10 Reviews // How To Dock // Diesel Sterndrive - 03/23/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter March 23, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here.
Boattest.com: Tests You Can Trust
- Ranger Z520 Comanche
- CMD QSB 5.9L
- Harris FloteBote Solstice 230
- Mako 184 Center Console
- MasterCraft X-2
- Hydra-Sports 202 DC
- Volvo Penta IPS1200
- Formula: Behind the Scenes
- Larson Cabrio 857
- Rampage 45 Convertible
- Bayliner 245 Cruiser
- Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan
- Services from Sea Tow
- Royal Purple Engine Test
- PowerTech Propellers
- Boating Course Now On DVD
- Picture of the Week
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Ranger Z520 Comanche:

Best Performance
30 to 55 MPH with
Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O.!

Evinrude E-TEC 250
The Ranger Z520 Comanche powered by an Evinrude
E-TEC 250 H.O. has an extraordinary "best performance" range which means you can go most any speed that strikes your fancy and be operating most efficiently.

There are two big stories involved with our recent test of the Ranger Z520 Comanche powered by an Evinrude E-TEC 250 H.O. engine: one involves the boat and the other is about the engine. Every once in a while a boat and an engine marriage comes along that seems to have been made in boating heaven and this appears to be one of them. Let’s take a look...

cross ruler

Engine Test

Full Test of the
Cummins MerCruiser Diesel 
QSB 5.9 480-hp

Cummins QSB 5.9 480-hp
The Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSB 5.9 480 in-line 6 develops 480-hp at 3400 rpm and is one of the most popular marine diesels on the market.

It is not often that we get the chance to test a single diesel engine, as we usually test a pair in a sedan, convertible or express cruiser application. But recently we tested a single Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSB 5.9 liter engine powering a 35' center console. This is the same block that has been powering the "Ram Tough" Dodge pick-up trucks since 1989. As a result, it is probably the most famous diesel engine in the U.S. And for years it has been a mainstay in marine propulsion. Let's see why...

cross ruler

Captain's Report

Harris FloteBote Solstice 230:
“Transformer” Seats For a Roman Holiday

Harris FloteBote 230 Solstice
The men and women are sitting on FloteBote's versatile “Transformer” loungers. Count ‘em – seven people each in their own comfortable lounge seats. Peel us a grape, bring on the wine!

It's hard to make a product differentiating splash with a pontoon boat – how many ways can you arrange furniture on a platform? And, they all look good in the dealer’s showroom! But in its 24'8" (7.5 m) LOA Solstice 230, Harris FloteBote has managed to create a simple, but innovative layout. By using the fantastic optional “Transformer” seats you can turn your toon into a floating Roman dinner party that would make Caesar Augustus and friends green with envy. All you need are togas. The Harris FloteBote Solstice 230 is something new under the sun, so let’s take a look...

cross ruler

Bay Boat

Mako 184 Center Console:
An Angler's Fishbuster

Mako 184 CC
Want to seriously fish in bays, estuaries and skinny water, but don't have a fortune to spend? Consider the Mako 184 Center Console which costs only $22,995 with a 115-hp outboard.

The Mako 184 Center Console is as much fishing boat as most folks need, in a package that's both handy and affordable. With a modified V-hull, a wide-open cockpit, tough construction and plenty of piscatorial amenities, the 184 Center Console just might be what the doctor recommends for angling in protected waters. Bite here for more...

cross ruler

Captain's Report

MasterCraft X-2:
World's Hottest Tow Boat?

MasterCraft X-2
With the bow that far out of the water you'd better believe that this X-2 is creating one huge wake. MasterCraft calls this picklefork bow a "SuperFly", combining the sharp entry of a V-hull with the wide foredeck of a tri-hull.

MasterCrafts have been the tow boats of choice among world-class sliders since 1968, when the company first built 12 boats in a Tennessee horse barn. Now many serious watersports fans lust after the ultra-stylish 20' X-2 because her hull is so versatile and she looks cool. Let's take a look...

cross ruler

New Video

Hydra-Sports 202 DC:
Fishboat? Family Boat? Utility Boat?

