First Ever Chaparral Test // Sea-Doo Factory Tour // 3 Engine Reviews - 11/10/2010
BoatTEST Newsletter November 10, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- Chaparral 284 Sunesta
- Glacier Bay 2740
- Larson 206 Senza
- Sea-Doo PWC Plant Tour
- Shurhold Products
- Evinrude 25-hp
- Premier 221 Cast-A-Way
- Seaswirl 2101 WA
- Yamaha SX210
- FinCraft 1850
- Beneteau Flyer 750 Cabrio
- Grady-White Fisherman 180
- Glastron GT 205 SF
- Baja 247 Islander
- Concept 27
- Scout 245 Abaco
- Ranger, Behind the Boat
- MerCruiser Axius 496 MAG
- Accident of the Week
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course Now On DVD
- Tips from Sea Tow
- MerCruiser 5.0L vs 350 MAG
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Our First Chaparral Test:
The 284 Sunesta

Chaparral 284 Sunesta
The 284 Sunesta has a LOA of 28’4” (8.64 m) and a wide beam of 9’ (2.74 m) that carries far forward.

Chaparral is widely known for building high end boats that also add great looks to the package. They are more expensive than many similar boats, but that means owning one carries along with it a hefty dose of pride of ownership, because they’re not for everyone. Even a casual look will tell you that the 284 Sunesta was not thrown together, but when we looked closer we found some surprises. When we were taking our initial look around the hull of our test boat, we counted four innovative factors, and we weren’t even onboard yet. This is one boat we recommend you see for yourself. Although we are still editing our test and features videos, you can take a look at our full captain’s report for the detailed story. More...

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New Video

Glacier Bay Renegade 2740:
With the Newest Model, It’s All in the Details

Glacier Bay Renegade 2740
The Glacier Bay Renegade 2740 warrants close inspection of its nooks and crannies, as well as the spacious layout features that can only be achieved in a cat.

We’ve been reporting on the anticipated launch of Glacier Bay’s Renegade 2740 for months. Once we got our hands on her, we quickly aired the complete test video. Now it’s time to take a video look at the details and layout of this all new cat. Glacier Bay had completely retooled their molds for this boat, and it shows in her curved lines and rounded edges. But most of all, Glacier Bay built this boat with ergonomics firmly in mind, as she has a feel that is much more comfortable that previous models we’ve seen. Take a look with us and see how Glacier Bay is redefining the catamaran. Try this on for size...

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New Test

Larson Senza 206:
Larson’s Top Seller Has Performance, Too

Larson Senza 206
Our test of the Senza 206 showed a top speed of 51.2 mph with a Merc 5.0 MPI EC 260-hp engine with a Bravo III outdrive.

When Larson decided to make the Senza 206, the goal was to combine performance and looks in an affordable boat.  All you have to do is glance at the boat to see that they managed to pull off a winner in the looks department. And if you’re not convinced, just watch how other people notice your boat when you take her to the ramp. As for performance, that was a question that we had to answer for ourselves, and the only way to do that was on a full test. So, hot off the presses, is our full test video of Larson’s most popular boat, the Senza 206. Take a look and see why she's such a hot seller. Watch the new test video...

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At the Factory

Engineering a Sea-Doo:
Inside the Power Plant

Sea-Doo Rotax
Benoit Chapdelaine, project manager at Sea-Doo, talks to us about the technology behind these engines and what sets them apart.

It is a cutthroat world when it comes to musclecraft PWCs, and technology is the name of the game. We want to help you read through the hype and get to what makes the difference. So how does Sea-Doo get 255-hp out of a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine? This first video takes a look, by sending the BoatTEST team into the engineering department and seeing for ourselves.

Sea-Doo Assembly
Come along with us as Captain Rob tours
the Sea-Doo plant in Valcourt, Canada.

You can learn a lot by watching how a PWC is assembled and that’s why we wanted you to see first hand what goes on behind closed doors at the Sea-Doo plant in Valcourt, Canada. We took a close look at the entire assembly process to give you a better understanding of what’s behind the cool graphics and marketing hype.


