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Chris-Craft 24: Big Swing

Chris-Craft's 240 Express Cruiser offers a sporty open-water ride and top-notch construction.

October 1, 1998
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You’d expect a 24′ mid-cabin cruiser to sleep two comfortably (four in a pinch), have plenty of cockpit seating, mucho drinkholders and enough pep to pull up a skier or a pair of kids on a tube. What you might not expect is a truly sporty open-water ride, outstanding access to engine and mechanicals and top-notch construction methods. But that’s exactly what you’d get if you were to spend $49,534 (as tested) for Chris-Craft’s new 240 Express Cruiser. At that price it’s not inexpensive, but, like many things in life, you get what you pay for.

A VIEW FROM THE BILGE. Access to the engine compartment has gotten to be a real point of contention with me. Euro-transoms, combined with the quest for more dry stowage and the trend toward U-shaped aft settees, have made changing the oil or the plugs – never mind replacing a riser – difficult at best aboard many smaller boats. Not so with the new Chris-Craft. Its electrically powered hatch lifts with the flick of a switch, revealing an engine compartment that held the test boat’s optional eight-cylinder Volvo Penta 5.7L GSi/DP ($2,077), myself and two suitcase-sized boxes of test gear with wrench-swinging room to spare. My hands easily found the oil pan’s drain and the bilge pump’s float switch, for in-stance. Needless to say, removing the optional dual batteries ($193) for winter storage, replacing a filter or checking the output of the optional battery charger (part of the $1,800 Convenience Package) can be performed with ease. The hatch can be manually operated as well, a feature that many builders using the now ubiquitous powered hatch fail to incorporate. While powering-up the hatch, the only flaw I found was some flex across the deck where the motorbox’s full-length hinge was fastened. Some stiffening gussets are in order to prevent stress cracks from developing over time. This aside, mechanical access aboard the 240 Express is as good as it gets for a 24-footer.

THE HIGHS: Sportboat ride makes getting there as fun as being there. Best-in-class engine access allows easy and convenient maintenance. Color-coded wiring a troubleshooter’s dream.** **

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THE LOWS: Helm seat is a calf-scraper while standing. Mid-cabin cushion is a bit on the slim side. Motorbox hinge attachment point needs shoring up.

How’d they do it? By exercising balance in design. The aft bench allows two to sit comfortably facing forward, not four in a U-shape, so access to the engine’s sides is good once the hatch comes up. Plus its molded glass base will hold a dockbox full of gear and a 36-quart standard Igloo cooler complete with hold-down chocks, so you aren’t forced to cram the spaces abeam of the engine with gear – a necessary evil aboard other small cruisers.

Since I could actually get into the engine compartment, not just reach in, I was afforded a good look at how the boat is put together. Wiring is bundled, chafe-protected, and supported every 6″ with rubber-cushioned clamps to forestall premature failure due to broken insulation. But stuff still happens, thus Chris-Craft has color-coded, numbered and labeled each wire so repairs can be made expeditiously. The engine is securely bolted to aluminum angles, these being bolted through the stringers – a solid departure from the more common practice of just using lag screws. Cleats, rails and the ski-tow eye are bolted and backed. In all, the view from the bilge is a good one.

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REAL SLEEPER. It’s safe to say that most mid-size, mid-cabins rarely stray far from home. Cabin boats of this length make dayboating comfortable, but overnights no more than do-able. Oh, there’s some skiing and sightseeing along the way, but basically the boat turns the boring, backyard barbecue into a movable feast. As a result, builders often sacrifice tankage for stowage space, and ride-softening deep transom deadrise for the stability at rest that a flatter bottom can provide. Pretty good logic given the way most mid-cabins are used. But what if you want more from your 24-footer?

Thanks to a larger-than-most 90-gallon fuel tank, deep-V hull design and hefty, 5,250-pound displacement, the 240 Express has the range and ride to expand your horizons. Running in the Gulf of Mexico off Longboat Key, Florida, the Chris-Craft han-dled the 2′ swell and crossing chop kicked-up by the stiff, afternoon breeze with aplomb, tracking straight and pound-free at 30 mph. The reverse chine did an admirable job of de-flecting spray, although we did ship a little due to the windward lean that caused the boat to land askew when coming off waves; had the test boat been equipped with the optional trim tabs ($482), it would have been easy to correct for this condition, one that’s characteristic of deep-V hulls running across the wind. Preventing my calves from hitting the helm seat while standing underway is not as easy to rectify, although Chris-Craft says it has done so with a redesigned seat since our test. While hove-to, the boat was as stable as a T-bill.

