Bayliner Discovery 288 Boat Review

Bayliner Discovery 288 Boat Review


The best way to learn about a boat is to speak to the owners—here’s what Doug the builder thinks about his Bayliner.

Main Features:

A swim platform with ladder and good sized cockpit work well for family days in summer. Ground tackle set-up is user-friendly and the flybridge helm offers good visibility and necessary information. The cockpit will please anglers and socialites.

“Bayliner 288 – Word of mouth”

Doug Hope’s been a builder for 25 years after a stint as a high school manual arts teacher in Coloundra. Born and bred in Queensland, he started boating about 35 years ago with a 3m tinnie and 3hp outboard. He graduated to a 4.3m then a 5.2m, then a 565L Haines—mainly used for fishing and skiing with the kids. He moved down to the Gold Coast around 1988 and went without a boat for a while before purchasing a 25 Bertram about nine years ago.  He sold that in 2006 and went into partnership with his son-in-law to purchase their pride and joy, a Bayliner Discovery 288.

Doug enjoys the freedom of being a builder.  “We work hard. It can be tough, but we’re not tied down to a nine-to-five schedule so we can take the odd extended weekend.

“We have a few guys that work for us and we keep them employed, which allows a bit more flexibility.”

What do you do with your Discovery 288 during your time off ?

“Mainly weekend cruising around the Broadwater and the bottom end of Moreton Bay up to Dunwich.

“I’m in partnership with my son-in-law and daughter, who have a little three-year-old boy, so we use it to spend time together. Sometimes they take it out or my wife and I might take a trip. Either way, it’s cruising and fishing, in protected waters mostly. It is set up for offshore but I haven’t taken it offshore yet.”

What is the longest trip you have done in your Discovery ?

“From Runaway Bay to Dunwich—the top end of North Straddie—at this stage. We will go further one day but we mainly concentrate around that area. It’s always nice around Russell and Karragarra Islands. We’re hoping to take it up to the Sunshine Coast/Mooloolaba later this year.”

What were the main features of the 288 that took your fancy ?

“The good accommodation for that size boat. There was nothing we could find in that size and price that had the accommodation and facilities like the 288. Things like the galley, fridge and good-sized shower and toilet, nice flybridge and comfortable area for the kids—it’s just a unique boat in that under 30ft flybridge cruiser range. A very good boat.”

Let’s take a Bayliner tour

On the test boat, the swim platform—which comes with a swim ladder—has optional carpet. Entry to the cockpit—which has standard carpet—is made easy by a transom door. There is a hot and cold transom shower for a quick rinse after a swim and a transom hatch in the cockpit houses a deckwash with room left for storage. The cockpit has two optional rod holders for trolling, combing lights and is roomy enough for fishing activity or for a couple of deckchairs. The cockpit is open to the helm, offering good visibility for the skipper backing down on a marlin or simply having a chat with sunbathers whose drinks rest in beverage holders.

Hatches in the cockpit deck provide access to the engine bay, pumps and batteries. The engine hatch has ‘Gas-Assist’. There are moulded steps to access the side decks.  

The flybridge is accessed via ladder steps from the cockpit. The skipper sits on a swivelling pedestal bucket seat and can keep good company with two adults on the L-shaped passenger/navigator lounge—three if someone wants to cuddle the helm seat. It’s a cosy set-up that would require most—and especially the portly—to step over the lounge to get around the helm seat. Once everyone’s seated, it’s in comfort and protected from the weather by a bimini top and clears all-round. There are a couple of beverage holders for the thirsty. 

The skipper has tilt steering and controls for trim tabs, windlass and searchlight, plus all the gear required to navigate safely such as radio, sounder, and gauges for all the expected information.

Accommodation on the Bayliner 288

Back through the cockpit, a sliding door offers access to the cabin. The head to starboard includes marine toilet, hot and cold shower, sink and a vanity cabinet. To port is a curious tuck away mid-berth under the raised dinette. 

