Top 10 Researched Boats -- By Type -- in 2010 - Part II - 01/05/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter January 5, 2010 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- Top 10 Boat Buying Tips
- Top 10 Convertibles
- Top 10 Express Fishboats 25' +
- Top 10 Sedans 30' +
- Top 10 Motoryachts 45' +
- Top 10 Express Cruisers 31' +
- Top 10 Long Range Cruisers
- Top 10 Coastal Cruisers
- Top 10 High-Performance Boats
- Top 10 Deck Boats
- Top 10 Walk Arounds
- Top 10 Diesel Engines
- Top 10 Engine Relates Subjects
- Top 10 News Stories
- Top 10 Seamanship Articles
- Top 10 Boat Handling
- Smart Boating DVD
- Picture of the Week
- New York Boat Show
- Children of Haiti Documentary
- What Is Going On Here? 

Top 10 Researched List
Part II
Top 10

But Why Aren‘t
More Boats Tested?

Each year-end we look at our server logs of millions of visits by people from all over the globe to see what boats they were researching. We then tally up those visits in 19 different “types” of boats to create our Top Ten lists. Those 190 “Top 10” ranking boats represent 3% of the 6,000 new boat models available in the world. For that reason alone the top boats in each of these categories are very special. has basic spec information on 5,500 boat models built by 450 companies, and full tests with videos or reviews of 1,600 boat models built by 235 of the companies – which means we have about 27% of the new models available in the world.

Obviously the boats on which we have full tests with videos garner more research sessions than do boats which we have just reviews and pictures or specs and pictures alone. So what about the 4,400 other boats that we haven’t tested? Clearly these boats don’t have a good chance to make the Top 10 lists of most-researched boats. Further, many of these boats are never given serious consideration by consumers doing research on our website.

So, the question begs, why doesn’t test the other boats? We’re glad you asked...

Missed last week’s Top 10 Lists of 9 categories? Catch up here...

cross ruler
Boat Buying
#1 The New Normal in New Boat Buying
First time
#2 Advice to First Time Boat Buyers
First Time
#3 How to Buy a New BIG Boat

Top 10 Researched
Boat Buying Tips

What quickly became obvious to us after starting 10 years ago was that consumers wanted -- and needed -- buying advice to help them navigate through the uncharted waters of boat buying. Boats are certainly more complex than a car and even more problematical than a large house purchase. These articles discuss everything from how to specify equipment to how to negotiate with the boat dealer. Virtually every week we publish a new buying tip.

4. Wakeboarding, Skiing, Tubing-- What Boat Is Best?
5. 5 Sportboats for Under $25k
6. The Most Important Boat Buying Tip of All
6. Why One Family Bought a Yamaha 242
7. Don't Give Up the Cruising Dream
8. The Big Shift in Boat Buying
9. Buy, Ready, Aim
10. Before Buying Look for Dealer Certification

cross ruler
#1 Bertram 540
Viking Yachts 42C
#2 Viking 42 C
Hatteras GT60
#3 Hatteras GT 60

Top 10 Researched Boats

Our Top 10 list contains five of the major players in this category. “Convertible” means that the boat is suitable for both avid sport fishing and comfortable cruising -- therefore, it is “convertible” to either use. The three top builders in the U.S. for the last decade have been Hatteras, Bertram and Viking. For decades Silverton has been the price-point brand in this category and it continues to be researched. The newest entry in this market is Cabo (12 years old), which is now making its home in the New Bern, N.C. Hatteras Yachts facility.

4. Hatteras 64
5. Hatteras 60
6. Silverton 36
7. Cabo 40
8. Viking 82
9. Bertram 410
10. Viking 70

cross ruler
Rampage 34
#1 Rampage 34 Express
Scout 245 Abaco
#2 Scout 245 Abaco
Mako 284
#3 Mako 284 Express

Top 10 Researched Boats
Express Fishboats – 25' +

Because they have a foredeck and raised bridge deck protected by a windshield and cowling these boats are far more seaworthy and comfortable for anglers going offshore than are open boats. They have a place to snooze and get out of the sun or rain, and often have a small galley plus a head. These days most larger express fishboats have all of the amenities of express cruisers, and in some cases are interchangeable with them -- with the exception of some fishy features in the cockpit.

