10 Tests & Reviews//Zeus Pods Vs. Inboards//Buying Advice - 01/12/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter January 12, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here.
Boattest.com: Tests You Can Trust
10th year anniversary
- Diesel Engine Selection
- Meridian 441 Sedan
- Volvo Penta D4
- Rampage 30 Express
- Chaparral 420 Premiere
- World Cat 320 CC
- Rinker 400 EC
- Formula 310 FX5
- Cruisers Yachts 390
- Beneteau Monte Carlo 42
- Cranchi Zaffiro
- Wellcraft 252 Fisherman
- Sea Tow Captains
- Shurhold Products
- Big Tuna Sets Record in Tokyo
- New York Boat Show
- Golf Green Boat
- Hinckley Yachts Is Recapitalized
- What Boat Do YOU Want Tested
- Member Services
- Boating Course Now On DVD
- Picture of the Week
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Diesel Engine Advice for Sedans and Convertibles

Viking 42 C
The new Viking 42 Convertible uses Zeus pod drives which are under the cockpit sole.

When you are buying a new sedan or convertible, the engines selected to power the boat can be the most important decision you make. In some cases it may be even more important to a satisfying boating experience than the brand of the boat itself. If you are having engine problems, everything else about the boat immediately becomes secondary. Despite this,  a surprising number of buyers leave the engine selection up to the builder or the dealer. As an owner/operator of an expensive and complicated yacht, you should drill down into the details and performance of the engines you buy every bit as much as you will the brand and model of boat. Let’s look at diesel considerations for sedans and convertibles...

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New Test Video

Meridian 441 Sedan Bridge:
Zeus Pods vs. Straight Drives

Meridian 441 Sedan Bridge
Don’t be fooled by the model name. With an integral swim platform and no bow pulpit, the Meridian 441 has a length overall of 47'2" (14.3 m) and a 14’3” (4.3 m) beam.

Months ago we tested the Meridian 441 with straight-shaft twin 425-hp diesel inboards and noted her performance numbers. Some among us, including Capt. Steve, thought that the boat was slightly underpowered, but that is sometimes the case with brands that are trying to come in with as low a price-point as possible. Instead of simply installing a higher horsepower engine in the 441, Meridian went one better and put in a 480-hp Zeus pod drive. When we found out about the upgrade, we asked Meridian when and where we could get aboard for a new performance test. Here is the comparison of the two different drive systems. And they’re off...

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Engine News

Volvo Penta D4:
Small Package That Packs A Wallop

Volvo Penta D4
The D4 was designed from the outset as a marine engine. In other words, it is not like most marine diesels which were originally designed for trucks and then refitted for marine use.

Volvo Penta’s D4 diesel engine is a compact package that delivers from 225 to 300-hp for boats from 20' to 45' or more, depending on the application. It can be mated with Volvo Penta's robust DPH Duoprop outdrive, the IPS350 and 400 pod drives, or a straight-shaft or V-drive inboard drive system. If you have thought about repowering and have always wanted diesel, or you are considering what power is best for your new boat, then this mighty little diesel might be just the ticket for you. Let's take a look at actual test numbers of the D4 in a 42-footer and learn more about the engine itself...

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Second Look

Rampage 30 Coastal Express:
Big Boat in a Small Package

Rampage 30 Express
The Rampage 30 Coastal has stood the test of time and is available with either gas or diesel power.

The Rampage 30 Coastal is not a new boat but she has certainly withstood the test of time and is still standing tall among coastal fishermen and cruising folk alike. One of the reasons is that Rampage has been tweaking and upgrading the boat every year to keep her current with the latest fishy equipment. Solidly engineered and expertly finished this boat is as au courant as the day she was first launched. We have tested her with both gas and diesel power, so check out performance tables and take your pick. Troll here...

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First Look

Chaparral 420 Premiere:
This Hardtop is Loaded with Comfort

Chaparral 420 Premiere
Whether you want to entertain large groups on day trips, or cruise on longer adventures with a partner or family, Chaparral's 420 Premiere hardtop express cruiser is a boat you should investigate. Power is twin Volvo Penta IPS diesels, either 370-hp IPS500s or 435-hp IPS600s.

Chaparral's 42' 0" (12.8 m) LOA 420 Premiere is a hardtop express cruiser with many features we like, most of them comfort-related: There's a fully equipped galley roomy enough for actual cooking; cockpit seating for a raft of friends, and a wet bar and grill to feed them from; lots of sunbathing space, forward and aft; a big swim platform that can be hydraulically lowered to launch your tender or PWC; a split master head with separate shower compartment; and a midcabin that doubles as a seagoing den, so folks can enjoy it even when they're not sleeping. Introduced in 2009 as the 400 Premiere, the 420 Premiere is the same yacht, but renamed to reflect her true length. (Most of Chaparral's 2011 boats have received similar treatment.)  Here's more about the 420 Premiere.

