Single Pod Drive w/Joystick: A Game Changer? // 13 Reviews - 03/16/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter March 16, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- ZF 2800 Single Pod Drive
- Cruisers Yachts 420 SC
- Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 21
- Wellcraft 290 Coastal
- Vicem 5800
- Ranger Tug 27
- Formula: Behind the Scenes
- Evinrude E-TEC 50
- Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO
- Four Winns V435
- Chaparral 284
- Regal 42 Sport Coupe
- Glacier Bay 2740
- Services from Sea Tow
- Shurhold Products
- Boat Buying Advice
- Boating Course Now On DVD
- Picture of the Week
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

New ZF Single Pod Joystick:
Can Center Consoles Say Goodbye to Outboards?

ZF 2800 Pod
Notice anything different about this sportfishing center console?  Yep, there are no obstructions on the transom.

As the saying goes, "people don’t want ¼” drill bits, they want ¼” holes".  ZF Marine has applied that logic to the operation of boats, figuring that it’s not necessarily pods that boaters want, but clean transoms for fishing, joystick control for docking, and single engines for economy and range.  But such single engines need to be powerful and have prodigious torque to push a 14,000 lb. center console at a decent speed.  That's why a diesel engine with a pod drive joystick system could be the answer.  Talk is cheap.  Here's the video test...

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New Video

Cruisers Yachts 420 Sports Coupe:
From A Woman's Point of View

Cruisers Yachts 420 Sports Coupe
The Cruisers Yachts 420 is an example of efficient space utilization below and professional design that makes for an elegant express cruiser.

Over the last few years the team at Cruisers has been telling us how they are reacting to feedback from boaters with regard to their interior designs. They tell us they have focused on designs with contemporary styling, colors, woods, and fabrics that are fresh and exciting both in Europe and America.  Charity Hughes takes a look at the new 420 interior, and lets us know how well they've done.  See here...

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Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 21:
Cast Your Hook from this 'Toon

Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 21
With the Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 21 you have room for the whole family to go fishing together at once.  Best of all you don't have to worry about rocking the boat!

We can’t understand why more people don’t fish from pontoon boats, and now a builder is taking the concept seriously with the Sun Tracker Fishin' Barge 21. Whether you  and a buddy want to creep into remote fishing shallow water hidey holes, or bring all of your friends fishing, this boat will get it done, and without breaking the bank. She has a long list of standard features, which means you won’t have to add options galore. Step on deck and tour with us.

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Fishing Boats

Wellcraft 290 Coastal:
A Classic Express Fishboat

Wellcraft 290 Coastal
The Wellcraft 290 Coastal gets better with age as the builder keeps tinkering with the details and updating this classic war wagon.

Looking down the list of Wellcrafts we have reviewed, we were shocked to discover we had never tested the Wellcraft 290 Coastal. Built in the same plant as Four Winns boats, this classic vessel has proved her bona fides over the years.  For the last year Wellcraft has had new owners and this season they are rolling out their 2011 offerings, putting their best foot forward. We recently inspected the 290 Coastal, so let's take a look...

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Turkey Calling

Vicem 58 Express Cruiser:
Downeast Yacht Without Peer

Vicem 58
The Vicem 58 is not for everyone, and that is how both the builder and its customers like it.

Over the last 20 years Vicem has established a reputation for delivering beautiful boats made with cold molded wooden hulls. Built in Turkey, Vicem hulls are stronger than fiberglass, says the builder, and their interiors are second to none in class. Vicem Yachts are finished and appointed with such impeccable taste that some of the world's most discerning yachtsmen have bought them. And that's only the beginning. To find out more about the Vicem 58...

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New Boat

New Ranger Tug 27:
We Compare the R-25 SC to the New R-27

Ranger Tug 27
The new Ranger Tug 27 had a steady stream of admirers at the winter boat shows.

For the last two years we have been getting member mail asking us to review or test the Ranger Tug line. Last summer the company introduced a new boat, the Ranger Tug 27, which falls nicely between its R-25 SC and R-29. Directed toward people who want to do affordable cruising in a new boat, this little replica tug is one of the cleverest boats on the water, in our opinion. Read more...

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Inside Look

How Formula Builds Its Classy Interiors

Formula Factory
We continue our tour of how the builder of premium boats, Formula, handles fabricating and installing their boats' interiors.

Time was, when you were putting together the interior of a premium boat, you simply brought in the parts and assembled them like a jigsaw puzzle. Formula believes they’ve got a better way of doing things that increases the level of quality control, and also allows for testing of components before they are placed into the boat. Is beauty only skin-deep? Find out here...

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Outboard Test

We Test the Evinrude E-TEC 50-HP
On an Alumacraft Classic 165 CS

Evinrude 50
We think a basic 16' 4" (5.0 m) boat with a 50-hp outboard and a trailer makes a great value for shoppers demanding the best value for money. Top speed: 29.6 mph (47.6 kph).

When we tested the Evinrude E-TEC 50 she was purring smoothly without a hint of struggle, and not only gave our Alumacraft Classic 165 CS a respectable top speed, but a cruise of 19.2 mph (30.9 kph) getting a noteworth 9.16 mpg (3.89 kpl). That means you can run for 9.5 hrs for only $70.00. For most of us, that will likely last for several trips. By our definition, that’s a combination that needs a closer look...

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Test Video

Yamaha FX Cruiser SHO and FX SHO:
What Do These Watercraft Deliver?

Yamaha FX SHO Series
Pictured here in the red is the 2011 FX SHO and in the background is the 2011 version of the FX Cruiser SHO.

