If I didn’t hate the movie so much, I’d be tempted to shout, “I’m the king of the world!” from the bow of Godfrey’s Hurricane Sundeck 217. Standing on its forward swim platform gave me a new appreciation of what this boat brings to the outboard deckboat market. Where most manufacturers put their platform acreage at the stern, the Sundeck 217 saves some for the bow. This means getting on and off is easier when the boat is beached, water entry away from the motor’s clutter at the transom is safer, and broad open spaces aren’t lost to the rigging cables and fuel lines.
But before applauding this forward space, you have to wonder why you’d want to put an outboard on a deckboat at all. Restricting transom space seems to run contrary to this category’s primary mission: gobs of room to entertain and easy access for watersports. But for deckboat buyers in saltwater areas, the outboard offers a prime advantage. Unlike a stern drive, it can be tilted entirely out of the water – keeping the gearcase free of growth and corrosion. For some people, that alone is worth giving up some play room on the aft platform. But you’ve got to get in and out somewhere, so Godfrey came up with the Sundeck 217’s bow acreage.
The Sundeck 217 also meets the entertainment requirement with a layout suited to recreation, starting with the built-in 25-quart cooler up forward. Some people prefer removable coolers, as on the Larson 213 Escape ($36,885 with a 150-hp Mercury Optimax). But the Sundeck 217’s cooler is insulated – not all builders take that step. Then there’s the sink and faucet. The Sundeck 217’s is abaft the helm seat, whereas the 213 Escape’s is built into the port console.
The 213 Escape offers decent bow access as well but is pricier than the Sundeck 217. Both are solidly built using encapsulated, treated plywood in the guts. The 213 Escape, with 16 degrees of transom deadrise compared to the Sundeck 217’s 12 1/2 degrees, will probably handle the rough stuff better. But the Sundeck 217 comes standard with a windshield, keeping the spray out of the cockpit.
The Sundeck 217’s plastic-lined bow locker is big enough to hold a 6′ tall person or, preferably, skis and wakeboards. The four 8″ stainless-steel cleats at the bow and stern are a step up from the 6″ ones that are the category standard. But it has only one midship cleat. Why not add another for easier mooring on both sides? Other nice touches include chrome-over-bronze through-hull fittings, stainless-steel bezels on the gauges, and an especially roomy double-wide captain’s chair at the helm.
LAST WORD. The big swim platform at the bow makes this an outboard deckboat with real water access.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)………2,990 ** **
Transom deadrise……12 1/2° ** **
Minimum cockpit depth ……….2’6″
Max. headroom……3’5″ ****
Fuel capacity (gal.)…52
Water capacity (gal.)..17
Price (w/standard power) ……….$31,999
Price (w/test power) ……….$31,999
STANDARD POWER: Single 150-hp Mercury Optimax V-6 outboard.****
OPTIONAL POWER: Single outboard to 200 hp.****
TEST BOAT POWER: Single 150-hp Mercury Optimax V-6 outboard with 153 cid, 3.50″ bore x 2.65″ stroke, swinging a 14 1/2″ x 19″ three/bladed ss prop through a 1.87:1 reduction.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): AM/FM cassette stereo w/2 speakers; 12v receptacle; bow and stern telescoping 3-step ladders; Bimini top w/boot.