Bayliner 197 SD (2012) – a complete review
This boat reminds me of a famous line of Crocodile Dundee’s to potential mugger having a switch blade ‘now this is a knife’ as it pulls out near-machette of 15″. This is what I feel about the Bayliner 197 SD deck boat bow rider when it is compared to few of the other bow riders that we have seen. It can hold ten people at a time, according to the builder but I think that number is a bit modest. This boat should be on list of the US Marine Corps in the ‘must buy’ list. Also, just like other Bayliner boats, best part here is bottom line.
The Key Features
Black color on hullside
Painted black trailer
Tilted steering wheel
A unique arrangement of seating which provides a “family-sized” cockpit and capacity of seating wrapped around 19 footer that is easily stored
Great performance engineered 3.0L standard engine
Family water sports is easy owing to transom design which has lounge cushion on the back, along with stainless steel ladder and hold downs for the inflatables.
Easy access to beach and water
Length Overall – 18′ 7”, 5.66 m
Beam 8′ 1” 2.46 m
Dry Weight – 2,695 lbs. 1,222 kg w/ eng
Fuel Cap – 35 gal., 132.5 L
Water Cap – 10 gal., 37.8 L (optional)
Draft – 2′ 8”, .81 m
Deadrise/Transom – 17 deg.
Max Headroom – open
Bridge Clearance – 7′ 0”, 2.13 m
Bayliner 197 SD (2012-)Engine options
Std. Power – 1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L TKS
Opt. Power – 1 x 190-hp MerCruiser 4.3L
Tested Power – 1 x 135-hp MerCruiser 3.0L TKS
Dual Entry — Stern or Bow
A very useful aspect of this deckboat is its ability for boarding from either stern or bow. Not everyone out there can back in to slip. If you are one of the captains, then you need not fear. You can drive her in straight and it will be all good. A lot of European marines are made for just this sort of boardings and boats come with twin rails of bow for holding.
I’d also yearn to see some consideration for the ones who aren’t really fortunate enough of having floating deck and need way for stepping down in to boat from fixed pier. The manufacturer here has again covered with 197 either ways. If you are having any float dock, then you can board the swim platform on the rear side which has similar height. If are using fixed pier for boarding, then it will be just 1 easy step down of this well made deck boat’s bow.
There is an option for extended swim plat form along with transom shower. I won’t really be buying a boat which has all these options. Platform that is extended is a bit lower to water and hence it is ideal staging to put on skies, easing on to tube, or simply lifting out of water with out using any reboarding three step ladder. Extended platform reaches over lower unit while it’s in down position. I don’t really care about feeling of any salt on the body and hence a fresh water wash down is must after I go out.
At first sight, I thought rear pad was small however I liked it after I spent some time using it. My crew people were using it for sitting on. With starboard and walk thru port, I realized that it’s pretty handy. The leggy and tall ladies who wish work on the tan; there is enough place for that here. Drink holders on aft pad have both sized holders which is a pretty good touch.
For storing skis, there are 2 places on the Bayliner 197 SD – a very large compartment at aft walk through and a spacious storage compartment. However, this is just a start of storage for this boat. There is a discrete space for cooler of carry on (which isn’t included) located below aft center seating cushion. All seats come with usual bin below with except for the ones which cover non-skid steps.
For sun worshippers
Sun pad here is missing. There wasn’t any place for lying out and this will not do any good especially when there is a boat called ‘Sun Deck’. Opening the storage compartments of port seat gave way to 4 optional platforms of filler along with cushions that were put away very neatly. Adding cushions and complete half forward of this 197 is pretty big and I do mean a sun pad that is massive. Also, it is simply a bit ahead of bimini top and shading zone that is out nicely.
If you like beaching a lot then there is a reboarding three step beach ladder on bow will be pretty handy. However, the sand will be coming in to the boat due to this and hence I would like that the company puts up optional shower on the bow for rinsing feet before you step in to the carpet.
At the helm
Helm was pretty comfortable for me and bulwarks aren’t too high. Hence resting arms on caprail was pretty natural. Also, my hand was feeling easily on to engine control however I would like if this control moved a bit forward. When I advanced to horizontal, our knee was hitting the switch of trim toggle on lever. The problem would have been solved if it was a bit forward. Drink holders are now kept before engine control and they could have been moved behind to new position.
Panel here has full instrumentation which includes trim guage which was much coveted. There is also optional gauge of depth available which I would not have left home without. I liked the pinion steering and power rack and also tilt wheel that is standard. These 2 are pretty important pieces of the standard equipment for this Bayliner 197 SD; they aren’t standard on each and every one of the priced point boats.
If you ask me about handling characteristics in a few words, I would say ‘not bad’. However, the Bayliner 197 SD carves nicely through turns and there isn’t any tendency for falling off turn or digging in too badly for making things uncomfortable. If you do not foresee any slow downs, then this boat will be doing it for you automatically.
Trimming here is basic. Come on board the plane and get trim up to about 1/4 marking on gauge. There will be boost for performance and steering too will loosen a bit. Going higher than this will see oscillation of bow. If this occurs then you one or two notches lower and again you will get in sweet spot.
I have written about cushions of bow filler, extended swimming platform, and shower. Also, I would be opting out of Bimini top and the cover of cockpit as there aren’t any packages of canvas on standard list. Also, there is ‘Flight Series Package’ which consists of wakeboard tower, cool hull graphics on the side, and extended swim platform. I would
most likely skip this because it looks more like ride which is relaxing or a tubing boat and not wakeboard boat. However, there are people who will disagree because I saw plenty of Flight Series 197s getting shipped from factory where the boat was tested by me.
Bayliner 197 SD was tested in Tennessee river and the boat was primarily made for such kinda environments along with the lakes. The lower freeboard and the relatively shallow dead rise gives great performance in such protected conditions. Top speed which I got here with the 135 horsepower stern drive engine was about 39.1 mph. The most economical speed was about 27.1 mph.
Standard engine here is 135 horsepower MerCruiser MPI/A1 3.0 L CARP having gas engine compliance and the Alpha 1 stern drive. MSRP base price with the freight and dealer prep is $30,249.