When Caravelle's 217 was originally rolled out, we thought it was one of the better buys for a sport boat its size. It, like all Caravelles, is made with no wood — anywhere — so longevity makes it a more promising investment. What we like just as much as the firm foundation is what goes on it. The transom walkthrough, boarding ladder on the bow and swim platform are standard. The boat is ready to use right out of the shrink-wrap.
But Caravelle's designers saw another opportunity with the 217. Its quickness out of the hole (3.6 seconds to plane in our test) and the way it sticks to a low planing speed with minimal effort from the driver play right into a role as a wakeboard boat. Credit the XPV hull, where the running surface is extended farther back so the boat falls onto plane faster and stays there easier. That's the case with or without the Wakeboard Edition extras — tower, board racks and upgraded sound system — but that package only maximizes the boat's value.
Our test boat also came with the optional Perfect Pass speed control. Any driver can punch in a speed and know it will remain constant with a skier or rider in tow, allowing the driver to concentrate on running a nice straight track. We wouldn't compare the 217 with a more cost-prohibitive inboard ski boat. This, instead, has the qualities that stern-drive owners relish (affordability, easy maneuvering around docks and open interior spaces), with towboat features built in for active weekends.
Key Note: The flashy exterior is eye candy on a solid no-wood boat, with the wakeboard package adding to the possible uses.
• Using the tower racks for wakeboards will keep the in-floor storage compartment available for other carry-on gear.
• Big, molded-in platform will be the popular place to spend time when the boat's at rest.
• Storage compartments under the bow seats and in the consoles are carpeted to keep gear from getting nicked.
* Length Overall: 21'5"
* Beam: 8'6"
* Dry Weight: 3,400 lb.
* Fuel Capacity: 36 gal.
* Maximum HP: 300
* MSRP (Wakeboard Edition w/ MerCruiser 5.0L MPI): $42,314
* NMMA Certified: Yes
* Test Engine: MerCruiser 5.0L MPI
* Test Prop: 19-pitch Alpha
* Test Load: People (580 lb.); Fuel (36 gal.)
* Minimum Planing Speed: 17.5 mph @ 2,400 rpm
* Top Speed: 48.9 mph @ 4,900 rpm
* Time to Plane: 3.6 sec.
* Time to 30 MPH: 9.3 sec.