At first glance, the 2009 Bayliner 245 Cruiser might look like a “refreshed” version of the model that preceded it, which is “boat speak” for “we made a couple of minor changes and called it a new boat.” But looks can be deceiving because the newest, smallest member of Bayliner’s cruising family is all new, and the changes are all good.
Entering the cockpit, we see a totally new layout that allows for better passenger flow by eliminating the portside L-lounge in favor of a chaise lounge seat. This arrangement allows the addition of a wet bar entertainment center, something not seen on older 245s. Instead of a solo captain’s chair, the backseat driver can now sit right next to the skipper on the double-wide helm seat to allow for easier micromanagement.
A nice touch is the shotgun rail on top of the seat – a rarity on smaller cruisers – which will allow passengers to stand safely and comfortably should the seas kick up. All upholstery has been upgraded to heavier-duty 32-ounce marine vinyl for greater durability.
Shoving off from the dock in historic Southport, North Carolina, the standard MerCruiser 5.0L MPI purrs quietly at 58 decibels while idling. Putting it on the plane on a branch of the Cape Fear River takes 6.6 seconds with only moderate bow rise. The 245’s happiest cruise speed is at 3600 rpm, which nets you 26 mph.
We were able to hold our line very easily in the moderate chop, and the Bayliner happily sliced through any bumps in the road, which was not surprising since one of the major improvements for 2009 is more deadrise in the hull, now measuring 18 degrees at the stern. Sometimes this translates into making a fairly top-heavy cruiser more tender, but not in this case because the new hull also weighs 864 pounds more (6,144 pounds). Of course, it is a foot longer also, which translates into more stability.
Taking the 245 up to 4850 rpm gives us a top usable speed of 35.6 mph. We can get it to 37.2 mph by over-trimming it, but it induces some porpoising. The 5.0L MPI runs quietly at wide-open throttle, registering only 90 dBa. Throwing it into some hard turns, it corners well, with some ventilation taking place at the end of the radius, as is typical for a cruiser.
The 245 Cruiser has a beam of 8 feet, 6 inches, which makes it trailer able without a wide-load permit. Although the new beefier hull may push three-quarter-ton trucks close to their towing limits, with a combined dry boat/trailer weight of 7,862 pounds, most vehicles with a V8 and the factory towing package should be able to handle it.
The price of the 2009 model is about $10,000 more than last year’s, but the improvements easily offset the extra cost, not to mention getting a larger boat. Families looking for a roadworthy, adventure-generating machine are going to love it.
The duty of heading forward for anchoring is vastly easier because the ballerina-wide windshield walk-through steps were replaced with ones that stretch the entire width of the sliding cabin door. The forward deck is flat, textured with a nonskid surface to make movement safer, and surrounded by the tallest bow rail you have ever seen on a small cruiser.
Entering the cabin, we were greeted with lots of ambient light, thanks to the large smoked windows that run the length of the cabin on both sides, not to mention four portholes and a large translucent overhead hatch. The galley arrangement has been switched so that the alcohol stove is not right next to the passenger lounge, in case the boat chef starts flipping food in the skillet like on Top Chef. There are 6 feet and 2 inches of headroom, and the 245 Cruiser still sleeps four in comfort in the V-berth and mid-cabin.