You're cruising along feeling secure in the deep cockpit. Then you look down at the speedometer and-surprise!-you're going over 50 mph. You slow down to 4000 rpm and crank the wheel over. The prop doesn't ventilate, the hull doesn't wiggle, and you don't lose your line of sight at the helm. It seems as if no matter what you do to it, this boat makes you feel in control and secure. What is it? The Caravelle 242, a predictable family bowrider.
A steep 21 degrees of transom deadrise provides a soft ride, and wide reversed chines keep the spray down. Inside is at least 2'7" of cockpit depth-we consider anything above knee height safe-but most of this cockpit is deeper. You feel as if you're down low inside this boat. This is particularly true of the L-lounge-its thick seats keep passengers comfortable and protected. All cushions are covered with medium-weight 30-ounce expanded vinyl and backed with plastic panels with breathing holes.
Unlike some competitors, the bow cockpit is so roomy that two people can stretch out or four can sit. Plus there's a stainless-steel grabrail running along the entire bow, more useful than a few small handles. The bow filler cushions come standard. Better to sun worship there than on the 6'3"-by-1'9" aft sunpad, which, unfortunately, has nothing to grab.
For entertaining, there's a freshwater sink aft of the helm with a fiddled counter and grabrail over the 25-quart Igloo cooler. The 3'7" tall head in the port console has a gasketed door for dry stowage and a draining nonslip sole. But it sorely needs a port or vent.
Caravelle put in molded nonslip fiberglass cockpit soles, a nice touch compared to the glued-down carpet in some competitors. If you want fuzz under your feet, get the snap-in carpet for $590 extra. But the 242 has some notable standards, like the Sony CD player with four speakers, portable MSD, and digital depthsounder, that other builders list as options.
HIGH POINTS: Stable hull and cockpit make this boat feel secure at high speeds. Standard molded-nonslip cockpit sole is a refreshing change over glued-down carpet. Stainless-steel grabrail runs along entire bow cockpit, which is better than small plastic handles.
LOW POINTS: The head has no opening port or door vent for ventilation. No grabrail or raised lip for the aft sunpad. Forward seat cushions opens inboard, making stowage access clumsy.
TOUGHEST COMPETITOR: The Stingray 240 LS. At $35,769 with a 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI, it has a more performance-oriented hull for less money. With a top end of 55 mph, the 240 LS is faster and has more get-up-and-go acceleration through the rpm range. But in a chop, it's also more skittish than the 242. It's the difference between driving a sedan and a sports car.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)......4,050
Minimum cockpit depth.....2'7"
Fuel capacity (gal.).......60
Water capacity (gal.).......9
Price (w/standard power)........$34,700
Price (w/test power)........$37,557
STANDARD POWER: Single 250-hp MerCruiser 5.7L Alpha V-8 gasoline stern drive.
OPTIONAL POWER: Single Mer-Cruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline stern drive to 425 hp.
TEST BOAT POWER: Single 300-hp MerCruiser 350 MAG MPI Bravo One V-8 gasoline stern drive with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging a 14 3/4" x 21" three-bladed ss prop through a 1.5:1 reduction.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Bow filler cushions; 25-qt. Igloo cooler; Sony AM/FM/CD stereo w/4 speakers; portable MSD; tilt steering; digital depthsounder; dual battery switch; Bimini top; 3-step telescoping swim ladder; freshwater sink.