Beneteau Swift 34//Mako 212//Cruisers Yachts 330//Accident Report - 06/22/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter June 22, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- Spencer 70
- Tahoe Q7i SS
- Larson Escape 204
- Beneteau Swift 34
- MJM 29z
- Triumph 191 Fish & Ski
- Bayliner 335 SB
- Tigé RZ4
- Formula 37 Cruiser
- Cruisers Yachts 330 Express
- Evinrude E-TEC 115
- Mako 212 Center Console
- Yamaha VX Deluxe
- Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XP3
- Volvo Penta 5.7L
- Shurhold Fuel Filter
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course on DVD
- 2011 Accident Report
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

Spencer 70:
Float Like a Butterfly,
Sting Like a Bee

Spencer 70
When it comes to the hard-hitting game of offshore fishing, turning on a dime when fighting a trophy fish is critical.

This is a most unusual boat for a big sportfisherman. And there's a very good reason. She's powered by three of Volvo Penta's new IPS1200 pod drives. Now we know that pods generally add about 30% to a boat's economy, but in this case, the pods were added to give this 70-footer the agility of a lightning-fast heavy-weight boxer when tangling with big billfish.  We sent Capt. Steve to put her through a test forward and reverse. Five control stations and joystick docking...

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Test Video

Tahoe Q7i SS:
Family Watersports for under 30K

Tahoe Q7i SS
The 20' 6'' (6.2 m) Tahoe Q7i SS is made by Tracker Marine, one of the largest boat builders in the world.

Value is everything in boating these days.  Our tests and reviews have shown what the Tahoe Q7i SS will deliver for under 30K. With a selection of hull graphics, wake tower, lots of storage, and some fishing features thrown in, this model should cover all your needs on the water. If you're a first time boater, this 20' 6" (6.2 m) boat, motor and trailer package is, in our opinion, a good way to get your family on the water. Here is a walk-through of some of the features...

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New Video

Sea Ray 450 Sedan Bridge:
An All-New Boat From the Keel Up

Larson Escape 204
Sea Ray has made the Zeus pod drive/joystick system standard on its new 450 Sedan Bridge.

Long known for its popular Sundancer express cruisers, Sea Ray is making a bold bid with this new 450 Sedan Bridge to capture boaters moving up in size to more versatile cruising boats.  The new 450 has one of the largest salons in class, plus 2 staterooms, 2 heads, a large galley and a flying bridge made for entertainment.  Check out the 450...

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Captain's Report

Larson Escape 204:
For Family Fun, and Maybe Fishing

Larson Escape 204
The Larson Escape 204's cockpit is chock full of seating, and with a sun pad aft – plenty of room for everyone even if these kids make it back aboard. The extended swim platform is optional, but we think worth its $1,458 added cost.

Combining the room of a deckboat with the ride of a V-hull, the 20' 6" (6.2 m) Larson Escape 204 is a versatile family boat with more uses than a Swiss army knife. She comes standard with the bells and whistles you need for skiing, tubing or picnicking; add Larson's Fish Package and you're ready for semi-serious angling. A color-matched trailer is included as well as sterndrive power. Find out more...

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New Test

Beneteau Swift 34:
Brisk, Agile and Fuel Efficient

Beneteau Swift 34
The Beneteau Swift 34 has a LOA of 36' 7" (11.15 m) and a beam of 13' 1" (4 m). Some may view that size as hard to manage, but we'll prove them wrong. Some may think the boat is too small, and we'll give some reasons to re-think that, as well.

At first glance, you can tell that the Beneteau Swift 34 has a cruising pedigree. The more time we spent with her, the better we liked her for a cruising couple -- whether they have long range aspirations or just short range. She is easy to handle, economical to operate, has room for a second couple (or two kids) in a stand-up cabin, and best of all she is affordable. The Swift 34 will cruise happily at 15 knots all day or at 7 knots for a couple of weeks. We think that this boat can make the cruising dream possible for some people who may have thought they would never be able to pull it off. More...

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Captain's Report

MJM 29z:
A Dayboat Extraordinaire

MJM 29z
The 32' 5'' (9.88 m) LOA MJM 29z is lightweight, fuel efficient, and is available in three models, including hard- and soft-top versions.

MJM Yachts mixes classic Downeast design with 21st century building practice to create lightweight, efficient boats that are also very easy on the eyes to yachtsmen who like this style of day boat. The "entry level" MJM is a 29z and is available in Downeast, Express and Outboard versions. What more do you need to know?

