Think you can't afford a 25-foot-long custom runabout? Think again, and do a little comparative shopping. Start by checking out the sticker of a 25-footer from a big-name production builder. Then check out the price of a similar model from a custom outfit. Chances are, thanks to spiraling prices on the production side, the difference will be smaller than you expected.
Hallett's 255 Open Bow is a fine example of what can be had in the custom realm for less than $80,000. It's a family oriented boat from a builder that is on its third generation of customers. And in the custom-boat market, where players come and go, that means something.
Stability and predictable handling are crucial in any family targeted boat, especially one that tops 65 mph with a 425-hp MerCruiser 496 Mag HO engine under the hatch. With that power package and a 1.5:1 Bravo One drive with a Bravo One 15 1/4" x 24" four-blade stainless-steel propeller, our test model ran 67.8 mph.
The big-block engine was a good match for the 25-footer. For those who crave more juice, the boat can be ordered with a 500-hp Mercury Racing HP525EFI motor. The bigger engine would, however, significantly boost the price.
Not that the 496 Mag HO didn't provide enough pop. With the Bennett trim tabs down, the 255 came on plane in 3.4 seconds, and the boat reached 64 mph in 20 seconds. Decent in midrange drills, the bow rider ran from 30 to 50 mph in 4.7 seconds. The power fell off a bit up top, since the boat took 8 seconds to accelerate from 40 to 60 mph, but it was still plenty snappy for a family runabout.
At all speeds, the 255 felt planted to the water, not in a lumbering, plodding manner, but in a most reassuring and comfortable way. It tracked neatly at constant speed, and didn't bobble when our test driver suddenly advanced or pulled back the throttle. Riding on a 20-degree conventional V-bottom, it grooved its way through slalom and circle turns with inward lean, and leveled off without snapping to the outside.
For a 25-footer, the 255 Open Bow rode softly in 2-foot river chop, and the boat wasn't affected by gusty 20 mph crosswinds on the Colorado River during our test day.
The solid construction of the 255 Open Bow, which weighed in at 3,950-pounds without fuel, surely contributed to its solid ride. The boat was hand-laid with vinylester resin, tridirectional fiberglass and four full-length stringers interlocked to a triple-bulkhead system, according to information supplied by the builder.
The boat's gelcoat graphics were a mix of purple, gray and red with gray pins. Customers who want something different can order the boat with other colors and patterns—that's standard fare for a custom boat. Our test boat's hues were sharp, and its mold work was smooth. Protecting the pretty package was a plastic rubrail with a stainless-steel insert.
The boat was outfitted with a number of manually retractable cleats, as well as a retractable Accon navigation light.
An electric screw jack raised the engine hatch/sun pad, which was neatly finished on both sides. As is typical for a custom outfit, even one building a family runabout, Hallett installed the 496 Mag HO engine on powder-painted L-angles that were through-bolted to the stringers. The installation was simple and tidy, and all wires were protected in conduit and held in place by stainless-steel cushion clamps.
The cockpit of the 255 Open Bow had a number of fine qualities, namely Hallett's beefy bucket seats and teak-and-holly sole with immaculate snap-in carpet. Another strong suit was the open space. A company representative said the 255 can comfortably accommodate 12 people. We didn't put that to the test, but the boat did look as though it could.
Under the two cushions that comprised the bottom for the contoured bench, there were stowage lockers. There also were stowage trays in the padded gunwales, as well as an in-sole locker in the bow walk-through lockers under the seat bottoms for the bow lounges. For wet items like ski gloves, there was a small locker, which also could double as a cooler, on the swim platform. Short story: The 255 had more than enough stowage space for a family.
Short on frills but comfy and functional, the port-side co-pilot's station had a grab handle, a cupholder and a locking glove box. All were within arm's reach—that arm belonged to our 6-foot-tall inspector—from the deep bucket seat.
Faria gauges were grouped around the steering wheel at the helm, which was clean and simple. Electronic indicators were supplied for the trim tabs. Accessory switches were mounted to the left of the wheel, and the Hardin Marine shifter and throttle handles were installed on the starboard gunwale.
As mentioned previously, there were lockers under the contoured open-bow lounges. The forward sections of the cushions had built-in cupholders. To its credit, the manufacturer built an anchor locker with a hinged lid into the boat's nose. Like the teak-and-holly flooring in the cockpit, the sole of the open bow was covered with high-quality snap-in carpet.
Hallett makes a 21- and a 24-footer, but the 255 Open Bow is its strongest "entry-level" offering. But the boat is anything but entry-level in terms of amenities, and when it comes to performance and construction it's far, far from production. The only thing close is the price.
Hull and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||20 degrees|
|Hull weight||<3,950 pounds|
|Engine||MerCruiser 496 Mag HO|
|Lower-unit gear ratio||1.5:1|
|Propeller||Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 24"|
|Base retail price||$70,900|
|Price as tested||$76,535|
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to MerCruiser 496 Mag HO engine ($4,800), mufflers ($650) and drive shower ($185).
|5 seconds||35 mph|
|10 seconds||53 mph|
|15 seconds||61 mph|
|20 seconds||64 mph|
|30-50 mph||4.7 seconds|
|40-60 mph||8 seconds|
|Time to plane||3.4 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||14 mph|
|Radar||67.8 mph at 5000 rpm|
|GPS||67.4 mph at 5000 rpm|
|At 25 mph||3.6 mpg|
|At 35 mph||3.3 mpg|
|At 45 mph||3 mpg|
|At 55 mph||2.6 mpg|
|At 65 mph||2 mpg|
|At WOT||1.9 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||105 gallons|
|Wind speed||8 mph with 20-mph gusts|
|Sea conditions||2' to 3' chop|
For More Information
5820 Martin Road
Irwindale, CA 91706