REAL SLEEPER. It's safe to say that most mid-size, mid-cabins rarely stray far from home. Cabin boats of this length make dayboating comfortable, but overnights no more than do-able. Oh, there's some skiing and sightseeing along the way, but basically the boat turns the boring, backyard barbecue into a movable feast. As a result, builders often sacrifice tankage for stowage space, and ride-softening deep transom deadrise for the stability at rest that a flatter bottom can provide. Pretty good logic given the way most mid-cabins are used. But what if you want more from your 24-footer?
Thanks to a larger-than-most 90-gallon fuel tank, deep-V hull design and hefty, 5,250-pound displacement, the 240 Express has the range and ride to expand your horizons. Running in the Gulf of Mexico off Longboat Key, Florida, the Chris-Craft han-dled the 2' swell and crossing chop kicked-up by the stiff, afternoon breeze with aplomb, tracking straight and pound-free at 30 mph. The reverse chine did an admirable job of de-flecting spray, although we did ship a little due to the windward lean that caused the boat to land askew when coming off waves; had the test boat been equipped with the optional trim tabs ($482), it would have been easy to correct for this condition, one that's characteristic of deep-V hulls running across the wind. Preventing my calves from hitting the helm seat while standing underway is not as easy to rectify, although Chris-Craft says it has done so with a redesigned seat since our test. While hove-to, the boat was as stable as a T-bill.
CERTIFIED TEST RESULTS Chris-Craft 240 Express Cruiser
|Advertised fuel capacity 90 gallons. Range based on 90 percent of that figure. Performance measured with two persons aboard, 3/4 fuel, full water. Sound levels taken at helm, in dB-A.|
Inside Sarasota Bay, the 240 Express cut tight-diameter doughnuts at 25 mph. Thanks to the tenacious bite of the optional DuoProp drive ($1,295), we experienced no cavitation, no ventilation and were able to straighten our course and accelerate from the circuit like a hammer flying from an Olympian's throw, before reaching a spirited 50-mph top end. Dockside handling was also excellent, a claim many mid-cabin designs are hard-pressed to make. The reason? The boat's displacement helped negate the effect of its sail area, while the DuoProp's wheels grabbed without torquing over the bow. Summing up perform-ance as a whole, I have to say that if it were not for the bowrise during planing, I might have forgotten I was running a mid-cabin cruiser.
NO, REALLY...SLEEP. And cruiser it is. Belowdecks, a 5'10" by 5'4" V-berth converts to a dinette that seats four at the standard pedestal table with belly and knee room to spare. I liked the opaque overhead hatches. Their teardrop shape is very complementary and filters out fabric-fading UV rays. The mid-cabin berth is 6'1" by 3'9", well lit by overhead lighting and ventilated by an opening port. But the 2"-thick cushion was skimpy: my elbows and knees bottomed out the pad. A 9" by 1'11" by 2'2" stowage compartment keeps personal gear organized and out of the way.
At first glance, the galley's faux-stone countertop appeared to have more sandwich-making room than those on other boats in this size range, despite the molded-in, elbow-deep sink. And it did offer more workspace, courtesy of the standard, single-burner stove that remains hidden, sliding out in its own drawer when needed. Very ergonomic.