Shurhold Dual Action Polisher:
Tough and Effective

Seen here is the entire kit as it comes retail.

If you have ever worked with a buffer/polisher, you know that there are many choices and variations when it comes to pads. You probably have also experienced the same frustration the BoatTEST team has with the pads soaking up all the product. Let’s face it, the point of the polish is to end up on the hull or surface you are trying to polish, not be soaked up into the pad. Shurhold claimed they found a way around this issue, and you know what? They did. We recently put this to the test with not just the Shurhold brand of polish, but with two other brands. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t the polish that was preventing the absorption.  At the risk of sounding too positive, there really is a difference.  This is worth further exploration...


Visit on our new interactive
Facebook page.

10 year
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In the Engine Room

Evinrude E-TEC 25-H.P.:
A Little Engine with a Lot Going On

Evinrude 25 H.P.
Our test of the E-TEC 25 was performed on an Alumacraft V16. We reached a top speed of 28.1 mph and turned in a best cruise of 21.4 with a 1.4 gph fuel burn.

One look at the E-TEC 25 from Evinrude will tell you that this is clearly not an average outboard. Quite the opposite, in fact: We found it to be a feature-packed little powerhouse with a lot going for it. Gone are the days of reaching around to the side of the engine to shift, and we loved the throttle as well as steering tension adjustments. But those are just a few of the external goodies. There’s more under the cover and it’s all in our video tour of the Evinrude E-TEC 25 features. More...

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Captain's Report

Premier Cast-A-Way 221:
Family Fishing Pontoon Boat

Premier Cast-A-Way 221
With seats fore and aft, a rod locker, live well and prep station, the Premier Cast-A-Way 221 comes ready to fish. It's also a well-equipped pontoon boat for folks who prefer not to drag lures; its twin tubes require little horsepower, but speed demons can soup it up.

Premier's Cast-A-Way 221 looks to us like an excellent family fishing platform, one that comes with all the gear the weekend angler should need to chase our finned friends. Riding on a pair of aluminum tubes, the 22' LOA (6.7 m) Cast-A-Way 221 is rated for up to 12 passengers and 125-horsepower, enough capacity for most clans – but Premier offers three-tube options that increase both weight and power limits; the PTX pontoons should transform the 221 into a fast fish-and-fun boat with enough performance to keep even speed demons happy. But whether you opt for two 'toons or three, the Cast-A-Way 221 will take you and your family out on the lake for a reasonable price, and show you a good time once you're there, even if the fish aren't biting. For more on this versatile fishing pontoon boat, click here...

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New Test

Seaswirl 2101 Striper Walk Around:
Adding a Family Quality to a Fishing Pedigree

Seaswirl 2101 WA O/B
Striper set out to add utility to their 21’6” (6.55 m) fishing line, and gave the cabin a Downeast feel.

If it’s one thing Striper knows about, it’s fishing boats. We don’t question that, but what about the family aspect of a fishing boat? Can you really add a cabin layout to a fishing boat and pull off a workable combination? As it turns out, you can. But the real question is, does all that extra weight affect performance, and if so, in what way? For the answers to those questions, we went straight to the source and tested the 2101 Walk Around for ourselves. The results were surprising, and we’ve got the test video to show you exactly what we found. It’s all ready for the viewing. Striper 2101 WA full test...

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New Video

Yamaha SX210:
A Starter Package for the Jet Set

Yamaha SX210
Our test boat was powered by a pair of Yamaha 1052cc four cylinder marine engines. Top speed was 47.7 mph with a best cruise speed of 31.2 mph.

When it comes to doing it for less, Yamaha seems to be leading the charge. Their rock-bottom boat prices have been driving sales for years now. So when we went to take a look at the entry level model in a price conscious line-up, we were skeptical of what Yamaha would be forced to leave off the boat. As it turns out, it’s not much: smaller engines, naturally aspirated instead of turbo. And it still had a lot of get up and go. The comfort, full instrumentation, unique bow layout, and that transom patio that quickly becomes the top hangout on the boat... they’re all still there. Today, we offer a look at our full test and walkthrough video, to see just how Yamaha competes in “entry level” mode. More...

