Mercury Repower Option // Chaparral 203 Jet // Beneteau Oceanis 38 // 17 Reports - 08/19/2015
BoatTEST Newsletter August 19, 2015 Click here if you cannot view the newsletter. Tests You Can Trust
15 year anniversary
- Four Winns TS222
- Tahoe 450 TS
- World Cat 255DC
- Beneteau Oceanis 38
- Mercury Remanufacturing
- Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX
- MJM 40z
- Regency 254 LE3
- Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 HP
- Bayliner 195 Deck Boat
- Maritimo M58
- Yamaha 190 FSH
- Cruisers Sport Series 278
- Boston Whaler 240
- Prestige Yachts 550 Fly
- Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX
- Mercury Marine Skyhook
- Picture of the Week
- Boating Course On DVD
- Capt. Steve's Lesson

Four Winns TS222:
High Wake from a FWD Drive

Four Winns TS222
Four Winns is aggressively going after the new wake surfing and wake skating enthusiasts with its new TS222 which utilizes Volvo Penta’s new Forward Drive (FWD) that promises to give the expensive inboard ski/wake boats a real run for their money. Note that this wake was at 10.1 mph.

Four Winns has come roaring back this year with some cutting-edge “out of the box” new models and one of them is the new TS222 tow boat. As can be seen in the picture above, this is no regular sterndrive wake – it is made by the Volvo Penta FWD drive plus 1,400 lbs. (635 kg) of water ballast in the stern.

Four Winns TS222 Both the water ballast and the innovative forward-facing drive combine to create wake as high as those made by specialty ski/tow inboard boats. We have tested two boats powered by the new FWD drive and both captains report the same thing: the boat is fast out of the blocks, at speed she turns on a dime, and when docking she is not only far easier than a single engine inboard ski boat, but also easier than a conventional sterndrive rig.

While this configuration was designed for the new, growing wake market, we think that many boaters will be drawn to this drive because of the inherent added safety factor of the prop being an additional 26” farther away from the swim platform than a conventional sterndrive prop. The graphics and layout of the new TS222 also attest to Four Winns' commitment to serious towing strategies.

Four Winns TS222
The new Four Winns TS222 has the graphics and amenities to entice many wake enthusiasts to reconsider inboard wake boats.
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New Test Video

Tahoe 450 TS:
Fuel-Efficient and Affordable

Tahoe 450 TS
The Tahoe 450 TS is a nimble package at 18'5" (5.61 m) long, but she's easily big enough to carry most families for a day of watersports. She’s reasonably priced and comes packaged with an outboard motor and a single-axle trailer.

The value-packed Tahoe 450 TS was easy on fuel in our test runs with a 115-hp Mercury 4-stroke outboard turning a 13.25” x 17” three-blade aluminum prop. She hit a top speed of 43.5 mph at 6000 rpm. At 3500 rpm she ran 21.5 mph and burned a scant 3.6 gph which means she can go nearly 6 statute miles on a gallon of gas. More...

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Features Video

World Cat 255DC:
Soft Riding Cat with Extras

World Cat 255DC
The sharp twin hulls of the World Cat 255DC slice through seas cleanly, softening the ride, while the high freeboard keeps most spray outside the cockpit.

The latest version of the World Cat 255DC adds 25% more cockpit space to the original design according to the company, and also offers a walkthrough transom to make her a more capable dive boat. Added real-estate on the console gives plenty of room to flush-mount 12'' electronics. She's also family-friendly, with a changing room, fresh water shower hose and an adjustable bow table that can be lowered to convert the area into a sun lounge with filler cushion. Mom will like the 255DC because of her stability. More...

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Captain's Report

Beneteau Oceanis 38:
Daysailer w/ Weekender & Cruiser Options

Beneteau Oceanis 38
Beneteau’s Oceanis 38 combines strong sailing performance and a roomy cockpit with three below-decks accommodations choices, each intended for a different purpose ranging from daysailing to extended cruising.

The Beneteau Oceanis 38 offers versatile layout options that make her suitable for a wide variety of uses. As a daysailer, she is well-equipped above deck but sparsely so below, with few options. The "Cruiser" model includes most enhancements and amenities as standard, while the "Weekender" falls between the two, open to customization to meet buyers' preferences. All versions include the very useful open transom with optional fold-down swim platform, sure to be a gathering spot when at anchor. More...

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New Captain's Report

Mercury Remanufacturing 383 MAG Stroker:
The Iron Re-Man

Mercury Remanufacturing 383 MAG Stroker:
The MerCruiser 383 MAG Stroker is a remanufactured version of the MerCruiser 377 MAG V8 that has been re-engineered, re-patterned and re-built to produce the horsepower and torque of the discontinued 454.