4. Tiara 4300 Open
5. Mako 264 Express
6. Sea Ray 290 Amberjack
7. Hydra-Sports 3500 VX
8. Wellcraft 340 Coastal
9. Rampage 30 Express
10. Scout 262 Abaco

cross ruler
Meridian 441 Sedan
#1 Meridian 441 Sedan
Meridian 391 SB
#2 Meridian 391 Sedan Bridge
Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan
#3 Meridian 341 Sedan

Top 10 Researched Boats

Consumers coming to doing research on sedans spend a lot of time looking at the captains’ reports and videos on Meridian Yachts because we have recently tested the entire line. Models by this builder account for 6 of the Top 10 researched sedan models, including the top four positions. Most other U.S. builders of sedans have been pushed off our Top 10 list by European and Australian builders -- Prestige, Beneteau and Maritimo -- all of which are popular world-wide, and are gaining share-of-mind among American boat buyers.

4. Meridian 541 Sedan
5. Prestige 38S
6. Maritimo 48
7. Meridian 408
8. Sea Ray 58 Sedan
9. Meridian 368
10. Beneteau Monte Carlo 47

cross ruler
Sunseeker Predator 64
#1 Sunseeker Predator 64
Hargrave 76 Ana C
#2 Hargrave 76
VanDerHeijden Steelyachts Superior 2000
#3 VanDerHeijden Steelyachts Superior 2000

Top 10 Researched Boats
Motoryachts – 45' +

For many people large motoryachts are the most awesome vessels afloat, and they certainly are the most complicated. When it comes to size and features, the sky's the limit -- just take a look at the 400' (123 m) megayachts that have been launched the last decade. But limits its coverage to production and semi-custom motoryachts, usually under 90' (29 m). Regular readers know we prefer owner/operator yachts because that is where the fun and the challenge can be found for a fortunate owner.

4. Ferretti 800
5. Azimut 62S
6. Marquis 720 Trideck
7. Meridian 580
8. Princess 85
9. Hatteras 60 MY
10. VanDerHeijden Steelyachts Dynamic 1700

cross ruler
Cruisers Yachts Cantius 48
#1 Cruisers Yachts Cantius 48
Regal 44 Sport Coupe
#2 Regal 44 Sport Coupe
Formula 400 Super Sport
#3 Formula 400 Super Sport

Top 10 Researched Boats
Express Cruisers – 31' +

The most popular type of large boats in the world are express cruisers. Several years ago, builders began putting hardtops on the Euro-styled express cruisers. Many builders call these models "coupes" or "sport coupes" and usually they are left open to the stern, with optional cruising canvas. They have become so popular that open express cruisers may become a thing of the past on larger models. Seven of the Top 10 express cruisers on our list are coupes or hardtops.

4. Formula 31 PC
5. Regal 42 Sport Coupe
6. Formula 34 PC
7. Sea Ray 340 Sundancer
8. Sea Ray 350 Sundancer
9. Cruisers Yachts 420 Sports Coupe
10. Cruisers Yachts 520 Sports Coupe

cross ruler
Aximut Magellano 50
#1 Azimut Magellano 50
Nordhavn 60
#2 Nordhavn 60
Nordhavn 43
#3 Nordhavn 43

Top 10 Researched Boats
Long Range Cruisers (LRC) And Trawlers

Baby boomers who have retired or are nearing retirement all over the world are the primary audience for long range cruisers (LRC) and trawlers that have been popularized over the years by brands such as Nordhavn, Kadey-Krogen and Fleming. These vessels have found popularity on both U.S. sea coasts and around the world. The recent entry of Azimut into this category with its Magellano series took both the #1 and #10 spots among the most researched vessels of this type. Azimut is the largest-selling brand world-wide of large production motoryachts and obviously wants to be a major player in this category.