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| |—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—|—| |CERTIFIED TEST RESULTS Chris-Craft 240 Express Cruiser| | |SPEED|EFFICIENCY|OPERATION| | |naut.|stat.|n. mi.|s. mi.|run|sound| |rpm|knots|mph|gph|mpg|mpg|range|range|angle|level| |1000|5.7|6.6|1.3|4.4|5.1|357|411|0|64| |1500|7.5|8.6|2.4|3.1|3.6|252|290|3|72| |2000|9.5|10.9|4.3|2.2|2.5|178|205|6|80| |2500|15.9|18.3|5.8|2.7|3.2|222|256|7|83| |3000|23.2|26.7|6.3|3.7|4.2|298|343|4|84| |3500|28.9|33.3|8.5|3.4|3.9|276|317|3|87| |4000|32.3|37.2|11.7|2.8|3.2|224|258|2|90| |4500|35.8|41.2|20.5|1.7|2.0|141|163|0|94| |4800|44.0|50.6|23.2|1.9|2.2|154|177|0|95| Advertised fuel capacity 90 gallons. Range based on 90 percent of that figure. Performance measured with two persons aboard, 3/4 fuel, full water. Sound levels taken at helm, in dB-A.

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Inside Sarasota Bay, the 240 Express cut tight-diameter doughnuts at 25 mph. Thanks to the tenacious bite of the optional DuoProp drive ($1,295), we experienced no cavitation, no ventilation and were able to straighten our course and accelerate from the circuit like a hammer flying from an Olympian’s throw, before reaching a spirited 50-mph top end. Dockside handling was also excellent, a claim many mid-cabin designs are hard-pressed to make. The reason? The boat’s displacement helped negate the effect of its sail area, while the DuoProp’s wheels grabbed without torquing over the bow. Summing up perform-ance as a whole, I have to say that if it were not for the bowrise during planing, I might have forgotten I was running a mid-cabin cruiser.

NO, REALLY…SLEEP. And cruiser it is. Belowdecks, a 5’10” by 5’4″ V-berth converts to a dinette that seats four at the standard pedestal table with belly and knee room to spare. I liked the opaque overhead hatches. Their teardrop shape is very complementary and filters out fabric-fading UV rays. The mid-cabin berth is 6’1″ by 3’9″, well lit by overhead lighting and ventilated by an opening port. But the 2″-thick cushion was skimpy: my elbows and knees bottomed out the pad. A 9″ by 1’11” by 2’2″ stowage compartment keeps personal gear organized and out of the way.

At first glance, the galley’s faux-stone countertop appeared to have more sandwich-making room than those on other boats in this size range, despite the molded-in, elbow-deep sink. And it did offer more workspace, courtesy of the standard, single-burner stove that remains hidden, sliding out in its own drawer when needed. Very ergonomic.

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For comparison, take a peek at Regal’s Commodore 242. At $46,581 with the same power as our test boat, it offers you plusher upholstery and a decidedly richer look, but carries less deadrise and fuel than the 240 Express. Also look at Monterey’s 242 Cruiser at $47,043 with a 220-hp engine package. It shares the deep-V design of the 240 Express, but carries 20 gallons less fuel.

Chris-Craft hasn’t reinvented the mid-cabin genre with the introduction of the 240 Express Cruiser. But by combining solid construction with a sea-kindly ride it may change what we come to expect from the class.

LOA……….24’5″ ** **

Beam……….8’6″ ** **

Draft……….3’0″ ** **

Displacement (lbs., approx.)….5,250 ** **

Transom deadrise……..20° ** **

Bridge clearance…….6’5″ ** **

Minimum cockpit depth..1’9″ ** **

Max. cabin headroom……5’11” ** **

Fuel capacity (gal.)……….90 ** **

Water capacity (gal.)……….20 ** **

Price (w/standard power)…….$46,101 ****

Price (w/test power) …………$48,178 ****

STANDARD POWER: Single 250-hp Volvo Penta 5.7L GS/SX V-8 gasoline stern drive.

OPTIONAL POWER: Single 310-hp Volvo Penta 7.4L Gi/DP V-8 gasoline stern drive.

TEST BOAT POWER: Single 280-hp Volvo Penta 5.7L GSi/DP V-8 gasoline stern drive with 350 cid, 4.00″ bore x 3.48″ stroke, swinging an F5 propset through a 1.95:1 reduction.

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Bimini; 12v accessory outlet; chrome-plated bronze through-hull fittings; cockpit courtesy lighting; self-draining fiberglass cockpit liner; power-assisted engine hatch; 36-qt. Igloo cooler w/integral storage area; transom shower; illuminated switches; power steering; LCD depthfinder; compass; dinette table; opening portlights w/screens; single-burner stove; icebox; enclosed head w/portable MSD, shower and vanity; mid-cabin privacy curtain; overhead lighting in cabin.

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