7 New Boats//5 BRs Under $25k//10 Top Tow Vehicles - 10/13/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter October 13, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here.
Boattest.com: Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- Which Boat Is Best
- Formula 290 FX4
- Evinrude E-TEC 300-hp
- Seaswirl 1905 CC Striper
- Sun Tracker Party Hut 30
- Hurricane SD 2000
- Stratos 201 XL Evolution
- Larson LX 620 O/B
- Yamaha 242 Limited S
- Baja 245 Performance
- Glastron GLS 215 BR
- FinCraft 17 SC
- Doral 295 Prestancia
- 5 Bowriders Under 25K
- PowerTech for Sportboats
- Shurhold Products
- Picture of the Week
- What Makes a Sea Tow Capt.
- Top 10 Vehicles for Towing
- Whale Wars
- Boat Prices are Firming
- Minn Kota Trolling Motor
- E-mail Bag
- Boating Course Now on DVD
- Boat Building Circa 1938
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner
- What's Going On Here 

Wake Boarding, Wake Surfing, Waterskiing
or Tubing --
Which Boat is Best?

Buy for Watersports
Wake surfing is the latest variation on the wakeboarding theme and dudes are taking up the challenge all over the world.

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...

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New Test Video

New Formula 290 FX4:
First Full Performance Test

Melissa to supply screen grab from video
What would you do if you were introduced to a brand new model that was gorgeous in every way, and then the builder handed you the keys and said “let me know what you think?”

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...

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Evinrude E-TEC 300-H.P.:
Why This Engine is So Reliable?

Evinrude E-TEC 300
We tested the Evinrude E-TEC 300-hp on a Dusky 233, and came away with some impressive numbers.  Does fewer parts mean fewer problems?

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...

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New Test Video

New Seaswirl 1905 CC Striper:
Smooth Styling and Simple Systems

Seaswirl 1905 CC
The Seaswirl Striper 1905 CC is a sweet little boat for fishing and utility work.

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. Welcome aboard...

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Toon Town

Sun Tracker Party Hut 30:
Sun Tracker Goes Up Another Level!

Sun Tracker Party Hut 30
The Sun Tracker Party Hut 30 also has a full stand-up changing room and head just abaft the Captain’s seat.

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...

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New Boat

New Hurricane SunDeck 2000 OB:
All Hands On Deck (Boat)

Hurricane SunDeck 2000 OB
Hurricane is the company that started the deckboat type and now it has evolved into its third generation.

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...

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Bass Boats

Stratos 201 XL Evolution:
Keeping Costs Down to Earth

Stratos 201 XL Evolution
A fuel management system lets you know just the right rpm and speed to deliver the best fuel economy.

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...

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New Test Video

New Larson LX 620 O/B: 
Entry-Level 16-Footer

Larson LX 620 O/B
The Larson LX 620 O/B has a length overall of 16'2” (4.93 m) and a beam of 7'4” (2.24 m). Outboard engine choices range from 60 to 90-hp. We tested her with an Evinrude 75 E-TEC.

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. New video...

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New Video

Yamaha 242 Limited S:
A New Jet-Propelled Test

Yamaha 242 Limited S
The Yamaha 242 Limited S is the new flagship of the Yamaha lineup. She’s got the killer features but do her muscles get the job done?

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...

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Time Machine

New Baja 245 Performance:
Pocket Rocket For All Ages 

Baja 245 Performance
The Baja 245 Performance rides on a straight deep-V hull.  When we tested the 245 Performance, she hit 62.5 mph with a 375-hp MerCruiser 496 Magnum. A bigger engine is available.

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...

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New Test Video

Glastron GLS 215 Bowrider:
A Mid-Size Sportboat Contender

Glastron GLS 215 Bowrider
With a LOA of 21' 4" (6.50 m), a beam of 8’5” (2.57 m), and a draft of 52" (1.32 m) the GLS 215 represents the middle of the size range for bowriders.

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. More...

