BOAT TEST: MONTEREY 234FSX

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD, Photography by: ELLEN DEWAR


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The Monterey 234FSX is a top of the range model with the panache and grunt that promotes it above the rabble. David Lockwood reports.

BOAT TEST: MONTEREY 234FSX
MONTEREY 234FSX

 

FROM THE ARCHIVE: First published in TrailerBoat #220, Aug 2007

 

 

YOU SEXY THANG!


Like many southerners averse to winter, I winged it north to the sunny Gold Coast to muck about on the signature, sun-drenched, sparkling waterways. Far from all beer and skittles, however, my schedule involves driving 11 new boats before they made a splash at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show then embarking on four days cruising the inshore waterways.
The first five days of this demanding assignment began by applying liberal amounts of sunscreen to the face, pulling on the shades and a tightly fitting peaked hat, and playing nautical hopscotch. Many of the boats trailerBOAT tested were the breed known as dayboats, designed for nothing more than, what else, zooming around the enclosed waters in agreeable weather. Perfect one day, indeed.
From the Gold Coast, I ranged as far north as Crab Island, as far south as Surfers Paradise and scooted along myriad sandy channels, canals, rivers, and lapped islands and popular anchorages such as those at Wave Break. But even just running around with the wind in my hair was a pleasant enough experience in some of these pleasure-seeking dayboats.
The enjoyment factor was certainly a highlight of Monterey's new eye-catching 234FSX. Following a comparison in this magazine some summers ago, the Montereys have always impressed. Good value for money, a great finish, a little extra by way of fittings and fitout, and well-considered ergonomics and a bang-free ride count for plenty.
The 234FSX is also a beamy trailerboat - 2.60 metres wide, which means you will probably need a permit to tow it - with a lot more bling and buzz than your stock Monterey bowrider. With a 300hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI sterndrive leg, the boat is good for almost 50mph and its not unhappy carving a grippy path through the bends thanks to the Bravo 3 sterndrive leg with counter-rotating stainless steel props.
However, the 234FSX is bound to attract attention for reasons other than its sporty performance. The top-of-the-range Monterey includes as standard such things as upgraded stainless steel deck gear and above-waterline through-hulls, solid stainless steel-framed windscreen, custom upholstery, deck shower (albeit cold only), and a dash with real panache.
With the optional Corsair Quick and Quiet switchable straight-through exhaust, the supplied look-at-me groovy graphics, a black hull - like the Ford Model T the FSX comes only in black - plus the standard-issue upgraded Sirius stereo with sub-woofer (not to mention the AC/DC CD), the dashing dayboat commanded attention from this crew and the spectator fleet looking on from afar.
More than once we scored the thumbs up from fellow boaters as we cracked the exhaust bypass and blew them a sweet note while cruising the Gold Coast's not-so-broad Broadwater. A cursory wave, a plant of the throttle, and before you could say Jack Flash we were touring some other honey hole during our demanding undertaking. Apply some more sunscreen, sip a cold drink, and do it all again.

 

 

MONTEREY MAKES WAVES


It's testament to the fact that, since the badge first made a serious splash here just two years back, and in a crowded American bowrider market, Monterey has established itself. I haven't heard of any quality-control issues or unhappy customers and, well, I'm still coming away going in print saying as much. The mouldings look very fair as well.
Construction isn't anything out of the ordinary, but the solid handlaid GRP hull with fibreglass stringers and full liner is backed by a lifetime warranty. Deck gear is through bolted, of course, and there's plenty of it to please the saltwater dayboater.
In the wide, deep, accommodating and comfortable bow seating area I note a decent anchor well, a bow ladder for disembarking at a beach for a swim or picnic, trick pop-up stainless steel cleats for swinging fenders or rafting up, an underseat icebox and storage space lined with vibration-dampening rubber mats, speakers for the big sound system, stainless steel drinkholders and grabrails, and lots more like, say, an infill to turn the area into a second sunpad. All good stuff.
The walkthrough door to the cockpit has an air-dam door that you can close to keep the chill at bay when cruising in winter. Purely for looks, the Taylor Marine windscreen has a thick stainless steel top but black frame and matching drinkholders.
Going one step further the boat boasts significant dry storage and a WC holds behind the captain's and co-pilot's dashes. Fully lined, the area behind the helm harbours - in dedicated clips - the boat's cockpit lunch table and bow infill with plenty of room to spare for picnic and watersports gear, plus storage nets for personal effects, rope hangers, rubbish bin and so on.
The co-pilot's dash, which has a glovebox and grabrail, swings away to reveal a changeroom with Sanipotti. Though you're never going to get a lot of room in a 24-footer, you can indeed pull on the bikini and use the loo without cracking your head even if I did have to imagine as much. The space also doubles as useful dry storage.
The interior moulded liner was finished with a rubber-backed clip-out carpet and it had the usual rubber-lined wakeboard and ski locker. But it's the seating that's the highlight in the broad cockpit that really makes the most of the 2.60-metre beam.

