Chris-Craft Catalina 30 Pilothouse Review

 The new 30 Pilothouse version of the Catalina will turn heads.


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.


Chris-Craft certainly isn’t a new kid on the block, especially when it comes to building great center console boats. Just take a look at the Catalina 26, the Catalina 29, and the 34-foot Catalina model. You’ll see impeccably built boats with lots of luxury and just the right amount of angling accoutrements, in all of these models. Their design ethos favors openness, however, and that means they have a bend toward coastal and inshore jaunts, rather than heading farther offshore or running in snotty weather. But the builder’s brand-new Catalina 30 Pilothouse model is different. This beefier model protects its occupants behind a virtual cathedral of protective glass and a hefty console unit. We spent some time with the new model at its Miami International Boat Show launch in February.

Despite the name the 30 Pilothouse does not have what we commonly would call a true “pilothouse,” but is a center console with more extensive protection than Catalina models have traditionally provided.
Despite the name the 30 Pilothouse does not have what we commonly would call a true “pilothouse,” but is a center console with more extensive protection than Catalina models have traditionally provided.

The theme that leapt out at us when we first saw the boat in the water was luxury. Diamond-stitched vinyl upholstery that looks and feels like leather is broken purposefully by beautifully crafted pieces of teak trim and components. A partial teak toe-rail helps demarcate the bow’s graceful curviness, while teak decking adds to the Catalina 30 Pilothouse’s rich look on the bow deck and swim platform. The helm’s foot rest, the aft cockpit dining table, and even the pilothouse trim is crafted from solid hunks of teak. Long story short, this is one sweet-looking ride.

Chris-Craft has paid a lot of attention to making the Catalina 30 Pilothouse an immensely capable entertaining and relaxation platform. Up forward is the fairly typical U-shaped bow lounge setup, but it’s the massive, two-person, forward-facing chaise lounge ahead of the center console that’s the best seat in the house. It’s as big as a full-size berth.

Vinyl-clad foam bolstering around the bow area gives it a safe, secure, and luxurious feeling.
Vinyl-clad foam bolstering around the bow area gives it a safe, secure, and luxurious feeling.

All the way aft, behind the twin helm bucket seats, is a highly convertible social area that’s quite unique in the way that it utilizes the space. A large and comfortable flip-out bench pops out of the transom with enough room for three guests. In front of it is a table made from a large slab of teak that flips up from behind the helm seating unit, to form a cozy dining area. Put the bench and the table away and there’s a roomy aft cockpit with plenty of room for fishing. An awning can be deployed electrically from where it hides in the center console hard-top to keep things cool under a hot sun. You can keep your refrigerated snacks and drinks in the pull-out refrigerator under the helm seating. There’s a diver door to starboard that makes boating large fish, getting in the water, or hopping aboard easy.

The helm area is a place of refuge, well-enclosed and protected from sun and spray by an expansive hard top and panels of tempered glass—hence the “Pilothouse” moniker, the absence of a full enclosure notwithstanding. There’s a glass-style dash with twin 12-inch Garmin GPSmap XSV multi-function displays. Neatly lined up beneath the two displays is a row of lighted control switches set in a block of gorgeous teak trim. Other components, such as the Mercury Joystick Piloting controller, Lenco trim tabs, Fusion stereo, and autopilot controls, are neatly laid out and within easy reach.

The helm seats on the Catalina 30—two bucket-style chairs with flip-up bolsters—are among the most comfortable we’ve ever parked our back ends in.
The helm seats on the Catalina 30—two bucket-style chairs with flip-up bolsters—are among the most comfortable we’ve ever parked our back ends in.

Just ahead of the helm is one of the nicest under-console cabin/heads you’re going to find on a center console this size. It’s accessed via a hinged door and trimmed elegantly in light woods, chrome fixtures, and plush bedding.

While you’re not going to find fishy features such as outriggers, live wells, a rigging station, or huge fish lockers on the Catalina 30 Pilothouse, there are a handful of rod holders scattered around and there’s plenty of room for moving around and playing fish. The forward bow lounge cushions can be removed and the area can serve as a casting platform, though some anglers would judge it too small to be useful. Still, if you’re planning on simply casting lures or dropping bottom rigs as a casual angler, the Catalina 30 Pilothouse will perform just fine in this respect.

