Wake Boarding, Wake Surfing, Waterskiing
or Tubing --
Which Boat is Best?
With hundreds of sportboat and runabout models on the market from scores of builders, making a decision as to which boat to buy can be difficult. Throw in the fact that there are four distinctly different types of boat in this category -- sterndrive, outboard, jet drive, and inboard powered -- and the fact that different watersports are best done with certain boat configurations, and you begin to see the magnitude the of problem. Making a decision among sportboats between one boat and several others is often perplexing for even long-time boat owners.
But like virtually all things in boating, if the "mission" of the boat is narrowly defined, then the decision becomes much easier. Most boats are built primary for one or two specific activities and other uses for the boat are tertiary. By first identifying what your primary goal for your new boat is, and then by finding out what the builder's intention was when he designed the boat, sportboat buyers can zero-in on a short list of models that will meet their needs.
Adding a price-point consideration creates yet another dimension to the search for the best boat for any given need and purse. Then there is the matter of warranty and aftermarket customer service. But before drilling down to those details, you must get the type of boat selected first. This week Seattle yacht broker Martha Comfort provides us with installment #6 in a series of articles on boat buying.
There may be more to watersports than you thought...
New Test Video
Formula 290 FX4:
First Full Performance Test
We recently reported that we were at the unveiling of the Formula FX4 in New York,
and that report ended a long news blackout on what came to be a very cool departure
from the norm, even for Formula. Today, we bring you the first video of the performance
test of the newest member of the Formula fleet. Is she all chrome steel and sex
appeal, and does she walk the line like the sports vessel she appears to be? Find out for yourself in this video...
Evinrude E-TEC 300-H.P.:
Why This Engine is So Reliable?
Let’s see... take a 2-stroke 300-hp outboard, add in a “no maintenance” schedule
of 3-years/300 hours, forget about oil changes entirely, and at the end of the season,
the engine fogs itself automatically, with no trips to the dealer, and what do you
get? In our opinion, you get a pretty good set-up. And it’s exactly what we found
in the Evinrude E-TEC 300-hp engine. Since this outboard has no valves, belts, camshafts
or pulleys to adjust or replace, and in fact has 195 fewer parts to need maintenance
or go wrong than a comparable 4-stroke, we thought we’d take a look and see what
it does have. As it turns out, the answer is, quite a lot. Take a look at our video tour and see for yourself...
New Test Video
Seaswirl 1905 CC Striper:
Smooth Styling and Simple Systems
We’ve been watching the building of the Striper 1905 CC for some time now. Even in her early stages we could see that this boat was a departure from what we normally see coming out of the Little Falls factory. Gone were the hard lines and sharp edges, replaced with rounded gunwales and sleek curves. We took a second look
when she showed her stuff at the New York boat show and drew crowds. Now it’s time to test her in the water and see if she drives as well as she looks. Our new test
video will put your in the driver’s seat of this affordable new boat.
Sun Tracker Party Hut 30:
Sun Tracker Goes Up Another Level!
Sun Tracker’s Party Hut adds a second level to your entertainment and relaxation. Face it, if you do entertain on the lake, river or bayou more room is always needed whether it is for family or friends. You get more than just a small corner with a faucet to keep the snacks and beverages going. This Hut has a dedicated galley with dinette to serve from.
Get more details from this review of the Sun Tracker Party Hut 30 here...
Hurricane SunDeck 2000 OB:
All Hands On Deck (Boat)
It strikes us as funny that a boat built for relatively sheltered waters would be called a Hurricane. Maybe it's because if you own one, you'll be having a blast? All punning aside, Hurricane is one of the best-selling deckboats, and this SunDeck 2000 OB is the newest model in the line. It comes with a lot of features, can step out smartly with only 150 horses on the transom, and buying one will relieve you of less than $40,000. If you're into having lots of fun on the water, and want room for a bunch of friends to come along, it's a boat we think you should check out.
All it takes is a click...
Stratos 201 XL Evolution:
Keeping Costs Down to Earth
Some time ago we traveled out to a lake in western Arkansas to find out ourselves why Stratos sales had taken a big bump up. What we discovered was that the
201 XL Evolution is fast, stable and comfortable from the wider bow with padding to the ergonomic seats. Well, organized and LED-lit boxes mean you can do some speed changes in gear and not miss a big bass. Speaking of big fish, they will be happier and livelier at the weigh-in if caught aboard the 201 XL: their box is lit, insulated and plenty of fresh water circulates. And, the price is right.
Watch the video...
New Test Video
Larson LX 620 O/B:
Some wonder about the logic of a company introducing a new small boat in this economy. While it’s true that there’s not a large markup on a small boat, the fact is that once you introduce someone to a brand and its dealer, that brand has the inside
track on making the sale when that boater moves up. Such is the logic behind building a brand new model of an entry-level boat when other builders are afraid to even modify the design on an old boat. This LX 620 O/B has an attractive list of options that might hook anyone who may be thinking about getting into boating. And for the old salts living out their retirement, this 1,150 lbs. (522 kg) boat can be trailered behind just about any vehicle. We tested this new model recently and our test video is ready for viewing.