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New Video

FinCraft 1850 DC:
An Alternative to Aluminum

FinCraft 1850 DC
At 18'6'' (5.64 m) LOA, and 7'10” (2.39 m) wide, the 1850 DC weighs a bit more than her aluminum counterparts at 1,820 lbs. (819 kg), but that’s one of the few numbers that will be higher than on an aluminum boat.

Since fiberglass was first introduced widely in small boats in the late 1950s and early '60s, freshwater fishermen stayed away from them generally because of their added weight and higher price. Well, things have changed and the FinCraft boats are responsible for it. Its line of fiberglass boats is made with a proprietary method (VEC technology) that keeps the price within the competition’s sights, weight about the same, and they do it without sacrificing features. The result is a fiberglass boat that can stand toe-to-toe with aluminum. Today, we take a closer look at the details and see just what sort of features FinCraft puts into their top end fishing rig. More...

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New Boat

Beneteau Flyer 750 Cabrio:
Is It the "Ultimate Versatile Dayboat?"

Beneteau Flyer 750 Cabrio
Beneteau's new Flyer 750 Cabrio rides on a single-stepped deep-V hull, which the company claims will push her up to 40 knots with a 300-hp outboard. Introduced in late summer, the 750 Cabrio combines the fun-in-the-sun of a Med-style dayboat with basic – very basic – accommodations for two. (Photo: Mike Jones)

In August, 2010, Beneteau introduced the Flyer 750 Cabrio, a retro-styled dayboat aimed at water-sports enthusiasts of all stripes. The 7.2 m LOA (23' 7") Cabrio isn't old-fashioned, though: She rides on a single-step hull, can take up to a 300-hp outboard, has an interesting two-level swim platform and hide-away stowage for the Bimini top. While she's not meant for cruising, there's a head and V-berths belowdecks, fine for napping (or whatever) during a rigorous day of having fun on the water. Two couples, maybe three if they're svelte, can share a comfortable U-shaped lounge in the cockpit, which can be accessorized with a refrigerator and gas-fired cooktop. Beneteau says the Flyer 750 Cabrio is the "ultimate versatile dayboat." Do you agree? Learn more here...

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New Boat

Grady-White Fisherman 180:
Not Just Another Center Console!

Grady-White Fisherman 180
The “Fisherman” series from Grady-White is a line of center console boats with this 17'10" (5.44 m) model starting the progression.

Not many boats have the ability to connect you with Mother Nature the way an open center console can. The problem is there’s only so much you can do with the layout; one wonders how a company can compete with all the other center consoles on the market.  For starters, Grady-White’s 50-year track record has to speak for itself. Their boats are well known as strongly built and able sea boats. But that’s not enough for this builder. And that’s good news for the customer. Let’s take a close look at the smallest sibling in the center console lineup and see what it carries for features.

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New Test

Glastron GT 205 SF:
A Mid-Level Bow Rider with Something Fishy

Glastron GT 205 SF
Our test boat was equipped with a 225-hp Volvo Penta 4.3 GXi that turned in a top speed of 48.9 mph. At that speed she was burning 17.5 gph, so her best cruise of 8.5 gph and 35.3 mph are attractive.

Glastron’s GT 205 SF was built on a reputation of looks and affordability. We found her to be a good combination of features that a cross species boat is typically built on. As expected, this boat is built around the same hull as the GT 205, so we found the handling to be on par with her sister. We did find that Glastron did more than just add under gunwale rod storage, when they decided to combine the fish and ski features, or as Glastron puts it, Ski and Fish. So let’s take a look at the full test, and our full captain’s report will fill in any blanks. More...

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RIBCRAFT 6.5 Offshore

Any Way You Want It

In her civilian clothes, the RIBCRAFT 6.5 looks like a typical center-console boat, albeit one that's half Hypalon. In other dress, she can be a tough commercial vessel or a military or law-enforcement patrol boat. This one will seat four on its pod array.