We didn’t have a chance to run the Catalina 30 Pilothouse—it was trapped within the confines of the show—but we do know that it’s designed to be equipped with up to twin 350-horsepower outboards. Outfitting the boat this way, say with twin 350-horespower Mercury Verados, we’re expecting some thrilling performance. Also, given our experience with Chris-Craft’s other Catalina models, we expect the Catalina 30 Pilothouse’s hull to be well-behaved and dry with flattering ride characteristics in a choppy sea.

It’d be difficult to point out a more luxurious and comfortable center console boat in this size range—we think Chris-Craft’s pretty much nailed that theme with the Catalina 30 Pilothouse. And, if you’re interested in venturing farther offshore, this boat’s got the hull to run there and a beefy center console unit to keep you dry and secure in the process.

Other Choices: If you’re on the lookout for a luxurious center console boat in the 30-foot range, also consider the Pursuit S 328 Sport, the Robalo R300, or the Everglades 325 cc.

For more information, visit Chris-Craft.

 

Chris-Craft Calypso 30: First Look Video

The 2017 Chris-Craft Calypso continues this builder’s tradition of turning out boats that offer excellent performance and even better looks.


This article originally appeared on boats.com. Reprinted by permission.


While the Chris-Craft 42 Commander has been stealing most of the headlines about this boat-builder lately, also new for 2017 is the Calypso 30. This boat works well as a family cruiser, handles casual fishing with aplomb, and tops out over 50 MPH—all the while looking good from every angle. Take a peek at the boat for yourself, in this First Look Video we shot at the Fort Lauderdale boat show.

Up to 15 people can be seated aboard this boat at once. Aft are four flip-up benches along the perimeter of the cockpit. Here, you also have a galley module with a sink, a grill, and a refrigerator. At the bow, a triangular table can seat five for cocktails. In between, there are three forward-facing bucket seats, two to starboard for the driver and a companion, and another to port.

But like a Swiss Army knife, the Calypso 30 has lots of tricks up its sleeve. The bow seat/lounge to starboard lifts up, revealing a small sink and a head compartment inside the helm console. The bow table lowers and with added cushions, forms a playpen. A thru-stem anchor and an electric windlass are all the way forward. The T-top over the helm has a sunshade that extends aft, providing more cover for the cockpit. A boarding gate is to starboard. It opens inward and the sole lifts up to provide access to a recessed swim ladder.

The Chris-Craft Calypso 30.
The Chris-Craft Calypso 30.



When it’s time to fish, simply flip the seats down, close the lid on the galley, push on the retractable cleats, and tuck some rods in the built-in holders. You can move freely about the aft cockpit where there are few things to snag a line. Whatever you catch may be grilled on the spot and served with cold beverages without ever having to return to the dock.

Twin Yamaha F300 outboards give the new model plenty of power. At full throttle she’ll rip along at 53 MPH and at a cruising speed of 30 she’s fairly economical, burning just about 17 GPH. Joystick control makes the twin engines dance at the dock and there’s a choice of two systems: the Optimus 360 or the Yamaha Helm Master.

With this much power and versatility, the Calypso 30 is a crossover with zip that will appeal to a wide variety of boaters.

For more information, visit Chris-Craft.

Runabout Roundup: Three Top Picks for 2016

What the heck is a runabout, anyway? Well, according to Chapman Piloting and Seamanship (a must-have book if you’re new to boats) it’s any smaller-sized boat that’s suited for hauling folks around the water, primarily for day cruising.

So while that could mean anything from a center-console boat to a bowrider, for our purposes we chose three excellent boats under 25 feet that are primarily designed for day use, but also have modest facilities for the occasional Bohemian overnight. With that in mind, let’s see what notable runabouts we came up with for the 2016 boating season.

If you’re looking for an incredibly good blend of luxury, looks, and performance, the Chris-Craft Capri 25 is difficult to beat. Photo courtesy of Chris-Craft
If you’re looking for an incredibly good blend of luxury, looks, and performance, the Chris-Craft Capri 25 is difficult to beat. Photo courtesy of Chris-Craft.

 

Chris-Craft Capri 25

Chris-Craft virtually created the runabout market more than 100 years ago with its fast, relatively economical cockpit-oriented powerboats. Today the company builds everything from center-consoles to bowriders, but a model it introduced just under a year ago definitely ticks all the right boxes in the runabout category.