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Captain's Report

Triumph 191 Fish & Ski:
Have It Both Ways

Triumph 191 Fish & Ski
We tested a 191 Fish & Ski with a single 150-hp Yamaha four-stroke; she ran 42.4 mph (68.2 kph) tops, cruised at 25.4 mph (40.9 kph) with a range of 236 mi (380 km). Base price is $41,238 with a 150-hp Yamaha F150TXR; $38,351 with a Mercury Optimax 150XL two-stroke.

If you want to fish and your kids want to ski, why not buy a boat that claims to do both? Triumph's 18' 6" (5.64 m) 191 Fish & Ski bowrider converts easily from one use to the other, simply by flipping over the aft jump seats. We think serious fishermen and serious skiers will both prefer purpose-built boats, but those who enjoy the two activities might be happy with the 191 FS as a nice compromise. Two birds with one stone...

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Captain's Report

Bayliner 335 SB:
Queen of the "Affordable Cruising" Fleet

Bayliner 335SB
Bayliner has long been known for making affordable boats, and this 335 is at the top of the food chain. With a base price of $156,690 this is a boat that will serve to get more families cruising.

We love affordable boating, and who doesn't? One of the champions of the cause has always been Bayliner. This 335 SB comes standard with twin 260-hp engines, and you can opt up to Axius for joystick control, move up to 300-hp, or even opt over to 270-hp diesels. As for entertaining, she can accommodate a gang of people, and has sleeping space for six. We think the 335 SB adds up to a good value proposition. Find out why...

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New Test Video

Tigé RZ4:
A Wakeboat with Cruise-ability

Tigé RZ4
Not only is the RZ4 a cool looking boat, it’s a great performer, and gives easy control of the wake.

Tigé has been trying to push the envelope with style and performance with its line of wakeboard boats. But after getting onboard and driving it firsthand, we found that it's not only a serious watersports platform, but a very capable cruiser that the whole family can enjoy. Of course when it's time to get extreme, the RZ4 can deliver on that as well. Take a look for yourself...

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Captain's Report

Formula 37 Cruiser:
Pod Drives Or Straight Inboards?

Formula 37 Cruiser
Whether you prefer gas or diesel, sterndrives or pods, the Formula 37 Cruiser has a power option for you. We clocked the 37 at 46.9 mph (75.5 kph) with twin 425-hp MerCruiser sterndrives, 37.9 mph (61 kph) with twin 300-hp Volvo Penta IPS drives.

Since her introduction in 2002, the Formula 37 Cruiser has been popular with knowledgeable boatmen for both her design and performance. Originally powered with either gas or diesel sterndrives, in keeping with the times Formula now offers the 38' 5" (11.71 m) LOA 37 Cruiser with pod drives, too – gas or diesel. Which package is for you?

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Test Video

Cruisers Yachts 330 Express:
Sterndrive Performance & Joystick Control

Cruisers Yachts 330 Express
With twin 375-hp Volvo Penta gas 8.1 engines, our test boat reached a top speed of 48.9 mph and a best cruise of 33.3 with a fuel burn of just 15 gph. That means a range of 463 miles.

Have you been thinking it's time to move up to a larger cruiser, but worry about handling it because you can’t afford pods?  Cruisers has some good news for you. Their popular 330 Express not only has the trademark Cruisers roominess and comfort, but now comes equipped with a Volvo Penta sterndrive package with joystick. We tested this boat in some rough water so be sure to see the report.  Pull on your boots...

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Video Review

Mako 212 Center Console:
11 Different Power Choices

Mako 212 CC
Notice the high bow rails and the thick rub rail. Best of all is her "no hassle" price of $37k.

Mako’s 212 Center Console not only has the tools that make a nice fishing package, she also offers eleven different engine choices and a host of options that, depending on the type of fishing you intend to do, will assure you a boat dialed into your parameters. The base price, with a Mercury 150 XL Optimax engine, is a no hassle, no haggle $36,995. Join us as we take a video tour of the Mako 212 CC and see if this is your next fishing rig. Troll your mouse here...

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Test Video

Yamaha VX Deluxe:
What Makes This Yamaha’s Best Seller?

Yamaha VX Deluxe
We tested the Yamaha VX Deluxe and found a top end speed of 53.7 mph. Better still was the fuel burn of only 7.4 gph at that speed. Best cruise fuel burn... 3.1 gph.