Hydra-Sports 202 DC
The Hydra-Sports 202 DC is 20’ 1" of fun, but does it have what it takes to be both fish and family friendly?

We have been testing Hydra-Sports boats for many years now and with the MasterCraft team taking the helm as the parent company we are seeing some interesting changes. Here is a short review of the 202 DC, a well-built and good-looking family, fishboat, or utility boat.  Regular readers know we like dual console boats and the 202 DC reminds us why. Take a look...

cross ruler

New Video

Volvo Penta IPS1200 Report:
We Test Volvo's Largest Pod Drives
For Recreational Boats!

Volvo Penta IPS1200
The test bed is this 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) luxury sportfish built by Spencer Yachts.  Can it attain any measure of a decent speed with roughly 18% less horsepower than the closest competitor? Will it burn twice as much fuel pushing more with less?

The company that popularized the concept of adding a joystick to helms, that gave us pod-driven boats, and even electronic vessel controls, is now setting its sights on larger boats. Why have pods, which have taken a firm hold in mid-size boats, not taken off with larger yachts? One answer is that no one wants to be the first to try, and possibly fail. Another is that the existing pods on the market were not big enough to handle high horsepower diesels -- until now. Once again Volvo Penta has had the stones to try and show it can be done, and has invested in the costly R&D and tooling to manufacture the system to do it. We step aboard the prototype to bring you the answers. How well will pods work in a large 70’ (21.3 m) yacht?

cross ruler

Inside the Factory

Formula Factory Tour:
Seats and Upholstery

Formula Seats
When you take a seat on a Formula boat, there’s a lot more underneath your bottom than meets the eye.

It would be so easy to just go to the store and buy boat seats off the rack, and some builders do just that.  However, it’s not uncommon for the better boat manufacturers to fabricate their own seats. To be sure, some are much better than others.  How can we tell the difference?Formula Boats opened their doors to show us...

cross ruler

New Test

All New Larson Cabrio 857:
Powered By A Diesel Sterndrive!

Larson Cabrio 857
The 28' Larson Cabrio 857 is all new from stem to stern. Her stunning styling and new Yanmar 260-hp diesel sterndrive option will make her a compelling choice.

Larson has recently introduced an all new series of designs that replace their old Cabrio line. One of the first boats to be introduced is the new Larson Cabrio 857 which was on display at the recent Miami Boat Show to universal approbation. Making this new introduction even more exciting, Larson has installed in our test boat a 260-hp Yanmar diesel linked to a Yanmar sterndrive. If you have ever wondered what it might be like to own a diesel powered sterndrive 28-footer, have we got a test for you! Hold on to your wallet...

cross ruler

Features Video

Rampage 45 Convertible:
For Serious Anglers Who Want Room

Rampage 45 Convertible
The Rampage 45 Convertible is a traditional fighting machine with a cockpit ready for fishing action, not the peanut gallery. We tested her with twin 800-hp Cats.

The Rampage 45 offers anglers a distinctive alternative to many other convertibles in class. She is lighter than most, but has more beam than all but one, and with 6’7” (2.02 m) headroom in the cabins, even John Wayne would be comfortable aboard. Because she has two cabins and two heads - each with its own shower stall - the Rampage 45 stands apart from most of her competition when it comes to accommodations and creature comforts. But perhaps her cockpit is her largest departure from others on the market. Note there is no mezzanine seating, which means that there is a full bait prep area with sink and easy to access freezers and lockers. Let’s get fishy...

cross ruler

Test Video

Bayliner 245 Cruiser:
Your First Cabin Cruiser?

Bayliner 245 Cruiser
Capt. Steve tested the Bayliner 245 Cruiser on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway and managed to spend time running up and down the narrow canals checking out the waterfront. It was a great use of this pocket cruiser.

