By: David Lockwood, Photography by: David Lockwood

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American boatbuilder Bayliner has added an extra 40 horses to its leaner 2008-model 205 Bowrider specifically for the Australian market, writes David Lockwood




Bayliner's new 2008-model 205 Bowrider - the boat driven hereabouts was the harbinger or first one to arrive in Australia - is a perfect example of the sum of the two parts being greater than the whole. Here's a bigger, better, smarter boat than its predecessors due to the fact it draws on the popular wisdom behind two quite different but wildly popular bowrider configurations.
A cross between the traditional bowrider boat-to-go and a wide-beamed deckboat, the 205 strives to be a crowd pleaser with even wider appeal. While the boat has a 2.43-metre beam, which is actually one centimetre narrower than the previous model, the clever internal deck mouldings create more useable cockpit space. And the deadrise has gone from 19 to 20 degrees, which on paper at least should help ride comfort.
The passenger capacity is still nine adults, however, there's now more room for stowing them and their inevitable rafts of gear. Realistically, though, this dayboat will be most agreeable with a maximum of, say, six crew. And with a V8 in the tail, the 20-footer still has excellent acceleration. By the way, engine access was among the best I've seen and it was an easy reach into the bilge as well.
Matched to a 260hp 5.0L MPI MerCruiser petrol inboard - the standard power in American is a 220hp 5.0lt engine - with Alpha One sterndrive, the 205 is good for more than 50mph, which is the American benchmark for a sporty boat.
The use of closed moulds for some components has led to weight savings, too. In fact, the latest 205 Bowrider is about 25kg lighter than last year's model, which can only be good for that eye-watering top-end speed.



Construction is best described as low-tech. Quite simply, the boat is fashioned from handlaid fibreglass, stiffened with box-beam stringers, topped with vinylester resin to prevent osmosis, and there's positive foam flotation. None of it is rocket science but, rather, time-proven manufacturing techniques from the world's biggest boatbuilder.
Backed by a lifetime structural hull warranty, the 205 Bowrider now has more luxurious vinyl upholstery, more stainless-steel fittings including trick new engine vents and a heavy-duty rubbing strip, composite seat bases to stop rot and, what appeared to my eye, an improved level of general trim for 2008.
Cockpit seating options range across a number of combos, including bucket helm seats with a built-in rear lounge or back-to-back seats and aft quarter seats whose base can be relocated alongside the padded engine box to create an aft sunpad.
Knowing a thing or two about the local market, the Australian importers bundle the 205 as standard with a bucket helm seat, a back-to-back co-pilot seat and the aft-quarter seats. This way, you maximise your seating capacity and cockpit floor space. The fixed rear lounge does take up a lot of room.



The beam on the 205 Bowrider has been carried well forward <I>a la<I> deckboat style, so there is a lot of reserve buoyancy for dealing with, say, a bumpy harbour and bay conditions. With the greater lift-up front there's little likelihood of shipping water when crossing boat wake when off the plane.
The bow seating area is broad enough to comfortably carry two adults or four screaming kiddies. Unlike early Bayliners, the 205 now has really good sturdy integrated stainless steel grabrails. There are also drinkholders dotted about the decks, plus four speakers for the upgraded waterproof Jensen stereo system with amp, oomph, and a handy dash-mounted mute button in case you need to be heard.
Full marks for the central underseat anchor locker in the bow, which has a non-skid lid so you can use it as a tread step. I also noted non-skid-topped gunwales tracing the cockpit to assist with disembarkation of crew at a wharf or during a raft-up with like-minded dayboaters.
As ever, there's storage under the bow seating bases, but also behind the padded backrests in the bow that lead to lined holds back under the helm and co-pilot consoles. To which you can add full-length sidepockets in the cockpit, a detail that's becoming a rarity on trailerboats these days, and a truly accommodating underfloor ski and wakeboard locker.
Ahead of the co-pilot is a lockable glove box that, with a new moulded divider, doubles as a deep icebox. The boat is plumbed with an overboard drain, of course but, best of all, the new 205 Bowrider has a transom boot for stashing wet gear, fishing tackle, mooring lines, fenders and so on.
The standard-issue boarding platform has been increased in size compared with previous models and there's a requisite swim ladder, ski-tow hook and, as touched on, you can create a sunpad by relocating the aft quarter seat bases.
However, the best daybed in the boat is the back-to-back lounger or the bow seating area with infill. At least that was the opinion of our crew who tested all the sun lounges during the course of a summer's day.
Last, but not least, the freeboard has been dramatically increased in the cockpit and, with deeper hull sides, this is a drier and safer boat for the young family. When anchored, meanwhile, you can remove the starboard seat to create a high-traffic companionway to and from the boat. This way, kids can swim off the transom and access the cockpit icebox without trashing the upholstery.