Yamaha 242 Limited S:
A New Jet-Propelled Test
We all know how Yamaha has been driving the competition nuts with their powerboat line. They have great features, a massive comfort level, and a price hard to touch. But all that has nothing to do with where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. We wanted to know if this boat, with its jet drives, has the muscle to keep up with the competition, and deliver speed, hole shot, and handling. So, with that in mind, it was off to the testing grounds. The full test and features video is ready to go.
Take a look...
Baja 245 Performance:
Pocket Rocket For All Ages
If you're having a mid-life crisis, but you're not overflowing with cash, Baja has just the boat for you: The 245 Performance is built like a big boat but has the price tag of a small one. Its single engine won't drown you in fuel bills. It has all the cool go-fast gear you want, raceboat-style controls and gauges and, with the biggest engine Baja will install, should be fast enough to outrun advancing age. (Well, maybe not quite.) Nevertheless, add a few options, and the 245 Performance will be a fun boat for chasing your lost youth. If you are gounf in both body and
heart, the Baja 245 Performance will keep you pumped. Find out why and how...
New Test Video
Glastron GLS 215 Bowrider:
A Mid-Size Sportboat Contender
The GLS 215 BR certainly comes to the table loaded with good looks. Our test boat had an optional wakeboard tower that only added to the sporty look that this boat already had going for it. Back off on the throttle and the wake cranks up. Add power and you’ll hit a top speed of 50.2 mph with a standard 270-hp engine. We also found some innovative features that will surely help with the heavy competition this boat faces. Check out our full test video and full report for the whole story on how this boat stacks up.
FinCraft 17 SC:
A Loaded Starter Package
When Dad looks for a fishing boat that is qualified to take the kids out for a day with the rod and reel, the qualifications are tough. Typically, aluminum is the way to go because of weight and price. However, FinCraft’s VEC technology for building fiberglass boats has it going head-to-head with aluminum’s price and weight. Add to that the 17SC’s features such as high cockpit sides that help keep everyone onboard, a painted trailer, a 50-hp standard engine, plus a whole host of fishy features, and you have a combination that warrants a second look. So join us as we look again at a boat that is drawing stares.
Doral 295 Prestancia:
European Flair And Cruising Class
Who puts side decks in a pocket cruiser? A builder that’s used to thinking outside the box, that’s who. And that was just one of the unique features that we found on our tour of the Doral 295 Prestancia. As it turns out, European influences seem to fit well with creative thinking. Our first video showed how nicely this 32' 2'' (9.80 m) sport yacht handled; this time we take a close inspection of the interior layout to see if she is as comfortable below as she is on deck.
5 Sport Boats For
It is not too early to start planning for next season's fun on the water. We believe in a twist to the old adage and it goes: "You must plan your play then play your plan." To get things started we thought we'd start with sportboats, and you can get a brand new 18- to 20-footer for less money than you may have thought. Our criteria was that the boat must have a 4.3L sterndrive engine, include a trailer as standard and cost under $25k.
Here's our "Top 5" list...
Many people running boats with 3-blade props struggle in towing situations. In some cases they have to get Mom and the kids in the bow just to get the boat on plane, sometimes the boat keeps falling off plane when it is slowed down for the skier, and sometimes the boat has to be going so fast to get portly Paul up on his slalom ski he is no longer at the end of the tow rope. All of these scenarios and more are typical of the disadvantages of having a 3-blade prop on a sterndrive lower unit when towing.
Here's how to give your boat some towing mojo...
Get started with the Prop Worksheet
Belong on Every Boat
For the last several months we have been highlighting many products from the Shurhold company, America’s leader in boat maintenance products. But, frankly, they have far, far too many products for us to describe them all. If you care about maintaining your boat in Bristol fashion, then we suggest you look at all of their products, so you can see what we have missed that you really need. In many cases, you’ll probably find just the thing you have been searching for.
Learn more here...
Only In Dreams
Picture of the Week
See a larger picture, when and who took it -- and where!
Send us your favorite boating images.
When sending a photo, let us know what boat you were on, where and when the photo
What Makes A Sea Tow Captain?
Ever wonder if you’ve got the “right stuff” to make it as a tow boat captain? We’ve
got captains on our staff that have wide ranging and diverse backgrounds, and they
all agreed -- this takes a special sort of a captain, not only for the skill set,
but for the pronounced lack of freedom such a job entails. Heck, these guys get
calls 24/7! Is it any wonder most aren’t married? Today, we look at what sort of
person becomes a Sea Tow captain, and what his/her life is really like. More...
This message is brought to you by the
team at Sea Tow.
