An express cruiser like the new Glastron GS 259 OB is designed for weekend getaways, and outboard power adds to its versatility by enabling more stowage space within the boat than a sterndrive would allow and making it easier to extend the season. Outboards also may make more sense for coastal boaters since, unlike a sterndrive, the engine can be tilted completely clear of the water, and so will better thwart corrosion. However, for the traditionalist cruiser buyer, we’ll note right here that forward of its transom, the GS 259 OB is identical to the sterndrive-powered GS 259 that’s been in the Glastron line for a decade.
There’s lots of lounging space in the cockpit, with a pivoting backrest on the aft seat that can also fold flat to create a sun pad. The backrest of the doublewide helm seat also pivots so it can be used as a sociable aft-facing seat. A Dockside Power Package ($4,867) adds a cockpit galley console with cooktop, sink and refrigerator, plus a water heater, cabin microwave and, obviously, shore power and a battery charger.
As is the case with many cruisers less than about 38 feet in length, high freeboard gives this Glastron a chunky profile but makes the cabin more livable. There’s a V-berth forward and a queen-size midberth with 3 feet 6 inches of headroom, an enclosed head with more than 6 feet of headroom, and plenty of light thanks to a large overhead hatch and two additional port lights in the foredeck. Molded steps make it easy to reach the foredeck and anchor locker.
The extended boarding platform is designed to double as a bracket for the Mercury Verado outboard. In place of the inboard engine, the GS 259 OB offers a 2-foot-deep stowage pit below the aft cockpit sole and seat. Outboard advantages include the self-draining design, which is good for late-season boating, a 150-pound weight savings over a sterndrive, and very quiet operation. With a 300 hp Verado, performance is just adequate. Minimum planing speed with our light load was at about 4,500 rpm, and best fuel economy is all the way at 5,500 rpm. That won’t improve with more gear and people on board.
* Outboard power is smooth and almost silent from the helm.
* Enough cabin space for comfortable weekending.
* Cockpit seating options enhance socializing and lounging.
* We miss the lift and handling offered by a twin-prop sterndrive.
* Low rails on the foredeck don’t offer much security.
* Batteries are buried in the transom.
There’s no similarly priced, similarly sized outboard-powered cruiser with which to compare to the GS 259 OB, but the 23-foot-7-inch Cutwater 242 Sport Coupe ($119,937) comes close. Its pilothouse design offers great season-extending weather protection, combining helm space and living space in its deckhouse. Another option is the 24-foot-4-inch Jeanneau NC 795 ($90,000), also a pilothouse-style cruiser that combines overnight amenities in the enclosed deck cabin and a more modest V-berth cabin belowdecks.
Price: $91,367 (base with test power)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engine: Single 300 hp Mercury 300 Verado outboard
Drive/Prop: Outboard/14.6" x 15" Mercury Revolution 4 4-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 1.85:1
Fuel Load: 50 gal.
Crew Weight: 700 lb.
Glastron Boats - Cadillac, Michigan; 231-775-1351; glastron.com