With a LOA of 24’ 1” (7.34 m) and a trailerable 8’5” (2.57 m) beam, we think the Bayliner 245 Cruiser makes an ideal step up from a bowrider that can take you exploring by day and then make a cozy night out on the hook.  And if you’re looking to step up from a smaller boat, then this makes an ideal transitioning platform.  Step into a new world...

cross ruler

Test Video

Meridian Yachts 541 Sedan:
We Test The Largest In The Lineup

Meridian Yachts 541
While we were impressed with the interior layout of this new 541 Sedan, we didn’t expect a lot of surprises from the handling side of the test. How wrong we were.

This latest from Meridian Yachts is powered by twin 600-hp Cummins MerCruiser Diesel QSC engines driving Zeus pods, and we went in expecting that we’d get good performance and little else. But as it turns out, there were some interesting handling qualities that our Capt. Steve came to appreciate. Our full test video is ready for viewing, along with his full report...

Request Incentive Pricing                                                                                                        Docking on Command video
cross ruler

Safety Aboard

Safety Check List

Every boat should have a carbon monoxide detector in every cabin. They are low cost and high value. You can mount them almost anywhere.

CO is odorless, but prime symptoms are headache or nausea, followed by drowsiness and death. This spring make sure your boat is well equipped with CO detectors with new batteries. Also, it is time to check your US Coast Guard required safety items and required equipment. If you want to refresh your memory on what federal regulations say you must have aboard, consult here...

Brought to you by Sea Tow.


Royal Purple Test
On a 40-hp Outboard

Royal Purple
Capt. Steve adjusts the rpm on a 40-hp outboard on our outdoor test bench.

The last time we tested a sterndrive in Long Island Sound, those of little faith said that wind, waves and changing current could have affected our results. This time we tested Royal Purple against a leading synthetic brand of motor oil in a 40-hp Mercury EFI 4-stroke engine, on a test stand with a hose feeding fresh water through the engine. No wind, waves or current to affect the results -- which were full of surprises for everyone. Let’s go to the video tape...

How to find Royal Purple... 


Change The Prop
to Change Performance

Royal Purple
Why buy a new engine or boat, when all you might need is a new prop?

Many boaters are not aware that they can change characteristics of their boat’s performance simply by changing the propeller. Even though there are hundreds of prop design choices, finding exactly the right prop for your specific boat, engine, and use application is actually quite easy when you consult an expert. We can tell you first hand that the team at PowerTech! Propellers are some of the best in the world at matching the correct prop to every boating application. All you need do is fill out this simple worksheet to find out what prop is right for you...(no obligation)...

Visit PowerTech!'s homepage...

cross ruler

Smart Boating

DVD Boating Course

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

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

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.

cross ruler

Lesson of the Week

How to Dock Your Twin Inboard Boat

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover

Always have your lines ready before approaching the dock. Once dockside, tie the bow line first, then the stern line.

This week Capt. Steve goes over six new lessons and guidelines on basic boat handling and docking procedures. Learn why twins allow you to maneuver easier. Learn how to pivot the boat for close quarter maneuvering, move the boat sideways without a bow thruster, and how to back into a slip.  These are basic rules which all recreational boaters should be aware of. The videos presented this week are part of BoatTEST.com’s Boating Course which is USCG-approved. Watch these video boating lessons every week on BoatTEST.com.

To view this week’s lessons --

Order all lessons on DVD--

cross ruler

Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

“As the economy turns downward in Connecticut, Hinckley releases the 2011 picnic boat!” – R. Saunders

Second Place

“I can almost reach the cole slaw.” – M. Burton

Honorable (almost) Mentions

“Craigslist is really paying off today...$50 for a boat, and free picnic table...now if I only had a garage...” - B. Johnson

“This is just a new take on ‘up a creek without a paddle’...” - S. Havel

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 3/23/11

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.

BoatTEST.com, LLC
51 Bank Street, Suite 2A
Stamford, CT 06901

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.