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By Popular Demand

World Cat 320 CC:
Another Myth Is Busted

World Cat 320 CC
The monohull/catamaran battle rages on, but it’s hard to argue with the amount of usable space on a cat.

Whenever you put a potential buyer in front of a pair of dealers, one for a monohull, and one for a cat, you’ll soon hear the claims bouncing back and forth about how one is better than the other. This one handles better, that one has more room, yada yada yada… But one claim always rises to the surface, and it’s always against the catamarans. Since we test boats for a living, we decided that we had an obligation to put this myth to the test and settle once and for all the claim that monohull builders have been leveling against the cats.  To the testing grounds...

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Second Look

Rinker 400 EC:
Price-Point Express With Lots of Standards

Rinker 400 EC
The 400 EC is the flagship of the Rinker lineup and while she may look a bit high in the topsides, there’s 6’10” (2.08 m) of headroom in the main salon.

Radar arch... check. Raymarine radar and C-120 multi-function display... check. Three flat screen TVs... check. These are just some of the many standard items that we found on the Rinker 400 EC that some builders think should be on the options list. And that’s just scratching the surface. This 41’6" (12.64 m) boat has a base price of $380,889, and is competitive with Sea Ray and Regal.  More...

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New Boat

Formula 310 FX5 Launches

Formula 310 FX5
The 310 FX5 is the second in a new series of boats from Formula that is destined to thrill. With a LOA of 31' 0" (9.45m) and a beam of 9'6" (2.9 m) she will still be easy to handle.

At the end of last summer, we were one of the first to bring you the test and full review of the first launch of Formula's exciting new FX series.  The boat involved was the 290 FX4. With jaw-dropping good looks, and upgrades all around, this beauty was going to create a lot of buzz.  Now, Formula Boats has upped the ante on cool by going one better: the new, longer, and just as good looking 310 FX5. Let’s take a look at the features and options, and while we’re at it, see what she’ll cost a lucky owner. Let the buzz begin...

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New Features Video

Cruisers Yachts 390 Sports Coupe:
Family-Friendly Coastal Cruiser with Class

Cruisers Yachts 390 Sports Coupe
The 390 SC makes a very capable family cruiser or entertainment platform. Our tests showed a top speed of 34.1 mph (54.9 kph) with twin 330-hp Volvo Penta IPS450s -- the lowest horsepower option.  Who needs more?

The Cruisers Yachts 390 Sports Coupe has one of the most unique cockpit layouts we’ve seen, and an interesting level of functionality that should make a long cruise even more enjoyable.  Belowdecks are many features that we’ve come to expect from Cruisers Yachts, such as solid cherry woodwork, and an impressive main salon headroom. Best of all, she cruises at 21 kts., getting nearly 2 miles per gallon.  More...

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From France

Beneteau Monte Carlo 42:
Is this Double-Cabin Cruiser a Good Bet?

Beneteau Monte Carlo 42
If you like Beneteau's sweet Monte Carlo 47, but she's a little too big or expensive, try her smaller sister, the 42. Designed for dayboating and short-range cruising, the Monte Carlo 42 has two double staterooms belowdecks and a full range of creature comforts under the hardtop. With twin Volvo Penta D6 diesel sterndrives, she's attractively priced, too.

Beneteau is known for building stylish boats at attractive prices, and the Monte Carlo 42 is no exception. The 44' 11" (13.7 m) LOA cruiser, with two double cabins, twin diesel power, a garage for tender stowage and lots of sybaritic touches in the hardtop-covered cockpit, tips the financial scales at around €330,000, plus VAT (under $500,000 in the U.S.). Designed by Beneteau naval architects and styled by P. Andreani, the Monte Carlo 42 isn't just a flashy date: She's built to EC Category B standards for offshore service and rides on a low-drag stepped hull that makes her fast and able with twin 370-hp Volvo Penta diesel sterndrives. Belowdecks, she carries her master cabin amidships, taking advantage of her 13' 1" (3.99 m) beam to provide her owner with maximum living space. But she has one quirk that has us concerned. To find out what it is, double down...

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Video Review

Cranchi Zaffiro 36:
Italian Style Leads the Way

Cranchi Zaffiro
There are few things you can't do with the Cranchi Zaffiro 36 -- a day boat that will turn heads anywhere.

There are few places on earth quite like northern Italy, home of not only the Renaissance but also of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Gucci, Bulgari, Versace, Armani and many more of the world's high profile products in almost any field you can think of. It's home to some of the finest leather goods and knitwear, and its cabinet-making is the envy of carpenters everywhere. In the middle of all of this industry, design talent, craftsmen and taste are several boat builders producing, not surprisingly, the world’s most elegant and refined small boats. One of them is Cranchi and our COO Christopher Hughes had a chance to get on board the Zaffiro 36 with a cameraman. Come along for the tour...

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Classic Wellcraft 252 Fisherman:
352 NM Range w/ 150 Yamahas x 2

Wellcraft 252 Fisherman
Capt. John Wenz puts the Wellcraft 252 Fisherman to the test offshore at high speed and finds her solid and docile.

