The bowrider may be the first boat in which your family experiences the water, but as your family grows you may look at the confined square footage and recall what Brody said to Quint in Jaws: “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”
An easy remedy is a deck boat, particularly one like the new Bayliner 215. It has a rated seating capacity of 12, and as I witnessed on the docks on test day, it can handle the crowd. Add the optional full windshield ($1,214) and it starts to resemble your typical runabout on steroids.
Widening the beam forward — a signature deck boat trait — allowed Bayliner to create a large, U-shaped bow cockpit capable of seating six people. Lift up the seat cushions and you’ll find a wealth of stowage space, divided into sections with StarBoard plastic partitions so your gear won’t slide willy-nilly during tactical tubing maneuvers. The bow swim platform is another deck boat staple, with a beaching ladder installed in the anchor locker.
In the main cockpit you’ll find a classic L-shaped lounge to port, with rear-facing backrest so the first mate can watch the action behind the boat. The placement of the portside grab handle seemed awkward, because it could potentially rest in a side-facing passenger’s back. There’s a changing room in the port console that is fiberglass-lined and easy to clean, with a drain at its lowest point. Add in the portable marine head ($357) for your guests with tiny bladders.
One feature a sterndrive deck boat has over an outboard is the full swim platform, which boosts water access. Bayliner employs a sun pad over the engine hatch, adding flip-up backrests so three people can sit and chill at anchor. When retracted, the backrests lock in place with hook-and-latch strips, creating a one-person chillaxation lounge.
With the standard 220 hp MerCruiser 4.3 MPI partnered with an Alpha drive, our test boat climbed onto plane in 6.2 seconds and proved to have safe and predictable handling.
The optional Flight package converts this deck boat into a pro level wakeboard boat, as evidenced by champion athlete, Garret Coleman, who rides behind a Bayliner 215.
Comparable model: Hurricane SunDeck 217 I/O