December 24, 2012
Boat Test Monday: Berkshire 243SLX Premium BP3
Brady L. Kay
|Print | Back|
Our First Impression
Improving on what you already do well is a challenge, yet
it’s something the engineers at Forest River Marine seem to thrive on. Proving
you don’t need the biggest horsepower engine available to have fun, this
Even though those two extremely comfortable rear-facing lounges in the stern, complete with pop-up armrests, are going to get the most attention on this boat, we feel it’s the helm that deserves a closer look.
The simplicity of the user-friendly dash console is refreshing. We love the Humminbird 385ci GPS that is recessed into the console and perfectly centered for the driver. Like the GPS, the Clarion stereo with a huge sub-woofer speaker is also top-quality, and there is even a remote for those in the stern lounges to access the tunes. Forward of the fiberglass helm is a well-hidden faucet and sink that when closed you wouldn’t even know it was there. This is just one of the many hidden features that we liked on this model.
Hidden in the back of one of the bow loungers is a unique pop-up enclosure that takes up very little room, yet still offers enough of a changing room. It stands at five-foot, five-inches tall and it’s easy to use.
A nice added touch to the rear-entry design is the synthetic
teak flooring that really completes the high-end feel of this boat. Also in the
stern is a solid ladder with great handholds, as well as a ski/tow bar that
will be well-used on this
We love the added effort that went into making this boat safe, including the rear loungers that are perfectly contained inside of the rails. There are a total of three lift-and-lock gates that lock in the open and closed positions and each have pinch protection for the hinges. Also worth noting is the snap-in carpet that helps with the overall high-end feel to this luxurious boat, yet makes cleanup when necessary very easy.
Three pressurized 25-inch diameter pontoons with lifting strakes are the solid base of this pontoon. The lifting strakes are on both sides of the center pontoon and on the insides of the two outside tubes. The C-channel cross members are bolted to the plywood deck and are on 16-inch centers overall and even closer near the transom. Wiring below is excellent and there is a nice aluminum splash skin that covers the full length of the undercarriage. The weld quality and fit and finish work overall is outstanding.
Above deck we found no dangerous or sharp edges and all the hidden compartments are well finished. For both fit and finish work and construction quality, this boat earned high marks for its safe design.
Even though this particular performance model is rated for
up to a 250hp engine, we feel the Yamaha 150 still showcased what this
Who Should Buy It
Who Should Buy It
This is a value-driven, high-end pontoon boat with maybe one
of the most user-friendly helm consoles we tested this year. On a boat like
this, the rear lounge seats will get all the attention, but there are plenty of
other reasons to take a closer look at this