With a 20-degree deadrise and an 8'9" (2.69 m) beam, the 4,700-lb. (1,954 kg.) classic Wellcraft 252 CC performed like the thoroughbred she is with twin 150-hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboards. Capt. John recorded a WOT of 49.7 mph, or 43.2 knots and a best cruise of 31.8 mph, or 27.6 knots. At that speed she gets 2.5 mpg and has a range of 405 statute miles -- or 352 nautical miles -- with a 10% fuel reserve. Take a look at the exciting video ...

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What Makes A
Sea Tow Captain?

Sea Tow
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.  Today, we look at what sort of person becomes a Sea Tow captain.  Learn more...

Sea Tow is a sponsor of BoatTEST.com...


Shurhold's Water Blade:
Dry It Faster

Shurhold Products

We want to pass on a helpful hint for drying your boat: the Shurhold Flexible Water Blade helps. When we put this product to the test, we were not very excited. Let’s be real -- drying your boat is a pain, and nothing will change that. Or so we thought. We found that the Flexible Water Blade actually conformed to the shape of the hull and removed all of the water.  It leaves the surface streak-free and is very easy on the arms and back. Visit Shurhold to order...

Fish Story

Big Tuna Sets
Record $396,000
in Tokyo

Tuna Record
This 754-lb. (342 kg.) bluefin tuna was auctioned for $526 a pound.  That's $33 per ounce!

The first auction of the year at Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market often makes headlines and last week a record was set for most expensive tuna ever -- $396,000. Not only is Tsukiji the largest wholesale fish market in the world, it is also the largest food market in the world, and about 900 dealers ply their trade their trade there most mornings starting at 4am. To find out more about the record tuna...

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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 this month, Jan 19-23, in New York City.  Do your research on BoatTEST.com then check out your short list in person at the show.  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 ensure delivery before the season starts. Visit the NY Boat Show website...

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World's Only
Golf Green Boat

World's Only Golf Green Boat
The 14th hole at Coeur d'Alene golf course in Idaho is actually on a boat that moves!

Just when you think you have seen every kind of boat imaginable -- someone imagines something else. In this case, a golf green, which floats and moves around at the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It was built in 1991 and still draws thousands of golfers every summer. If you have never heard of this unique golf course -- with the world's only floating green -- then you'll want to watch this video. Four...

Industry News

Hinckley Yachts
Is Recapitalized

The 55' Hinckley Talaria with flying bridge is a departure for the company. The builder calls it a "bed & breakfast" afloat.

Hinckley Yachts, located in Southwest Harbor, Maine, has received a "growth capital investment" from Scout Partners LLC, which is getting "a substantial ownership stake" in the company, said Hinckley CEO James McManus. Scout is a partnership between David Howe and Peterson Capital LLC, founded by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Peter G. Peterson. More...

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Member Services

What Boat Do YOU Want Tested?

Steve and Dan
The BoatTEST.com crew measures, inspects, operates, tests and makes videos of the subject boat all at the same time.

If you would like a boat tested by BoatTEST.com, let us know the specific brand and model. Testing the way BoatTEST.com does it is a complicated and expensive task that takes planning, logistics, time, patience and lots of hard work by a dozen people behind the scenes. If you are serious about buying a new boat let us know what boat you would like to have us test and we will do our best to make it happen. Report here...

Simply email us the SPECIFIC brand and model of the boat, engine or other product that you would like us to test; email to editorial@boattest.com.

Member Services

Are You Looking
For a New Boat?

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.com staff will be happy to provide their expertise and guidance to you via email. 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. We're ready to help you with a personal response...


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

Facebook page...

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Smart Boating

BoatTEST.com'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.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about BoatTEST.com's Smart Boating Course, it’s clearly not only for beginners, but also for veteran boaters as well.  Perhaps that is why the NMMA started promoting the course after just one look.  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.
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Lesson of the Week

Fire Extinguisher Requirements

Lesson of the WeekSmart Boating Cover
The number of fire extinguishers required aboard your boat is determined by the length of your boat. For example, boats 40 to 65 feet are required to have either three B-I extinguishers, or one B-I and one B-II on board.

This week Capt. Steve goes over six lessons and guidelines on fire extinguisher requirements. There are four basic extinguishers labeled Class A, B, C and D according to their purpose and type of fire they extinguish. The Coast Guard requires Type B-I or B-II extinguishers to have aboard recreational boats, which are portable and will douse liquid fires such as gas, oil or grease.  These videos are part of BoatTEST.com's USCG-approved boating course called “Smart Boating.” Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com.

To view this week’s lessons --

To order all lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

“Three longshoremen after a lunch of bad oysters.” – R. Davis

Second Place

“Don't you dare say ‘do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around.’” – D. Eppley

Honorable (almost) Mentions

“Nope! It ain't under here!” – J. Augot

“It's the little people that make the difference.” – M. Mcintyre

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 1/12/11

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.

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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.