Bayliner 300 Cruising Boat Reviews
Written by: Modern Boating
Bayliner lifts the bar on family cruisers.
The Jensen sound system is a winner. The new Bayliner 300 Cruiser has much sleeker lines than its predecessor the Bayline 305 Cruiser. Value for money. Single level cockpit.
Look back 30 years and there were basically only three categories of family/lifestyle boating in this country ? yachting/cruising, waterskiing and fishing. Some families took their yachts out for a cruise. Dads took the kids down to the local river for a fish, when they weren’t out fishing with the mates; the relatively small, yet close-knit, waterski community certainly got their kids involved. I know this is a broad assessment of the Aussie boating lifestyle back then and there are always exceptions, but…
Sure the local market put out some very basic half cabins, which they tried to sell as family boats and tinnies were definitely the flavour of the month, but the whole family boating idea never really achieved critical mass. That was until almost 20 years ago to the day, when a new player reached Aussie shores ? American-built Bayliner boats (read Avante Marine, the Aussie Importers here in Sydney).
Compared to their Australian-built counterparts they were almost revolutionary. Yes, these boat were mass-produced, but their build quality was consistently good and they had all the goodies a family needed for a day on the water as standard fittings.
Bayliner wasn’t the first to introduce a bowrider into this country, but it was the first to do so in numbers. They quickly became the ‘family’ boat of choice, because their relatively affordable price allowed more and more people to get into boating. Bowriders were and still are great all-round family boats. You can ski/wakeboard behind them, take the family on a river cruise, go for a fish at a pinch, or simply go out and find a secluded bay on the likes of Sydney Harbour for a picnic lunch.
But as people got more and more familiar with boating, they started to want a bit more from their boats. They wanted to travel further afield and perhaps even overnight on their boat, maybe even go on an extended cruise. Bayliner had already experienced this trend in the US, so it quickly increased a range of cruisers into Australia to cover all demands. And one of the fast-going ranges proved to be mid-range cruisers from 24-30ft. It’s a style of boat Bayliner has been constantly developing and its latest offering, the Bayliner 300, is set to become an almost instant winner.
The Bayliner 300 Cruiser supersedes the 305 Cruiser and having now driven both vessels, I can honestly say she’s a vast improvement on her predecessor. Plus, with a price tag of under $205,000, for a 2008 built express cruiser with twin 5lt MPI V8 MerCruisers, driving through Bravo III legs, it’s pretty damn good value. In fact, the Bayliner 300 is probably one of the most affordable 30-footers on the market today. If you’re in the market for a top family weekender she’s definitely worth a closer look.
Her stylish lines (the Targa arch now faces forward), sleek design, single-level cockpit, ample storage and massive (for a 30-footer) cabin area, mean weekends away or even extended cruises for a family of four are now a comfortable reality. But take up the option of full cockpit clears and put the cockpit transom lounge to work, (it converts into a double bunk) and two more unexpected guests can easily overnight onboard.
The 2008 Bayliner 300 has much cleaner lines than the 305, which, at 31ft was 6in longer than the new 300, rounder overall and it seemed (correct me if I am wrong), to have slightly higher top sides. When I first drove the 305 I found the hull a bit twitchy and she needed plenty of trim tabs to get her cruising comfortably.
But I had no such hassles with the new 300. In fact, in the conditions on the day of this test I didn’t even need the tabs. The dual props of the Bravo III drives rocketed the almost 5 tonne (fully loaded) hull effortlessly out of the hole and onto the plane within seconds. She dropped her bow almost instantly and maintained a level-planing angle.
By using only the sterndrive legs for trim out, she sliced cleanly through other boat’s wakes and wind chop. This is the sort of hull that only needs the tabs to control uneven load placement or strong wind across the bow.
At 3500rpm, the boat cruised effortlessly along at 40mph, which is a pretty darn good cruising speed for a 5 tonne boat, but push the throttles fully home and straight-out-of-the-box on her maiden voyage the 300 hit 50mhp at 5000rpm. Once she’s loosened up fully, full noise should be around 55mph.
If you’re into family cruising you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money on the market, especially if you compare the features included in that $205,000 price tag. The galley is big enough to prepare a family meal in. It features a two-burner electric stove, ample cupboards, microwave, deep sink with hot/cold tap and reasonable fridge/freezer, (although I’d only use it for food and put all drinks in the removable cockpit Esky to save space), and best of all there’s a skylight in the roof above the preparation area.
There’s room to shower the head, but you won’t be swinging any cats in there, the amidships double cabin has excellent headroom and doesn’t feel claustrophobic when you lay down and it does have it’s own porthole for cross ventilation.
The main island bed is angled at 45 degrees across the bow and is closed off from the saloon by a sliding curtain. It has under bunk storage and an opening hatch in the cabin roof above the bed.
Up in the main cockpit, the dual helm seat offers the driver excellent 360-degree vision, non-glare full instrumentation and steps in the dash for through-screen access to the bow.
The single-level cockpit is open plan, has an L-shaped navigator’s sun lounge to port, which compliments the two foredeck sun pads and a further L-shaped transom lounge and sink unit to port.
There’s a removable table for a bit of al fresco dining and the extra-wide swim platform is useful when dad goes to set-up the tow toys. All that’s missing from this family weekend is a transom barbeque and I am sure the guys at Avante Marine can organise that for you.
The buzzwords for salesmen in the marine industry these days are ‘family’ and ‘lifestyle’, so to be successful builders need innovative new products that will allow families to enjoy a hassle-free boating lifestyle. The 2008 Bayliner 300 Cruiser does this and more in luxurious, low maintenance surroundings, with enough grunt below to keep the rev heads in the family happy.
In calm conditions on the Parramatta River the Bayline 300 returned the following performance figures.
Twin 5lt MPI V8 MerCruisers, driving through Bravo III legs, power the latest Bayliner 300.
RPM – MPH
2500 : 20
3500 : 40
4500 : 48
5000 : 51
LOA : 30′ 3″
Beam : 10′
Draft : 1.03m
Weight : 4127kg
Fuel : 454 ltrs
Freshwater : 125 ltrs