Whenever a builder tells us that a certain model is their best seller, we start asking why.  Take the Yamaha VX Deluxe for example. Is she Yamaha’s best performer? Not really: She will do over 50 mph but they have faster. Is it because she’s the least expensive? Nope, although she comes in at just $8,999 Yamaha still has less expensive Waverunners. Surely she must have the most features then? Hardly, she’s actually very minimalist. So what makes this the best seller for Yamaha? As it turns out, she’s a perfect combination of all the above features, and we discuss all in our full test video. Take a look...

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Captain's Report

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XP3:
Tri-Toons for Performance

Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XPT
It barely shows in this image but the addition of a third pontoon adds considerably to the 25 XP3 handling. All the tubes are equipped with lifting strakes.

Nothing brings friends out of the woodwork like a boat on a clear sunny day. The problem is you may find yourself with more friends than your boat can handle. Problem solved with the Sun Tracker Party Barge 25 XP3. This baby can handle up to fifteen people and do so in style. Not only does the addition of a third tube increase buoyancy, but the lifting strakes on all three add to her performance and handling so that even skiing is a breeze on this 25 footer. But it takes more than adding a tube and extra seats to make a “Party Barge,” so we did a full review to see what else this party animal brings to the show. More...

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Test Video

Volvo Penta 5.7L Gas Engine:
Do Computers Make A Difference?

Melissa to send screen grab from video Volvo Penta 5.7
Volvo Penta tells us that the 5.7 series delivers great performance throughout the speed range. But is it worth the upgrade money from the 5.0L?  Let’s take a look at the numbers and see.

By the time you’ve reached the realm where an engine the size of the 5.7L is a consideration, you’ll probably be around your second or third boat. Typical usage will fall roughly in the 20-25 feet (6-7.5 m) range for single engine applications, and generally 28-36 foot (8.5-11 m) range for twins. What we’re impressed with, however, is that the 5.7L delivers a horsepower range from 300-320-hp in an engine of virtually the same dimensions as Volvo Penta’s 5.0L. So is it the onboard computer, or engineering? Or is it both?  Let’s take a detailed look at the engine and its components.

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Test Video

Evinrude E-TEC 115:
High Reliability

Evinrude E-TEC 115
We measured the speed and fuel economy in a typical application, and look at the components that make up the 115.

Evinrude's E-TEC 115 has a lot going for it. Fewer moving parts than a 4-stroke, longer life span, lower maintenance costs, and in a small enough package that it's often seen as a logical upgrade from its younger sibling, the E-TEC 90.  For that reason, not only do we take a look at the features of the 115, we compare it with the features of the 90. Let's look at the numbers...


Water Contamination Test Shurhold Fuel Filter Funnel

This simple fuel filter can save you lots of trouble.

If you have water in your fuel, that's bad, but if you do not know that you have water in your fuel, that is even worse. The team at Shurhold has a combination funnel and fuel filter that we decided to put to the test. With three different sizes to pick from, we took a close look at each, then proceeded with our testing. Here is the video that shows the results...

You can get all the info on the product here.

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 when, where and what boat you were on.

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...

Boating Safety

2010 USCG
Accident Report

USCG Rescue
The brave men and women of the USCG risk their lives every day all over the U.S. to save boaters in life-threatening danger, and that is just one of their missions. Boating safety education is another.

Each year the USCG analyzes the accident reports filed the previous year and compiles the data into an informative, detailed and long report that is designed to educate boaters as to the specific causes of accidents. Last week the USCG issued its report for 2010. Herewith is an edited version which highlights the causes of 4,604 accidents, 672 deaths, and 3,153 injuries...

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Lesson of the Week

Tips on Basic Boat Maintenance

Lesson of the Week
If you are one of those handy or hands-on types then just make sure you use marine parts when servicing your boat.

This week Capt. Steve goes over five new lessons and guidelines on tips for doing your own boat maintenance. It’s a great idea to keep a file with all your boat’s manuals, registration papers, instructions for electronics aboard, and any information on previous maintenance performed on the boat should be in a log.  In these next lessons Capt. Steve will also go over some tips on marine head maintenance, and battery care. 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 --

To view past lessons --

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Ducky Award Winner

Ducky Winner

First Place

"Don't worry -- I'll go behind the tug."
- D. Bristle

Second Place

“Don't worry, honey...the wind is off the dock.” - P. Lazarus

Honorable Mention(s)

“I have to dry my hair before dinner!”
- P. Toney

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On Here?

WIGOH 6/22/11

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