The Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider is designed to be a luxurious bowrider that can be used in both freshwater and saltwater for all sorts of watersports activities. With a 21-degree deadrise and weighing in at 4,640 lbs. (2,105 kgs.) dry, the 238 Bow Rider should be one of the best riding boats in her class in choppy conditions at speed, and one of the most stable at rest.Her cockpit depth is about 30" (75.7 cm) bow to stern and her standard extended swim platform more than covers the lower unit when in the down position. All of this makes it a safe family boat, and while she is not the smallest boat in the Cruisers Sport Series line, she is a place where many boaters will enjoy starting.
Following is a list of features that set this boat apart from most others in class--
Standard extended swim platform design
High freeboard and deep cockpit seating
Double in-deck storage compartments
Standard Bimini and cockpit covers
Details of Distinguishing Features
Extended "Watersports" Platform.
The most distinguishing feature of the CSS 238 Bow Rider is her extended watersports platform. Traditionally, we call this a "swim" platform, because that was the origin of its function. But in this day and age, where towing water toys of many sizes, as well as wake boarding are far more popular than skiing, a different kind of stern platform is required, and Cruisers Sport Series has provided it.
are a primary mission for this boat, and all watersports are done off the stern, it follows that much of the boat's action will take place on the stern. That's why the builder has made it extra large with a standard extension. Not only does it extend past the lower unit in the down position, but it also provides a huge area for staging, and putting on skis or wakeboards -- something that is much easier to do on deck than it is in the water.
Stern Platform Design.
The 238 Bow Rider's watersports platform has been designed to be higher off the water than most others in class. At this height people can sit on the platform and dangle their feet in the water without worry about a passing wave getting them wet. It also keeps feet well above the lower unit.The main platform and its extension are angled in port and starboard so that when leaving a dock bow first the platform does not hit the dock. Another benefit of having the high platform is that there is only a small step up to the passageway into the cockpit.
A stainless steel tow bit for tubing is located in the center of the transom. (A towing tower is optional.) On the port side is a stereo remote control and a motor tilt switch for convenience when launching the boat from a trailer. A fresh water shower wand to rinse off after a swim is located near the 4-step ladder and transom gate.
The extended watersports platform is designed so that when leaving the dock bow first, when the stern swings inward the platform will clear the dock and not be banged up.
Convertible Rear Seating/Sun Pad.
This convertible arrangement provides three functions: 1) Sitting facing forward when cruising along; 2) With the seat back in the forward position, it converts into a chaise for lounging when at anchor and watching activities behind the boat; and, 3) with the seat back in the down position it creates a large sun pad for two.
Very few boats this size have a head compartment and no premium boat has one. Nevertheless, Cruisers has managed to find a way to install a head compartment without harming the lines of he boat. There is 26” (66.04 cm) of sitting head room over the optional Porta-Potti and 48” (121.92 cm) head room inside the head at the doorway.
Inside the head
is an opening portlight for ventilation and a faux teak sole. There is an option for a pump out Porta-Potti, which is something we'd consider.
Deep Cockpit Seating.
The high freeboard at the bow of 34” (86.36 cm) created a 29.75” (75.56 cm) cockpit depth forward and some nice deep bow seating. And with a 21” (53.34 cm) wide walkthrough at the windshield, made it easy to access from the cockpit.
Each chaise lounge at the bow has a retractable arm rest that easily raises up, locks into place and with the touch of a release button, and drops back down into place. The seats themselves are on double hinges so they can be easily lifted up to access storage. Next to the seating areas are the sound system speakers and two stainless steel cup holders.
Rated Seating for 12. The 238 Bow Rider has a USCG rated seating for 12 or 1,800 lbs (818 kgs.), whichever is reached first. This is the same capacity as many pontoon boats this length, or longer. And along with the versatility of the seating arrangements, the manufacturer has maximized the use of the space underneath the seating areas for dry storage and coolers.
The helm console has been completely re-designed and up-graded on the new model. On our test boat the helm has a two tone, black on silver combination of colors and materials that are coordinated with a sporty Bussi wheel, which tilts. The brow is a non-glare marine-grade fabric with excellent fit-and-finish. The accent double stitching looks good and should prove to be durable in the elements. The AM/FM stereo is mounted at the lower left section of the helm. There is the usual array of gauges and the side mounted throttle control is mounted in a comfortable position.