Edmunds' Top 10 Vehicles
For Boat Towing
For many people the controlling factor over what boat they buy is the towing capacity of their vehicle. Smart boaters know never to exceed the stated towing capacity of their vehicles and most boaters of trailerable boats buy their vehicles in anticipation of their next boat. To get an idea of what vehicles could handle a range of trailerable boats we turned to Edmunds.com, experts on car buying.
To see their "Top Ten List" of tow vehicles...
Skipper Says Ady Gil
Was Ordered Scuttled
All the world's a stage, and few people have made more of it than Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson who is now being accused of ordering Ady Gil scuttled after its collision to engender "sympathy" from a world audience. That is the latest assertion from Peter Bethune who now admits pulling the plug on the world-famous vessel. Bethune had recently been released from a Japanese jail where he served five months for boarding a Japanese whale "research" vessel uninvited. Act III, scene I...
New & Used Boat
Prices are Firming
The good news for consumers is that the boating industry has stabilized. From builders of small boats to large ones, most companies have scaled back expenses so far that they seem to be able to survive on current levels of cash flow, which in many cases is about 25%-30% of what it was just a few years ago. The bad news for consumers is that retail prices are firming up in both new and used boats, according to industry sources. A number of builders have cut back production so far that their dealers are actually on "allocation" and there is a waiting list to get some brands of new boats. This more than anything is keeping prices where they need to be for both builders and dealers to stay cash-flow positive. Read more...
Minn Kota Trim-N-Troll Takes Over the Big Engine’s Work
We watched in rapt attention as a dealer backed a large pontoon boat into a tight slip as if it had pod drives and a joystick. Moving a boat around a marina or a honey hole hiding fish using a single bow trolling motor limits what you can do. The Minn Kota Trim-N-Troll takes over and handles the delicate work with ease. This system puts a trolling motor on each of the trim tabs and allows individual control. Minn Kota uses modern design and composites to insure long life they say.
Take a look at this video...
Deal "Wiggle Room," Engine Size, and Seaworthiness
BoatTEST.com has over 30,000 visitors a day and not surprisingly generates a pile
of mail each week asking about all sorts of things from how to get a better deal,
to which engine to buy, to whether or not brand X is better than brand Y. From questions
about PWCs to megayachts, BoatTEST.com staff answer them all, and enjoys doing it
because it keeps our fingers on the pulse of the boat-buying public. It is one of
the ways that we can see future trends as they develop. This week's mail bag was particularly interesting so we pass along
the questions and our answers for you to see...
I Told You We Should Have Watched BoatTEST.com’s Smart Boating DVD Course!
Quick... who has the right of way when a fishing vessel meets a towing vessel? Do
you know the times when sailing vessels DO NOT have the right of way over a power
vessel? How do you treat for hypothermia?
The answers to all of these, and much more, are found in BoatTEST.com’s Smart Boating
Course now on 4 DVD’s. It’s the most complete video boating course offered and you’ll
learn by watching, not getting a lecture in a classroom. All lessons are based on
real world boating and will take anyone up to the professional level while learning
at their own pace. Order your 4 disc box set today. Now is the time for “Smart Boating”,
because safe boating just isn’t enough. Order your copy here...
During the depths of the Great Depression Weston Farmer was the editor of Rudder,
founded in 1889 and America's first boating magazine. In the 1930s Farmer published each month what his avid readers wanted -- articles about boats they couldn't buy -- but they could build! Although most people didn't have much money, they did not give up their love of the sport nor their desire to go boating any way they could. Farmer published plans in Rudder of all sorts of boats and all across America
people were building them in their back yards. The Tahiti ketch was designed by
John G Hanna and was the most popular, hundreds of them were built, and some even made it to Tahiti. We stumbled across this old Disney cartoon recently and thought you might like to see it because it represents what was going on in boating during the late 1930s. Mickey helped keep the dream alive. Roll 'em...
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, experience and
recommendations, and to leverage our industry relationships in your favor. There
is no charge. 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
BoatTEST.com's largest community of self-identified new boat buyers in the world,
imagine what you
could do with the product feedback we gather each day. As the
only marine media organization that maintains constant communication with boaters
who are researching their next new vessel, 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 email@example.com.
Lesson of the Week
What Should I Do If My Boat Capsizes?
This week Capt. Steve goes over four new lessons and guidelines on what you should do if your boat capsizes. First and foremost get your life jackets on. Stay with the boat and try to get as far on top of the boat as possible in order to keep your body out of the water. Remember, you want to keep your body temperature from dropping. Do not attempt to swim for help as you will just exhaust yourself. These are basic
procedures which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented
this week are part of BoatTEST.com’s Smart Boating Course which is USCG-approved.
Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com.
To view this week’s lessons --
To view past lessons --
Ducky Award Winner
"Honey, how many times have I told you to make sure the dials are clean before I take you out?" - C. Edwards
"Honey, why does this tattoo on your right shoulder say 'TESTED'?" - R. Davis
Honorable (almost) Mentions
"If you let me drive I'll give you one of these Bud lights I hid behind the seat." - A. Mason
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