The 932-lb. MerCruiser 383 MAG Stroker develops 350 horsepower and 390 ft.-lb. of torque at 3800 rpms. It breathes through a long runner intake manifold with multi-port fuel injection, and is driven by the latest 555 ECM (electronic control module) with SmartCraft. Mercury remanufacturing begins with a thoroughly inspected, used MerCruiser 377 MAG iron block core that gets bored, stroked, machined, and rebuilt with many new and better parts. More...

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New Captain's Report

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX:
Pro-Level Family Watersports Platform

Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX
The Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX's mission can range from keeping a family of weekend watersport fans happy all the way up to towing for the highest level pro wakeboarder or wake surfer.

Easy to operate controls for the automated ballast, Surf Gate and Power Wedge II make the Malibu Wakesetter 22 VLX a versatile family boat that can function on several levels for tow sports. She's also a party boat, CG rated for up to 14 passengers, and she comes standard with a six-speaker sound system, which can be optioned upward with eight G Force Wet Sounds speakers. More...

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Features and Layout

MJM 40z:
Modern Build in a Classic Downeaster

MJM 40z
The woody interior of the MJM 40z has the look and feel of a top-level sailing yacht, and she's laid out to provide long-term comfort for the cruising couple.

The MJM 40z displays woodwork below decks that shows a love for woodcraft, with dovetailed drawers and lots of cherry-finish cabinetry and paneling plus a teak and holly floor finished in Awlgrip clear coat for maximum durability. Even the wheel is finished in burnished teak. Build quality is second to none; vacuum bagging together with pre-preg epoxy laminates makes her strong but light, accounting for exceptional performance on moderate, fuel-efficient power. More...

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Test Video

Regency 254 LE3:
Upscale Tri-Toon with Power Bimini

Regency 254 LE3
Plush reclining lounges pamper passengers aboard the Regency 254 LE3, and the captain gets the same treatment from the high-backed captain’s chair.

The Regency 254 LE3 is an upscale, high-performance tri-toon that offers furnishings clearly a cut above the average in the pontoon boat market. Bronze powder-coated toons and rails and side fences give the exterior a classy look, while plush upholstery built with multi-density foam should provide the sort of comfort usually found in yacht-grade vessels. The power Bimini is standard, and self-closing magnetic-latch gates are welcome. More...

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Test Video

Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 HP:
Direct-Injection Powerhouse

Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 HP
The Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 3.4 liter V6 outboard delivers a rapid wind-up for quick hole shots thanks to two-cycle design, and weight is modest for the power output at 558 lbs. (253 kg) each.

All cylinders of the Evinrude E-TEC G2 300 are fed by direct, in-cylinder fuel injection. Fuel is delivered inside the combustion chamber, rather than in the intake manifold, resulting in more accurately-metered and better-dispersed fuel charge, according to the company. The proof of this is that it is the cleanest-burning outboard engine on the market. The result is improved power and better fuel economy. More...

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Captain's Report

Bayliner 195 Deck Boat:
Entry-Level Bowrider with Style

Bayliner 195 Deck Boat
The Bayliner 195 Deck Boat offers stylish lines and lots of space at a price that won't ruin the discretionary budget for most families.

A beach boarding ladder at the bow adds pontoon-boat utility to the Bayliner 195 Deck Boat, but she offers the performance of a bowrider. The squared off bow adds seating space, giving her a rated capacity of 11. The aft swim platform includes an adjustable backrest on the walkthrough to the swim platform, providing chaise-lounge sun comfort there. More...

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Test Video

Maritimo M58:
Long Range Cruiser with Enclosed Bridge

Maritimo M58
The enclosed flying bridge of the Maritimo M58 makes her easily identifiable, as well as adding lots of living space topside at little added cost.

The Maritimo M58's top speed came in at 30.1 knots at 2380 rpm during our test. At that speed we had a measured fuel burn of 79.5 gph with the twin 800-hp diesels, which translates to a range of 450 nm. Best planing economy came in at 1750 rpm and 18 knots. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 37 gph and opened up the range to 578 nautical miles -- both ranges have a built-in 10% reserve. And both ranges are remarkable for this class of yacht. Few can match it. Dial her speed back to 9 knots and she can ease along for over 1300 miles, giving range to go most anywhere except trans-ocean. More...

