Thursday 19 November 2015

The GOOD, The BAD and the UGLY

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Some of the best and worst boats Part 1

Every manufacturer that I have ever had any involvement with have had great and not so great boats. The not so great boats still work and I am sure that some boaters will not share my enthusiasm with what I refer to as marketing filler, just bad idea, or poorly engineering power boats. When times are good boat builders try all kinds of crazy ideas while they try to cover too wide a market ( A boat for everyone, a sales mentality). This has mentality has spawned boats that made hardly any sense and some that should have never been developed. Some of these boats were changed part way through production to try to fit marketing needs, some of these models just make you ask who developed this idea and why. In some cases it wasn't the boat but it was the motor combinations, in others it was the color schemes. Today when you walk the boat shows you will notice that boat builders are still trend chasers, almost all the new boats will be the same colors and designs. I know lime green and black are not going to be in demand three years from now. Come on boat builders we want to own these boats for longer than a color fad, what will happen to the value of these boats when the market no longer wants lime green or boaters realize that like blue hulls the color wont stand up to the environment.

Here are a few examples:

The first is a no sense boat that was the 21 foot BAJA Hammer available from 1997 thru to 2001. This 21 foot boat coupled with a big block and a bravo drive package was a bone crushing ride. This is when Baja had some pretty outrageous colors as well purple and yellow was a great example. I know that there are people who probably love this boat. The hammer seemed like on of those engineering questions that someone dreamed up an answer to, how can we take this little boat and stuff a huge motor in it and then sit on the floor to operate it (it was fun for 5 min). Sometimes manufacturers just build too many models, the hammer was a great example. It was not any kind of off shore boat which was what Baja was marketing. This was however was an off shore looking boat you could fit it in your swimming pool. Spend a few more dollars and buy a 25 Outlaw at least you are going to buy a boat which resembles an off shore boat, the Hammer is just a runabout.

The Hammer, leave it on the trailer! Its bad enough that the real offshore boaters refer to Baja as the Bayliner of the breed.

The second boat that I was no fan of was the 210 Sundeck from SEARAY available from 1998 to 2001 .  Yes even Sea Ray has some regrettable and forgettable models! This boat seemed to make sense right up until you launched it and realized that you have no freeboard at all at the transom. Which you might think isn't that bad until you take your 70 year old mother in law on a canal ride. You are cruising along at low speed, and a large yacht overtakes you from behind. At that point make sure you are in bare feet because that wave is going to roll right inside the back of the boat so slick that at the helm looking forward you will hardly notice until small fish are swimming around the cockpit area. The larger deck boats are great so why try to build a 200, 210, 220, 240, 260, 270, 280, 290, and so on this is hardly necessary. I think that they could carve a few away after all in 2010 Sea ray offered ten 21 foot model variations. How many 21 foot boats does the market need?

The mighty Sea Ray should focus on their line up that has been solid for them over the years here is hoping that Brunswick doesn't start to run Sea Ray into the experimental ground like they did with Bayliner

The third boat was rushed to market. The Bayliner 1500 Jazz available from1996 thru 1998  It wasn't the boat that held threw this one onto to the crap list it was the motor that did the job. The small jet boat craze that took hold in the late 90's was afoot and Brunswick had developed a jet package so along comes the Jazz and its cousin Reflex. This little boat was a fun, the problem was it was always breaking down, if this boat would have been born with a Yamaha or Sea Doo motor we would still be driving them today, the problem was these boats were born with a black anchor on board. It was such a good hull that Sea Ray had there version but even with a power head swap they still were a constant repair bill. Being the first to market doesn't guarantee you a place in the boat builders history books. These little boat ate parts at a ridiculous pace, and if you were in the salt water the problems were compounded.

This hull is still one of the most comfortable fun rides ever, please bring it back with a real motor! This would have, an could have been the most versatile little boat that was ever made, just look at what you can do to your PWC. Imagine the possibilities!

The fourth boat should have never been called a Commodore. The Regal 2656 Commodore. The stepped hull on this boat creates some strange handling issues . The fact that it only backs up one way is a combination of design foe paws, If you had the model with the generator which was crammed on the port aft side, with the step in the hull you could be really in trouble. This boat is an example of too many accessories pilled on a boat that is sized to be a really nice weekender. The generator causes a slight list to the port side. This list creates a situation where when you are in reverse the boat slides to the right only, you cannot back up the other way .There is no way to compensate for this problem no matter what you try, its a design flaw that immediately limits your choices of slip and docking options. When the consider the option list for these boats why not add aft and forward  thrusters, after all Regal is building a 26 foot yacht.

The sad thing is not only could you only back up one way but the majority of the time the automotive style gauge cluster was burning itself out. so you got to guess what the boat was going to do in reverse and at the same time guess how the engine was running. To much stuff, and if Regal wants to try new ideas test them before you push new technology to market. PS Regal Parts Department please have parts in stock or someone who can advise the boat owner on another option for the dash!

