Best Boat Deals: Expert’s Choice—Monterey, Baja, Yamaha

Boats in the 24- to 27-foot size range represent a real sweet spot for many prospective buyers. They’re not so large as to be budget busters but not so small as to be uncomfortable for family fun on the water. Speaking to that theme we’ve assembled three great boats from respected builders in the 24- to 27-foot range—all under $50,000.

This story will be available in the future as part of Boat Trader’s Best Boat Deals series,  but the boat listings below may not be. If you click through to an expired link it means that someone nabbed the bargain — or the owner had second thoughts about selling.

– Boat Trader editors


2005 Monterey 270 CR
2005 Monterey 270 CR

2005 Monterey 270 CR

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Monterey is known for its luxury-oriented, family-friendly express boats that pack a lot of versatility inside. If you take a look at the features included with this 2005 Monterey 270 CR, you’ll begin to see that it’s definitely a well-earned reputation.

This one has a single MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI inboard gas engine with only 220 hours, in fresh water, and has been maintained by a professional marina staff. Full documentation on performed services is available from the original owner. Trimmed up at  full load you should expect top speeds in the 40-mph range with a cruise in the mid-20s.

The listing shows that this 2005 model is packed with all sorts of creature comforts, including reverse-cycle air-conditioning, a five-kW gas generator, 30-amp shore power, refrigeration, microwave oven, television, stereo, and hotwater heater. On deck are a custom bridge-deck canvas enclosure, stainless-steel ground tackle, an upholstered foredeck sunpad, swim platform ladder, custom cushions, and more.

Accommodations below include an enclosed head/shower, a guest berth situated midcabin under the bridge deck, and a queen-sized V-berth that converts to a dinette. A galley is situated to port with a sink, stove, the aforementioned microwave and refrigerator, and stowage space for galley gear. There’s plenty of light and ventilation below, thanks to well-situated hatches and opening ports. This express is well equipped for family cruising.

This 2005 Monterey 270 CR is listed at $48,500, which will appeal to the budget-minded, especially when you compare it to buying a new express cruiser in the 27-foot range. Pocket the change for your 401K. Essentially, the boat is equipped and ready to go. A trailer is included, too.

2002 Baja 232

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Baja boats have a reputation for providing thrilling performance. So when we came across this 2002 model with 310 ponies’ worth of MerCruiser Bravo 1 power strapped to the stern, we decided to investigate further. Hold on to your hats.

Well-maintained and with a solid powertrain, this lift-stored 23-footer comes with a dual-axle, brake-equipped trailer tipped with custom mag wheels. Only a two-owner boat, this 232 has been professionally winterized each year and sports a like-new appearance, from the gelcoat down to the cushions and canvas.

2002 Baja 232
2002 Baja 232

Inside the 232 is a sporty seating setup for five, with twin captain’s chairs behind the console and a three-person bench aft. A heavy-duty bimini top with one-inch stainless-steel tubing is included to keep things cool while underway beneath the summer sun. Tunes come courtesy of a Kenwood head unit and an Alpine amplifier pushing four- to eight-inch Alpine speakers.

Below is a comfy cuddy with a bench seat and seating that converts to a full-size berth. A large opening hatch enhances lighting and ventilation, while a transformable space to starboard has room enough for a porta-potty. This provides plenty of excuses for Bohemian weekend overnighting anchored out or tied up at a cozy marina.

Getting back to the performance, this 232 should push top speeds in the 60-plus mph area, thanks to a 310-horsepower 7.4-liter MerCruiser V8 gasoline inboard-outboard. The owner has also installed a custom exhaust system that can be as boisterous or as quiet as you like, depending on your boating situation.

One of the best parts about this boat is its price, listed at $22,995. If pushing the limits of performance and speed are checkboxes on your boat shopping short list, then this high-performance speedster is probably worth a look.

2013 Yamaha 242 Limited S

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A 24-footer that places a lot of emphasis on family fun, entertaining, and watersports is the jet-powered Yamaha 242 Limited S. Powered by a pair of powerful Yamaha four-stroke engines, the 242 Limited S was, and still is, the flagship of Yamaha’s jet boat fleet. That’s one of reasons this low-hour 242 Limited S listing caught our eye.

2013 Yamaha 242 Limited S
2013 Yamaha 242 Limited S

So, what does the “Limited S” designation get you? Well, in the 2013 model year it adds just about every option on the order sheet, including upgraded electronics, a Clarion stereo, teak-look decking throughout, a watersports tower with wakeboard racks, LED transom lighting, upgraded seating upholstery, and more. This boat also comes with a custom cover, Samson wakeboard tower mirror, and an upgraded steering system.

With only 85 hours on the clock, the twin Yamaha four-stroke engines on this 242 Limited S have only been used in fresh water, and have been professionally maintained, with full documentation. With plenty of power to spare, the 242 Limited S has a top speed of around 50 mph. An efficient cruise speed settles in around 27 mph. Kept covered when not in use and housed indoors during winter, this boat looks and feels brand new.