There was no doubt in our minds that this 25-footer has a luxury theme when we got our first look at it in Sarasota, FL, last year. Smothered in many board feet of beautiful teak and upholstered with yards of buttery, sumptuous vinyl, the Capri 25 definitely makes a statement. Her lines make her a looker, too, having a retro runabout motif featuring lots of tumblehome, a graceful reverse sheer, and a stunning bronze topside paint scheme that goes great with her off-white decks and teak trim.

Specifications:

  • Length: 26’7”
  • Beam: 8’6”
  • Draft (hull): 1’5”
  • Deadrise: 20 deg.
  • Displacement: 5,700 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 77 gal.

Hopping aboard we spotted a lot of cleverness in the cockpit. One place where runabouts tend to fall down is in their lack of entertainment space. More specifically, it’s difficult to serve beverages, snacks, or lunchtime sandwiches when there’s no place for your food and drink—other than in your lap. Chris-Craft solves this problem with two teak tables that flip up from under the gunwales into the cockpit. Two captain’s chairs in the forward end of the cockpit can then be swiveled around to create a cozy eating and drinking area for around four people. Deploy a foldaway bimini top to keep things cool as you eat and drink. Forward is a utilitarian cuddy cabin with a V-berth and a neatly concealed porta-potty.

Standard power in the Chris-Craft Capri 25 is a 300-horsepower Mercury 6.2-liter gasoline inboard with a Bravo III sterndrive, but optional engine choices are almost limitless. You can power up the Capri 25 with up to 430 horses from either Mercury or Volvo Penta, and with Bravo drives or DuoProps.

If luxury, performance, and comfort are at the top of your list of runabout requirements, then the Chris-Craft Capri 25 is definitely worth a sea trial.

The Bayliner 642 Cuddy packs a lot of value in a clever, good-looking package. Photo courtesy of Bayliner
The Bayliner 642 Cuddy packs a lot of value in a clever, good-looking package. Photo courtesy of Bayliner.

Bayliner 642 Cuddy

Say what you will about Bayliners, but if you haven’t been paying attention to the builder over the last 10 years then your impression may be skewed. Today the company is churning out some really clever and innovative boats, all with an eye toward economic accessibility. Starting out at only $38,199, the Bayliner 642 Cuddy is an excellent example of the company’s newfound and innovative budget-oriented DNA.

Though Bayliner lists this boat under its “Overnighters” category in the model lineup, we feel like the 642 Cuddy is more runabout than it is true overnighter. The cockpit speaks to that theme, with a large L-shaped lounge aft, a cushioned sunpad over the engine bay, and a swiveling captain’s chair aft of the helm. The port side companion bench seatback can be swiveled forward to create a chaise lounge, and a teak pedestal table slips easily into the cockpit for dining and entertaining. It’s a much nicer layout than you’d expect for the price. And this boat looks great, too. A wraparound windshield, forward stainless-steel bow railing, and a smart-looking standard paint scheme give this boat presence on the water.

Specifications:

  • Length: 21’4”
  • Beam: 8’0”
  • Draft: 3’2”
  • Deadrise: 19 deg.
  • Displacement: 3,084 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 33 gal.

Below is a very basic V-berth setup, but it’s got some elements that lots of budget-minded boats wouldn’t include, such as opening ports in the hull sides, twin inset portlights above, and a neatly hidden porta-potty under the companionway step. It’s much more comfy and spacious down here than we expected, but keep in mind that we’re still in sleeping bags and camp pillow territory instead of custom sheets and comforters.

There’s a very robust powerplant under the engine hatch for the 642’s low starting price—a 135-horsepower MerCruiser 3.0-liter gasoline inboard that should push it up to around 30 mph. If you’re looking for more speed and performance, you can choose up to 220 ponies, which should produce top speeds around 40 mph. That’s a lot of performance for the buck.

Folks who are looking for a runabout with lots of features and fun at the right price will want to give the 642 Cuddy a closer look.

The Four Winns S215 can blast up into the 40-mph range with its standard powerplant, providing a lot of fun for the buck. Photo courtesy of Four Winns.
The Four Winns S215 can blast up into the 40-mph range with its standard powerplant, providing a lot of fun for the buck. Photo courtesy of Four Winns.

