Bayliner have stuck to their laurels by delivering a performance craft, a bit lighter on features, which enables it to offer her at a budget conscious price under the $60,000 mark.
Bad weather, tight deadlines and simple annoying things such as a boat being in the wrong place at the wrong time, often hamper the best efforts of our team to produce these boat reviews. For this test everything was set like clockwork the Sydney boat show had just ended, the weather was perfect and people were queuing to get their hands on one of these new release 2004 Bayliner boats. Avante Marine had set a window of several days for us to get out on the 225 and put her through the ropes. But then the dreaded lurgy attacked. It got me bad the mid winter bug had me off my feet for days to the point where I could hardly make myself a cup of tea.
You can imagine my wife's face when I groaned out of the bed half green and half blue and announced Oh, by the way, I'm off to do a boat test?. NO WAY JOSE! All was confirmed when the Doctor called up to explain that the X-rays revealed a good dose of bronchial pneumonia one small reason not to go boating! Nevertheless, in the end it all worked out OK. You see Bayliner had so many enquires about its models during the boat show that the powers that be declared the first weekend after the show at Berowra waters as an open demo day for all the potential customers.
They were pretty much run off their feet preparing all the craft for the big weekend, so the delay gave us all a bit of breathing space. Eventually, we met up at the Drummoyne/ Port Jackson launching ramp on a crisp Friday morning and we were anxious to finally put this hefty harbour boat through its paces. The day turned out to be perfect for a review on this type of craft, because conditions changed during the test from smooth to sloppy. The mixed conditions demonstrated that this large open bowrider had the bones of a solid harbour boat, and she?s more than capable of handling a sizable chop, but still able to keep her passengers dry.
Some Brunswick craft of this size, such as the Sea Ray 220, offer a small enclosed head and wet bar; however, Bayliner have stuck to their laurels by delivering a performance craft, a bit lighter on features, which enables it to offer her at a budget conscious price under the $60,000 mark. If you were in the market for a craft with more creature comforts, Bayliner have also just released the 249 deck boat? that has the same beam as the 225, but with more length that allows a sink and a head/changing area to be installed. Starting aft, the Bayliner 225 has a wide swim platform with built-in ladder and deck wash. Next is the aft sun pad/engine hatch then saloon-style seating with an easily stowed drinks table that can also be used forward with the bow seating.
For the driver there is an adjustable bucket seat and the wheel position can be fine-tuned. But it is worth noting that there was little need for any seat adjustment, because the helm offered good all-round visibility and for the average person it had a comfortable throttle/ steering position. Forward of the helm was bow seating for up to four passengers with grab handles and four more drink holders. There is an insert that allows this area to convert to another sun pad and the forward under seat area has a spot for the anchor. Overall, there was plenty of storage including over-sized side pockets, a selfdraining dash glove box, under seat storage and a cavernous underfloor area designed to fit wakeboards, skis and loads of extras stuff like humans!
You see, the floor hatch is held open by a hydraulic ram and while taking photos of the engine bay with the boat out of the water and hatch open I accidentally discovered that the underfloor storage area was large enough to fit a person in my size. Ouch! There was seating for 10 and enough well placed drink holders to keep the crowds happy. The 225 also comes with a cooler positioned under the aft seat, which will no doubt come in handy when the drinks are past around, while all listen to music coming from the multi-speaker sound system.
The helm bucket seat spins 360 degrees, which allows the driver to join in and socialise when at rest. At nighttime the cockpit lighting, focussed on the floor, adds to the mood and as a bonus the passengers seat turns into another sun pad. The helm features an array of instruments including speedometer, tachometer, trim gauge, voltmeter, fuel gauge, oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge. There are also switches for bilge, blower, horn, navigationlights and accessory outlet.
The functional sports steering wheel is kind of automotive, but overall the helm maintains a stylish feel aided by the use of classic silver analogue gauges. But it?s the performance of this 6.7m craft that really impressed. She was powered by the optional 300hp 5.7lt 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser driving through an Alpha I leg and spinning a 21' Black Max prop. Readings from my GPS revealed a comfortable cruise speed of 27.5 knots at 3200rpm and a fast cruise speed of 35 knots at 4000rpm.
At full stick with two onboard she wound out to around 45 knots, but with a properly run-in engine, a little bit of trim and air under the hull she might nudge even closer to 50 knots a good turn of speed for a 22 foot craft. More importantly, at all these speeds the 225 was well balanced, held a clear line in the turns and overall produced a soft and dry ride. Like a few of the craft I have tested lately, the trim gauge was a bit out of wack, so finding the best engine trim was a bit tricky. I am sure, with a little more time on the helm some sweet spots would easily be found.
From what I hear, demand for this style of craft is increasing, because there's not a great loss in speed and efficiency by moving up from say a 19 footer to the 22 footer, but the extras space and social potential really adds appeal. With a few teenage kids and their friends, it wouldn't take long for Dad to find himself behind the wheel of a well-laden craft.
The question for the boat builder is where do you stop with the features in a craft of this size Perhaps, the Bayliner KIS (keep it simple) principal works well to keep the boat within the reach of the average buyer.
The 225 Bowrider is clearly multifunctional and would work well as a slick open cruiser that's ideal for a bit of sunbaking and beach nudging, or alternatively as a sports platform that would kick up a decent wake for a bit of boarding action. This versatility should make the Bayliner 225 an appealing package within this increasingly popular price range.