Stepping off the dock and onto the bow step of the 182SC was as easy as stepping into a neighborhood diner. The next step down hid a compartment that could be a cooler or dry stowage. I’m a big guy, yet this easily trailered boat stood firm while I slouched into the helm seat.
One guy at the helm and 12 gallons in the fuel tank wasn’t a workaday load for the 90 hp Yamaha outboard, but it did let the 182SC step out, up and into the sunshine at a high rate of speed — 41 mph. The acceleration proved satisfying and efficient, making as many as 6 mpg. I was more impressed by the 3-second time to plane and 8 seconds to get to 30 mph.
The 182SC borrows a bit from the past, when horsepower came in heavier packages. It’s narrow for its length, which reduces drag, makes it less tender as crew step from side to side, and planes quickly, as our numbers reflected.
But what would happen with a full crew? I headed back to the dock and recruited four fellow boating journalists. With five adults on board, the 182SC planed in 3.8 seconds. Our top speed was 37.5 mph — an almost astonishing feat with just 90 ponies. You can power it with up to 115 hp while still keeping the price point in a comfortable spot, but for the average family, we liked the economy of the 90.
The popularity of outboard deck boats arises from the demise of the 3.0-liter GM block that generated 130 hp in MerCruiser and Volvo Penta sterndrives. But the outboard offers advantages you can’t get from a sterndrive too. An outboard still needs to be winterized if you lay it up for long periods of time, but if you use it in cold weather, it will drain straight out without having to open petcocks in the bilge. Outboards are lighter per horsepower as well, and that’s like adding horsepower that doesn’t burn fuel.
Price and speed are a big part of the boating equation, but so is the comfort and pleasure of the crew. Everybody in our test group had a cozy seat, either at the bow, abeam or astern. The load wasn’t entirely balanced, yet the boat stayed comfortably level. The view forward from the helm was good and safe, and while we were seated amidships, the skipper was always in the conversation.
For most people there is no perfect boat, only perfect compromises, but in a day when gas is precious, tow vehicles are smaller, and you need to save a buck storing the boat in the garage, Al Fink was right — the 182SC is the best boat he’s made in years.
Comparable Model: Bayliner 190