4. Sea Ranger 50
5. Fleming 75
6. Grand Banks 41 Heritage
7. Sea Spirit Passagemaker 60
8. Ocean Alexander 54 Trawler
9. Kadey-Krogen 44
10. Azimut 74 Magellano

cross ruler
Mainship 35 Trawler
#1 Mainship 35 Trawler
Carver 42 Sojourn
#2 Carver 44 Sojourn
Mainship Expedition
#3 Mainship Expedition Trawler

Top 10 Researched Boats
Coastal Cruiser/Tug/
Downeast Cruiser

“Coastal Cruisers” is a new “type” designation that is introducing this week to describe diverse designs that do not fit easily into other categories. These are boats that are intended for coastal and limited offshore work. In fact, most cruising yachtsmen use their boats this way, anchoring for the night or tying up at a marina. The primary mission of these “Coastal Cruisers” is comfortable extended coastwise cruising. Included in this “new” category will be “tugs,” “downeast” designs, non-LRC “trawlers,” non-Euro-style express hardtops, and miscellaneous designs.

4. Nordic Tug 42
5. Broom 395
6. Mainship Pilot 31
7. Wider Yachts 40
8. Vri-Jon Contessa 40
9. Island Pilot 435
10. Nordic Tug 32

cross ruler
Formula 353 FASTech
#1 Formula 353 FASTech
Baja 278 Performance
#2 Baja 278 Performance
Hunton RS 43
#3 Hunton Powerboats RS 43

Top 10 Researched Boats
High-Performance Boats

Probably no boat type has been hit harder by the Great Recession than has the “High-Performance” category. As you can see from our Top 10 list, Baja is much researched, taking five of the Top 10 slots. Ranking #1 is the Formula 353 FASTech, built by a company that weathered the troubled times with rock-steady authority. Not only do Formula high-performance boats have world-class quality and fit-n-finish, but they are also known for their beauty.

4. Baja 23 Outlaw
5. Baja 20 Outlaw
6. Midnight Express 39 Cuddy
7. Baja 30 Outlaw
8. Revenger 31
9. Baja 245 Performance
10. Formula 382 Fas3Tech

cross ruler
Seaswirl 2605 WA
#1 Seaswirl 2605 WA
Seaswirl 2101 WA
#2 Seaswirl 2101 WA
Seaswirl 2901
#3 Seaswirl 2901 WA

Top 10 Researched Boats
Walk Arounds

Over 30 years ago the “Walk Around” type first developed in the Carolinas for anglers who wanted to go offshore but who felt uncomfortable doing it in an open boat. The Walk Around foredeck offered protection from green water in sloppy conditions, and the snug cuddy provided shelter from the rain, a rudimentary head and bunks. Deep channels below the rails forward allowed an angler to easily and more securely make his way forward to work a fish -- something not easily done in a small express fishboat. Seaswirl and Trophy are both low-price point boats and are getting consideration from move-up buyers from all brands.

4. Trophy 1802 WA
5. Trophy 2002 WA
6. Trophy 2352 WA
7. Trophy 2052 WA L/X
8. Trophy 2502 WA
9. Seaswirl 2101 WA
10. Trophy 1902 WA

cross ruler
Chaparral 284 Sunesta
#1 Chaparral 284 Sunesta
Sea Ray 200 Sundeck
#2 Sea Ray 200 Sundeck
Sea Ray 220 Sundeck
#3 Sea Ray 220 Sundeck

Top 10 Researched Boats
Deck Boats

The “Deck Boat” type was developed in the 1990s by Hurricane and became an immediate hit. Other builders jumped in and most hewed closely to Hurricane’s design -- low freeboard, blunt bow, beach ladder off the foredeck, etc. Last year Chaparral introduced its 284 Sunesta that takes the deck boat to a higher level, discarding the low freeboard and blunt forefoot in favor of higher freeboard for big lakes and coastal work, and a sharp entry and a running pad for much better performance and handling. No wonder the 284 Sunesta ranked #1 in research sessions even though she wasn’t tested until the late fall of 2010.