 

 

KICKING BACK IN THE COCKPIT


Canopy up or down, the cockpit is made for cruising and kicking back in the sun or shade. But unlike a lot of bowriders the overhead bimini is full height, allowing you to trounce through the boat without unwilling decapitation.
The twin helm seats swivel aft and the U-shaped lounge, whose upholstery is definitely a cut above, is good for four people. Assemble the moulded table and you have a great family setting to tear apart some chickens and down a few salads.
A portable cooler is supplied with the boat, along with trick courtesy lights and plenty of storage under the lounge and in sidepockets.
Removing some padded lounge sections and a lifting up of the aft sunpad cushion creates a walkthrough transom. The sunpad is inviting of a couple and traced by a reassuring stainless steel rail.
The extended boarding platform is big enough to sit on, with a deep-reach swim ladder, deck shower and a wet locker for togs, mask and snorkel, and so on.
The engine bay is a beauty, too, the sunpad lifting on twin stainless steel struts and revealing heaps of servicing space around the V8, as well as dedicated storage space off to the sides of the motor. All lines to the 234lt fuel tank are double clipped, while the water tank holds a useful 34lt for your end-of-day spray.

 

 

CRUISING THE GOLDIE


Without wanting to sound conceited, the 234FSX is an image-enhancing boat. The sporty bowrider stands out from the pack including the motley fleet moseying around the Gold Coast's waterways during our tour of duty.
The dash before me, all silver and sporty, has a full spread of easily read rebadged Faria gauges, numerical depth sounder, compass, stereo remote and iPod jack, plus tilt wheel and Quick and Quiet exhaust switch, which I'm itching to flick.
Featuring a so-called air-assist hull with a pretty sharp 20 degrees of deadrise, the 234FSX planed with full in-trim at 2300rpm and 8.2kts. However, it wasn't until 2600rpm that the boat and motor produced a level and smooth low-speed cruise of 16.5kts.
Responsive to the trim tabs and leg trim, I freed-up the boat by lifting both appendages and advancing the throttle to 3000rpm. There I found a good-natured smooth family cruise of 22.4kts.
But with plenty of mumble from the 350 MAG MPI, cruise was best at 3500rpm and 28kts against the tide, and up to 30.1kts with it and a touch more leg-out trim.
Climbing up the tacho, I clocked 33 to 34kts at 4000rpm, 37 to 38 knots at 4500rpm and a top speed of anywhere between 41 and 43.6kts depending on the run. It's at these higher rev ranges that I let rip with the Quick and Quiet exhaust, which sounded a sweet note and gave an extra 100rpm at WOT and few more knots to boot.
In respect of the ride, my notes read: extra quiet, smooth, sporty, fun with Quick and Quiet, great through the bends… a sexy Gold Coast boat and bowrider.
So long as the weather is right, all you need is a boat like this, some water-loving family and/or friends, lunch, a few litres of fuel and a suitable CD or iPod playlist. Recipe for a great day afloat, especially on the Gold Coast in early winter.

 

 

WHAT WE LIKED


Yankee bowrider with a fitout and finish that's a cut above the pack
Sporty styling and great handling
Sweet-sounding V8 with switchable exhaust
Plenty of boat for your buck
A ride that's reassuringly smooth over rough water
Human factors, space and seating are all great
Overall great package designed to win friends and influence people

 

 

NOT SO MUCH


A big, wide boat to tow, probably needing a permit in most states
Graphics and trim will take some maintenance and careful berthing
Cold-water only deck shower
A busy resale market for preloved bowriders

 

 

 

Specifications: Monterey 234FSX

 

 

HOW MUCH?


Price as tested: $89,900 w/ 350 MAG MPI MerCruiser, options but no trailer
Options fitted: FSX is a top-of-the-range Monterey and the only option on the standard Australian package appearing on the test boat was the Captains Call switchable exhaust
Priced from: Approx $86,300 w/ above specifications but sans Captains Call switchable exhaust

 

 

GENERAL


Material: Handlaid GRP or fibreglass hull and stringers
Type: Deep-vee planing hull
Length overall: 7.33m including swim platform
Beam: 2.60m
Deadrise: 20°
Weight: Approx 2042kg (dry) w/ standard engine
Towing weight: Approx 2800kg to 3000kg

 

 

CAPACITIES


Fuel: 234lt
Water: Approx 34lt
Berths: Two couples on sunpads
People: 10 to 12

 

 

ENGINE


Make/model: MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI
Type: Fuel-injected V8 petrol four-stroke inboard
Rated HP: 300 at 4600rpm to 5000rpm (max)
Displacement: 5.8lt
Weight: Approx 463kg
Gearboxes (make/ratio): Bravo 3 sterndrive
Props: Stainless steel counter-rotating

 

 

SUPPLIED BY:


Squadron Boat Sales Gold Coast,
Hope Island Resort Marina, Santa Barbara Road,
Hope Island, QLD, 4212
Phone: (07) 5514 200
Websites: www.squadronboatsales.com.au; www.montereyboats.com

 

 

WORDS David Lockwood PHOTOS Ellen Dewar


Originally published in TrailerBoat #220

Find Monterey boats for sale.

 


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