So that is four boats that could have been better, if it wasn't for the whole rush to market or trying to build a motor yacht out of a boat under 27 feet! These could have been better boats. Boat manufacturers today have created a monster. Boats are getting smaller for the size and they are building too many options and technical additions which have not been tested over time into every boat they build, this is a real problem particularly when stuff breaks, and it always does.. There is no room in these boats anymore, room for error or physical room, in a lot of these smaller cruisers there is even enough room to change your mind.

Lets take a look at some of the best, these are boats that really made an impact and gave more than I expected from them! These are probably not on every ones best boats list. However they all had something to offer that was different, and today can be purchased for very reasonable prices. One boat on my list confirms an advertising slogan that is known around the world!

The first boat on the list has been copied by Mainship and has record setting production numbers, if brought back today it would still sell even though it has been gone for over 20 years. Bayliner 3288 Motor Yacht. Most boaters do not know the type of testing or for that matter where the testing of  Bayliner Motor Yachts of this era was completed. Well I can tell you it was in the Pacific North West and not on fair weather days but all conditions. For a 32 foot boat it is virtually unmatched in its ability to take whatever water conditions you can through at it, but also a spacious layout with an amazing amount of space for a 32 foot boat. If you have never been on a Bayliner Motor Yacht from the early 90's do yourself a favor find a well maintained one and take a look. The 32 was available in gas and diesel (I would only have the diesel). This is a cruising boat not a speed demon, However take care of this boat and it will get you there where ever there is!
 As a marine technician for over 30 years, been on board and operating well over a thousand production boats  (all sizes and builders), and despite the fact that its a Bayliner I would own one! As a matter of fact I would own the 3288 ,3888, or the 4588 all where such great big water boats. I know this because I have been there many times.

The next boat is only half a boat! I know this boat shouldn't count but I have to include it the list. The Boston Whaler cut in front of console. Whaler has cut many of these boats around the world for boat shows and promotion and a few years back I got my hands on one in Sarasota Bay. I cant tell you how I managed to get it out for a ride, but I can tell you that there were four of us on the boat and we were on plane up and down the 20 mile stretch of water and we did not slow down even for on coming wake off other boats. We had to know if this was an honest campaign is it really, Unsinkable, Unstopable. The four of us took turns driving and we did not even get our feet wet. Now before I build Whaler into gods gift to the boat market they to had some duds and flawed models over the years as well no builder is that good.

Boston Whaler has had a reputation as being one of the safest boats on the market and I can say beyond a doubt that half a Whaler is just as much fun as a complete Whaler. it is a little spooky when you are standing at the center console on plane and about to go over some waves and there is nothing forward of you!

The next boat is an oldie but a goody.  The 1983 Cigerette Flat Deck Offshore. The reason I mention this boat is when I was first introduced I was really unsure what to expect from it. First I had to make the boat run like it was supposed to, it had seen many hack mechanics and was ruff under the hood... The picture above is the very boat that I ran in Florida several years ago with Rod Presley, Rod was a former APBA Champion. Rod had explained to me how much of an animal these older offer shore boats are at the dock ( it took two people to drive this boat off the trailer and to the dock, from the dock to the channel) and how they come alive out in the open water, and man was he right. This old boat broke 90 miles an hour and felt like a rock, fast for an old 1983 but what a ride we ran in a 3 foot chop and the boat didn't move at all. You have no idea of the speed until you are over taking a boat and that's when it hits you realization of your speed.
This is not a day cruiser or a pleasure boat, it does have a cabin but that's not what this boat is about. If you have never experienced this type of boat, you got to try one (I am not saying buy one, that's nuts). I would not own one they are stupid expensive to run and have no real purpose but to go fast from point A to B as fast as you can handle the boat. So for many reasons it could make both my lists but I think that this boat is one of the most memorable safe high speed I have ever had.

The last boat on this list is a fun runabout that was an eye opener. A 1994 Thunder craft Diablo 21 foot. I launched this boat brand new in Indian Arm and five of us took it for a ride up to Vancouver Harbor. We where five adult guys and in most runabouts this is a decent load (at least 800 lbs) As we took off we all noticed that this hull was awesome it jumped right on plane carved incredibly well and was fast. I would say that this little boat could push into the high 40 mph range. After a few miles had passed by we realized that no one new for sure what this boat had for power. I was taken back when we opened the dog house and found a V6, we were just as impressed with the fact that this boat was so easy on fuel. This was one of the best hull and motor combinations that I have ever seen in a 21 foot runabout. Even today I have not been on a boat like this that performs the way this boat did.
The icing on this cake was, the boat was a Canadian built boat which is still something to say after all these years. We can build awesome boats here in Canada! Campion has some great boats, we really need to support more boat building and Canadian boat parts suppliers and manufacturers.

If you have any good or bad stories share them new boat buyers should hear and see all they can about every make and model out there!

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