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New Video

New FinCraft 17 SC:
A Loaded Starter Package

FinCraft 17 SC
The 17 SC has a length overall of 16’11” (5.16 m), a beam of 88” (2.24 m). Hey, Capt. Steve, you're not suppose to look at the camera!

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. More...

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New Video

Doral 295 Prestancia:
European Flair And Cruising Class

Doral 295 Prestancia
This is a pocket cruiser with class.  The 295 Prestancia has a LOA of 32' 2'' (9.80 m), a beam of 10’ 1'' (3.5 m) and her dry weight of 10,000 lbs. (4,536 kg.).

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. More...

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5 Sport Boats For Under $25,000

Tahoe Q5i
The Tahoe Q5i is 19'5" (5.97 m) long x 7'7" (2.15 m) beam and weighs 2,719 lbs. (1,235 kgs.).

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...

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Proper Props

4-Blades For Towing Power

Chances are your sterndrive sportboat came with a three-blade prop -- they are cheaper and faster than a four-blade. But will they get the job done?

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


Shurhold Products
Belong on Every Boat

Over the years Shurhold has developed scores of products that are needed for all types of boat maintenance.

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

Picture of the Week
Find out where this picture was taken and when...

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Send us your favorite boating images.

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

Visit BoatTEST.com on our new interactive
Facebook page.
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What Makes A Sea Tow Captain?

Sea Tow Captain
So you think you’ve got what it takes to tow boats for a living? Don’t be so sure.

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...
Sea Tow
This message is brought to you by the team at Sea Tow.

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Edmunds' Top 10 Vehicles For Boat Towing

Vehicles for Boat Towing1 Vehicles for Boat Towing2
The Dodge Ram 3500 (l.) ranks #1 with 16,000 pounds of towing capacity. The Subaru Outback ranks #10; to see what its capacity is, hitch up here...

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...

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Whale Wars

Skipper Says Ady Gil Was Ordered Scuttled

whale wars
Ady Gil, shortly after its collision with a Japanese whaling ship in the Antarctic Ocean. The vessel was being towed back to port when she was scuttled, says skipper and former owner Peter Bethune.

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...

10 years

Retail Sales

New & Used Boat Prices are Firming

Retail Sales
One banker says this could be the "sweet spot" of low interest rates and low boat prices.

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...

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Minn Kota Trim-N-Troll Takes Over the Big Engine’s Work

Minn Kota Trolling Motor
Operate the system completely wirelessly with the key fob remote.

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...

E-Mail Bag

Deal "Wiggle Room," Engine Size, and Seaworthiness

Every week mail rolls in from readers all over the world covering a variety of questions, and each one receives a personal answer, usually within 24-48 hours.

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 some of the questions and our answers for you to see...

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I Told You We Should Have Watched BoatTEST.com’s Smart Boating DVD Course!

Smart Boatingx
Would you want to go back and take a boating class to re-learn what you’ve forgotten? We didn’t think so, and you’re not alone. Now anyone can get to the professional level in the comfort of your own home. Great for the whole family.

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...

Looking Back

Boat Building
Circa 1938

Walt Disney
Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse in 1938 had some fun at the expense of backyard boat builders all over America.

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...

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Member Services

Are You Looking
For a New Boat?

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

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?

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 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 chrishughes@boattest.com.

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Lesson of the Week

What Should I Do If My Boat Capsizes?

Lesson of the WeekSmart Boating Cover
Capsizing in a sailboat is much different than a powerboat. As you see in the picture above, you can help right the boat by getting up on the centerboard and using your weight to bring the boat back over.  You will not be able to right a capsized boat.

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 --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"Honey, how many times have I told you to make sure the dials are clean before I take you out?" - C. Edwards

Second Place

"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

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 10/13/10

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.

We need reader help!

If you have a picture that you think needs some explanation, send it to: lis@boattest.com.

(Please -- no Photoshop!)

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All articles, Captain's 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 veracity or motivation of reader comments, Owners’ Reports, and other contributions which are all clearly labeled as such.