Outboards continue to seize territory normally occupied by sterndrives. The latest example is Baja’s 23 Islander OB. The boat is essentially the Baja 247 Islander minus a few inches, the sterndrive and engine, and with the addition of an outboard bracket with an integrated swim platform. The switch to an outboard reclaims welcome space in the cockpit. Baja installs a modular U-shaped lounge in the real estate normally sacrificed to an engine compartment. A side-mount pedestal table mounts to the seat base and stows below the helm when not in use. A pair of insulated coolers is located below the two rear seat cushions. Handy removable backrests slip into sockets on both the bench’s port and starboard forward ends should passengers want to face aft and take in that view. When the backrests are not in place, the sockets double as cup holders. I’ll drink to that.
Old-school Islander designs lost valuable space forward with rounded bow cockpit corners and typically bulky seatback and inwale cushions. The 23 Islander OB recaptures that space, squaring up those cockpit corners and extending the cockpit perimeter deeper into the hull sides. Add in thinner, more angular cushions, and you’ve got welcome space forward without sacrificing any style. The stowage below the port and starboard cushions is finished as part of the deck mold, and drains to the bilge. Ditto the bow anchor locker below the center cushion.
Customer research indicated a preference for old-school graphics, but our test boat’s bold blue and black stripes offered a fresh take. Baja also eschews the typical carbon or wood grain at the helm, instead offering a marble-style dash panel, color-matched to the Victor wheel, to offset a pair of Suzuki multifunction smart gauges. A smooth Suzuki control box handled the 300 hp outboard on the stern. In 2- to 3-foot seas offshore, I slammed that throttle forward and noted a quick plane en route to a top speed of 49.3 mph. Baja’s notably deep, 23-degree deadrise V-hull sliced through those waves like a knife and held firm in hard-over turns, resulting in a smooth, family-friendly ride.
Comparable Model: Checkmate Pulsare 2400 BRX