Four Winns Sundowner S215

Four Winns has a solid reputation when it comes to building quality runabouts, deck boats, and towing craft. And there’s a lot to like about the smallest member of its Sundowner series, the S215. Let’s have a look at what we found when we recently took one out for a spin.

The S215 has a lot of dock appeal. What makes Four Winns boats look great is the unique way that the company’s designers mix angular deck elements and graceful hull lines to create a look that is both modern and elegant. You’ll see lots of these cues on the S215, including a sinewy wraparound windshield, triangular in-deck portlights, and a trapezoidal sunpad over the engine bay. Add a striking two-tone paint scheme and you’ve got a truly good-looking runabout.

The cockpit is a little less spacious than other runabouts in this size class, but there’s still plenty of space for a family of four, or for two couples. There’s a three-person bench in the aft end of the cockpit and two swiveling captain’s chairs just aft of the wraparound windshield. Simply drop in an easily stowable pedestal table and you’ve got plenty of room to lay out a happy hour or dinner spread for four. Speaking of lying about, there’s an insanely expansive sunpad aft, for you sun worshippers.

Specifications:

  • Length: 21’7”
  • Beam: 8’5”
  • Draft (hull): 1’4”
  • Deadrise: 20 deg.
  • Displacement: 3,600 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 40 gal.

Access to the belowdecks V-berth space is through a really clever accordion-style aluminum slider that conveniently rolls up and out of the way under the foredeck. Below is the sort of space you’d expect on a boat this size, but Four Winns has added some extra cushions to create two upright seats at the aft bulkhead that look as if they’d be great place to curl up with a book. We’d even go so far to say it feels luxurious down there.

Standard power on the Four Winns S215 is a 4.3-liter 220-horsepower MerCruiser gasoline engine with Alpha outdrive that should propel this boat right up into the 40s. Volvo Penta power is also available, and the maximum fun factor you can strap into the S215 is 300 horsepower. The S215 rides on Four Winns’ Stable Vee hull, which provides a smooth ride and great tracking.

The S215 does a lot of things well. It’s good-looking, has comfy accommodations, and is fun to drive. Add in the quality and luxury Four Winns is known for and you’ve got a heck of a runabout. And you can have all this good stuff starting out at under 50 grand.

 

 

Chris-Craft Catalina 23: One Sweet Ride

One of the most versatile and beloved boat designs of all time, center-console boats have a reputation for being rugged, utilitarian craft with a bend toward fishing. But what happens when we turn that concept on its head and mix in luxury and style? Some might think you’d get a boat that’s off the mark from the theme, compromising the center console’s generally practical, no-frills nature with too much cushiness. In the case of the Chris-Craft Catalina 23, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a center console that successfully blends luxury, style, elegance, and utility.

The first glimpse of the Catalina 23 will make you think "wow, that's sophisticated." And it is.
The first glimpse of the Catalina 23 will make you think “wow, that’s sophisticated.” And it is.

Most Chris-Crafts come out of the factory pretty well gussied up, but you can order the Catalina 23 just as basic as you like. That’s worth mentioning because folks who fish may want a less trimmed-out Catalina 23, while those with entertaining and lounging itineraries will likely want to check some of the cushier options boxes.

Our test boat was equipped to the nines, with faux-teak decking, a sport arch with a canvas Bimini soft top, an electric windlass, vinyl “sea grass” snap-in cockpit deck covers, a Yeti cooler, an electronics package, a head in the console, and an upgraded engine. Chris-Craft says they’ve not yet fitted this boat with teak that’s the real deal, but that “We’d do it for the right customer.”

There’s tons of seating aboard. Aft is a three-person bench at the transom; there’s room for two folks in the rugged helm seat; two more can sit ahead of the center console unit; and a huge, U-shaped lounge rounds out the bow area. Everything is upholstered exquisitely, feeling both comfortable and durable at the same time.

Even with all the luxury options, there are still plenty of fishing features. A wide transom door facilitates bringing big critters aboard, while rod holders—seven of them—are scattered around in convenient, easy-to-reach places. Fish boxes lie on both sides of the helm and a Yeti cooler underneath the helm seat can be used for smaller catches. So while you’re not likely to be running to the canyons for billfish with this boat, there are still plenty of accommodations for light-duty coastal and inshore fishing.

