By Jeff Hemmel
Bayliner 190 DB: Deckboat for a Crowd
The new deckboat line from Bayliner includes this outboard-powered model, which is the smallest in the series yet comes with expanded capabilities.
Bayliner took a long hard look at its deckboat lineup for 2013, and developed a range of new models from this 190 we’re looking at today, to the 215 DB which we reviewed last month. Apparently, the company thought it could do better than previous deckboat offerings, and Bayliner touts the new deck series as having the “capacity for more.” Specifically, the brand promotes the new series as having sharper, more contemporary looks, impressive people and stowage capacity, and unparalleled versatility thanks to multiple configuration options and activity-focused special packages.
That’s certainly a mouthful, but it’s also a pretty accurate description of what the brand has done. The outboard-powered 190 indeed sports a more cutting-edge, modern design, and it can haul up to 11 passengers. The latter is pretty impressive for a boat that, in reality, is only 18’ 7” long. As to that versatility, the boat offers a windscreen standard, but can be optioned to a full wraparound windshield. Likewise, it comes in standard trim or can be upgraded to include the watersports-oriented Flight Series package (aluminum wakeboard tower with integrated Bimini top and Flight Series hull graphics) or the angler-pleasing Fish package (wireless MotorGuide trolling motor, aerated livewell, Garmin fishfinder, dual casting platforms and chairs, and dedicated rod stowage).
Up Close And Personal
But enough of the “big picture” stuff – let’s get into some specifics. The smallest boat in the line, the 190 showcases a layout that is, for the most part, shared throughout the series. It starts with a generous 5’ x 1’ 6” bow platform, covered completely in nonslip and featuring a three-step stainless steel ladder below its center hatch. There are stowage compartments to both the port and starboard sides. I expected to find an anchor, or at least the clips to secure one, below that ladder. Instead, the anchor locker is relegated to the cockpit step below.
The deep, secure bow cockpit is laid out in traditional U-shaped fashion. Parallel seats which are just shy of four feet long lift completely out for access to the stowage below. Interiors are Bayliner’s familiar grey-painted fiberglass; a raised lip at the compartment perimeter keeps water at bay.
The main cockpit shares this straight-forward, functional approach. Both the windscreen-topped helm and wraparound windshield variation share the identical console layout. The helm is simple but attractive, the white fiberglass of the deck mold accented only by a three-gauge array, stereo headset control, and a neat row of rocker switches behind the tilt steering wheel. A center tray, with drain and hinged lid, is a nod to the omnipresence of today’s smartphones, and is located in close proximity to an MP3 input and 12V plug. I missed a flip-up bolster on the helm seat, but appreciated a nicely padded elbow rest behind the throttle.
Opposite the helm, a doublewide seat is positioned parallel to the gunwale, with a rear-facing backrest against the port console. The open space below can be used for stowage, or to add an optional portable MSD. A separate bench spans two-thirds of the transom, leaving a starboard walk-thru to access the swim platform. There’s stowage below the bench, as well as a small cooler below the walk-through floor.
Two standard swim-platform extensions flank the outboard. A boarding ladder, housed within an indent on the starboard platform, is wisely angled outboard, to keep maximum distance from the engine. A 6’ 4” long, 10” deep in-floor ski locker is again finished with grey paint, and features a pneumatic strut to raise its lid.
Extra points are reserved for the nonslip lining the tops of the gunwales across nearly the entire cockpit area. Wise or not, people board a boat from the dock by stepping on the gunwales. That nonslip helps to ensure they don’t end up in the drink. I also appreciated the generous, full seatback cushioning that covers nearly the entire perimeter, as well as the raised hump the base cushions offer under the knees. The latter feature keeps passengers feeling a little more secure, as does the boat’s generous 35” minimum cockpit depth.
My test boat was equipped with the base Mercury 115 EFI Four-stroke outboard. It pushed the boat onto plane in 4.2 seconds, and to 30 mph in 11.6. Top speed peaked at 35.7 mph. Handling was predictable, with the 17-degree deadrise hull showcasing good stability, performing relatively aggressive turns with no surprises, and comfortably handling the windswept chop of Florida’s Sarasota Bay. The only noticeable low point was a somewhat weird hull harmonic that briefly spiked the decibel meter to 96 dB-A when climbing onto plane. As it reduces with speed (and not many people other than boat testers spend more than a split second at such weird angles and speeds), I wouldn’t rate it much of a concern for most.
While that tagline of “capacity for more” certainly holds true in regards to what the boat can do, on another level the 190 DB definitely follows the KISS principle… keep it simple, sailor. A full fiberglass cockpit liner makes for easy washdowns at the end of the day. (Snap in carpet can be added to soften things up underfoot.) Upholstery is abundant and features some nice touches, like that raised roll at the knee, but like much of the boat it’s primarily white, with a simple gray accent and black piping. That gray paint on stowage compartment interiors may not look as attractive as a lined compartment, but it does the job and keeps the price in check. The dash doesn’t look automotive cool, but it’s certainly functional and arguably attractive in its simplicity.
Obviously, 115 horses isn’t an overabundance of power, nor will 35 mph break any speed records. Bayliner’s consumer research showed that customers were willing to trade a measure of performance for the ability to get on the water with a lot of people, so space and price took precedence over get-up-and-go. Still, the base engine should be able to handle teaching the kids to ski or pulling nearly anyone on a tube or wakeboard. For those that need more horses, a Mercury 150 is an option.
In the end, the 190 DB is actually pretty close to what Bayliner aimed to deliver. Its style is a welcome upgrade over the dated look of the previous deckboat line, there’s room for an above-average complement of people and their stuff, and the windscreen/windshield option and optional ski and fish packages can tailor the boat to the needs of each individual customer—and to their boating environment. Bayliner thinks they have a winner on their hands. Given the realities of today’s marketplace, I’d be inclined to agree.
Other Choices: The Vectra Sea Breeze 200 OB is another outboard-powered deckboat that plays in the same waters. The Starcraft Aurora 2010 follows a similar tact but with stern-drive power, as does the Hurricane Fundeck GS 202.
For more information, visit Bayliner.
Performance and Propulsion
RPM MPH GPH MPG
1000 3.8 0.6 6.3
2000 6.9 1.4 4.9
3000 9.0 2.8 3.2
4000 21.5 4.2 5.1
5000 27.8 5.7 4.9
6000 33.5 8.4 4.0
6400 35.7 10.6 3.4
Power: Mercury 115 four-stroke outboard
Prop: 13.4” x 14” 4-bladed aluminum
Test conditions: Minimal to light chop; two POB; 17 gallons of fuel
- Jeff Hemmel writes for boats.com, Boating, PersonalWatercraft.com, and Powersports Business. The former Senior Editor at Watercraft World, Jeff is a multi-time award winner as well as a 2008 inductee into the IJSBA Hall of Fame. His first book, "The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon...and 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Try, Do, & Build On the Water," received a bronze medal in the 2010 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards. For more info, visit Jeff Hemmel's website.