Chaparral 307 SSX // Manitou 23 X-Plode // Monte Carlo MC5 // 15 Reports - 11/06/2013
BoatTEST Newsletter November 6, 2013 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
- Chaparral 307 SSX
- Sea Ray 370 Sundancer
- Manitou 23 X-Plode
- Tracker Targa V-18 WT
- Formula 400 FX8
- Evinrude E-TEC 115
- Carver C34
- Mako 18 LTS
- Ranger Z521
- Monte Carlo MC5
- Mercury 8.2 MAG
- Boston Whaler 270
- Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan
- Chris-Craft 21 Carina
- Tiara 3100 Open
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Weekly Lesson

Chaparral 307 SSX:
52.2 MPH WOT w/ 2 x 300-hp SDs

Chaparral 307 SSX
The Chaparral 307 SSX is a boat that can be cranked at high speeds and banked in sharp turns and stays under light-fingered control the whole time.

One of the compelling aspects of twin-engine sterndrives is the ability to have a joystick. Our test boat had one and maneuvering at the dock (as can be seen in the video) was a piece of cake. More important, offshore we were not able to find any bad habits no matter what maneuvers we tried at high speed. Our test weight was over 10,000 lbs. (4,545 kgs.) yet she was able to get on plane in just 4.2 seconds. More...

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Design and Style Review

Sea Ray 370 Sundancer:
An Interior to Please the Ladies

Sea Ray 370 Sundancer
Our Interior Inspector, Erin Coriell, takes the measure of the galley counter as part of her look inside of the Sea Ray 370 Sundancer.

When we compare the Sea Ray 370 Sundancer to other boats in class we discover that she falls roughly in the middle when it comes to the important beam and displacement parameters. And her performance compares favorably with most other boats in class. After our recent test and interior inspection there is no doubt that contributing factors to her popularity are her multiple gathering venues, ergonomics, and forgiving handling characteristics. Find out more...

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New Captain's Report

Manitou 23 X-Plode:
47.3 MPH with 1 x 250-hp Evinrude

Manitou 23 X-Plode
The Manitou 23 X-Plode has a LOA OF 24’4” (7.42 m) and a beam of 8’6” (2.59 m). Powered by a single Evinrude 250-hp E-TEC 2-stroke engine, she explodes out of the hole.

There is a reason why Manitou calls this model its 23 X-Plode -- she accelerates from 0-to-20 mph in 3.5 seconds. The mission of the 23 X-Plode is to develop a pontoon boat that has the desirable handling characteristics of a fiberglass V-hull boat, and the luxurious feel of a sedate, up-scale power cruiser, all in a pontoon boat package that can entertain up to 12 people. More...

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New Captain's Report

Tracker Targa V-18 WT:
45.5 MPH WOT with Mercury 150-hp Outboard

Tracker Targa V18 WT
The Tracker Targa V18 WT is a multi-species boat that can be used by the whole family when dad isn't in the hunt. Her tested weight was 2,845 lbs. (1,290 kg.)

The Targa V-18 WT comes completely rigged for wetting a line right down to the fishfinder and trolling motor. Her relatively high freeboard translates to a deep cockpit to keep the kids more secure. The result is a relatively inexpensive boat that has lots of utility. We tested her with a 150-hp Mercury 4-stroke and reached a top speed of 45.5 mph. Her package price of $25,820 (plus freight and dealer prep) includes a trailer and a 115-hp EXLPT Mercury 4-stroke EFI engine. More...

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Test Video

Formula 400 FX8:
63.5 MPH w/ 2 x 565-hp 8.2 L Mercury SD

Formula 400 FX8
Our test boat weighed over 17,000 lbs. (7,727 kgs.) and went like a Batmobile on water, but with the ride of a Rolls Royce Phantom.

With a pair of 565-hp Mercury Racing Engines driving through Bravo I XR lower units we reached a top speed at 5360 rpm of 63.5 mph. At that speed we were burning 85.3 gph for a range of 159 statute miles. Best cruise was reached at 4000 rpm and 40.9 mph. At that speed we were burning 42.15 gph, which we could maintain for 5 hours, giving the FX8 a range of 218 miles. Nantucket for lunch, anyone? More...

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Test Video

Evinrude E-TEC 115:
Ignition-Caused Static Eliminated

Evinrude E-TEC 115
Ever get static on the radio or the depth sounder when the outboard engine is running? If so, it might be because the ignition system is not properly shielded. Evinrude does it right on its 115-hp engine.

In addition to using Iridium spark plugs, which give a longer and more efficient spark, Evinrude E-TEC spark plug wires are covered with a metallic shroud with wires leading to a common ground. In this manner, ignition noise is prevented from reaching the electronics at the helm, a pivotal consideration for reducing noise in high-end fishfinders. That is just one of the advantages of the Evinrude E-TEC 115. More...

Ask a warranty question.

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Design and Style Review

Carver C34:
Modern Interior Styling and Decor

Carver C34
We like the U-shaped design of the galley as it keeps the cook out of the flow of the traffic. Note the amount of counter space. Microwave, two-burner stove top and a refrigerator are standard.

Two important things stand out about the new Carver C34's interior: first, it has been built with lots of dark-stained paneling and cabinetry, quality components such as solid-surface counters, and attractive hardware that make her look more expensive than she is. Second, her interior decor looks as if it were designed by a decorator from Milan, Italy and not a boat builder from the American Midwest. See what we mean...

Carver C34Watch the test video. Ask a materials question.
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Captain's Report

Mako 18 LTS:
For Stealth in Skinny Water

Mako 18 LTS
The Mako 18 LTS (for Light Tackle Skiff) is all the boat many people ever need because they stay in protected water. Note the optional poling platform which is ideal for spotting and sneaking up on bone fish.

