The Bayliner Ciera 2655 looks a lot smarter resting in the water than on a drystand in a big exhibition hall - her sporty American lines clearly shine through.
Issue: June 2002
The Bayliner Ciera 2655 is a vessel that would fit neatly into any manufacturer's stable of boats. Big enough to offer loads of features and comfort, but not so big that it precludes the bulk of the market because of its high price tag.
The first time I saw the Ciera 2655 was at the Sydney International Boat Show while I was half-heatedly shopping for a new boat. My wife was due to have our first baby and I wanted to ensure that the little tacker would be able to enjoy the pleasures of the sea.
So there I was sussing out the new 2655, because it satisfied all my requirements. Ease of handling on my own while the bubs is having a feed, but with enough creature comforts, including a microwave to heat up the bottle, to keep the new family happy. But I also wanted a spacious bathroom combined with big bunks below and loads of lounge areas in the cockpit to fulfil the rest of the requirement brief.
Boy was I tempted, but now that bubs is on the scene, and because there's a $126,000 price to get into this market, we finally settled on a new cot, high chair, changing table and boat for the bath - such is life.
So, I was already quite familiar with the Bayliner Ciera 2655 as the team met up with Greg Wright at the Berowra Waters Marina to examine this latest offering. The first thing I notice is that the Ciera looks a lot smarter resting in the water than on a drystand in a big exhibition hall - her sporty American lines clearly shine through. But because this is the first time I've had the chance to review a Bayliner, I have done a little investigating of my own.
It turns out that Bayliner is a US boat builder that started in the trade as a retailer in 1955. Bayliner now produce more than 30 models in three ranges starting at 16ft and ending on an impressive 57ft note.
The Bayliner Company is a subsidiary of the huge US Brunswick Corporation, which has a vast array of leisure businesses under its umbrella. Brunswick Corporation not only owns Bayliner, but Mercury, Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Maxum and Hatteras, to name just a few. The whole group employs around 22,000 people, which is big to say the least. So with such a long history and strong backing, there's little doubt Bayliner is here to stay.
Bayliner now use state-of-the-art, high-tech methods to make these boats employing - like many others - CAD. Then it produces the plugs for the moulds using a five-axis router. This means that every hull is an exact replica of the first.
But enough of the history lesson. Now we're heading toward Berowra Waters on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney, on what is rapidly becoming a perfect day for boating as the clouds beginning to clear.
Coming down the hill towards the river ferry we catch a glimpse of the marina and the boat we have come to test. Once on the docks, after a quick how do you do, Greg leads us straight to the boat. Clearing the moorings and the 4 knot zone, I almost knock Greg off his feet as I push the throttle forward. The throttle's a bit sticky - just needs a bit of adjustment. Below decks there is a caravan worth of accommodation, but the rig hops onto the plane easily.
The 300hp 350 Magnum MerCruiser is quietly burbling at around 3800rpm as we cruise down river at 55km/h (35mp/h). Not bag for a craft of this size. We can confirm that this Bayliner is a sprightly single-engine unit, particularly in the lower end. She is running a standard prop so experimenting with different sizes might yield better results in the top end.
One thing we have found over the years with some planing cruisers is that they can lose it a bit in the turns. But this one turns as if it's on rails and seems to have plenty of grunt. More than enough to fling a wakeboarder out on a whip, which is also quite pleasing.
The Ciera is packed with creature comforts both above and below decks. The Galley boasts a sink, dual electric/metho stove, icebox and dual voltage, so that you can enjoy the shore power back at the marina. The bathroom has lots of room, a hot shower, plus little touches like a shower curtain, so that the pump-out toilet doesn't get wet from excess spray from the shower. The 76lt water supply is adequate for a family overnight stay, but the team suggests carrying a couple of extra water containers for longer stretches aboard.
Aft cabin is under the cockpit. Although it's a bit claustrophobic, it has good ventilation through a window that opens into the cockpit. Another feature we like is the rubbish bin built into the steps leading below.
But the cockpit is where we spend most of our time and this is where Bayliner has done an extremely good job. There's room for four to relax in comfort around the helm area with more seating aft. On the port side there's a sun lounge that converted to a day bed. This might also be used as a night bed if a guest has a couple of vinos and really enjoys the good company.
The entire space is supplemented with features including drink holders, a transom door, outdoor speakers and cockpit lighting. There's even a detachable table for outdoors dining. And another bonus is the hot and cold cockpit shower.
At the helm there is plenty to play with. Instrumentation includes tacho, volt, oil, fuel, temp, 12V accessory outlet and trim gauge with trim control. All the Australian models come standard with the Advantage Pack of options, which includes a helm compass, adjustable steering, transom shower, carpets, shore power, canvas covers, digital depth gauge and VHF Radio. There's also controls for the electric windlass, but should you need to go forward to check the anchor, there is step access from the cockpit through a windscreen door to the bow area.
The test boat with all features mentioned in this story will set you back $126,000. But you can save about $3000 if you choose to power up with the 5.7lt 250hp MerCruiser.
The test boat is powered by a sprightly, small block 350 cu. in. 300hp, fuel injected MerCruiser through a single prop Bravo II sterndrive. On the day of the test maximum speed should have been a little higher, but a dirty hull slowed things down a bit. An ideal cruising speed is 35mph at around 3800rpm. Performance figures using the boat's instruments were: 28mph at 3200rpm; 35mph at 35mph; and 44mph at 4400 rpm max. Estimated fuel consumption is around 20 to 25lt per hour for a mixture of cruising speeds. Engine access is easy through the aft cockpit floor.
Story & Photos by Andrew Richardson