It's hard to fault the helm set-ups on mass-produced mainstream global boats like the 205 Bowrider. After all, if the world's biggest boatbuilder can't get that right then there's something amiss. I felt the bucket seat was nice and supportive and the sight lines were great through the wraparound safety-glass windscreen. The helm seat has a flip-up bolster so you can sit higher up for close-quarters manoeuvring, too.
There was a full spread of easy-to-read Faria analogue engine gauges on a low-glare grey dash, sans optional digital depth sounder, a nice spread of toggle switches, a sporty wheel, iPod jack and handy locker for holding the MP3 player and/or personal effects.
The 140lt fuel tank, up from 132lt on previous models, should suffice for a full day's boating with a break for lunch aboard or a picnic and play on the beach. Quiet bends in big rivers will serve this especially well.
With fuel and two crew, I advanced the throttle and found a willing hull that held a level low-speed plane of 10.2kts at 2000rpm. Skiing and boarding speeds or a nice gentle family cruise were clocked at 2500rpm and 19.5kts up to 3000rpm and 27.5kts. But much beyond here the boat was bouncy in what were, admittedly, choppy harbour seas.
Back on the calm, we recorded a high-speed cruise of 32.7kts at 3500rpm and 38kts at 4000rpm. No slouch, the 205 kept rocketing ahead to 43kts at 4500rpm and, eventually, a top speed of 45.7kts at 5000rpm on my GPS. Plenty fast enough.
However you look at it, the new 205 is a lot of bang for your buck. The hybrid bowrider has real family appeal, a nice mix of comforts, more room to move and lunch under the canopy, and sporty spice for skiing or wakeboarding and then high-tailing it back home.
Packaged with a tandem-axle American-made Karavan trailer, this 1950kg turn-key rig is also good buying at $55,000 as tested. Add fuel, ammo and ice and the summer-savvy bowrider is set for a big day afloat.



Uncomplicated turnkey package needs only fuel, ammo and ice
Improved interior design and layout for more space and storage
Much higher freeboard than before creates a safer and drier boat
Great performance with Australian-specified engine upgrade
Well-appointed rig for the money
Better attention to detail including a superior sound system
Good dealer network, service and support, and trade-in value



Aluminium and plastic struts on windscreen have been known to fail
Boat still bounces around in bumpy water despite a degree more of deadrise
Trailer isn't the best for harsh Australian conditions
The 2.59-metre wide towing rig takes up plenty of street or driveway space.




Specifications: 2008 Bayliner 205




Price as tested: $55,000 w/ 5.0L MPI
Options: Priced as a turnkey factory-fitted boat with bimini covers, bow covers, infills, safety gear and registrations
Priced from: As above.



Material: GRP fibreglass with foam flotation
Type: Moderate-vee planing hull
Length overall: 6.22m
Beam: 2.43m
Deadrise: 20°
Weight: Approx 1381kg (dry w/ standard engine)



Passengers: 9 adults
Fuel: 140lt
Water: BYO



Make/model: MerCruiser 5.0L MPI
Type: Eight-cylinder fuel-injected petrol
Rated HP: 260
Displacement: 5.0lt
Weight: Approx 450kg
Gearbox (Make): Alpha One
Props: Standard three-blade alloy



Avante Marine,
210-212 Silverwater Road,
Silverwater, NSW, 2128
Phone: (02) 9737 0727  PH: 1300 AVANTE (282683)



Originally published in TrailerBoat #227

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