The mission of the Mako 18 LTS is to create a fishing boat that can easily penetrate the skinny water along shorelines. Between her shallow draft and Rapid Planing hull she makes an excellent combination for operating where other boats can't reach. Add the optional jack plate and she can go into even thinner water. More...

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New Captain's Report

Ranger Z521:
Tested with Mercury OptiMax 250 Pro XS

Ranger Z521
We tested the Ranger Z521 Comanche with a Mercury OptiMax 250-hp Pro XS. Ranger has discontinued this model and has replaced it with the new Z521C.

Ranger has replaced the Z521 which we have tested with the new Z521C, but both boats were designed to handle a 250-hp outboard and both have the same basic specs. Our test data for the old model should still be relevant for the new model. The Ranger Z521 Comanche was designed to bring a pro level bass boat to the masses, and Ranger outfitted this boat with virtually everything needed to compete on that level. During our test we recorded a top speed of 75.1 mph with the 250 OptiMax Pro XS outboard. More...

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Captain's Report

Monte Carlo MC5:
A Family Cruiser, Italian-Style

Monte Carlo MC5
She is 49'10" (15.20 m) LOA with a 14'1" (4.29 m) beam, displaces 32,840 lbs. (14,900 kgs.) and is powered by twin Volvo Penta 370-hp IPS500 engines.

The MC5 is a three-stateroom cruising boat built for a family and is intended to be used on short adventures, be fun for all, and be comfortable in a seaway. Not only is her exterior extraordinary, but the materials used inside on her upholstery and bulkheads come from the finest salons in Italy. Needless to say, she'll grab attention wherever she goes. More...

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Test Video

Mercury Marine 8.2 MAG:
From 380-hp to 430-hp with High Torque

Mercury Marine 8.2 MAG
Captain Steve takes us through the important details of the Mercury 8.2 L "Big Block" V8. Use it as a "benchmark" when buying new or repowering.

When buying a new boat the most important decision a consumer must make is engine selection -- and it is not easy! Some builders and dealers put in small engines to keep the boat's price down. But a boat with too little power often struggles -- particularly when it is loaded -- and that is not fun. Because the Mercury 8.2 L MAG has the largest displacement of any gas engine on the market, it is important that consumers know what this engine has to offer. Find out here...

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Features Video

Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless:
Feature-Rich For Many Uses

Boston Whaler 270 Dauntless
Does this look like the bow of your father's Boston Whaler? Captain Steve tries out the forward table on the 270 Dauntless.

Boston Whaler's Dauntless line of center console boats falls between its inshore Montauk Series and its offshore Outrage line. The 270 is the largest boat in the Dauntless Series and for that reason she naturally has more utility than her smaller siblings. She was designed with both the family and anglers in mind and is feature-rich. More...

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Test Video

Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan:
3 Decks, 2 Staterooms and 1 Galley

Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan
The Meridian 341 is one of the smallest sedans on the market. For that reason alone, it should be investigated by anyone moving up to a "cruising boat."

We’ve been looking forward to testing the Meridian 341 Sedan now that she’s been repowered with MerCruiser’s newest 425-hp 8.2L MPI HO engines. Additionally, our test boat was fitted with the optional bow and stern thrusters which significantly reduce the captain's workload while maneuvering around the dock. Find out more...

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Captain's Report

Chris-Craft Carina 21:
Old World Elegance in Fiberglass

Chris-Craft Carina 21
The new Chris-Craft Carina 21 comes standard with a Mercury 5.0 L 260-hp sterndrive and is covered with polyurethane "Dark Graphite" paint which is polished to a high sheen.

Mission #1 of the Chris-Craft Carina 21 is to look cool in a classy, elegant retro style. No boat builder executes that task with as much taste and art as does Chris-Craft so we can say "mission accomplished." Her second mission is to be a watersports platform for boaters wanting to ski or wakeboard on lakes, rivers and protected water. More...

Ask a question about this boat's construction.

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Updated Captain's Report

Tiara 3100 Open:
A Proven Success Story

Tiara 3100 Open
Tiara has built this 31' express cruiser for as long as we can remember and every few years completely retools the model to keep her modern and stylish. The new version has an LOA of 30'6" (9.29 m) and she has a 12'6" (3.81 m) beam.

The Tiara 3100 is designed for multiple uses including fishing, scuba diving, overnight cruising and day-boat entertaining. She comes standard with a composite hardtop which allows her raised bridge deck to be buttoned up aft with optional cruising canvas so she can effectively be a three-season boat. She comes standard with twin 375-hp Crusader 6.0 L gas engines and conventional drives. Diesel engines are an option. More...

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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.

Expert Boating’s
4-DVD Box Set
Video Boating Course

Smart Boating
Sometimes it's not what you know, but what you've forgotten. We have the perfect solution for you:'s 4-DVD video course.

Based on the feedback we’ve been getting about's Video 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. It's the most complete boating course available… period. Order your 4-disc box set...

Watch the trailer...
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Lesson of the Week

Boating Under the Influence

Lesson of the Week Smart Boating
Capt. Steve says don’t drink and operate a boat – it’s not worth it!

This week’s lesson from Captain Steve is straight forward and should go without saying – operating a boat under the influence is a local, state, and federal crime. Captain Steve goes over your responsibilities as captain – to other boaters on the water, to your passengers, and to yourself. He will explain what the parameters are to be considered boating under the influence. The videos presented this week are part of's USCG-approved boating course. Watch Captain Steve’s video boating lessons every week on

To view this week’s lessons --

To order all lessons --, LLC
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