New Small Boats Deliver Big Fun

By Rich Armstrong

Who says bigger is better? This fleet of powerboats 26 feet and under is packed with cruising, watersports, and lots of fishing excitement.

You don't need a yacht to have a blast on the water. We found eight powerboats no bigger than 26 feet that are sure to make you smile. Some are for fishing, some just cruising, but all are designed to deliver an outstanding day on the water.

Boston Whaler 230 Outrage

Boston Whaler 230 OutrageLength: 23'0" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 5,548 lbs. | Max Persons: 10 | Max HP: 350 | Fuel: 110 gal. | MSRP: $133,000

The 230 Outrage is the baby of the Boston Whaler Outrage line of center-consoles at just 23 feet, but its layout makes for a bigger-feeling boat. The expansive bow area includes wraparound forward seating for three as well as a two-person forward-facing seat in front of the console that also serves as a storage compartment. The 230 makes a nice daycruiser, but anglers will appreciate the integrated fiberglass hardtop option, rod holders throughout the cockpit, and port-side transom livewell. A converting leaning post serves as a bench helm seat with flip-down workstation. A 225-hp Mercury Verado outboard is standard with an option of twin 115-hp Mercury FourStrokes. bostonwhaler.com

Regal 2500 RX Surf

Regal 2500 RX SurfLength: 26'3" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 5,500 lbs. | Max Persons: 8 | Max HP: 380 | Fuel: 74 gal. | MSRP: $96,985

Wake surfing qualifies as something of a thing, and the Regal 2500 RX Surf joins the growing fleet of wake-sports boats. The boat combines wave-shaping tabs, 2,000 pounds of ballast, Volvo's Forward Drive outdrive, and the patented RegalVue console touchscreen display to help the skipper create and control the size and shape of the waves, depending on the skill of the surfer. Versatile transom seating converts to four positions, including reversible UltraLounges that make the swim platform a social scene. A PowerTower automated bimini top adds to the luxury. Power options include 300-, 350-, or 380-hp Volvo V-8 engines. regalboats.com

Sea Ray SLX-W 230

Sea Ray SLX-W 230Length: 23'10" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 5,525 lbs. | Max Persons: 13 | Max HP: 370 | Fuel: 53 gal. | MSRP: $109,840

Wake-sports boats are a hot niche for millennials, hot enough that venerable Sea Ray has entered the wake-surf market with its new SLX-W 230. A MerCruiser 370-hp 6.2L ECT TowSport V-Drive Inboard propulsion system generates remarkable wake-shaping capabilities, but the boat is also designed for daycruising. Unlike traditional wake boats, the SLX-W 230 features a deep-V hull design, joystick piloting capability, a submersible swim step, a Dynamic Display touch screen for wake and speed control, and a standard watersports tower. The fully integrated joystick control utilizes the engine and a bow thruster to make maneuvering easier. searay.com

Yamaha 212 Limited S

Yamaha 212 Limited SLength: 21'3" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 3,598 lbs. | Max Persons: 10 | Max HP: 400 | Fuel: 50 gal. | MSRP: $52,999

Jet-boat pioneer Yamaha introduced its 212 Series of sport boats, including the 212 Limited S runabout with – wait for it – standard joystick maneuverability. The line also includes Yamaha's Connext touch-screen helm-control system that integrates the boat's entertainment, operation, and system-monitoring systems. The boat features Yamaha's Articulating Keel, which moves and tracks in relation to the boat's jet-pump nozzles to provide directional stability and maneuverability. A forward-swept aluminum watersports tower adds sleekness to the design. Besides bow and cockpit seating, two rear-facing cushion seats make for a comfortable swim platform. Twin Yamaha 1.8-liter high-output engines get the boat on plane fast. yamahaboats.com

Monterey M4

Monterey M4Length: 23'10" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 4,500 lbs. | Max Persons: 8 | Max HP: 350 | Fuel: 50 gal. | MSRP: $54,837

Nimble and sporty best describes Monterey's M4, the smaller model in the M Series lineup of deckboats at just under 24 feet. The M series marks a return for Monterey to the outboard market (CAT Merc Bravo III, 250 hp). The spacious boats are all about enjoying cruising and watersports in comfort. A standard wet bar is sized just right for preparing a drink or a quick snack. An enclosed head compartment is located behind the port-side dash. Optional bow filler cushions turn the bow seating into a spacious sun pad. Transom seating faces both fore and aft, perfect for lounging at the swim platform. montereyboats.com

Chris-Craft Calypso 26

Chris-Craft Calypso 26Length: 26'6" | Beam: 8'6" | Weight: 6,850 lbs. with twin engines | Max Persons: 8 | Max HP: 400 | Fuel: 154 gal. | MSRP: $141,580

Chris-Craft's Calypso 26 dual console is a teak-accented luxury daycruiser. And when you find that perfect spot to drop anchor, it converts to an entertainment space for eight. Seating folds down to add space, and a kitchen area aft includes a refrigerator, sink, and an optional grill. A removable cockpit table allows all on board to gather for a meal. Overhead, a sturdy sunshade with extendable fabric panel protects from the weather and rays. A fishbox aft and rod storage add to the versatility. Engine-package options include twin Mercury or Yamaha 200s, or a single 350-hp outboard. chriscraft.com

Scarab 195 Open Fish

Scarab 195 Open FishLength: 18'10" | Beam: 8'0" | Weight: 2,730 lbs. | Max Persons: 9 | Max HP: 250 | Fuel: 31 gal. | MSRP: $32,348

The Scarab 195 Open Fish is a versatile jet boat that can handle towing sports or casual angling. One cool feature is a drop-down tailgate transom, like on a pickup truck, which makes for a great swim platform or stable deck to cast a line. Scarab packed a lot inside this 18-foot, 10-inch hull, with a spacious center-console with T-top, plenty of casting deck space fore (with optional pedestal seat) and aft that converts for sun lounging, and even an enclosed porta-potty. A 250-hp Rotax two-stroke inboard gets it up on plane fast. scarabjetboats.com

Rossiter 20 Coastal Cruiser

Rossiter 20 Coastal CruiserLength: 20'6" | Beam: 8'3" | Weight: 5,102 lbs. | Max Persons: 7 | Max HP: 150 | Fuel: 70 gal. | MSRP: $65,000 (with 150-hp outboard)

Rossiter started building rowboats in 1974, but 10 years ago began building semicustom powerboats from 14 to 23 feet. This niche builder's 20 Coastal Cruiser is the latest, designed for comfortable daycruising with seating for nine. A large helm console delivers ample room for electronics (up to an 11-inch screen), and a double-wide helm seat with flip-up bolster for either sitting or standing. A spacious cockpit features wraparound seating. The boat has more than 58 cubic feet of dry storage for stowing excess gear. The deep-V hull gets the boat on plane quickly, and with a 150-hp outboard (Mercury or Yamaha), speed tops out in the low 40s. rossiterboats.com 

— Published: August/September 2017


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