Volvo Penta 5.0 // MasterCraft X-35 // 9 More Tests & Reviews - 02/02/2011
BoatTEST Newsletter February 2, 2011 If you cannot view the newsletter, click here. Tests You Can Trust
- MasterCraft X-35
- Formula 40 PC
- Rinker 186 BR
- Cypress Cay 230 Seabreeze
- Volvo Penta 5.0
- Chaparral 284 Sunesta
- World Cat 290 CC
- Cobalt 243 Cuddy
- Seaswirl 1905 CC
- FinCraft 17 SC
- Yamaha VX Deluxe
- Cruisers Yachts' Showroom
- Tips from Sea Tow
- Shurhold Products
- Boating Course Now On DVD
- Picture of the Week
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson
- Ducky Award Winner

MasterCraft X-35:
The Deepest V-Hull
in the Lineup

MasterCraft X-35
MasterCraft has long been known for building quality into their boats. The X-35 is packed with features.

The performance wakeboat market is an intense one, and MasterCraft is at the forefront of the battle. Not only do their boats shine in the looks department, but the features that MasterCraft brings to the game are of the highest quality. Take a close look at their custom made towers, the components in the panel, and even the stainless fittings. These spell attention to detail that makes a difference in a tough market with stiff competition. We caught a glimpse of the X-35 recently, and we decided to use the opportunity to bring you a closer look at some of the innovations that make the difference. ...

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Test Video

Formula 40 PC:
Now With IPS Pods as Standard

Formula 40 PC
Our tests have revealed that pods add an average of 30 percent to a boat's performance.  While they also add to the price, that’s never been a problem for Formula customers.

One thing we like about the Porter family, owners of Formula, is that you always know where you stand with them. Take this 40 PC for example. One would think she's 40’ (12.2 m) overall with the bow pulpit and swim platform but you’d be wrong. This boat is actually 42' 7'' (13 m) with those features. How easy would it have been just to call this a 42 PC? Price is another open book with this company. Their website shows how much their boats cost, no “contact dealer for quote,” and no “give us your contact information first.” Their approach to design is equally upfront. With the 40 PC, it involved more than simply mating a performance hull with stylish interior.  She's a boat that we felt had to be tested.

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Captain's Report

Rinker Captiva 186 BR:
This Small Boat Has Big Features

Rinker 186 BR
Rinker's Captiva 186 BR combines a large bow seating area with a full-size sunpad aft and a comfortable cockpit in-between. Standard power is a 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0 MPI, but many optional engines from both MerCruiser and Volvo Penta are available. MSRP starts at $24,021.

Rinker packs so many features aboard their Captiva 186 Bow Rider you might think the boat is bigger than 18' 11" (5.77 m) LOA. There's bow seating for two to stretch out; a comfortable cockpit with helm and companion buckets; and a sundeck roomy enough to sprawl out and work on one's tan lines (or lose them). But the Captiva 186 isn't all show: Rinker builds her with a full fiberglass liner, offers 3.0- and 4.3-liter power options and includes plenty of standard equipment, including a trailer. If you're ready for some fun under the sun, find out more about the Captiva here...

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Captain's Report

Cypress Cay 230 Seabreeze Fish:
Drop a Line From This Pontoon

Cypress Cay 230 Seabreeze Fish
The Cypress Cay 230 Seabreeze Fish rides on twin 25" (63.5 cm) diameter aluminum tubes, can carry up to 2,340 lbs (1,061 kg) in crew, gear and fish, and can handle up to 115-hp. She comes with all the fishing gear you need.

The 23' (7 m) LOA 230 Seabreeze Fish from Cypress Cay is a pontoon squarely aimed at anglers. She's a modified 230 Seabreeze cruising 'toon with rearranged seating and a load of fishing gear: pedestal chairs fore and aft, a work station for bait and lure prep, a livewell and rod holders. Depending on power, her MSRP ranges from $14,930 to $24,130, putting her well within the budget of lots of folks. To find out more, keep reading...