The captain’s chair, and matching companion’s chair, are an all new design from the manufacturer. One of the things we immediately noticed when looking at the chairs was the various upholstered materials and fabrics that the designer selected and that they are coordinated with the exterior color schemes of the boat. The exterior upholstery is marine exterior top-grade vinyl. All vinyls and fabrics used on the 238 Bow Rider are the same as those used in the builder’s million dollar plus 54-footer.
are fabricated from two foam densities to provide a firm base and comfort. And all the upholstered seats are hand sewn with a heavy duty bonded nylon thread by craftsmen at the manufacturer’s facility. The attention to detail and the high quality fit and finish of the seat was impressive.
Under Deck Storage.
Virtually all boats in class have in-deck storage, but few if any have two hatches to reach two distinctly different, but connected storage compartments. The cockpit sole compartment is 8.5” (21.59 cm) deep by 24” (60.96 cm) wide and 41” (104.14 cm) long.
The forward in deck storage
box is much deeper at 18” (45.72 cm) deep x 12” (30.48 cm) wide by 48” (121.92 cm) long. Lots of room to stow some gear in here. The center mounted latch is a bit of a stretch to reach, but once open, the gas assist strut will keep it from slamming closed.
The Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider has a length overall of 23’8” (7.21 m), a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m) and a draft up of 22.5” (0.57 m). With 41 gallons (155 L) of fuel, and 2 people aboard we had an estimated test weight of 5,074 lbs. (2,302 kgs).
Our test boat was powered by the new MercCruiser 4.5L, MPI, 250-hp engine with the Bravo 3 outdrive. The new engine is 130 lbs. lighter than the 5.0L.
The 238 Bow Rider has a 21-degree deadrise at the transom and a single step in the hull at midships. This should reduce some drag and friction when the boat is on plane, feel lighter, turn easier and allow it to go a bit faster.
We reached a top speed of 44.8 mph at 5000 rpm. At that speed fuel consumption topped out at 19.25 gph.
came in at 3500 rpm and 29.4 mph. That reduced the fuel consumption to 8.1 gph, giving us a range of 180 statute miles while holding back a 10% reserve.
We took 4.0 seconds to reach planing speed and accelerated to 20 mph in 7.8 seconds, 30 in 10.9 seconds and 40 in 16 seconds. She had about a 12-degree bow rise upon acceleration and settled in to a 5-degree running angle once on plane.In my opinion…the best speed for the comfort and visibility is right about at 3000 rpm. That had us running at about 23.2 mph.
How About 300-hp?
The largest engine available for the 238 Bow Rider is the Mercury or Volvo Penta 300-hp 5.7L engine. We tested the previous 238 Bow Rider model with a MerCruiser 350 MAG 300-hp 5.7 L engine turning a 20" pitch prop and were able to rev the engine up to 5300 rpm WOT which gave us a top speed of 48.5 mph. However, at 5000 rpm we got 45.9 mph out of the engine. That was just 1 mph more than we got with the new 250-hp 4.5 L MerCruiser.
These comparisons never seem to be apples-to-apples. The props were different and the older model was 209 lbs. (95 kg.) heavier, of that about 110 lbs. (50 hg.) was the increased weight of the 5.7L engine. But when we compare best cruise, the story is remarkably different.
4.5 L vs. 5.7L.
At 3500 rpm both 238 Bow Riders were clocked at 29 mph -- but at that speed the 4.5 L engine was getting 3.63 mpg for a range of 180 statute miles, with a 10% fuel reserve. At that rpm and speed the 5.7L engine was getting just 3.02 mpg compared with 3.63 mpg for the new 4.5L MerCruiser engine. That's 20% better fuel economy going the same speed at 3500 rpm.
The 238 Bow Rider is a nimble handling boat that confidently takes on the waves. With a solid hull construction and the weight to go with it, she settles down quickly after crashing a wake, without any pounding or jarring. Because she is only 23’, she will bob a bit if the bow rises up, but will quickly settle down and gain her footing. Taking wakes on the beam is not upsetting and easily controlled.The bow rise was predictable and minimal when applying wide open throttle from a full stop, but once on plane and just a little trim, she settles right down. She leans confidently into the turns, with a good hold and stance in the water. There was no sliding around with this solid hull.