Our test craft had a 300-horsepower Mercury Verado that gave a speedy top end of around 60 mph and a cruise in the mid to upper 30s.
Our test craft had a 300-horsepower Mercury Verado that gave a speedy top end of around 60 mph and a cruise in the mid to upper 30s.

While we hit 60 with out test boat, keeping the engine options standard gets you a 250-horsepower Yamaha F250 four-stroke outboard that launches the Catalina 23 up to around 50 MPH on the top end, with a 30 MPH cruise. The Catalina’s deep-V hull and a bow that’s well flared allowed us to rush across Sarasota Bay in a moderate two-foot chop both smoothly and dryly, and the 21 degrees of transom deadrise split the oncoming waves stirred up by a large sportfishing yacht with ease. Cornering and tracking at speed are impressive, and handling the boat is delightful thanks to a beautiful stainless-steel destroyer wheel with a suicide-knob and steering that’s oh-so-easy but not mushy or vague-feeling.

It was difficult to find things not to like on the Catalina 23, but we did find a couple of areas for improvement. The pop-up cleats didn’t stay up when we came back in to the dock, so you need one hand to start the cleat hitch and one to keep the cleat up. The other nit-pick is helm size. Since the 23’s console is fairly low-slung the dash is a bit smaller than many others, and folks who want to install a larger multifunction display are going to run out of room for other electronics.

Those small things aside the Catalina 23 provided performance, handling, attention to detail, sophistication, and style. Whether you’re planning on fishing or sundowner cruising—or everything in between—it’s one sweet ride.

Other Choices: A similarly-sized center console that offers even more in the way of pizazz and luxury is the Vanquish 24. Those with a fishier attitude will gravitate towards boats like the Regulator 23.

For more information, visit Chris-Craft.

See Chris-Craft Catalina 23 listings on Boat Trader.

SPECIFICATIONS
Length 23’6″
Beam 8’4″
Draft (hull) 1’4″
Deadrise 21 degrees
Displacement 4,484 lbs
Fuel capacity 103 gal.
Water capacity 13 gal.

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

 

What’s Inside That Center-Console? Five Surprises

Time was when center-console boats were pretty small and had single engines, and the only things under the consoles themselves were engine batteries, wiring, a soggy towel or two, and a rusty fish-hook. Times have changed, and it’s amazing what you can find under consoles these days. On some boats it’s like the wardrobe leading to Narnia — look in and a whole new world opens up.

The Chris-Craft Catalina 34  has impressive amenities below the console -- and lots of light. Note the horizontal window over the sunpad.
The Chris-Craft Catalina 34 has impressive amenities below the console — and lots of light. Note the horizontal window over the sunpad.

Part of the change has come simply because center-console boats have gotten bigger and bigger, with twin, triple, and even quadruple outboards, air-conditioning, and a host of other amenities that would have been unheard of even a decade ago. With the increase in size comes an increase in space under the console, and that has given boatbuilders some great ideas on how to use all that space.Without further ado, here are five console spaces that have grabbed the attention of the reviewers at boats.com and BoatTrader.com in recent months.

The stand-up head compartment in the Cobia 296 is impressive for a boat under 30 feet long.
The stand-up head compartment in the Cobia 296 is impressive for a boat under 30 feet long.

Heads Up

The first and most obvious use of a console space big enough big enough for a person to sit in is as a head compartment. Sure, most fishermen have no problem using a bucket in the cockpit, but when you add more family and friends (now that you have a bigger boat), the urgencies of a long day of fishing on a headless, heaving platform can take some of the fun out of the program. So porta-potties and even toilets plumbed to holding tanks are now commonplace. One of the best head compartments in a small center-console is on the Cobia 296. For a boat just under 30 feet, this one really rolls out the welcome mat. There’s full standing headroom, a plumbed-through toilet, and a small vanity with a sink, pressure water, and stowage drawers underneath. Very importantly there are also opening ports in each side of the console for light and ventilation.

The Cobia 296 CC
The Cobia 296 CC
The Crusader engine under this Vanquish 24 console has its weight low and centered in the boat.
The Crusader engine under this Vanquish 24 console has its weight low and centered in the boat.