The Discovery 288 can sleep six: one couple in this clever mid-berth under the dinette, another couple in the forward V-berth, and the dinette converts into a small double berth. 

The mid-berth is basically a futon-style mattress on the carpeted deck. It is not fixed and can slide aft for extra room. A curtain offers privacy. It looks like a snug space. I asked Doug if he won the rock-paper-scissors for the main V-berth. Being a good dad, it didn’t come to that.  His daughter and her husband have the forward berth while Doug and wife sleep amidships. 

“It’s actually pretty comfy and there’s good room for two, and it’s easy enough to get in and out of,” said Doug.

When you consider what alternatives there are in boats this size, it’s actually a very clever use of space. If you like lazy Sunday morning sleep ins, it’s probably the best hiding spot on board. 

The raised dinette above Doug’s bed that converts into a small double would be a bit cramped for two adults, but okay for one or two tired kids—roll over too far though, and you’ll end up on the galley floor. It’s also a handy bed for lying down after dinner and watching a movie on the optional TV with DVD player. Or if reading’s your thing, you could fluff the pillows, open the side windows and let a comfortable breeze drift over the pages.

The forward berth is open to the main cabin and is roomy enough to fit Doug’s daughter, her husband and their young son. It has an overhead hatch and side storage pockets.

Life at Sea in the Discovery

The full galley is at deck-level opposite the dinette and features a two-burner electric stove, microwave, deep sink and 12/240V fridge/ freezer. The stove can also run on alcohol or metho if needed. I asked Doug how this set-up works out in the field. “We get good use out of the galley. We opted for extra batteries for additional power and a 2kVA generator for extended cruising. We might go out for up to 10 days at a time, and it suits us fine,” said Doug.

The lower helm is positioned just forward of the galley. It is a sitting-only configuration and offers good visibility through the big windows. The seat slides back and forward for comfort and is similar in height to the dinette, making it conversation-friendly. You cannot operate the windlass from the lower helm, but otherwise it has full controls.

Life jackets are stowed under the forward V-berth and there are storage lockers and drawers placed wherever they can fit throughout the cabin.

The test boat is fitted with the optional MerCruiser Horizon 320hp 6.2L V8.  Doug’s has the same size engine, though it’s not the Horizon model.

How does the Bayline Discovery 288 go?

“It’s fine,” said Doug. “With a full load of fuel and gear you can cruise along comfortably at 20 knots or so at a reasonably good fuel consumption, which is good.”

“I got the guys at Avante to install full SmartCraft. I got a Navman 6600. At a nice cruising speed I can get about 50- odd litres per hour, which is pretty good for a boat this size; a bit more if I have a few people on board and a full load of fuel. I can get it down to about 53-55L/h at just under 4000 revs, which is pretty economical for a boat this size.”

Apart from the batteries, generator and SmartCraft, what options did you go for ? 

“Our 288 was a Brisbane Boat Show special through Avante Marine, so it was similar to [the test boat]. The main things I wanted to add were bow thrusters, which were installed just before we took delivery, plus a TV, the extra batteries and generator. Otherwise it came with just about everything else we wanted.”

As Doug has been using one for the last two years, I’ll let him sum up the Bayliner Discovery 288. “For two, it’s perfect and for four, it’s fine. There’s plenty of room. It’s a great size boat.” 

Boat Specifications

Boat Engine

Single 320hp MerCruiser Horizon 6.2L V8. 

Boat Performance

Into a head wind and strong outgoing tide, the Bayliner Discovery 288 recorded the following figures:

RPM – SPEED (knots)

2000 : 5.6

2500 : 7.2

3000 : 9.2

3500 :12.1

4000 :18.1

4500 :22

5000 :26

LOA : 9.32m (30’7”)

Beam : 3.05m (10’0”)

Draft : 0.97m (3’2”)

Weight : 3670kg

Fuel capacity : 427.7L

Water capacity : 128L

Holding tank capacity : 98L

Total berths : 6

Reviewed: October

Author: Daniel Tillack

Editor of Modern Boating Magazine