Big lakes are typically the most fun bodies of water, because they are often the friendliest places you’ll ever visit. Think of Iowa’s Lake Okoboji, Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka, Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri or Lake Havasu in Arizona. Those lakes thrum with activity during the boating season, with impromptu raft-ups and beach parties as part of the social mix.
However, with all that activity and traffic, the water can get pretty whipped up, which means you need something fairly sizable to cut through all the wakes to keep your passengers comfortable. Over the last several years, bowriders have been growing in size and have in a sense created a new market segment: the large runabout, some of which can measure 30 feet long.
As centerline lengths have increased, prices have been inching up, too, but it is still possible to get a runabout large enough to handle big-lake chop at a reasonable price. Take Caravelle’s 267 Bowrider for example, the company’s largest open-bow runabout. It has room for lots of friends, a sharp bow and a 21-degree deadrise to keep the ride cushy in rough conditions. Its base price is $56,500 which includes a relatively bulletproof powertrain: MerCruiser’s 300-horsepower 350 Mag MPI and a Bravo Three drive.
If you want more power, you can get up to 425 horsepower from MerCruiser’s 496 Mag HO, but none of the engine options alone will push the price over $70 grand.
One of the first things you notice about the boat’s profile are the graceful lines. Above the rubrail, the deck rises gently to meet the windshield, then drapes downward toward the rear of the cockpit and to the sweeping curves of the integrated swim platform, which looks more like a key design element than an afterthought. With as much room as it offers, there is no need for any bolt-on platform extensions.
From the platform, you enter the cockpit through a center walk-through, which features an upholstered pad that flips up for fore-and-aft access, and down to create a full-width sun pad. The cockpit features a full fiberglass liner, which makes clean-up as easy as wielding a garden hose, but Caravelle also includes snap-in carpeting as a standard feature. Other standard cockpit features include a sink, LED courtesy lighting, a carry-on cooler with dedicated, molded-in storage and a pop-up ski pylon.
At the helm, the driver benefits from a standard depth finder, tilt steering, connections for an MP3 player or iPod, bucket seats with flip-up bolsters and a nifty shock-absorbing feature. To port, the cowl area swings open to reveal a head compartment with its own porthole.
If you haven’t begun to notice, the standard features in this boat are often options on some competing runabouts. Take the bow's filler cushions for example. They're also standard, as is an anchor locker.
There are a host of options with which you can tailor the boat to your tastes, but the boat is pretty stoutly equipped in base trim—and I don’t say that about a lot of boats. It has enough power to get you home in a hurry when those summer squalls roll in, the features and space to make all your guests comfortable, and the deadrise and length to be comfortable on big lakes. Now all you have to do is find the party.
Editor’s Note: Brett Becker is a freelance writer based in Ventura, Calif. He covers the marine, automotive and racing industries for various print and Web titles. For more on the 267, call 800-642-2628 or visit www.caravelleboats.net.
Caravelle 267 Bowrider
Max draft: NA
Deadrise: 21 degrees
Weight: 5,000 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 75 gal.