For versatility, no boat beats a rigid inflatable. And when it comes to RIBs, RIBCRAFT is one the type's leading names. Its 21'5" (6.5 m) model 6.5 is a good example: It can be spec'd in countless ways -- as a yacht tender, sportboat, dive boat, duck hunting, fishing boat, beach boat, as a launch – you name it. Builder of rigid inflatable boats for the military, fire and police departments and commercial marine clients worldwide, RIBCRAFT will build you a rigid inflatable boat just about any way you want it. Even if you plan to use your 6.5 for pure pleasure, it'll be constructed using the same materials and techniques that RIBCRAFT employs for its most demanding clients (read: special opps). You can even get it with an aluminum hull, excellent for navigating treacherous waters, or beaching on rocky shores for exploring or picnicking -- or just plain saving weight. No maritime adventurer would leave home without a multitool and a Swiss Army knife, and most rely on RIBs, too. For more information on the RIBCRAFT 6.5, click here...

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Captain's Report

Baja 247 Islander:
Can a Go-Fast Boat Also
Be a Family Sportboat?

Baja 247 Islander
Certainly the 247 Islander gives you a taste of both worlds, but can a company built on speed still deliver the comfort a family is looking for?

We can’t fault a company for wanting to diversify from the very small high-performance market into the relatively large sportboat market. But building a small high-performance boat that can also compete with well-made sportboats is not as easy as you may think. At first glance some go-fast boats look like sportboats on steroids, but once you start poking around below -- and on deck -- you usually find a number of details that just aren't right or suitable for a samily sportboat. There are several reasons for that phenomenon, such as the desire to save weight, a different building culture, and inexperience with family sportboat clients. The Baja 247 Islander is a go-fast that wants to play in the sportboat arena and attract families into the game. So naturally we had to ask if this boat was equipped to handle the demanding family crowd, because they expect a lot more than just pull-your-face-back-speed and lots of noise. To answer that question, we asked one of our captains with a family to take a look and see if his family would like her. For the answer, read on...

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New Boat

Concept Boats 27:
It's a Sportboat, It's a Fishboat
– Either Way, It Flies!

Concept 27
Rigged as a sportboat – the builder calls it a "performance runabout" – the Concept 27 will run 60 mph (96.6 km/hr) with a single 300-hp outboard. Rigged as a fishing boat, she'll do the same! Concept is a semi-custom builder, and will assemble the 27 however you'd like. And the price might be a pleasant surprise.

If you want a semi-custom sport or fishing boat, but don't want to sell a vital organ to pay for it, take a look at the Concept 27. She has a classic 24-degree deep-V hull, so you know she'll ride nice in open water; She's ruggedly built, so she won't fall apart; rated for up to 350-hp, she'll be fast; and she is extremely customizable, so you can get exactly the boat you want, and not what somebody else wants to sell you. Even better, thanks to the company's practice of selling factory-direct, your Concept 27 won't come with a price tag approaching the national debt. Buyers willing to forego fancy graphics and lots of options can buy a Concept 27, with a 225-hp Mercury Optimax outboard, for around $45,000. In an industry where money talks, the Concept 27 has a lot to say. If you want to listen, hear more...

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Second Look

Scout 245 Abaco:
Popular with Our Readers

Scout 245 Abaco
With fishing friendly capabilities and cabin class, the Scout 245 is designed for a couple to overnight on.

We’ve gotten quite a bit of reader mail lately with nice things to say about the Scout 245 Abaco, so we thought we’d better take another look. Okay, so it doesn’t have the roominess in the cabin to sleep six, or even four, but for a couple who wants to spend more time fishing as well as sleep overnight onboard once in a while, this setup is hard to beat. The cockpit and deck have some unique, forward-thinking features that we like and the aft seating and transom morph between a comfortable seat, storage compartment, and a dive or casting platform. The helm also has a comfortable feel with clever features of its own. All in all, this is a smart boat that’s easy to handle and easy to use. What it lacks in its ability to handle crowds, it more than makes up for in innovation for the cruising couple, two fishing buddies, or dad with a little angler, to spend the night onboard. Join us as Capt. Steve takes us on a video tour showing the features that set the Scout 245 Abaco apart from the rest. Check it out for yourself...

