Bayliner 212 Cuddy Review

Issue: December 2003

I must admit to feeling a tinge of fear as I travelled down to review this latest offering from Bayliner. You see, the last Bayliner I tested literally swallowed me up! Yep, I feel into its cavernous underfloor storage area camera and all, down through the opened hatch and my ribs are only just recovering from the accident. So, first things first, the 212 had in-floor storage, but no gas-assisted ram holding the hatch open, phew I should be OK. But by the end of the day I was more than OK, I was as happy as Larry, because we encountered some rough conditions that allowed this large, but light package to show off her best side.

We launched near Silverwater on Sydney’s Parramatta River and promptly made our way down the waterway toward Sydney Harbour proper. It seemed like no time before we were powering around Double Bay where a developing gusty Sou’wester made the conditions extremely choppy. The Bayliner 212 showed that a fast cruise speed of 40mph was great for long runs, but when things got rough a bit of extra trim ironed the bumps out effortlessly.

Pushing the hammer down we hit a top speed of 50mph, which was aided partly from the minimalist interior that cut down overall hull weight. The 19-degrees deadrise and low weight, removed any need for trim tabs to balance the hull, which responded well to trim from the sterndrive leg. In fact, this craft was spinning a standard 21′ aluminium prop and I reckon if she had the better grip derived from a stainless steel prop with a little more cup, the hull could handle even more trim and achieve a greater top speed.

The helm provided a comfortable driving position with the throttle and trim control placed in an ideal spot for the average size bloke. From the helm the driver had good all-round visibility, while the windscreen effectively forced the slipstream up and over the cockpit and was also easy to see through. The moulded dash featured full instrumentation including: speedometer; tachometer; voltmeter; fuel gauge; oil pressure gauge; temperature gauge; trim gauge; integrated LCD with clock; trip log; distance; hour meter; and trip hours.

There were also switches for the horn, nav light, blowers etc. The standard CD stereo player was controlled from the cabin. Essentially, the 212 was designed to keep the whole family happy by delivering a open harbour boat with the convenience of a small basic V-berth cuddy cabin and ‘Porta Potti’. There are no bells and whistles down below ‘ no onboard water or kitchen sink ‘ just somewhere to have a nap, go to the loo, keep dry, or get some privacy. But there is no doubt that practical use of this space would allow a day out with the family to flow seamlessly. Access to the forward cabin is via folding plastic doors on the port side.

On the test craft these didn’t lock open, sturdier doors with a better locking mechanism would work well, because things tend to move around unexpectedly when you are embracing a solid chop at 50mph. The roomy cockpit is where most of the action will take place on the Bayliner 212. The craft has seating for six on twin back-to-back bucket seats and two aft seats either side of the engine box. With a bit of fiddling both back-to-back bucket seats converted to sun lounges.

The integral swim platform combined with padded stern strip would be popular for anyone wanting to catch a few rays, while the swim platform’s sturdy foldout ladder allows easy access to the boat after a dip. There was no deck wash, or shower, but as I mentioned earlier ‘keep it simple’ is the principal behind the 212, so you won’t be finding fridges, coolers, freshwater tanks, or bow thrusters on this craft and the price reflects this. As with all Brunswick built boats they know their place.

If you were looking for more bells and whistles then the Brunswick Corporation also builds the more expensive Sea Ray boats, but it won’t deliver the top speed of the lighter Bayliner package. But there are some options available for the 212 including a transom shower, camper covers, bimini and sock, dual batteries and a stainless steel prop. Access to the bow was via the hinged centre section of the windscreen and small steps on the console to help you go forward.

On the bow there was a self-draining anchor well and cabin hatch. The bow rail was big enough to provide a good handhold, but still low enough to get over when alighting from the bow. Storage wasn’t a problem with spaces under the seats, in the floor, in the side pockets and there was more areas for storage in the cabin. Simply removing the engine cover accesses the engine and with the side seats removed there is quite a lot of room for working on both sides of the block. The hull’s handling and performance was the keystone of this Bayliner package.

By the end of my session with the 212 the harbour chop had picked up and the day was dominated by one of those Sydney Spring westerlies that often put a damper on the average persons plans for boating. The craft embraced the chop with enthusiasm. Even when coming under the Harbour Bridge we were able to comfortably hold a cruise speed around 35mph and the light hull produced immediate response to throttle, so when conditions became slushy we could manoeuvre our way though it all while still keeping our hats on.

In calmer waters the hull carved through the turns, held a good line and responded quickly to changes in trim. It didn’t take long for the hull to wind up to near top speed and the 21′ pitch prop felt like the right choice although a bit more cup would have helped get more air under the hull.

Overall the Bayliner 212 fulfils its brief of being a fast runabout and overnighter. The craft delivers great performance and handling with a balanced offering of creature comforts to keep it at an accessible price point