When most folks hear the word “runabout,” they think of an athletic powerboat on the smaller end of the size scale, angled toward a day’s fun on the water with a minimum of muss and fuss. Within that general runabout category, though, there’s a wide range of styles, configurations, and purposes, any of which might serve your family’s interests on the water — watersports, coving, day cruising, fishing, or docking and dining. Here’s are four noteworthy 2016 models that represent a range of styles. Off we go.
Chris-Craft Capri 25
A runabout with retro style
Chris-Craft virtually invented the runabout market around 100 years ago, so when it introduces a new runabout to the market, people perk up and pay attention. I sure did, when the company invited me to Sarasota, FL, to run its new 2016 Capri 25 earlier this year.
Perhaps the most innovative part of this new boat is its cuddy cabin, which is cleverly tucked up in the bow. It’s accessed via a clever hinged door in the cockpit. Open it up and you expose a utilitarian V-berth with a cleverly concealed porta-potty underneath. You won’t be doing any serious multi-day cruising in this boat, but it’s an awfully nice feature to have for when the weather or other circumstances make it impractical to motor home for the night.
Today’s Chris-Craft boats are known to be elegant, sexy, and beautiful. The Capri 25 easily accomplishes this mission. The bronze-colored topsides are contrasted by the white deck, and both colors are enhanced by swaths of teak decking and trim. Look around and you’ll see impeccable fit and finish with an attention to detail that Chris-Craft is famous for.
A 6.2-liter 300-horsepower Mercury gasoline inboard with a Bravo III sterndrive is standard, with a multitude of gasoline inboard choices available from both Mercury and Volvo Penta. You can outfit the Capri 25 with up to 430 ponies.
The cockpit is particularly inventive. One of the downsides of runabouts is that they generally lack good places to entertain. Folks end up trying to enjoy their happy-hour cocktails and snacks from their laps. Chris-Craft solved this problem aboard the Capri 25 with a couple of heavy, flip-up teak tables between the pair of swiveling captain’s chairs at the forward end of the cockpit and the three-person bench aft of them. Swivel around the captain’s chairs and you’ve got a comfortable happy-hour space for four or five.
If you’re looking for a no-holds-barred, 25-foot runabout with style, comfort, and performance, the Capri 25 should be near the top of your shopping list. You’ll definitely make a statement on the water with this one.
Chris-Craft Capri 25 Specifications
- Length: 26’ 8”
- Beam: 8’6”
- Draft: 1’5”
- Deadrise: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 6,000 pounds
- Fuel Capacity: 82 gallons
Baja 23 Islander OB
Space, the final frontier
As four-stroke outboard engines continue to make performance gains, manufacturers are putting more and more of the powerplants on boats that have traditionally been powered by gasoline inboard engines. The Baja Islander 23 OB is one such boat. What’s the big deal about a runabout with outboard power? Interior space, that’s what.
Since there’s no inboard engine box to gobble up the cockpit, Baja was able to create a 23-foot runabout with exceptional seating accommodations and interior room. Where the inboard engine used to reside is now a comfy U-shaped lounge. You can even slip in a pair of insert cushions to create an expansive sunpad, and a pair of backrest inserts transform two ends of the lounge into aft-facing chaise lounges.
The Islander 23 OB can be equipped with either a 250- or 300-horsepower Suzuki four-stroke outboard, or a 300-horsepower Mercury Verado. The 300-horspower Suzuki provides a top-end speed in the upper 40 mph range, while the 250-horsepower standard engine tops out in the low to mid 40s. The other notable advantage to using outboard power on the Islander 23 OB is weight. Consider that a comparable inboard engine from Mercury weighs in at well nearly 900 pounds. The Suzuki DF300AP weighs just over 600 pounds.
The Islander 23 OB has a sleek look, showing clean lines that blend together with the wraparound windshield. The lines are so good, in fact, that the outboard seems to morph right in with the rest of the boat instead of looking like a bolt-on afterthought. The hull has a relatively sharp V-shaped bottom for a small runabout, sporting 23 degrees of deadrise at the transom . What this means for you is a smooth ride in a chop and great handling in turns.