The Powerplant

On the Doug Zurn-designed Vanquish 24, when you unlock the console and tilt it forward you get… the engine. (Options are a Crusader 330-hp or 375-hp gas engine, or a Yanmar 260-hp diesel.) The Vanquish is one of those rare center-consoles with straight inboard power and a good-looking, outboard-free transom. The advantages, aside from aesthetics, are fuel efficiency, simplicity, easier wiring and rigging runs, and especially a low center of gravity, concentrated amidships.

The Vanquish is also made with modern materials and methods — vinylester resin and closed-cell foam, vacuum-bagged to achieve a tight, light laminate. With that engine low and inside, the boat will cruise efficiently at about 28 knots.

The Vanquish 24
The Vanquish 24
The Hydrasports 4200 Siesta carries side-by-side vertical ports to starboard -- a nice design feature, both  good-looking and practical.
The Hydrasports 4200 Siesta carries side-by-side vertical ports to starboard — a nice design feature, both good-looking and practical.

Verticality

The bigger the center-console, the smaller the problem of headroom under the console itself. Still, Hydrasports really addresses the subject well in their 4200 Siesta, a big, beefy offshore boat that can be powered by a bunch of different outboard configurations. There’s well over six feet of headroom  (more like seven) and a nice aesthetic touch is the two big side-by-side opening ports in the starboard side of the console, opposite the door. They’re oriented vertically  instead of being stacked, which is a great look both inside and out, and probably lets in more light than two stacked ports would. The designers also added plenty of warm-looking wood surfaces to relieve the sterile, glossy white gelcoat look that’s common under most consoles.

The Hydrasports 4200 Siesta
The Hydrasports 4200 Siesta

A Studio Apartment

Once a boat gets big enough you can put just about anything you want inside. When Everglades pushed the center-console envelope wih their new 435 CC they went to an LOA of almost 45 feet, including the quad Yamaha 300- or 350-hp engines. They built in 570 gallons of fuel tankage to run those engines.

The sub-console cabin on the Everglades 435 CC is big enough for a convertible queen-sized berth, a galley, and a head. Note the opening ports for light and ventilation.
The sub-console cabin on the Everglades 435 CC is big enough for a convertible queen-sized berth, a galley, and a head. Note the opening ports for light and ventilation.

Then they added quite a bit of premium-quality kit in terms of hardware, fishability, and navigation gear. And when it was time to fit out the space under the console they really went to town, with a full convertible queen-sized bunk, a galley, and a head with a shower and a lighted partition. To  cherry-pick just a few of the items in the standards list, there’s air-conditioning, a 19″ flat-screen TV with DVD, a porcelain toilet, a refrigerator, hot and cold running water, and a microwave. And living conditions aren’t even the main focus of this boat — fishing is. (For another example of belowdecks amenities that can be dialed up once a center-console gets seriously big, also see the new Boston Whaler 420 Outrage.)

The Everglades 435CC
The Everglades 435CC
The addition of a wide, narrow window over the bunk on the Chris-Craft Catalina 34 is a stroke of design genius.
The addition of a wide, narrow window over the bunk on the Chris-Craft Catalina 34 is a stroke of design genius.

Lux and Luxury

Chris-Craft has been making some really gorgeous boats in recent years, including their line of Catalina center-consoles, which represent a bit of a departure from the “fish-or-die” mentality of most center-console builders and buyers. The Catalinas can fish just fine, but you’ll be angling in higher style and luxury than most, and it’s safe to say you won’t see many of them spattered with fish guts.

The biggest boat in the line is the Catalina 34.  Many of the conditions and functions under the 34’s console are on a par with those in boats over 40 feet, but where the Chris-Craft really shines is in the light, the lux, the lumens let in. There’s a large window opposite the console door and an opening port at the foot of the queen-sized bunk, but the best move was the inclusion of a wide, narrow window low in the forward face of the console, right above the sunpad outboard and the bunk inboard. That the sort of clever, unusual design move that keeps Chris-Craft styling at the front of the pack.

The Chris-Craft Catalina 34, also shown at the top of the article.
The Chris-Craft Catalina 34, also shown at the top of the article.

 

Cobia 296 listings on BoatTrader

Vanquish 24 listings on BoatTrader

Hydrasports 4200 Siesta listings on BoatTrader

Everglades 435 CC listings on BoatTrader

Chris-Craft Catalina 34 listings on BoatTrader

 


 

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