Our First Chaparral Test:
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.
Glacier Bay Renegade 2740:
With the Newest Model, It’s All in the Details
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...
Larson Senza 206:
Larson’s Top Seller Has Performance, Too
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...
In the Engine Room
Evinrude E-TEC 25-H.P.:
A Little Engine with a Lot Going On
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.
Premier Cast-A-Way 221:
Family Fishing Pontoon Boat
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...
Seaswirl 2101 Striper Walk Around:
Adding a Family Quality to a Fishing Pedigree
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...
A Starter Package for the Jet Set
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.
FinCraft 1850 DC:
An Alternative to Aluminum
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.
Beneteau Flyer 750 Cabrio:
Is It the "Ultimate Versatile Dayboat?"
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...
Grady-White Fisherman 180:
Not Just Another Center Console!
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.
Glastron GT 205 SF:
A Mid-Level Bow Rider with Something Fishy
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.
RIBCRAFT 6.5 Offshore
Any Way You Want It
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...
Baja 247 Islander:
Can a Go-Fast Boat
Be a Family Sportboat?
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...
Concept Boats 27:
It's a Sportboat, It's a Fishboat
– Either Way, It Flies!
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...
Scout 245 Abaco:
Popular with Our Readers
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...
An “Inside Look” At Ranger
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...
JoyStick for Sterndrives:
MerCruiser Axius Provides Control
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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For much of the world December is the season for gift giving, so BoatTEST.com is
offering you a 20% discount on our acclaimed boat handling, piloting and seamanship
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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?
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...
Boat Crash Video
of the Week
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.
Where in the World
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
MerCruiser 5.0L (260-hp) Vs. 350 MAG (300-hp):
Which Engine Is More Fuel Efficient?
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 BoatTEST.com 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...
Lesson of the Week
How to Correctly Tie Your Boat to a 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 BoatTEST.com’s
Course which is USCG-approved. Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com.
To view this week’s lessons --
To view all lessons --
Ducky Award Winner
"I'm pregnant so you'll have to sell the boat..." - M. Meyer
"...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
You write the caption! Will you win the coveted "Ducky Award" for best caption?
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