We can’t fault a company for wanting to diversify from the very small high-performance market into the relatively large sportboat market. But building a small high-performance boat that can also compete with well-made sportboats is not as easy as you may think. At first glance some go-fast boats look like sportboats on steroids, but once you start poking around below -- and on deck -- you usually find a number of details that just aren't right or suitable for a samily sportboat. There are several reasons for that phenomenon, such as the desire to save weight, a different building culture, and inexperience with family sportboat clients. The Baja 247 Islander is a go-fast that wants to play in the sportboat arena and attract families into the game. So naturally we had to ask if this boat was equipped to handle the demanding family crowd, because they expect a lot more than just pull-your-face-back-speed and lots of noise. To answer that question, we asked one of our captains with a family to take a look and see if his family would like her.
|Length Overall||24' 5'' / 7.44 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.3 sec.|
|0 to 30||8.2 sec.|
|Ratio||1.5 : 1|
|Props||Mercury Mirage 23'' pitch 3-blade stainless steel|
|Load||2 persons, full fuel, no water, min. gear|
|Climate||Temp: 84 deg., humid: 86%, wind: calm, seas: calm|
1 x 375-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag
1 x 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG
1 x 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2L
1 x 375-hp MerCruiser 496 Magnum
1 x 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Magnum
Capt. Steve Says...
It’s one thing to ask if a family would like this boat, it’s another to ask if my family would like this boat. My wife and daughter are basically polar opposites. The daughter is thrill seeking outdoorsy tomboy while the wife is more reserved and refined. As for me, if it floats I’m good.
Let’s Start with the Layout
It’s not too complicated evaluating a bowrider’s forward layout. However, what we don’t usually see is the flip-up leg rests that give you an extra level of comfort by supporting your legs just under the knees.
For storage, you still have space under the bow seats, sole storage between the consoles, and more inside the starboard console. If you need to toss in the kitchen sink, the portside changing room will do.
Most people will like the relatively large head located in the portside console. The Porta-Potti is optional, and even without it, a convenient changing room is a plus for getting out of that wet swimsuit before stopping at the dockside restaurant.
For the guys, the helm and passenger seats aren’t your average flip-up bolster type. These are made for sustained high speed operation. They are wrap-around style, with a flip-down seat, so you can stand and still have the seat wrapped around you holding you in place. They’re bolted to the deck in eight positions so you don’t have to worry about them going anywhere.
The helm is pure adrenaline. Livorsi gauges are mounted onto a carbon fiber panel, and you’ll have full instrumentation at your disposal. A lengthy row of rocker switches lies below the panel, and while we were happy to see the horn stand out from the crowd, we’d also like to see circuit breakers underneath each switch, rather than fuses below the console. Both are acceptable, from an NMMA standpoint, but circuit breakers are so much less fuss and you don’t have to keep spares in your tool box.
Below the helm is a very convenient storage space that pulls open. Dual control levers are standard in a boat of this class, and the unspoken attitude towards them is slanted towards experience. Newbies prefer the single stick, while builders prefer that you have more experience anyway before launching off in a boat capable of 60+ mph speeds. So the twin controls are a win-win.
Trim tabs are optional on the Baja 247 Islander and come in two sizes, 12” (30.48 cm)x 12", or 14” (35.56 cm) x 19” (48.26 cm). They can be controlled by rocker switches placed just forward of the engine controls, where they should be. Engine trim can be adjusted by a rocker switch or thumb switch on the throttle.
Fun in the Air
Just because a boat can reach 60 mph does not mean it has to. There’s a lever at the helm that you can pull back to operate in more sedate speeds, and it’s here that you’ll be having watersports fun. There are two ways to connect a towline to your Baja 247 Islander. First is by a thru-bolted ring at the transom, second is via the optional wakeboard tower. If you have family or friends who like catching air, this tower is a must. While the 247 Islander is not a performance wakeboat, any boat can kick up a decent wake with the proper application of trim (up) and speed (down). But few wakeboats can perform out of the slow mode like this boat can.
Bring the Friends
Aft bench seating takes full advantage of the boat’s 8'6" (2.6 m) beam. A glance will tell you that it seats three-across, but there’s actually room for four close friends. The grab handles on the console seatbacks are close enough to be utilized by the bench occupants, and there is additional storage underneath. You have to lift the seat to access the storage, but we’ve become fans of accessing this storage area via an opening in the front, that also lets you see what is in the storage compartment without opening anything up. We’d like to see that sort of a system here.
Abaft the bench seat is a large sunpad, and underneath is home to the power plant. Standard engine is a single 300-hp MerCruiser 350 Mag driving a Bravo I outdrive. That’ll provide a lot of oomph for a boat weighing in at only 4,300 lbs (1,950 kg), but with Baja, it’s not always about pulling a heavier skier or running at max capacity. Sometimes, it’s about being the fastest, and in that realm the 247 Islander has a can-do attitude. Engine options max out at the 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag HO.
So it seems that Baja got it together when they combined sportiness with speed. Is it for everybody? No… not really. While this boat is at the upper end of performance, it’s also at the upper end of the price range for boats in this size range. It is competitively priced for its class, but nowhere near the docile family boat that never goes any further than the small beach just off the dock. But if you want to add a bit of adrenaline into your boating, and still keep the family watersports on the active list, then Baja sure has a boat for you.