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Bayliner 265 Review
24th Apr 2011

As a family weekender you'd be hard pressed to find many boats that offer the same amount of interior space and features for similar money.

Issue: March 2003

In the last edition of Modern Boating we tested the latest Bayliner 285 sports cruiser. In that test write up, I began by giving readers an insight into the troubles we sometimes have doing these tests. Troubles such as boats not being delivered on time, or they are sold before we get a chance to test them. But more often than not bad weather is the main culprit.

I also wrote that if we mentioned the words chopper and boat test in the same breath, you could bet your last dollar not mine, because I want a new boat that we'd be assured lousy weather would stuff up the shoot. So you can imagine the team's delight when the helicopter photo shoot ' originally planned for the 285 test, but it fell through because of bad weather twice ' of the 265 came to fruition.

In fact, not only did the morning of the test dawn fine and sunny, but also offshore there was a solid 1.5m swell running, so we were able to really put this baby through her paces.

Like the Bayliner 285, the 265 is a stylish sports cruiser albeit 2' shorter than the 285 with an extra wide beam. And it's her wide beam, coupled with clever layout design, which produces a 26-foot boat that's almost as roomy below decks as a 28, or even some 30 footers. But more on that later.

During the test, the run from Berowra Waters down to the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, could only be described as a pleasant cruise. With the sterndrive leg trimmed out and the 265's deep-vee hull slicing through the calm water cleanly, she rode effortlessly with her bow well clear of the water. The hull responded instantly to even the slightest movement of the helm allowing us to throw this boat about like a ski boat.

Cruising along at 26 knots pulling 3800rpm, it was easy to hold a conversation as the magnificent Hawkesbury scenery flashed by. Obviously, the heavy insulation in the engine bay worked well, because even flat out, at around 4300rpm, the big V8 5.7lt EFI Magnum 350 MerCruiser sterndrive purred smoothly never causing us to raise our voices to be heard.

Down at the river's mouth there was an honest 1.5m swell rolling in, but Bayliner's Sequential Lift Hull handled the condition as if it was just wind chop. By hitting these rollers at 45 degrees we were able to maintain a planning speed of 16 knots without driving our tailbones through the floor.

I must admit I did take one wave across the bow, but that was when I hit one wave head-on, while having an in-depth planning conversation with the photographer in the helicopter circling overhead. That'll teach me not to pay attention. But even so, the hull's large down-turned chines and considerable flared bow forced the white water cleanly off to each side. We only got a few drops of windblown spray on the windscreen.

Heading further out to sea the 265 revelled in the conditions. She turned quickly and precisely between the swells belying her length and even when surfing down the face of waves showed no tendency to broach. The hull tracked straight at all angles to the sea and was able to maintain planing speeds of around 18 to 20 knots. We intentionally buried the bow into a couple of waves to determine the hull's response and it recovered quickly without flooding water into the main cockpit.

Back in the calmer waters of the Hawkesbury River we put the 265 up against our GPS and recorded the following speed to rpm readings: 4.4 knots at 1000rpm; 6.3 knots at 1500rpm; 7.6 knots at 2000rpm; 9.3 knots at 2500rpm; 16 knots at 3000rpm; 22.5 knots at 3500rpm; 26.6 knots at 4000rpm; and 30 knots at WOT.

This new Bayliner is no lightweight weighing-in at 2880kg, but with two adults and 318lt of fuel onboard the hull planed in three seconds and cruised effortlessly at 25.5 knots pulling 3800rpm.

The team was quite impressed by the overall performance of this vessel, but just as impressive was the overall layout and clever use of available space.

The main cockpit is quite spacious for a vessel of this style. Starting at the helm, the reversible driver's seat adjusts forward and aft, but is not height adjustable. The steering wheel tilts upwards to create more legroom when driving in the standing position, while all the Faria gauges remain clearly visible whether driving standing or seated.

This boat features a toughened glass wrap-around windscreen, which deflects wind up and over the main and aft cockpit giving driver and passengers a comfortable ride. The navigator's seat is also reversible and converts into a sun lounge when folded. It's the ideal place to soak up a few rays.

While not designed as a fishing boat, by removing the clip-in carpet in the aft cockpit and laying the rear transom lounge down, there is ample room here to accommodate a family of four for a spot of fishing. There is a hot/cold hand shower recessed into the port gunwale that can also be used as a deck wash to remove blood and slime from the deck after landing that big one.

Below decks the wide beam allows for a spacious saloon. The head and shower are to starboard and there's a fully featured galley to port. Across from the galley on the starboard side is a dinette that has a removable backrest and table. This links up with the forward bunk to make a large sleeping area capable of accommodating three adults.

Under the cockpit sole is the guests/children's cabin, which features a double bed and opening window. When lying on this bed the height of the ceiling above your legs is only about 3', but there's plenty of room above your head and chest so you won't feel claustrophobic.

A large hatch in the cabin roof and four large windows and two portholes flood the main cabin with light and ventilation. All the opening windows and hatches have insect screens, so you won't have to spend your nights battling with mozzies.

Like its sister ship the 285, sliding Perspex doors have been used for the cupboard above the sink in the galley and the medicine cabinet in the head. Obviously these are lighter than wood and help keep costs down, but don't pull on them too hard as they may bend and pull out of their tracks. This is not a fault, it's simply a one of the many cost saving features built into this vessel that help keep the Bayliner 265 more affordable.

In summation, like the larger 285, the Bayliner 265 sports cruiser's wider beam give much more cabin space than other vessels in her class. As a family weekender you'd be hard pressed to find many boats that offer the same amount of interior space and features for similar money.

So what's it going to cost you skipper a Bayliner 265' Around $127,990.

Engine Room

Engine: Magnum 350 MerCruiser
Horsepower: 300hp
Cylinders: V8
Displacement: 5.7lt
Induction: EFI
Engine Options: 220hp 5lt Alpha I sterndrive, 260hp 5lt MPI Bravo II sterndrive, 250hp 5.7lt Bravo III sterndrive
Batteries: One cranking, two house
Cruising Speed: 25.5 knots @ 3800rpm
WOT Speed: 30 knots
Time To Plane: Three seconds
Speed To RPM: 4.4 knots @ 1000rpm, 6.3 knots @ 1500rpm, 7.6 knots @ 2000rpm, 9.3 knots @ 2500rpm, 16 knots @ 3000rpm, 22.5 knots @ 3500rpm, 26.5 knots @ 4000rpm

Story by Ian MacRae, Photos by Andrew Richardson & Stephen Cooney

Tags: Bayliner

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