4. Hurricane SunDeck 2400
5. MasterCraft X-35
6. Hurricane Sundeck 217 OB
7. Four Winns F204
8. Four Winns F244
9. Four Winns F224
10. Sea Ray 230 SunDeck

cross ruler
Volvo Penta IPS
#1 Volvo Penta IPS600
Cat C-9
#2 Caterpillar C-9
MTU Series 60
#3 MTU Series 60

Top 10 Researched Engines

The most important single piece of equipment in any powerboat is its engine and so it follows that most people doing research on large boats also spend time researching engines.  Volvo Penta and Yanmar dominated our research sessions because both offer a wide range of models, many of which are appropriate for smaller, high-speed boats. Yanmar is probably the most aggressive company in the re-power market.  Volvo Penta has the revolutionary IPS.

4. Yanmar 6LY3-ETP
5. Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSC 8.3 L
6. Yanmar 6LPA-STP2
7. Volvo Penta IPS500
8. Volvo Penta D6-435
9. Yanmar 6CX 530
10. Volvo Penta D9-575

cross ruler
ZF Marine
#1 ZF Marine Joystick System
Volvo Penta Sterndrive
#2 Volvo Penta Sterndrive Joystick
Volvo Penta OceanX
#3 Volvo Penta Ocean X

Top 10 Researched
Engine Related Subjects

Pod drive and joystick control systems continue to dominate research sessions on reports and videos related to larger boats. ZF has now partnered with Yanmar, Caterpillar and CMD to use its pod drive and joystick systems on their diesel engines.  Further, ZF also has JMS products which enable conventional inboard-powered boats to have joystick control.  Clearly, consumers still have lots of questions about the difference between MerCruisers' lower units. 

4. MerCruiser Bravo III
5. ZF Marine Pod Drives
6. Volvo Penta Electronic Vessel Control (EVC)
7. Yanmar Zeus Pod Drive
8. MerCruiser Alpha I Drive
9. Volvo Penta IPS
10. MerCruiser Bravo II

cross ruler
Shark Eats Man
#1 Shark Eats Man
Flying Carp
#2 Flying Carp Breaks Lady's Jaw
Carp DNA
#3 Carp DNA Found In Lake Michigan

Top 10 Read
News Stories

Boaters do not live by performance numbers and standard equipment alone. Part of the appeal of boating is what is going on around us on the water. Some of it is frightening, some of it is instructive, and some is just downright amusing. While we have run many positive and humorous stories, the ones that score highest in readership are decidedly on the more morbid side. We hope that the more PC readers among our membership will hold us harmless for the tabloid-like classic “Shark Eats Man,” which ranks #1.

4. Chain of Events Leads to Tragedy
5. Earthrace Rams Japanese Whaler, Sinks
6. Higher Authority Given Credit for Rescue
7. Godzilla vs. the Whale Killers
8. Details Reveal in NFL Players Tragedy
9. Why the Titanic Hit a Berg and Sank
10. Boat Explodes after Refueling

cross ruler
Heavy Weather
#1 Are Your Ready for Heavy Weather
Sea Ray
#2 How to Read Charts and Plot Positions
Hazardous Inlets
#3 Running Hazardous Inlets

Top 10 Read
Seamanship Articles

If a boat buyer doesn’t know good seamanship practices, how can he be expected to know if a new boat being purchased is well-found for its intended task in the first place? All boats are built for different conditions, yet nowhere do most builders publish the intended conditions for which the model was built. On the contrary, a number of builders give names to their boats that suggest greater capabilities than they actually have. Good seamen usually can recognize well-found boats better than most buyers.

