From the Solid Hull On Up

Published in the August 2012 Issue August 2012 Ask The Expert

For a test boat to show up with only one option installed on it, that's a pretty rare thing. We test a lot of boats around here. It's one of the best parts of our job. Usually when manufacturers show up, they bring us the most tricked-out boat with all of the options you can imagine. It's their opportunity to show off what they can do and since they do it exceedingly well, it makes for a great day on the lake.

Yet when NauticStar arrived with its 203SC Sport Deck, we were shocked to find out everything was standard. The only option on the boat was the snap-in carpet for easy cleanup. And that was only included for practicality purposes given the number of people who were going. It proved that when NauticStar sets out to build a boat, they do it 100 percent complete the first time.

"In our research of the boating market, we found that today's buyers demand versatility, durability, value and performance in their boating decisions," says NatuicStar President Phil Faulkner. "The NauticStar 203SC delivers just that."

When it comes to the construction of the 203SC, it's one of NauticStar's biggest achievements. Its exclusive hull design has a shallow draft dead rise at the transom to give the boat extra stability when it is at rest. The full V of the bow allows for a softer ride, especially when the water gets rough. The hull also includes an air-assisted chine that releases water which gets the boat out of the water on plane quicker and higher than an average hull might. This ride stays on plane at lower speeds too.

All of these features make up a design that is very unique for a deck boat. NauticStar boats use a one-piece molded fiberglass stringer system that is filled with marine grade flotation foam, which adds safety and strength and also reduces noise. The boat is made with a wood-free construction process that comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

When boarding the boat, the rear seat has a flip-up cushion so you don't have to stand on the vinyl to get in and out, which is the perfect amenity for those of us programmed since childhood to keep our shoes off the furniture. Plus there is a stainless steel ladder and walk-thru transom that really make it easy to hop on deck.

Once you're moving, stainless steel grab rails are positioned around the boat to help hold you steady. The 11 cupholders, nine of which are stainless steel, are dispersed throughout so that everyone can stay hydrated with little to no hassle.

After cruising around, it was exceedingly clear that NauticStar has done a phenomenal job with this model. It's hard to believe it's only 20 feet long because 10 people could easily be seated comfortably. The eight ample storage compartments are hinged and could easily accommodate all the stuff that a large family tends to bring when they plan on being gone all day.

All of the storage is lined to prevent mildew and allow for easy cleanup. The floor storage is deep and big enough to store lots of unused gear, but with a standard ski/tow bar, you won't need to store anything for an extended period of time because you'll want to be using it.

The boat has an extremely sporty look to match its comfortable feel. The test boat was black and white with crisp off-white leather touch upholstery that felt good and looked elegant. It was equipped with a Yamaha F150 motor and you could feel the power throughout the ride.

The portside has a water system with a sink, a solid acrylic countertop, plus an inverted compartment for an Igloo cooler. The cooler stores inside this console and allows for you to grab a beverage or food item without taking the cooler out. There is also an insulated bow cooler that can be converted to an aerated livewell. With an outboard drain, you can rest assured that no livewell water will make it into the boat.

On the starboard side, you will find a trash bag holder on the inside of a door for safe traveling and additional storage for the included table or extra food preparation equipment.

The helm station is designed to be eye-catching with a brushed powder look and a shade for the gauges. The wheel is padded and non-directional. The dash includes a trim gauge, tachometer, speedometer and fuel gauge. In order to create a visible reminder, the electrical switches are lit while turned on so you can remember to turn them off when not in use. All of this plus a 12-volt receptacle and a helm chair that swivels and slides makes for a comfortable place for the captain to hang out. The stereo system includes four JBL speakers and an MP3/USB port. Being able to hook up an iPod shouldn't be an option in today's world, so it was nice to see NauticStar recognizes this and includes technology features without charging an arm and a leg for them.

After a long day of having fun and making waves, no one wants to worry about cleaning the boat. But the 203SC has a self-bailing cockpit so it's truly a breeze to restore to cleanliness. If you go with the optional carpet, just remove it, turn on the hose, spray down the inside, including the under seat storage, and let the water run out the scuppers.

The moral of this story is simple. If you want a quality-made deck boat that comes with a ton of amenities standard, great performance and comfort, the NauticStar 203SC SportDeck could easily be the boat for you and your family.

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