The FX Cruiser SHO and the FX SHO are essentially the same watercraft, with only a slight variation in features. So what do you need to know about them? We put them through a full test and review to answer that question.  First, even though they have one of the longest hulls in a PWC, at 132.7'' and weigh in at 840 lbs. and 827 lbs., respectively, the ride characteristics on both are as good as on shorter, lighter units -- and in one way they are better. Find out what that is...

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Captain's Report

New Four Winns V435:
Choose From Three Cabin Layouts

Four Winns V435
The 2011 V435 has exciting new graphics signaling that Four Winns' new owners are ready to resume this brand's forceful presence.

Several years ago Four Winns quietly launched the V408 at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. It was mashed in among scores of other express cruisers and in our opinion never received the acclaim it deserved, eventhough she had several major innovations that advanced the state of the express cruiser design art. The Great Recession rained on everyone's parade, including this wonderful boat, but Four Winns has made some changes and has re-introduced it as the V435. Among other things, this boat has gravitas, and we consider it one of the best express cruiser coupes in its size range. Let us tell you why...

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Features Video

Chaparral 284 Sunesta:
A Big, Feature-Packed Deckboat

Chaparral 284 Sunesta
The Chaparral 284 Sunesta measures in at 28’4" (8.64 m) LOA with a beam of 9’ (2.74 m). With full fuel she’ll tip the scales at roughly 7,000 lbs (3175 kg) which adds to her stability and solid feel underway.

When we arrived to test the Chaparral 284 Sunesta, our first look was of this big deckboat coming out of the rack room. Immediately we were able to see that there were distinct differences between this boat and others in its class. Once we stepped aboard, we saw many more examples of how innovative this builder really is.  Rather than list all the features here, how about watching a video tour?  Seeing is believing.

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Features Video

Regal 42 Sport Coupe:
Regal’s Newest Launch Brings
a Lot of Bang for the Buck

Regal 42 Sport Coupe
The Regal 42 Sport Coupe comes standard with Volvo Penta IPS and plenty of room for two couples to spend time together, without getting in each other’s way.

First it was Regal’s new pricing structure for its largest boats that started turning heads. Now what is this? The all new 42 Sport Coupe may not be a game changer, but it certainly bends the rules. The entertainment possibilities are grand, the accommodations are spacious, and the fit and finish is Regal's best. We first tested the 42 SC in weather that kept others tied to the dock and she came through with flying colors. Now we take a look at the layout and see just how much form and function Regal managed to fit into 42'4” (12.9 m). Step aboard with us and see it firsthand...

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Test Video

New Glacier Bay Renegade 2740:
Her First Performance Test

Glacier Bay Renegade 2740
We’ve been reporting for quite some time on the build of this new Glacier Bay.
Now she's here and we are the first to test her.

In the 2740, the folks at Glacier Bay created a catamaran that not only expands on the already voluminous room that cats are famous for, but focuses on ergonomics as well. We’ve reported before that Glacier Bay hasn’t always built boats that fit people as well as they can take a sea. But with this new model, things have changed dramatically.  Now that we’ve tested her and have gotten a chance to touch and feel her, we’re ready to let you in on the performance numbers and show our full captain's report. Catch the cat...

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Running Aground Is Only
Half the Problem

Sea Tow Image
This angler must have been chasing bonefish with his boat rather than a long cast. We wonder what has happened to his running gear as he waited for high tide?

As most regular readers know, Sea Tow is one of our sponsors, so when a friend of ours ran aground and was aided by a Sea Tow captain last year, our ears perked up. It seems that our friend chose to believe what he was seeing on his chartplotter while going north on the ICW and cut inside a nav buoy because "there was plenty of water." Seeing other boats do the same thing, he thought it was safe for him, too. Yep, his 60' twin inboard motoryacht ended up hard aground. Find out what happened next...

Brought to you by Sea Tow.


Shurhold Video Test:
Buff Magic Taken to Task

Shurhold Buff Magic
We put Capt. Steve to work while our cameras were rolling.

Owning a fiberglass yacht with a shiny, gleaming surface is one of the joys of boat ownership. But the hard work that goes into creating that look isn't so much fun. In order to find out how well Yacht Brite Buff Magic and Pro Polish work, we recently tested on a severely neglected hull. Capt. Steve followed the standard procedures, applied the products, and all the while our camera crew was shooting video.  See for yourself what our tests turned up...


First Time Boat Buyer Tips:
And Some Surprising Advice

First Time Boat Buyer
So many boats, so little time! Where to start? Our advice is not make it harder than it has to be -- this is not rocket science.

Man was born free, but everywhere he is chained to land…(apologies to Rousseau)…but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is another world out there and it is called “recreational boating.” It has been going on since man first had some spare time on his hands and a little inspiration. If you have been thinking about buying your first boat let us give you some words of encouragement and some advice. Here are some unconventional tips from our Director of Testing...

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

Facebook page...
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Smart Boating's
DVD Boating Course

Smart Boating
This set of 4 DVDs covers virtually all of the important topics you need to know to go boating safely.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about'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

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

See the 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

How to Trim Your Outboard or Sterndrive Boat

Capt. SteveSmart Boating Cover

Trimming your drive correctly will give you a better, faster, safer ride and better fuel economy.

This week Capt. Steve goes over seven new video lessons and guidelines on how to trim your outboard or sterndrive boat. You’ll learn about the advantages of trimming your drive correctly, how to reduce bow rise, when to raise your drive, what to look out for, and how to make sure you never run your engine dry. These are basic rules 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 --

Order all lessons on DVD--

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"I'm bald and I have both of these. So say it with me, 'Yes I can!'" - R. Rother

Second Place

“The two things that you can spend endless money on and STILL have problems.”
- D. Patterson

Honorable (almost) Mentions

“The theory of relativity...If you own a boat, it's relatively easy to get babes!” - A. Bl

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 3/16/11

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