Inside there’s a clever layout with two aft-facing lounge seats molded into the transom that provide a first-row view to the action behind the boat. They also provide ample stowage, accessible from each opening seatback. Farther inside the gunwales is a clever seating layout both forward and in the cockpit that can comfortably accommodate around eight people.

Priced at $47,999 with those aforementioned low hours, this is sort of a steal, in our eyes. It will be worth checking out the listing if a high-quality jet boat has been on your shopping list.


Four Great Runabouts for 2016

When most folks hear the word “runabout,” they think of an athletic powerboat on the smaller end of the size scale, angled toward a day’s fun on the water with a minimum of muss and fuss. Within that general runabout category, though, there’s a wide range of styles, configurations, and purposes, any of which might serve your family’s interests on the water —  watersports, coving, day cruising, fishing, or docking and dining. Here’s are four noteworthy 2016 models that represent a range of styles. Off we go.

The Chris-Craft Capri 25 is a brand-new offering that features luxury, performance, and stylish accommodations in one package. Photo courtesy of Chris-Craft
The Chris-Craft Capri 25 is a brand-new offering that features luxury, performance, and stylish accommodations in one package. Photo courtesy of Chris-Craft

Chris-Craft Capri 25

A runabout with retro style

Chris-Craft virtually invented the runabout market around 100 years ago, so when it introduces a new runabout to the market, people perk up and pay attention. I sure did, when the company invited me to Sarasota, FL, to run its new 2016 Capri 25 earlier this year.

Perhaps the most innovative part of this new boat is its cuddy cabin, which is cleverly tucked up in the bow. It’s accessed via a clever hinged door in the cockpit. Open it up and you expose a utilitarian V-berth with a cleverly concealed porta-potty underneath. You won’t be doing any serious multi-day cruising in this boat, but it’s an awfully nice feature to have for when the weather or other circumstances make it impractical to motor home for the night.

Today’s Chris-Craft boats are known to be  elegant, sexy, and beautiful. The Capri 25 easily accomplishes this mission. The bronze-colored topsides are contrasted by the white deck, and both colors are enhanced by swaths of teak decking and trim. Look around and you’ll see impeccable fit and finish with an attention to detail that Chris-Craft is famous for.

A 6.2-liter 300-horsepower Mercury gasoline inboard with a Bravo III sterndrive is standard, with a multitude of gasoline inboard choices available from both Mercury and Volvo Penta. You can outfit the Capri 25 with up to 430 ponies.

The cockpit is particularly inventive. One of the downsides of runabouts is that they generally lack good places to entertain. Folks end up trying to enjoy their happy-hour cocktails and snacks from their laps. Chris-Craft solved this problem aboard the Capri 25 with a couple of heavy, flip-up teak tables between the pair of swiveling captain’s chairs at the forward end of the cockpit and the three-person bench aft of them. Swivel around the captain’s chairs and you’ve got a comfortable happy-hour space for four or five.

If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred, 25-foot runabout with style, comfort, and performance, the Capri 25 should be near the top of your shopping list. You’ll definitely make a statement on the water with this one.

Chris-Craft Capri 25 Specifications

  • Length: 26’ 8”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft: 1’5”
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Displacement: 6,000 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 82 gallons
 Outboard power means the Baja 23 Islander OB has more room than comparable inboard runabouts. Photo courtesy of Baja
Outboard power means the Baja 23 Islander OB has more room than comparable inboard runabouts. Photo courtesy of Baja

Baja 23 Islander OB

Space, the final frontier

As four-stroke outboard engines continue to make performance gains, manufacturers are putting more and more of the powerplants on boats that have traditionally been powered by gasoline inboard engines. The Baja Islander 23 OB is one such boat. What’s the big deal about a runabout with outboard power? Interior space, that’s what.

Since there’s no inboard engine box to gobble up the cockpit, Baja was able to create a 23-foot runabout with exceptional seating accommodations and interior room. Where the inboard engine used to reside is now a comfy U-shaped lounge. You can even slip in a pair of insert cushions to create an expansive sunpad, and a pair of backrest inserts transform two ends of the lounge into aft-facing chaise lounges.

The Islander 23 OB can be equipped with either a 250- or 300-horsepower Suzuki four-stroke outboard, or a 300-horsepower Mercury Verado. The 300-horspower Suzuki provides a top-end speed in the upper 40 mph range, while the 250-horsepower standard engine tops out in the low to mid 40s. The other notable advantage to using outboard power on the Islander 23 OB is weight. Consider that a comparable inboard engine from Mercury weighs in at well nearly 900 pounds. The Suzuki DF300AP weighs just over 600 pounds.