4. USCG Required Gear
5. Running Aground is Only Half the Problem
6. How to Prevent Swamping Your Boat
7. A Ditch Bag for Offshore Boaters
8. Determining Distance From the Horizon
9. 10 Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend
10. Prepare for Emergencies – Taking on Water

cross ruler
Heavy Weather
#1 How to Make a Boat Move Sideways
Sea Ray
#2 Advantages of Trimming
Hazardous Inlets
#3 How to Handle a Boat in a Following Sea

Top 10 Watched
Boating Course Videos

The widely acclaimed Video Boating Course which is narrated by Capt. Steve is now beginning its 3rd year of serialization in our weekly newsletter. Week after week Capt. Steve picks a different aspect of boat handling or seamanship to discuss. People wishing to see the course free can tune in each week to this newsletter and over the course of 75 weeks see most of it. (Impatient boaters can order the 4 DVD course for $79.95.) Here are the Top 10 viewed videos in the course in 2010.

4. Setting the Anchor
5. Docking: Direct Drive vs. Inboard
6. How to Approach an Inlet in a Strong Current
7. How to Dock in a Strong Current
8. Twin Inboard Docking
9. How to Approach a Head Sea
10. Practice Docking

cross ruler

Smart Boating's Boating Course

Smart Boating
When we transferred our popular CD boating course over to DVD, we had no idea it would sell so well. ...Or in so many places.

We’ve been overwhelmed with the response to our DVD Boating Course. Based on the feedback we’ve been getting, it’s clearly not only for beginners getting started, but also for veteran boaters as well. We are surprised to see that most of the courses are being purchased by seasoned boaters, doing exactly what we did -- learning things that we forgot, or never knew. Perhaps that is why the NMMA started promoting the course after just one look. Let's look at who is buying's Smart Boating Course...

Order your copy here...

Watch the trailer...

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.


Visit and "like" our page to watch unedited video found only on Facebook.

Facebook page...

cross ruler

Boat Show

New York Boat Show
Jan. 19-23, 2011

New York Boat Show
Boat builders and dealers are getting ready to put their best boats forward at the huge Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in the Big Apple.

The oldest boat show in the U.S. will be celebrating its 106th anniversary next month, Jan 19-23, in New York City. If you do not live in the New York metro area, we couldn’t think of a better reason to visit the Big Apple. See the boat show during the day and enjoy a Broadway show at night. The city is festive in January and it is usually a surprisingly good time to visit. Do your research on then check out your short list in person at the show. One advantage of a boat show in a convention center is that you can check out the bottom shape of most of the boats you see. Dealers come to the show to do business, so if you are serious good deals can usually be made there. Remember the new boat buying paradigm: for the most part boats now need to be ordered in advance of construction. Get your new boat order in as soon as possible to insure delivery before the season starts. Visit the NY Boat Show website...

cross ruler


"Children of Haiti”
Airs Jan. 11th

Children of Haiti
“Children of Haiti” is an unblinking look at young “street boys” -- orphans who live by their wits in one of the most challenging cultures on the planet.

If you have ever wondered why each year hundreds of Haitians are willing to risk their lives to sail to the U.S. in over-crowded, leaky island-built sloops, the one-hour program “Children of Haiti” will give you a peek at a world never before shown to an American audience. Filmed over 3-1/2 years, Children of Haiti follows three street boys as they pass from happy-go-lucky, optimistic childhood into young adults who are neither happy nor lucky. Airing on your local PBS channel at 10pm on Tuesday January 11th or Thursday, January 13th. The film has nothing to do with boats, but it was directed and produced by Alex Hammond who was a videographer and editor for in its early days. We think you will enjoy the documentary film. To check TV schedule and see website...

cross ruler

Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"It’s so easy even a dog can do it!" - S. Zeitlin

Second Place

"Yes Dear, they really are man's best friend." - M. Brown

Honorable (almost) Mentions

"Happy Valentine's Day!" - C. Corie

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 1/5/10

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:, LLC
51 Bank Street, Suite 2A
Stamford, CT 06901

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.