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An “Inside Look” At Ranger

A Look Inside Ranger
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 Capt. Rob as he takes a look “Behind the Boat.”  No hard hat required this time...

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JoyStick for Sterndrives:
MerCruiser Axius Provides Control

-MerCruiser Axius 496 MAG
You don't need POD drive to enjoy a joystick. MerCruiser's Axius system lets you do it with sterndrives.

With bigger boats focused more on the POD drive joystick systems, most boaters are not aware that you can have your joystick and sterndrive too. MerCruiser is one of two engine manufacturers offering a Joystick sterndrive system; Volvo Penta is the other. MerCruiser calls their system Axius and we have tested several evolutions of the system now on more than twenty different boats.  Many boaters tell us how they would move up to a bigger boat, if only they had the experience to dock and maneuver better.  These sterndrive joystick systems offer just that capability, control, and safety. In this video, Capt Rob Smith will take you through the system and show it in action.

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Special 20% Discount

Boating DVD Course Makes a Perfect Holiday Gift!

Smart Boating
From now until Christmas you can order the 4-DVD set of's Smart Boating Course for 20% off its regular price.

For much of the world December is the season for gift giving, so is offering you a 20% discount on our acclaimed boat handling, piloting and seamanship course that comes on 4 DVDs. Approved by the USCG and recommended by the NMMA,'s Smart Boating Course narrated by Capt. Steve regularly sells for $79.95 plus P&H. Now you can order it for just $63.95 plus P&H -- a $16 discount! Order your copy here...


Should You Render Towing Assistance?

Tow Assistance
“To tow, or not to tow,” that is the question. And it is a complicated one. But there is a right answer.

If you came upon the boat pictured above we’d like to think that you’d stop and help in any way you could. But just what does that mean? Could doing the right thing lead to something going horribly wrong? To get answers to these questions and others we sent Capt. Steve to sit down with the folks at our new sponsor, Sea Tow.
Here’s his report...

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Boat Crash Video
of the Week

Accident of the Week
The lucky soul dropping out of this race boat hit the water with his bum rather than his head.

Those Internet video aggregators are at it again and we can't resist watching for some reason that must say negative things about our character. Anyway, it seems that we are right in sync with our readers because these kind of videos are always the most popular fare we present. Some of the clips in this video you've seen before but many are new. Take a look at the crashes, the plunges, the huge seas, and the skippers out to lunch. Roll 'em...

Where in the World

Picture of the Week

Find out where this picture was taken and when...

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 was taken.

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Engine News

MerCruiser 5.0L (260-hp) Vs. 350 MAG (300-hp):
Which Engine Is More Fuel Efficient?

MerCruiser 5.0 L MerCruiser 5.0 L
Mercury MerCruiser's 5.0L MPI sterndrive package delivers 260-hp. Mercury MerCruiser's 350 MAG (5.7L-350CID) sterndrive package delivers 300-hp.

Our recent article on engine selection for small boats generated a number of letters from all over the world asking the same basic question: Which engine burns more fuel at cruise, the 5.0L MPI or 350 MAG model...and, is the difference significant? This is precisely why the staff at headquarters likes to hear from our readers -- it lets us know what questions we should be trying to help new boat buyers answer. Clearly, a lot of new boat buyers are in a quandary as to which of the two engines to buy, and question if the up-charge for the 350 MAG is worth it. To find out what our investigation turned up, hammer down here...

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Lesson of the Week

How to Correctly Tie Your Boat to a Dock

Lesson of the Week Smart Boating Cover
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  Boating Course which is USCG-approved. Watch these video boating lessons every week on

To view this week’s lessons --

To view all lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"I'm pregnant so you'll have to sell the boat..." - M. Meyer

Second Place

"...and Suzie has that terrible dye job...and then she says...does this suit make my butt look big...her kids are so rude....George, are you listening to me?!" - A. Oblein 

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Wait, did he say 'throttle' or 'bottle'?"
- D. Rorai

"Divorce, Miami-style." - A. Morlino

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 11/10/10

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.

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10 year
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All articles, Captain's 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.