Zinging across the bay in a Scarab 165 Ghost is pure, unadulterated, adrenaline-pumping fun. Is that the end of the story? Not really, but few boats are so simple to appraise, so accurately, with a single word. And you now know everything you need to before watching this on-the-water video.


Yes, there’s more to learn about the 165 Ghost and of course, we’ll now dig a little deeper into the details. But trust us, it’s impossible to step off of this boat without having a grin plastered across your face. That grin gets generated by 150 four-stroke Rotax horses, blasting water through a 155MM jet pump to bring you to a top-end speed of right around 40 MPH. And you get there fast—really fast. What’s better, however, is what happens when you crank the wheel over. This boat handles like a large PWC, with near-instantaneous turns. The hull slides just enough to feel like a motorcycle skidding into a hair-pin, but never slides so much that you feel like there’s a loss of control.

Oh, and by the way, you’d better plan on getting wet. Again, think of this boat like a very large PWC. As you zigzag back and forth water flies in every direction, and you’ll notice that the low-slung bow only clears the water’s surface by a foot or two. Chop the throttle as a wave approaches and you’ll scoop a face-full of water. For this reason I do wish the helm had a bit more protection, in the form of a small windshield. Something to duck behind, just so it didn’t feel like someone was standing on the bow with a garden hose aimed directly at your face.

Then again, maybe that’s a geriatric attitude. PWCs don’t have windshields, and half the fun is getting soaked in the first place, right? Besides, this boat is made for it. There’s nothing that will get damaged by a thorough dousing, the gauges and switches are all sealed, and the cockpit is self-bailing. So what the heck—grab a bathing suit, put your cell phone in a waterproof case, and go have some more fun.

Think of the 165 Ghost (or 165 G, for short) as a giant sit-inside PWC.

Think of the 165 Ghost (or 165 G, for short) as a giant sit-inside PWC.

If watersports are your favorite form of on-the-water action (read The Wonderful World of Watersports: All Things Towable if you want to learn more about wakeboarding, wake surfing, and the like), you’ll be happy to learn that the 165 Ghost has a ski locker in the deck and a tow-eye on the transom. There’s also a pair of aft-facing seats built into the stern, though these are probably best used for coving and swimming as opposed to when running.

You want more details? There isn’t a heck of a lot more to discuss, because the Scarab 165 Ghost is about as simple a jet boat as you’ll find. The stringers are fiberglass, the lights are LEDs, the cleats are stainless-steel, and the included trailer is covered in GatorHyde finish. All that’s left to talk about is price—but in this case, price is a big deal. The 165 Ghost currently MSRPs for a wimpy $17,495. Remember that this boat was introduced around the time this review published, and after the 2017 model year changes this number could change, too. But any way you look at it, this is a stellar deal: a jet boat with a powerplant and a trailer for far less than the average new car. In fact, that’s barely half the price of an average new car ($33,560 in 2016, according to Kelly Blue Book). It’s also just a few hundred bucks more than some PWCs and it’s a price that virtually any middle-class American can afford—even young folks who are just getting their careers started. That said, don’t think the 165 Ghost is only for kids. One ride is all it takes to remind us geriatric types that we’re never too old to have some pure, unadulterated, adrenaline-pumping fun.

Other Choices: You’re not going to find a direct competitor in this size and price range; one of the closest is the Yamaha 19’ jet boat range, but these are substantially larger, more complex, and far more expensive. Comparison shoppers are probably more likely to be looking at jazzy PWCs like the Yamaha FX Cruiser SVHO or the Sea Doo RXP-X 260. Or, if they want to consider outboard power, might be attracted to the even less expensive Bayliner Element.

For more information, visit Scarab.

See Scarab 165 Ghost listings.
Deadrise21 degrees
Displacement1,600 lbs
Fuel capacity20 gal.

Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.