So go grab your skis, a cooler full of frosty beverages, and a bunch of friends. The Baja Island 23 OB has room to spare.
Baja 23 Islander OB Specifications
- Length: 23’6”
- Beam: 8’6”
- Draft: 2’0”
- Deadrise: 23 degrees
- Displacement: 4,300 pounds
- Fuel Capacity: 80 gallons
Four Winns TS222
A watersports boat with forward thinking
Okay, I’ll admit it—the Four Winns TS222 isn’t brand spanking new for 2016. But the new sterndrive that powers it through the water is so revolutionary that I’d be remiss in not including this wake surfing/boarding runabout in our list.
The sterndrive I’m talking about is Volvo Penta’s Forward Drive, which was launched earlier this year at the Miami International Boat Show. Instead of having a sterndrive with the usual Duoprop setup where the propellers face aft, the Forward Drive has dual propellers that are tucked up underneath the stern. It’s a tractor drive, meaning it pulls the boat through the water instead of pushing it.
For watersports enthusiasts the benefits of that arrangement are many. First, there are no dangerous propellers at the stern of the boat that can harm folks in the water. Second, the exhaust is vented under the waterline so boarders aren’t sucking fumes. Lastly, with the props mounted farther forward, the boat’s pivot point is changed. That means better turning performance.
But the TS222 isn’t a great boat just because of what’s pulling it through the water. For wakeboarders and surfers the boat comes replete with surf tabs, Zero Speed wake control, and 1,300 pounds of customizable water ballast that helps the TS222 leave behind smooth shreddable wakes. Add in the flashy tow tower and a 320-horse Volvo Penta V8 inboard and you’re off to the races.
The TS222’s interior sports plenty of accommodations for when you need to load up a group of friends and family. The cockpit has an L-shaped lounge aft and two swiveling captain’s chairs. Farther forward the TS222 takes on a bowrider look, with a large nest of comfy seats set into the bow. A head is hidden behind the port-side console at the forward end of the cockpit.
I don’t’ know about you, but I’m ready to grab a wakeboard and hit the water. Now, if I could only wake surf. Check out the TS222 for a great runabout with a watersports pedigree.
Four Winns TS222 Specifications
- Length: 22’7”
- Beam: 8’6”
- Draft: 2’9”
- Deadrise: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 4,240 pounds
- Fuel Capacity: 44 gallons
Chaparral 243 Vortex VR
Not your ordinary jet boat.
One problem with jet boats is that they look far too sporty and flashy for folks who want a more conservative shape. Take a look at the Chaparral 243 Vortex VR, though, and you’ll likely have a difficult time differentiating its profile from its more sedate counterparts. And how does a 53 mph top end sound?
One of two different models in the 243 range, the 243 Vortex VR looks as if it’s a cuddy cabin or small express cruiser at first glance, having more elegant and conservative styling than its Vortex VRX sister, which is aimed at wakesurfers and watersports folks. But don’t worry –you can wakesurf with this more conservative style if you choose Chaparral’s Aerial Surf Package. The option adds an aerial surf platform and three ballast tanks for creating the perfect stern wave.
The speed I mentioned comes courtesy of two Rotax 200-horsepower engines. If you want even more power, a pair of 250-horsepower Rotax engines is available as an option. A notable feature with these engines is lateral thrust control, which drops a diverter behind the thrust nozzles, directing the jet thrust outboard. This greatly improves side-to-side steering, especially when pulling into a slip or up to a fuel dock.
The 243 Vortex VR has a total capacity of 12 people. The bow seating can be used as two forward-facing lounges, or as a seating zone. The cockpit has a large U-shaped seating arrangement for around six people, with two additional seats at the stern for use when the boat is not underway. A captain’s chair sits aft of the helm console and a single-person bench sits behind the port console. And hey, there’s even an enclosed head behind that console.
If you’re looking for a more conservatively styled jet boat, this one’s a winner.
Chaparral 243 Vortex VR Specifications
- Length: 24’3”
- Beam: 8’6”
- Draft: 1’3”
- Deadrise: 20 degrees
- Displacement: 4,150 pounds
- Fuel Capacity: 52 gallons