Bayliner 285 Review
This is the first of a three part review of the Bayliner 285 cruiser. The second part will appear next month with the third appearing late February or early March. The third part will cover an on-water test scheduled for early 2011.
It was sunny and a balmy 34 degrees as I pulled in to the freshly fallen snow covered parking lot of Bayliner dealer “Fox Lake Harbor” on Grand Ave. in Fox Lake, IL. this past week. Fox Lake is a very popular boating area northwest of Chicago and just over the WI/IL border.
Owner/General Manager Warren Moulis greeted me and asked his Bayliner sales expert, John Maslowski to provide iboats.com a sneak-peek look at the Bayliner 285 they were prepping for the upcoming Chicago Boat Show (January 12-16 at the McCormick Place convention center). John is in his second decade with Fox Lake Harbor. He was a long -time customer before starting on their sales force.
The 285 was backed up to their showroom platform for easy access by the prep crew. We walked up the dozen or so stairs and down to almost the end of the gray, indoor-outdoor carpeted, dock-looking platform.
From the stern, the first feature of the 285 to greet you is the massive swim platform area. The boat has a good size platform molded in to the stern that by itself is almost two feet deep. The extra, optional platform ads almost another three feet and a stowable boarding ladder. It makes for a nice party platform at anchor or the spot to secure a tender when under way.
Centered on the exterior of the transom bulkhead is a roomy storage compartment for fenders that doubles as access for the shore power connection. I would have liked that the hatch for the storage area opened more than it did.
The walk through to the cockpit area is roomy and guarded by a thigh-high, solid composite door that swings well out of the way and self secures to port. I’m sure some engineer suggested that the door have about a 2+” opening along the bottom for some reason but I would prefer to have a flexible grate at the bottom of the door to stop small objects from making their way off the back of the boat during acceleration. I can just see a wallet, sun glasses, child’s toy or something else headed out the back door. Just abaft of the door is the auxiliary shower wand. These are very handy and once you have one, you’ll insist on it on all your future boats. It’s nice to be able to rinse off with fresh, warm water any season. Here’s a tip, keep it away from the kids. For some reason they think it makes a great squirt gun.
Walk through the transom doorway and you’re greeted by the built in sink which is integrated in to the port side and is above the very handy cockpit refrigerator. The refrigerator and some other items on this boat are part of a “Preferred Equipment Package”. You’ll want to talk with your local dealer about what all is in that and what other options are available. The location of the frig brings me back to the gap under the transom doorway. If the door to the frig isn’t secured (yes, been there, done that) something from inside will also find its way out that doorway. The frig looks like it will hold a twelve-pack and more plus has an ice cube area. It saves you from having to go below for refreshments or dig in to the portable cooler.
Another nice and practical feature at the sink and frig is a stainless grab rail. If you’re coming in the doorway or need something solid to grab as you reach into the frig, it’s nice to have and perfectly located.
Speaking of hand holds; Bayliner located a plethora of them in the cockpit area between the seat bottom and seat back. They match the white of the fiberglass but are nicely padded and well located. These are a very nice touch for land lubbers and seasoned boaters. Another feature that engineers probably did think of and that boaters will like are the number of cup holders found on most flat surfaces on the boat.
As you walk around the cockpit you can’t help but notice the snap in carpet, another practical feature. It’s comfortable, stands up to weather and the sun and can be removed exposing a non-slip deck for easy cleaning of the carpet and/or the deck. Dipping the snap in carpet in the lake or hosing it off after a grape soda is spilled on it makes the first mate very happy.
There’s a lot of seating room in the cockpit for socializing. The white vinyl seats are firm but comfy and the backs provide good support. Remember, odds are you’ll be walking on the seats at some time or another and they can’t be too soft and they need to be robust enough to stand up to weather and years of use.
There’s a table that mounts on a post for alfresco dining that doubles as the support for another neat idea that I’m sure an engineer didn’t come up with. When you mount the table in its lower of two positions it also reveals two extra supporting legs that come in to play when you use the table as the support and base for a voluminous sun lounge. Somewhere below you’ll find the place to stow the optional cushions that help make up the sun lounge but bring them out, set them on the lowered table and relax away the day in the sun. If you purchase the “camper” canvas package or have one custom made, this sun deck gives you room to sleep a couple more of your friends.
Bayliner must have been listening to boaters because there’s “nooks and cranny’s” for storage every imaginable place. Under the aft facing lounge seat that is the back of the help seat, is a large area for placing a 48 quart cooler and/or wet “stuff” that makes it onboard.
Below the helm seat is another small storage area to secure smaller items.
The helm is large. There’s seating for two at the helm but only the driver’s seat is adjustable and only the driver’s seat has the bolster feature to provide support for driving while standing and yet be able to not be crowded up against the tilt able steering wheel.
When seated at the helm there’s a well-placed foot rest molded in to the bulkhead that also separates the helm and cockpit from the main cabin. I can’t imagine why they mounted a breaker panel on that same bulkhead. If you have a shorter driver or you’re bounding around the waves they are right in the bullseye for your toes or the tow of your shoes. You’ll start smacking breakers and possibly dislodge their little waterproofing covers. Other conventional control switches (blower, lights, etc.) are located well within reach on both sides of the steering wheel.
The instrument panel is huge. Bayliner planned ahead for the installation of optional plotters, radar or other video navigation devices with a tall, long blank panel above the steering wheel and below the standard instruments. Below the easy to see and glare resistant standard instruments and just above the plotter panel is an angled shelf that’s a great spot for sunglasses, pens or other small items. At each end of this small shelf are small “walls” that help keep anything on that shelf, on that shelf. So when you turn to port your sunglasses won’t go flying to starboard and overboard. You’ll also see two scuppers on that shelf to help drain rainwater that might accumulate there.
Above the cockpit and helm rests a forward bowed radar arch. The arch on this 285 had two speakers and lighting installed. The design of arches is a science all to itself. A good structure can look bad and a good looking arch can be poorly made. The arch on the 285 is strong, well made, looks like it was designed for the boat, and has features the boat owner and any future service or installer will like. Did you ever wonder how they get the wiring inside the arch or mount all the accessories? Access panels accommodate everything plus provide the installers or transporters a way to install or remove the arch. If the panels are well designed, you’ll hardly notice them. If they are simply round or square cut outs, you’ll notice them and won’t be happy. If they are nicely shaped and designed to accent the arch, you’ll be happy. If they are large enough to fit a hand and arm, your installer and service tech will be happy. Bayliner pleases most everyone with this design.
I like to use a cruiser for overnight mini-vacations. Like many boaters, it’s my water-borne RV. This 285 had a very beefy bimini that allows you to zip on additional canvas. The supports for the bimini are very strong so, even though you’re not supposed to use them as hand holds, you won’t wreck them if you do. I would look in to adding more canvas to enclose as much of the cockpit as possible and ask about screens for it to keep the pesky, buzzing little summer guests on the outside.
Next month we’ll check out the cabin area, head, galley, berth and look at the power that moves the 285 across the water.