious coat of underwater flora, and maybe even barnacles by season’s end. Excessive growth creates unnecessary drag, impairs efficiency and costs money to scrape off at haul-out.
Here’s the right way to prevent it...
Check Out Our Videos
Okay, so you are not buying a new boat this season. Then, why not add some sex appeal and fun to your boat this spring by adding underwater lights? They actually cost less than you may think, they are easy for the yard to install, and they are more fun than a kettle of fish. And at night, that’s what they will draw if there are any around. Many species of fish are drawn to lights at night and they provide great family entertainment if not fresh filets for the barbie. We have actually caught tarpon at night with underwater lights (didn’t eat them, though.) To see our library of 18 underwater lights videos...
Shurhold PVA Towel
Put Through the Ringer
When we asked the team at Shurhold what is different about their PVA towels they
told us that they absorb
50 percent more water than natural chamois, making for faster and more effective
drying. So we translated that into, a better job drying your boat and leaving a shine.
Then we gave it a shot on our test boat after a few hours on the water in Long Island Sound. All we did was spray her down with fresh water and proceeded to wipe it down from the windscreen to the keel. The total elapsed time to completely dry a 24 foot boat was 11 minutes and 20 seconds. Take our word
for it, there were no spots or streaks left behind, actually quite a nice shine. The towels come in an extra large size of 17"
x 27" (43 cm x 69 cm).
Learn more here...
Good Seamanship Starts with
Regular readers know that we like check lists. We think that if this technique is good enough for the gray-haired ex air force pilots now flying a 737 full of passengers, then it’s good enough for us. Have you ever noticed that when you are ready to leave the dock you often get in a hurry? And then you forget things? We see it all the time. A boater has been working hard at a desk all week long and he can’t wait to get out on the water to go fishing, cruising, or rendezvous at his favorite beach with his buds. At one time or another we’ve seen boaters leave with lines still tied to cleats, a shore power cord still plugged in, and the dog and kids still ashore.
Let’s review a short, basic check list, and do what the U.S. Coast Guard does...speak Latin...
Brought to you by Sea Tow
Riviera Yachts Taken
Off the Auction Block!
In a get-up-from-the-mat comeback that would make Rocky Balboa proud, Australia’s Riviera Yachts announced April 9th that it would survive in tact, pay off its creditors, and hire more staff. In our 41 years in the boating business we have never seen such a dramatic and impressive turnaround by a boat builder that just 11 months ago was on the brink of bankruptcy. The reason for this incredible resurrection is the fact that Riviera has sold over 100 new boats in the last 11 months – something unequalled by any of the world’s other major convertible boat builders. And behind that remarkable sales feat is Riviera’s CEO, John Anderson, a 24-year veteran of the boating industry who has seen it all. He is a man who we have watched at boat company after boat company plan his work, then work his plan – successfully. To find out more about this impressive success...
Dometic Air Conditioning:
World’s Largest Marine A/C Company
You may not have heard of Dometic, but we’ll just bet you’ve heard of air conditioner giants, Cruisair or Marine Air. Well, several years ago these American leaders in marine air conditioning were bought by Dometic, a European company. The result was the largest marine air conditioning company in the world with sales and service all over the planet. Today, Capt Rob Smith takes us on a review of what makes the difference in the way Dometic creates an air conditioning system, and why you want to request one on your next build. It’s one cool video.
Accident of the Week
Potential Boat Buyer
Gets Blown Off
We have noted before that old boats often explode just after they have been sold to a new, and uninformed owner. Well, last week a boat exploded just before it was sold! Vern Banta of Stuart, Florida, didn’t want his old express cruiser any more and had found an interested buyer. All the buyer wanted was a little run in the boat before writing his check. As Banta, his wife, and the potential buyer just pushed off from the dock it exploded, followed by a flash fire. Could there possibly be a link between old boats owned by people who no longer want them and inattention to maintenance which sometimes leads to explosions? Find out more...
The team at BoatTEST is always searching for new and non-current boats which are exceedingly good values available at prices that make them a “Special Find”. We have found a boat that fits this bill at Boardwalk Marina in Stratford, CT. This Fountain 42 Lightning high-performance boat is powered by Twin 700Sci engines and
comes with a long list of standards including a head-up display, engine paint package, Northstar M84, and custom paint and upholstery. If you are in the market for a boat of this type, get the full details and special price here.
Calling Rampage 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. Give fellow readers
your input, no matter what Rampage model you own..
Pictures of the Week
Only in Dreams?
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Are You Looking
For a New Boat?
If you are currently researching a new boat, 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 --
Just For Builders
Are You Getting the Best Advice?
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 has changed, have you?"
BoatTEST.com Lesson of the Week
How to Approach an Inlet and Dock
in a Strong Current
This week Capt. Steve goes over seven new lessons and guidelines on how to dock your boat in a strong current and how to carefully approach an inlet in heavy waves. Learn about a sea anchor, and what it’s used for. Capt. Steve will demo some approaches that show you how to dock going into the current, he’ll also go over how to dock with the tide behind you, and how to slowly drift into the dock with the tide. These are basic procedures which all 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 --
Ducky Award Winner
"You heard me Darla, he's got an ass you could strike a match on AND he loves to
fish - we're through!" - R. Davis
"He's been wearing them ever since his wife found them in his back seat."
Honorable (almost) Mentions
"I told you the tag said 'tumble dry low.'"
- C. Riotto
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