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Test Video

Chaparral 284 Sunesta:
Built For a Select Group Only

Chaparral 284 Sunesta
If you’re looking for a price point boat with most of the features that boaters are looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Some builders choose to build, do it well, despite the added cost, rather than cheaply and one of those builders is Chaparral. From the major components, like Kevlar reinforced keels and hulls engineered for strength and UV resistance, to the details like stainless steel shower hoses that don’t kink and seat latches that you don’t have to hunt for, Chaparral places quality before economy.  Yes, their boats cost more money, but so does membership in an exclusive club. Since not everyone can afford one then yours will look that much better.  Let's go for a ride...

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New Video

Volvo Penta 5.0 Gas Engine
Your First Upgrade Choice?

Volvo Penta 5.0
When it’s time to move up to a V-8, the venerable 5.0 is usually the first choice.

You’re at the dealership and it’s time to select options. Snap-in carpet – check. Mooring cover – check. Engine? Hmmm. Standard power is a 4.3L, do I really need more than that? Well, if you’re like most boaters and want to either fill your boat, or do a lot of towing, or both, then you’ll be considering moving up to the 5.0. That move will give you a boost from 190-hp to 270-hp at the cost of taking up roughly 50 lbs (22.7 kg) and about 4” (10.1 cm) in length and 3” (7.6 cm) in height, and yes, a bit of dough. Since it’s a decision you’ll likely be faced with, we thought it was time we took a detailed look at the popular upgrade choice, the Volvo Penta 5.0. More...

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Features Video

World Cat 290 CC:
Is She as Roomy as She Looks?

World Cat 290 CC
Is the World Cat 290 CC as roomy as we’ve heard?

We continue to debunk the claims from mono-hull jingoists that cats simply don’t cut it. “They perform differently,” “they lean outboard in turns”... and now it’s “they’re not as spacious as they look.” Okay, let’s see. The only way to disprove this claim is to do a video walkthrough with a person onboard. And not a dwarf either: an average-sized Capt. Steve. Come along as he takes us through the World Cat 290 CC and checks out some of the features and the space onboard this twin-hulled fishing machine. Bring all the gear you want...

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Cuddy Cabin

Cobalt 243:
 Find the Secret Door

Cobalt 243
The Cobalt 243 is a top-of-the-line cuddy-cabin boat with a couple of special features we think you'll like. She carries a single gas sterndrive, either MerCruiser or Volvo Penta, up to 430-hp. Top speed with max hp is 59 mph (95 kph), according to Cobalt.

Cuddy-cabin boats like the 25' 11" (7.9 m) LOA Cobalt 243 make excellent dayboats, with the added advantage of basic accommodations. But most cuddies have a major drawback: The head is placed between, or at the foot of, the V-berth, where privacy is non-existent if two people are sharing the cabin. Not so aboard the Cobalt 243, which has an innovative enclosed head compartment separate from the cuddy and directly accessible from the cockpit. How did they do it? To find out, keep reading...

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Test Video

Seaswirl Striper 1905 CC:
An Attractive Center Console with Curvy Lines

Striper 1905 CC
Our test of the 1905 CC showed a top speed of 34.4 mph with the standard 90-hp E-TEC. You can choose power from any of the big 4 manufacturers, and up to 150-hp.

It may be those sleek curves that hook you, or perhaps the center console roominess. Either way, we found the Seaswirl Striper 1905 CC to be a very functional boat that is small enough to be handled by anyone, including the kids, while offering the fishing functionality that CCs are known for. While we found her to be a capable performer with the standard 90-hp, the optional 115-hp will produce a little more speed, and added agility for watersports towing with the family. More...

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Test Video

FinCraft 17 SC:
Offering More While Paying Less

FinCraft 17 SC
Our test of the 17 SC showed a boat with the handling we were looking for in a starter fish package, but the real joy of ownership is in the details.

