Chaparral 263: One Big Happy

Party, party, and more party.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to pleasureboats: The sportiest boat gets the most chicks and the biggest one makes for the best parties. Deckboats, with their wide-open design, have always had room to pack in a few revelers, but are not often confused with a Scarab. And you rarely find one over 25' long. But there's a new floating entertainment center on the water with the sex appeal to match its space: the Chaparral 263 Sunesta.

Deckboats this large are rare, but competitors include the Sea Ray 270 Sundeck ($66,000 with a 320-hp Mer-Cruiser) and the Four Winns 264 Funship ($53,385 with a 315-hp Volvo Penta). A curvaceous deckboat, the 263 Sunesta recouped the roominess it lost in the styling studio by adding LOA. Of these three boats, the 270 Sundeck is the sleekest, but the 264 Funship and 263 Sunesta offer more space up front.

The 263 Sunesta has a semicircular cockpit seating design that makes a great conversation pit. The seat cushions are made from heavy, comfortable 40-ounce vinyl, stitched with weatherproof Gore-Tex thread, and stretched over high-density foam backed by breathable Kelron plastic panels. But this layout has a tradeoff: To access the 6'4"-by-1'6" aft swim platform, you must remove a cushion on the transom bench, which isn't as convenient as a conventional walk-through door in the transom.

Passengers can grab a drink from one of the five built-in coolers or the removable 25-quart Igloo. The 263 Sunesta's galley, aft of the captain's chair, has a fiddled counter, a 12-volt blender plug, lift-up trash access, a cooler, and a small sink. The elliptical stainless-steel grabrail lets users hang on over wakes.

Located in the port console, the 4'1" head has a molded-nonslip sole with a large drain, a small shelf with sink, a stainless-steel grabrail, and a screened port. A portable MSD comes standard; a porcelain pump-out head is a $670 option. The carpeted bulkheads, though, could foster mildew. Other builders use carpet here, too, but the 263 Sunesta has such a nice finish otherwise, we expected a vinyl liner.

On the water, the 263 Sunesta popped onto plane in three seconds with very little bowrise, and its deeper V (compared to most deckboats) gives it a nice bite in turns and a comfortable ride in small wind chop. Thanks to the Volvo Penta DuoProp stern drives, the 263 Sunesta held plane at a remarkably low 12.2 mph, which you'll appreciate when the crew is large and the waters rough. The DuoProp also helps with maneuvering around the dock or a crowded boat ramp.

LAST WORD. A big, sporty deckboat you can pack to the gills.

LOA..........26'0"

Beam..........8'6" ** **

Draft..........2'11" ** **

Displacement (lbs., approx.).....4,600 ****

Transom deadrise.......18° ****

Bridge clearance....5'2" ****

Minimum cockpit depth..........2'6"

Max. headroom....4'1"

Fuel capacity (gal.)......68

Water capacity (gal.)..........15

Price (w/standard power) ..........$40,586

Price (w/test power)....$47,713

STANDARD POWER: Single 240-hp MerCruiser 5.0L Alpha V-8 gasoline stern drive.

OPTIONAL POWER: Single MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline stern drive to 375 hp.

TEST BOAT POWER: Single 315-hp Volvo Penta 5.7L GXi/DP V-8 gasoline stern drive with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging a three-bladed ss F3 propset through a 1.78:1 reduction.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Portable MSD; pressurized fresh water; 25-qt. Igloo cooler; aft cockpit table; aft cockpit filler cushions; Bimini top; 2 ss telescoping swim ladders; ss ski-tow-eye; chrome-over-brass through-hull fittings; battery switch; battery tray; JVC AM/FM/cassette stereo w/4 speakers.