BOAT TEST: BAYLINER 225 & 205 BOWRIDERS

By: David Lockwood


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Bayliners have a deserved reputation for providing uncomplicated boating pleasure, and as David Lockwood discovered, the company's 225 and 205 bowriders are no exception.

BOAT TEST: BAYLINER 225 & 205 BOWRIDERS
Bayliner 225 & 205 Bowriders

FROM THE ARCHIVES: First published in TrailerBoat #182, Aug 2004

 

 

There's an upside to Australia's seemingly eternal drought. Everyone, it seems, has been going boating. Buoyed by blue skies and an Indian summer, boating businesses from waterfront fuel bowsers to new-vessel dealers are basking in record turnover.

The flood of boats in drought conditions has resulted in plenty of choice for would-be buyers. I grabbed my newly boat-licenced partner for some fair-weather boating on a brace of Bayliner bowriders. The mainstream turnkey trailerboats are doing well in the current climate.

We hit the Hawkesbury River near Sydney on two separate weekends, arriving early and excited both times. Even my partner knows what a Bayliner is, as her brother once owned one. They're affordable, accessible, amenable boats for the masses.

 

 

BAYLINER FORMULA



The more you go boating in a Bayliner, the more you understand the virtues of the company's foolproof formula. These are the family cars, the turnkey boats of convenience for global waterways. But they aren't short on creature comforts.

Bayliners are mindful of kids as well as their captains. The latter enjoy predictable but sporty handling and are treated to trademark ergonomics at the helm; the former will find safe seating and a fair amount of stowage space.

Bayliner bowriders are high-volume boats with lots of flare or splayed decks, and a handy amount of freeboard to carry kids, their watertoys and lunch aboard.

While we didn't borrow nieces and nephews for the weekend drive, we entertained the thought. A couple of 6-10 year olds would be right at home on the 205 and 225. But, I must add, so too was my partner in her new roles of crew, captain and pleasure-boating cohort.

 

 

BAYLINER 225



We began with the 225 bowrider, which had an upgraded 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser engine. Our journey took us from Berowra Waters Marina to Brooklyn and back. Along the way, we whooshed around the river bends as though racing in the bridge to bridge. Well, almost.

I noted 57mph (96kmh) top speed on the groovy chrome-rimmed speedo, which was part of a matching spread of backlit Faria gauges recessed in a blue retro-looking race-car-like dash. The aircraft-type toggle switches and rocker switches were also illuminated and nice to use.

The upper section of the dash behind the windscreen is matt beige to reduce glare in the windscreen, which is clear,
so you get good views while boating behind shades. The boat has a tilt-adjustable sports wheel, helm pedestal seat that swivels and slides, and a throttle that falls to hand.

The boat's controls give Intuitive Driving Pleasure, or IDP - an inventive initialism coined by this writer this very minute! One doesn't need to worry about the co-pilot's comforts. He or she has a fixed double-width bench seat, whose backrest slides forward to create a big aft-facing sunlounge.

Seating also comes by way of a generous - albeit somewhat angular - U-shaped lounge in the cockpit.

The 225 can easily seat six to eight people. There is a moulded cockpit table and pedestal base that stows in a dedicated slot in the engine bay when not in use. Nice detail.

Up front, the boat has a lot of freeboard for carrying a couple of big kids, adults or tykes. There is plenty of storage under the seat bases and two hatches back under the windscreen for personals, handbags, towels and so on.

The 225 has a dedicated spot for stowing the anchor, which isn't a given on American made-for-the-lake boats. Among the other details I liked were big cleats for tying fenders, 12 drinkholders from bow to stern, nifty navigation and courtesy lights, padded internal coamings and plenty of grabs.

 



DESIGN & ERGONOMICS



Storage also exists in sidepockets in the cockpit, as well as underfloor in a large ski, wakeboard and wetsuit closet. A lift-out Igloo icebox comes standard. Fill it with ice, drinks and lunch and there's no need to take anything more aboard - although we couldn't resist bringing home five-dozen unopened Brooklyn oysters.

The wide boarding platform and swim ladder grant direct access to and from the water. Remove the padded section of the sunpad on the starboard side and you can walk in and out of the cockpit without damaging the décor. There's a handheld deck shower so you can hose away the saltwater after dips or ski runs.

The engine-bay lid lifts on gas struts and there is plenty of servicing room and additional stowage space beside the engine. The fuel-injected V8 300hp MerCruiser had a throaty exhaust note and quick throttle response. Its torque will suit waterskiing and wakeboarding on the river in more summery times.

A groovy aluminium tow tower is a factory-listed option. At 2500rpm (34kmh), the 225 has a steep wash for aerial sports, and the hull displays its efficiency by holding plane down to 2000rpm.

 



PERFORMANCE & HANDLING



At a comfortable cruising clip of about 38mph (65kmh) on the speedo and 3500rpm on the tacho, we reeled in the river miles while taking in the sights.

The windscreen does an admirable job of saving your eyes from watering, and protecting your noggin from the full force of - in our case - bracing winter air.

At fast cruise at 4000rpm and 44mph (75kmh) the boat was smooth, quiet and in control. We didn't have to shout to be heard, though the views fairly whistled past. Top speed of 55-57mph (93-96kmh) isn't to be sneezed at; yet the 225 remains easily steered and predictable. Sportsboating without white knuckles.

However, foremost the 225 is a family utility. Its wide 2.59m beam and low centre of gravity create a very stable platform at rest. There's a lot of deck and cockpit on which to hang out. This is something I did, adding the infill to the bow seating to create a sunpad up front.