FinCraft set out on a goal to provide more for less. This 17 Side Console is sold as a complete package, right down to the trailer and fish finder, so that you can hit the water right after hauling her away from the dealership, perhaps stopping at a gas station along the way.  Naturally we had to see what FinCraft’s version of "nicely equipped" was, and as it turned out, it closely matches ours. In fact, the only item on the options list is a cockpit cover. It’s that complete. As for the price, we think $19,782 is competitive indeed, and on par with aluminum boats. So how does FinCraft do it with fiberglass, and what do you get for your money? Let’s just find out.

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New 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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Boat Show

New Year-Round Showroom For
Cruisers Yachts & Rampage Yachts

CY RY Showroom1 CY RY Showroom2
KCS International, the owner of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Yachts, has opened a new 15,000-sq. ft. showroom displaying all of the models of these two boat lines.

There's a year-round boat show in Oconto, Wisconsin, where the full Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Yachts lines are on permanent display. Opened in the autumn of 2010, the new showroom is a part of the KCS factory, which is also available for guided customer tours. (KCS is the parent company of both boat builders.) Over the past few months, the showroom has seen a steady stream of boat buyers, accompanied by their Cruisers or Rampage dealers. Most visitors spend all day carefully examining the boats on their short list as well as visiting the factory to see, in detail, how the boats are built. Buyers of either of the two brands can also fly with their dealers to the showroom to select fabrics, woods, granite, other materials and equipment for their new boats before building starts. Here's how it works...

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What Happens After You Call For Assistance On the Water

Sea Tow
We all know that Sea Tow offers memberships for their services, but the question is...are they worth it?

It’s a beautiful sunny day, and finally you don’t have to be on call for work, the family is together, and it’s stopped raining for a change. Looks like it’s time to dust off the boat keys and get on the water. But after only an hour run from the dock, suddenly... nothing but the sounds of silence from your engine. Time to call for an assist. Now here’s the question. What’s the difference between calling as a member and as a non-member of Sea Tow? It’s easy just to say “duh, the price,” but there’s a little more to it than that, and it may make you think again whether the price of the membership is actually worth it. Let’s take a look and do a little comparison shopping. More...

Sea Tow is a sponsor of


World's Best Water Hose: Shurhold Heavy On the Boast


Manufactured with patented NTS Reflex Mesh technology to eliminate kinks, twists and tangles, Shurhold Water Hose adds yet another product for keeping our boats looking great. Holding true to their focus on technology, Shurhold has taken the hose and tweaked it a bit, with Grip-Tite coupling for an easy, leak free connection at the faucet. This 100% lead free hose is drinking water safe and available in three sizes of 25’, 50’ and 75’ with a diameter of 5/8''. We are not sure how to test this for you, but if it holds up half as well as the other products we have tested from Shurhold, you won’t need the lifetime guarantee they are offering on it. Learn more here...

Visit Shurhold to order...


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Facebook page...

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Smart Boating's Boating Course

Smart Boating
When we transferred our popular CD boating course over to DVD, we had no idea it would sell so well ...or in so many places.

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

Find out where this picture was taken and when...

See a 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 on the Week

Basic Rules of the Road:
Part 1

Capt. SteveSmart Boating Cover 

Capt. Steve brings us the basics.

Capt. Steve covers some of the basic rules of the road in these new lessons which all recreational boaters should be aware of. You’ll learn about lines of demarcation, traveling at safe speeds, how to determine your risk of collision, why one should steer clear of large vessels and who has the right of way. Part 1 is the first installment of a multi-part series on Basic Rules of the Road. These are basic procedures 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

"He hasn't left the flybridge since he discovered his joystick!" - G. Curenton

Second Place

"Should we tell him about the low bridge up ahead?" - J. Six Pac

Honorable (almost) Mentions

Take cover girls, there's a reason they call this "Gullapoopagus Island." - D. Lemieux

What's Going
On Here?

WIGOH 2/2/11

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