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Test Video

Yamaha 190 FSH:
Jet-Powered Center Console

Yamaha 190 FSH
A raw water washdown comes standard on the 190 FSH Sport.

The Yamaha 190 FSH looks much like a conventional center console fisherman from topsides, but she's driven by a 180-hp Yamaha 4-stroke 4-cylinder inboard 1.8L jet system. This allows her to operate at speed in water that barely floats the hull -- a huge safety factor as well as a plus for getting to those backwater areas where prop-driven boats can't go. The boat's maneuverability and safety will also be appreciated when the day's mission is family watersports. More...

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Test Video

Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider:
Sportboat with Attitude

Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider
The movable table aboard the Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider mounts forward or aft. It's made of a high-density, vacuum-formed hard polyester with simulated wood grain that offers both eye appeal and durability.

Whether it's wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, catching some rays or just spending the day on the water with family and friends, the Cruisers Sport Series 278 Bow Rider is designed to provide lots of functionality. Our testing crew also found she had a superior ride quality, and plenty of sizzle in graphics and upholstery. This boat is for people who want something different in a sportboat. Take a look and see what we mean. More...

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Test Video

Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless:
Versatile Classic Bayboat
with Premium Build Quality

Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless
The Boston Whaler 240 Dauntless has a draft of just 14'' (35.56 cm), and with a 16-degree deadrise at the transom, she should be a comfortable bayboat even when the bay gets rough.

Like all Boston Whalers, the 240 Dauntless is clearly all about fishing, but she doubles as a family fun platform with the cushions in place forward and aft. Three across seating at the stern casting deck will give a softer ride in bumpy water, while the forward casting deck includes adjustable seat backs on both sides to form a chaise lounge when the mission is other than fishing. Boston Whaler's high level of construction and fit-and-finish should make her a relatively good investment as far as boats go. More...

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Features Video

Prestige Yachts 550 Flybridge:
Contemporary Interior Design for the Family

Prestige Yachts 550 Flybridge
The aft galley of the Prestige Yachts 550 Flybridge is handy to serve either dinner in the main salon or lunch on the aft deck. The chef will like it because the galley is close to conversations in both venues.

The Prestige Yachts 550’s contemporary interior design utilizes interior space in such a way that it works well for family living, but can also handle parties with larger groups of people and more formal dining. The tremendous amount of window square footage gives guests excellent visibility when sitting or standing, and floods the boat with light. Prestige Yachts has utilized the latest techniques in hull construction to make the boat both lightweight, yet strong, thereby allowing her to be fuel-efficient and relatively fast with the horsepower applied. More...

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Test Video

Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX:
Jet Acceleration, But Easy to Dock

Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX
A center pass-through and twin aft-facing, three-tone seats will make the swim platform a very popular place to be aboard the cleanly-executed Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX.

The Chaparral 203 Vortex VRX impressed our test crew with agile handling around the docks, thanks to the assist from directional thrust buckets in reverse. Though she has plenty of freeboard, draft is just 13'' (33 cm), including the drive. Powered by a single Rotax 250, she reached a top speed of 44.0 mph, and showed herself capable of softening bumpy wakes thanks to her 19-degree deadrise. She has "up-market" amenities and fit-and-finish for a jetboat. More...

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Review Video

Mercury Marine Skyhook:
Electronic Anchoring for Offshore Anglers

Mercury Skyhook
The Precicion Pad Pilot engages the Mercury Marine Skyhook system, which keeps the boat precisely positioned via computer interface between GPS and the engine controls.

For anglers who frequently "motor-fish" offshore targets like rocky ledges for snapper and grouper, as well as for those who seek tuna and billfish over sea mounts, Mercury Marine's Skyhook is an effective system for keeping multi-engine boats in place without anchoring. Through an interface between the outboards and GPS, the system creates an electronic anchor point, maintaining position and heading through precise adjustment of engine throttle, steering, gears and trim. Our tests indicate that the system will keep a boat within a few feet of a precise location. 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!

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Expert Boating’s
4-DVD Boating Course

Smart Boating
Sometimes it's not what you know, but what you've forgotten. We have the perfect solution for you.

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...

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Lesson of the Week

How To Dock A Twin Inboard Boat

Capt. Steve Smart Boating Cover
Always check wind direction and current before docking. Once dockside, tie the bow line first, then the stern line.

This week Captain Steve goes over six lessons and guidelines on basic boat handling and docking procedures. Learn why twins allow you to maneuver easier. Learn how to pivot the boat for close quarter maneuvering, move the boat sideways without a bow thruster, and how to back into a slip. These are basic rules 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--, LLC
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