Best Bets of 2006

Although there can be only one Boat of the Year, we have tested several boats during the past 12 months with new designs that were innovative, cool, or just plain smart.

Best Bets of 2006

Best Bets of 2006

Best Bets of 2006

Best Bets of 2006

Best Bets of 2006

Best Bets of 2006

Clear Gel Coat, Eastbay 39 SX

From waterline to keel, this boat isn't hiding anything. If there's resin starvation, bubbles, or bad laminates, the builders and you will see it. Cover the area with bottom paint, and if you hit something while underway, just scrape away the paint to see what damage has been done to the structure. ** **

Nonfogging Dash Lights, Larson Cabrio 350

The dashboard panel lights and gauges are wired to the ignition switch rather to the navigation lights. This way, they're on whenever the engine is running, not just at night. The constant heat from the bulbs keeps moisture away.

Hidden Head, Intrepid 323 Cuddy

You rarely use the head, so why does it have to take up so much room? This one stays stowed away under the cabin step. When nature calls, close the hatch, rotate the step, and there's the throne.

Split-Bolster Helm Seat, Monterey 330 Sport Yacht

Most helm benches have only a bolster for the driver, relegating the mate to stay seated or stand without support. This allows both to stand or sit independently.

Walkthrough Latches, Sea Ray 310 Sundancer

On a cruiser the top latch of the windshield walkthrough is easy to get to, but the bottom one is often too low and too much of a stretch to reach. On this boat the levers are connected. Turn the top one and the bottom also turns.

Windshield Washers, Hatteras 64

Cars have had it for 50 years, so why not make them standard on boats? Salt spray, morning dew, and plain old crud can make it nearly impossible to see through your clear curtains. Instead of unzipping and wiping them off, press a button and freshwater-spray spritzers do the work.

Cockpit Access, Glastron GXL 205

The back of the aft section of the U-shaped seating flips down to provide a nonslip step up and over the sunpad to the swim platform.

Nonslip Table, Edgewater 31

The bow table and hardtop are both finished in nonslip. This means you can stand on the table for casting, or climb onto the hardtop and use it as a spotting platform.

No V-berth, Tiara 3000 Open

This boat forgoes the conventional V-berth in favor of a unique athwartship settee/raised berth combo. More room and versatility in a 30-footer than you deserve.

Automatic Breaker Panel Light, Chris-Craft Corsair 33

When you open the hatch, a light goes on over the breaker panel, illuminating the switches and eliminating the need to fumble with a flashlight. AC and DC breakers are different colors for better differentiation, whether viewing them day or night.

Insulated Fuel Tanks, Cruisers Yachts 447 Sport Sedan

The diesel fuel tanks are insulated to keep heat from the unburned fuel coming back via the return line out of the cabin above. Helps reduce the demand on your air conditioning.

Transom Walkway, Donzi 38 ZFX

On most outboard boats with integral brackets. there's a motorwell cluttered with rigging tubes. This means that space is wasted and servicing engines becomes tricky. Donzi's athwartship deck makes the transom a usable space.

Real Cruise Control, Crusader Engines

New models have electronic sensing that maintains a steady rpm despite varying loads, such as in following seas. Gives gas engines the feel of constant thrust as on a high-torque diesel.

Angled Boarding Ladder, Four Winns

The boarding ladder on every Four Winns hangs off the boat at an angle, so it's easier to climb. Just like your stepladder at home.

Rear-Facing Sunlounge, Formula 310 SS

Most aft sunpads run athwartships, but at anchor or underway it's more fun to look aft. This one can be a flat sunpad, angled lounge, or upright seat for two.

Cell Phone Tray, Azimut 43

Where do you stash your cell phone so it can be charged and won't get banged around while underway? This boat has a neat mini-tray with a 12-volt outlet near the engine controls on the flying bridge. It's good for handheld GPS and VHF units as well.