The Islander 23 OB has a sleek look, showing clean lines that blend together with the wraparound windshield. The lines are so good, in fact, that the outboard seems to morph right in with the rest of the boat  instead of looking like a bolt-on afterthought. The hull has a relatively sharp V-shaped bottom for a small runabout, sporting 23 degrees of deadrise at the transom . What this means for you is a smooth ride in a chop and great handling in turns.

So go grab your skis, a cooler full of frosty beverages, and a bunch of friends. The Baja Island 23 OB has room to spare.

Baja 23 Islander OB Specifications

  • Length: 23’6”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft: 2’0”
  • Deadrise: 23 degrees
  • Displacement: 4,300 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 80 gallons
The Four Winns TS222 is a forward-thinking watersports boat with plenty of comfort, to boot. Photo courtesy of Four Winns
The Four Winns TS222 is a forward-thinking watersports boat with plenty of comfort, to boot. Photo courtesy of Four Winns

Four Winns TS222

A watersports boat with forward thinking

Okay, I’ll admit it—the Four Winns TS222 isn’t brand spanking new for 2016. But the new sterndrive that powers it through the water is so revolutionary that I’d be remiss in not including this wake surfing/boarding runabout in our list.

The sterndrive I’m talking about is Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive, which was launched earlier this year at the Miami International Boat Show. Instead of having a sterndrive with the usual Duoprop setup where the propellers face aft, the Forward Drive has dual propellers that are tucked up underneath the stern. It’s a tractor drive, meaning it pulls the boat through the water instead of pushing it.

For watersports enthusiasts the benefits of that arrangement are many. First, there are no dangerous propellers at the stern of the boat that can harm folks in the water. Second, the exhaust is vented under the waterline so boarders aren’t sucking fumes. Lastly, with the props mounted farther forward, the boat’s pivot point is changed. That means better turning performance.

But the TS222 isn’t a great boat just because of what’s pulling it through the water. For wakeboarders and surfers the boat comes replete with surf tabs, Zero Speed wake control, and 1,300 pounds of customizable water ballast that helps the TS222 leave behind smooth shreddable wakes. Add in the flashy tow tower and a 320-horse Volvo Penta V8 inboard and you’re off to the races.

The TS222’s interior sports plenty of accommodations for when you need to load up a group of friends and family. The cockpit has an L-shaped lounge aft and two swiveling captain’s chairs. Farther forward the TS222 takes on a bowrider look, with a large nest of comfy seats set into the bow. A head is hidden behind the port-side console at the forward end of the cockpit.

I don’t’ know about you, but I’m ready to grab a wakeboard and hit the water. Now, if I could only wake surf. Check out the TS222 for a great runabout with a watersports pedigree.

Four Winns TS222 Specifications

  • Length: 22’7”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft: 2’9”
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Displacement: 4,240 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 44 gallons
The Chaparral 243 Vortex VR is a great choice for folks interested in a jet boat, but without the splashy jet boat styling. Photo courtesy of Chaparral
The Chaparral 243 Vortex VR is a great choice for folks interested in a jet boat, but without the splashy jet boat styling. Photo courtesy of Chaparral

Chaparral 243 Vortex VR

Not your ordinary jet boat.

One problem with jet boats is that they look far too sporty and flashy for folks who want a more conservative shape. Take a look at the Chaparral 243 Vortex VR, though, and you’ll likely have a difficult time differentiating its profile from its more sedate counterparts. And how does a 53 mph top end sound?

One of two different models in the 243 range, the 243 Vortex VR looks as if it’s a cuddy cabin or small express cruiser at first glance, having more elegant and conservative styling than its Vortex VRX sister, which is aimed at wakesurfers and watersports folks. But don’t worry –you can wakesurf with this more conservative style if you choose Chaparral’s Aerial Surf Package. The option adds an aerial surf platform and three ballast tanks for creating the perfect stern wave.

The speed I mentioned comes courtesy of two Rotax 200-horsepower engines. If you want even more power, a pair of 250-horsepower Rotax engines is available as an option. A notable feature with these engines is lateral thrust control, which drops a diverter behind the thrust nozzles, directing the jet thrust outboard. This greatly improves side-to-side steering, especially when pulling into a slip or up to a fuel dock.

The 243 Vortex VR has a total capacity of 12 people. The bow seating can be used as two forward-facing lounges, or as a seating zone. The cockpit has a large U-shaped seating arrangement for around six people, with two additional seats at the stern for use when the boat is not underway. A captain’s chair sits aft of the helm console and a single-person bench sits behind the port console. And hey, there’s even an enclosed head behind that console.

If you’re looking for a more conservatively styled jet boat, this one’s a winner.

Chaparral 243 Vortex VR Specifications

  • Length: 24’3”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft: 1’3”
  • Deadrise: 20 degrees
  • Displacement: 4,150 pounds
  • Fuel Capacity: 52 gallons