The Cruisers Sport Series has designed this boat for watersports and entertainment. When you bring people and gear aboard, it is important to have places to stow it all and places for the cooler items.Starting at the bow, each of the port and starboard seat cushions can be raised on a hinge system to access abundant storage underneath. And the center bow seat cushion lifts up to reveal a storage compartment large enough for a cooler.
In the Aft Cockpit
In the Cockpit.
Between the seats, two stainless steel cup holders. The corner seat has a storage locker underneath and the seat back doubles as the stern gate. Lift it up from its locking position and step out onto the swim platform.At the aft seating area of the cockpit, a table can be easily inserted into a beefy stainless steel pedestal to accommodate some mid-day snacks.
Our test boat was powered by the MerCruiser 4.5L, MPI, 250-hp with the Bravo 3 outdrive. This new engine is 130 lbs. lighter than the 5.0L.Optional Power:
Details of Styling
The lamination regime
used on the 238 Bow Rider is remarkable in that we are told by a company spokesman that it is the same as that used on the builder's large express cruisers designed to go offshore and crash through big seas at 20 knots or more. This CSS model -- and all of the rest as well -- are built with seven layers of glass, including chop strand, woven roving, mat and cloth. As we said, it is remarkable. But we see the logic in it both from a production standpoint and an engineering one -- after all, this boat will be hitting the same water at twice the speed of the big boats and the energy released upon impact grows exponentially with speed.
One Staff for Both Lines.
Historically in the boat building business when one company built both sportboats and large cruisers it would be done in different plants with different crews. Typically the level of fit-and-finish required for the larger, more expensive boats would be much higher than for the smaller boats, so having one crew work on boat lines was fraught with problems.We're told by the folks at Cruisers Yachts that its veteran work force puts into the Cruisers Sport Series boats the same level of TLC lavished on the big boats, thereby eliminating a double standard of quality. The result is obvious to see. And it is no secret that the CSS line has more man-hours in the boats than most other sportboats of similar size.
No Double Standard for Materials.
Likewise, the fabrics, vinyls, resin and other raw materials used in the Cruisers Yachts line is also used in the Cruisers Sport Series boats. This keeps inventory and SKU numbers down. It also means that the buyers of the CSS boats are getting the same level of materials as the big boat buyers.For example, premium Image gel coat holds color longer, is harder and resists scratching, and has greater UV protection than does the standard gel coat used in the industry. Not surprisingly, it costs 30% more. Cruisers Yachts uses it on all of its boats, large and small. The same goes for most of its other materials and components.
Options to Consider
Base boat (with MerCruiser 4.5L engine) $75,905Manufacturer’s options (as tested) $6,810MSRP $82,715These prices place the Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider firmly at the top of the sportboat pyramid, and given her build quality, we think that is where she belongs.
The Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider has the overall fit-and-finish of the highest end sportboats built in America. More important, the 238 Bow Rider has functionality and utility which goes beyond her good looks. With her huge watersports platform she can play host to local wakeboard jousts. With her bow and stern table mounts, 12-person capacity, and head she can be an entertainment platform to rival most pontoon boats.Most important to many boaters will be 238 Bow Rider's build regimen. We can only say that it is remarkable, given that most boat builders are doing virtually anything they can to save nickels and dimes all over its boats. Finally, comes the ride quality. It is here that the weight and the 21-degree deadrise pay off. It is easily as good as the Cruisers Sport Series 258 Bow Rider.Our feeling is that the 238 Bow Rider is ahead of its time because its design, styling and watersports utility. Our guess is that she and her larger Cruisers Sport Series siblings will be trend setters.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider (2015-) is 44.8 mph (72.1 kph), burning 19.25 gallons per hour (gph) or 72.86 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Cruisers Sport Series 238 Bow Rider (2015-) is 29.4 mph (47.3 kph), and the boat gets 3.63 miles per gallon (mpg) or 1.54 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 180 miles (289.68 kilometers).
- Tested power is 1 x 250-hp MerCruiser 4.5L MPI.
Standard and Optional Features
Limited 10-years structural
||Limited 10-years structural|
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