Next, I tried on the full-width transom sunpad for size, but my partner had other ideas. She found the CD/stereo player, popped the cork on a piccolo of champagne, and danced on the decks to Robbie Williams while watching the sun go down. This is her idea of a fun day afloat, and it was great to see her enjoying herself.

As a place to watch the sunset, Muogamarra Point at the mouth of Berowra Waters is hard to beat. Before my very eyes the surrounding sandstone precipice turned a warm shade of yellow, then orange as the local birdlife winged it home, silhouetted against the big gold orb.

As a vessel to deliver such experiences, Bayliner's 225 is great. It's only vice was some chattiness across the wind waves - but there were just two of us, and with a full complement it will sit deeper and in the water. Some extra grabs around the longitudinal section of lounge in the cockpit would be useful. Drive-away packages from $53,490 are pretty good value.

 

 

BAYLINER 205



A fortnight later and I'm back at the helm of a Bayliner in Berowra Waters, only this time I leave the sleepy town of Brooklyn behind for a tour of the Hawkesbury's premier anabranch called Cowan Creek. The are seamless blue skies again, but ferocious westerly winds for the drive of the 205 bowrider.

While the 225 was a big boat, this 20-footer still has the necessary waterline length and load-carrying capacity to venture onto bays, harbours and to tackle the Hawkesbury, as we did, in a real blow. I guess there were gusts to 30kt-plus which, with an opposing tide, created some spectacular falls.

Once again, volume, freeboard, wide beam, a generous seating layout and nifty performance were key features of this Bayliner bowrider.

The 205 had a back-to-back seating and aft jump seats either side of the engine well for six-person cockpit capacity. Oh, and room for a couple of kids in the bow. But Sport Seating with twin pedestal helm seats and an aft lounge is an option.

For Aussie drivers, the 205 had an engine upgrade over the standard 4.3L 190hp offered to Americans. The local boat was fitted with a 5.0L MPI 260hp MerCruiser and Alpha One sterndrive. Top speed, according to Bayliner, is 53mph (90kmh). Top speed on my GPS was, err, 53mph. The speedo said 57mph.

As with most Bayliners, the 205 was sporty but easy to handle. The boat had sufficient trim range to button down the bow to the water for crossing the choppy sections of river. In fact, the boat was less skittish than the 225. However, while idling into a veritable rapid at too low a speed, my partner put water over the bow.

"Throttle up, trim in, now you've got it," I advised her. And at that point the 205 crossed the messy water with surprising aplomb. Beyond Brooklyn, in Cowan Creek, the quasi fjord afforded wonderful protection from the wind. The boat skated about the popular skiing waters and my partner now had a handle on trim. In fact, it was a wrestle to get the wheel back. Such is the confidence these little foolproof boats deliver.

 



RANCHO RELAXO


We pulled into Cottage Point and tied off fenders and mooring lines, again noting the nice big cleats. There was chilli and noodle seafood soup on the menu. It added fuel to our return journey.

There was no dancing about the decks, but we did try out the deck chairs.

The jump seats beside the engine were relocated to the same level as the padded engine-box lid. The resulting sunpad works, but only in still water. A better option for lounging was the two convertible back-to-back helm seats, which fold out to make daybeds.

The boat had a ski/wakeboard locker, sidepockets and various storage holds. The dash is the same racy number as the 225. The yawing distance between the helm and co-pilot seats is a result of the high-volume interior: it makes for great access from bow to stern seating.

The wide-beamed hull displayed its slippery nature by holding level plane down to 2000rpm and 12.2kt (23kmh). Low-speed cruise for traversing the white horses came in at 2300rpm and 19.1kt (36kmh). Elsewhere, the boat was in the groove at 3000rpm and 27.3kt (52kmh). Flat out we got 46.6kt (88.5kmh), which equates to 53mph.

Before the sun set on our outing, my partner noted that we had been boating for seven hours - most of it cruising. The 205 and 260hp 5.0L MPI MerCruiser motor were a nice, quiet combination. Only the promise of a bowl of hot soup gave cause to pull over.

She approved. As I said, these are the boats that deliver uncomplicated boating pleasure.

 

 

HIGHS


Uncomplicated turnkey packages
Good interior design and layout
Great performance with engine upgrades
Well-appointed boat for the money

 

 

LOWS


Rear lounges a little angular
Sunpad works only in calm conditions
225 a little nervous at very high speeds

 

 

 


SPECIFICATIONS - BAYLINER 205 & 225

 

 

Price as tested: $46,990 w/5.0L MPI; $55,990 with 350 MAG MPI
Options: Priced as turnkey factory-fitted boat with bimini covers, bow covers, infills, safety gear and registrations
Priced from: $46,990; $53,490 w/ 5.0L MPI petrol engine

 

 

GENERAL


Material: GRP fibreglass
Type: Moderate-vee planing hull
Length overall: 6.2m/6.71m
Beam: 2.44m/2.59m
Deadrise: 19/20°
Weight: About 1406/1528kg (dry w/ standard engine)

 

 

CAPACITIES


Passengers: 9/10 people
Fuel: 132/189lt
Water: 38lt on 225

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: MerCruiser 5.0 MPI/350 MAG MPI
Type: Eight-cylinder fuel-injected petrol
Rated hp: 260/300
Displacement: 5.0lt/5.7lt
Weight: About 450kg
Gearboxes (make/ratio): Alpha One
Props: Standard three-blade alloy

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Avante Marine, Silverwater,
tel (02) 9737 0727, Bayliner
Australia, Berowra Waters, NSW.
For your nearest Bayliner dealer,
tel (02) 9456 3200 or visit
www.bayliner.com.au

 

Find Bayliner boats for sale.

 


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