Issue: October/November 2005
During the run up to the Sydney International Boat Show 2005, things got pretty hectic for boating writers.
Why ? Because most of the boats due for testing were being readied for the show and it seemed there was no way I was going to meet my deadlines. The only solution was to work on Sunday. So, during drinks with a few mates on Saturday night I was forced to knock back the last shout, stating that I had to work the next day. I got a bit of sympathy from the guys, until they found out I was taking the kids along for a Sunday cruise on Sydney Harbour in a rather flash looking imported sport cruiser.
It's not often your mates want to come to work with you for free on a Sunday. Sorry boys, but this is serious business! Midweek we always struggle for extra crewmembers, but not on such a perfect Sunday in such a hot new boat. Neil Solomon and Vaughan Blackman, from Avante Marine, rounded up a crew and at one stage, we had eight onboard. A Sunday trip on the harbour is by far the best way to test a vessel of this style, because leisurely Sunday cruises are what this boat does best.
Bayliner is part of the massive US Brunswick Corporation that produces among others, Boston Whaler, Maxum, Sea Ray and Meridian Cruisers. All of these boat manufacturers run their own ship and build their independent models, but Bayliner's claim to fame is building value-for-money performance runabouts and sports cruisers. The 325 Sport Cruiser is new for 2005 and heads Bayliner's fleet of some 10 cruiser models.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The test vessel is powered by twin 6.2lt DTS Horizon 320hp MerCruiser sterndrives. Flat out with five adults onboard the GPS nudged 35 knots and the 325 delivered a good range of cruise speeds between 19 and 27 knots. Like any perfect Sunday it was pretty hectic on Sydney Harbour and in such conditions no one wants to be worrying about the trim of a vessel.
Fortunately, the Bayliner 325's ample beam means the trim tabs need little attention, even when the onboard-weight distribution gets a bit uneven.
In tight turns this 5000kg vessel shows little desire to drop off the plane and the rig feels as though she can handle a lot more work from the helm and still perform impeccably.
The 325's engine room is one of the biggest I have seen on a craft of this size. It's made possible by the hull's high topsides, which create extra volume down below. There is plenty of room around each of the twin 6.2lt MerCrusier engines to carry out daily maintenance and regular servicing. There's even a bit more room left over for extra storage.
The vessel literally hit the water for the first time on the test day and the tacho was not calibrated, so a few of the recorded speed-to-rpm readings are estimates.
The Bayliner 325's high topsides keep passengers and crew dry and create a cavernous interior. You have to climb down a ladder into this boat's saloon, which is extremely roomy.
The main cabin is big and open plan, featuring a settee that wraps around the bow region, creating seating for eight. The galley is on the starboard side. It is equipped with a dual-voltage fridge, a twoburner electric stove, a microwave and a porthole, so the cook can see the water while preparing the evening meal.
Behind the stairs is a large double aft berth with a dressing seat and hanging locker and drawers. This cabin also provides access to the vessel's airconditioning system.
The test boat's 6Kva Kohler generator produces enough power to run the airconditioning, fridges and the LCD TV.
The head is also conveniently located close to the stairs and features an electric toilet and hot shower. One of the standout features in this deep cabin is the tremendous amount of natural light that floods into the saloon through the side portholes and deck hatches.
On this perfect Sunday we spent most of our time in the helm and aft cockpits. There are twin seats at the helm, a curved seat on the opposite side for the navigator and a large, L-shape lounge aft. These areas are serviced by a wet bar with fridge and music system. The easy-access swim platform is of a good size and has the usual handheld shower plus a hefty storage area that could handle a rolled-up inflatable or a load of fenders.
If you need to go forward to the bow, steps in the dash lead through the opening windscreen, or you can traverse the side walkways around the cabin. Once forward the deck is level, making it easy to just stand around. It gives the boat another entertaining area when she's at rest.
The popular sun pad has plenty of drink holders. Like most American boats, they are everywhere.
The helm station offers good visibility to all quarters and features comprehensive engine instrumentation and controls. At a glance there's gauges for fuel, speed, oil, tacho and leg trim.
Easy-to-read switches control everything from trim tabs, blower and horn, to anchor windlass and the spotlight.
Bayliner aimed to create a large volume boat with all the goodies and it has delivered on all fronts. The price as tested was around the $275,000 mark.
For that you get air-conditioning, a generator, five berths and plenty of room to entertain up to 10 people in extremely comfortable surroundings.
The canvas bimini covers make the cockpit usable in most conditions and the hull has a Vinylester skin coat to stop osmosis. This is backed by a transferable limited five-year hull warranty.
All of these features, coupled with a good turn of speed, ensure that anyone looking for a sport cruiser will be more than pleased with this new-release Bayliner 325. Packages start at $249,590.
In recent years, the name Bayliner has become synonymous with the supply of quality, value-for-money boats to the Aussie market. The 325 Sport Cruiser is no exception.
New for 2005, the Bayliner 325 is one of the best value boats in its class, combining a spacious cockpit and cabin with well-thought-out arrangements for both entertaining and overnighting. According to the team at Avante Marine, as other brands come and go, Bayliner continues to set the pace with innovative designs and the latest in marine technology. Bayliners have more space in the bow, more legroom, a larger cockpit and wider interiors than most other boats. The Avante Marine Group imports Bayliner boats into Australia. It has dealers in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, WA and TAS.
The Bayliner 325's engine room is one of the biggest I have seen on a vessel of this size. The twin 6.2lt MerCruisers have plenty of room around them, which makes it easy to carry out regular servicing and daily maintenance.
On a perfect winter Sunday on Sydney Harbour the 325 produce the following performance figures: 4.8 knots @ 1200 rpm, 7.7 knots @ 2000rpm, 19 knots @ 3500 rpm, 23 knots @ 4000 rpm, 27 knots @ 4500 rpm, 35 knots @ 5000 rpm.
BEAM: 11' 6"
DEADRISE: 18 degree
DRAFT: 3" 4'
CLEARANCE: 10" 6'
CAPACITY: 12 people
HOLDING TANK: 114lt
+ High freeboard. Good-sized aft cabin
' Tacho not calibrate