Issue: October 1999
The Bayliner Capri 2350 bowrider is about as big as they get when it comes to trailable runabouts. With an overall length of 7.2 metres, beam of 2.5 metres and weighing close to 2 tonnes – probably more than that with fuel and other gear on board – this is the type of runabout you moor at the end of your jetty or on the slipway, keep in dry storage, or only get around on a trailer behind a light truck or sturdy 4-wheel drive. However, this bowrider is the type of boat ideally suited to bay and harbour boating. It has the depth and freeboard to be comfortable in the slop, while its length makes the ride just so much more comfortable and easy-going on those open waters than smaller bowriders and runabouts.
For sheer comfort and enjoyment of your boating, it’s almost inevitable that size will make a big improvement every time. Runaboats such as the 2350 Capri make trailer-boating about as comfortable and relaxing as it can get. What’s more, this boat shows just how easily performance can be retained for anything from general-purpose cruising, to reasonably serious skiing. But then, all this size, performance and comfort does come at a premium price! The 7.4-litre 310hp MPI MerCruiser is top power for this boat and understandably the boat is extremely responsive to throttle, cruises effortlessly at low- and mid-range rpm, and has the potential to be extremely fast and nimble.
The test boat was fitted with a standard 21′ three-blade alloy prop and this is probably not sufficient to bring out the best in the boat and engine combination. Although this prop hangs on superbly through the severest of turning and acceleration manouvres, it revs out too freely, bringing the rev limiter into play before reaching full throttle. With the limiter set around 4500 to 4600, full throttle testing was hampered by the limiter cutting in before full throttle was reached. Consequently our top recorded speed is not really indicative of the boat’s potential and by going to, say, a 23′ alloy prop, or one of the many stainless steel options that are available, the top speed is more likely to be in the high 40-knot range (50 to 55mph).
On the other hand, with the 21′ alloy prop as tested, you know you will have a boat that will easily pull a full load without the slightest problem and can accelerate, turn and generally run efficiently right through the range. It would only be in circumstances similar to those under which we tested the boat (light load and few passengers and at full throttle) that the need for a larger prop would seem necessary – but not essential! There is more than enough speed here whichever prop option is selected and the boat is very easy to drive, and very positive in the turns with a secure grip all the way round. This is a nice boat to drive. Not only is it soft and easy to handle, everything is set out to enable the driver to be fully relaxed when behind the wheel. Although there isn’t an adjustable seat – and I didn’t need any – the wheel is tilt adjustable. I have to give it to Bayliner in this regard: they give every bit of attention to the location and building in of the throttle/gear lever and the shaping of the upholstery and mouldings around it, as they do to other aspects of the design. The position of the throttle lever couldn’t be better, and the moulding and upholstery above and behind provide a comfortable armrest for the driver. The height is right; the width adequate; and it’s all very comfortable … well, at least it was for me!
As for the layout, the Bayliner 2350 follows traditional company design and finish principles, though with the space and volume that the 7.3-metre hull affords, there are some extra cavernous storage spaces, a little trick or two thrown in, and of course the luxury of an enclosed toilet. Fitted into the console between the passenger and the forward cockpit seating, the toilet isn’t the most spacious nor the most elaborate – the toilet itself is portable – but it does add a luxury that is simply not possible on a runabout any smaller than this.
Consequently, understanding the space that is needed simply to get even the tightest of enclosed toilets into the console moulding and hull depth on the port side, then there is the same space available to the driver’s console, and for storage this space is cavernous. This will easily hold all the covers, and anything else you would care to throw in for a day’s boating, including the infill panel and cushion that turns the bow seating into a complete bow sun lounge. As usual, the canopy folds inconspicuously under the rear lounge top hatch; there’s plenty of under-floor storage; an ice well built into the passenger’s console and it goes almost without saying, the driver’s console looks the part with a full range of instruments and switches for things such as blower, bilge pump, navigation and cockpit lights, horn and so on. Something I liked was the lift-out centre section in the rear lounge seat.
This exposes a non-slip finished moulded glass section over the engine box, enabling passengers to get in and out of the cockpit and to and from the rear boarding platform without having to stand on the easily marked white upholstery. The aft boarding platform is going to get a lot of use – be it as a swim platform, or for boarding and disembarking – so this moulded step out over the rear lounge makes a lot of sense, without sacrificing the seating capacity of the rear lounge.