John page williams
The following review was written by John Page Williams, Editor-at-large, Chesapeake Bay Magazine. John, senior naturalist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has been a regular contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine for 30 years, specializing in environmental issues, nature, wildlife, fishing and boats. He has been testing new and used boats for the magazine's Time-Tested and New Boat News departments since 1998.

JULY 2013
 
   
LOA  18' 4"
Beam  7' 6"
Draft 13"/31"
Deadrise 18 deg.
Fuel 25 gal
Passenger Capacity 8 persons/1160lb

“Entry Level” from a high-end boatbuilder like Chaparral means “great value.” That’s the point of the company’s new H2O line of 18- and 19-foot sportboats. With a standard 135-hp MPI/Alpha 1 Drive MerCruiser inboard/outboard and a trailer, the H2O 18 Sport’s “no-haggle, real deal” price is $22,385 plus freight and dealer prep. Top speed with this power will be close to 40, with efficient cruising speed in the mid-20s.

What that price brings is a well-designed hull with moderate deadrise and the company’s V-Plane hull, which extends aft past the outdrive. This shape helps the H2O 18 Sport jump onto plane quickly with modest power and stay on plane at speeds in the teens for wakeboarding and a comfortable ride when an afternoon southerly brings choppy water. Construction of hull and inner liner comes from the same skilled lamination crews that produce the 18’s larger, more complex sisters.

A big part of building a boat like the H2O 18 Sport is keeping it simple. The conventional layout includes twin bow lounge seats of high-grade vinyl with storage under, swiveling bucket helm and companion seats, a long central storage area under the cockpit sole, a three-across stern seat with cooler under, a full-width sunpad over the engine, and a swim platform with boarding ladder to starboard. Important details include grab handles properly placed and shaped to prevent someone catching a finger under a corner, rubber-covered toggle switches at the helm and waterproof speakers with a sound system dock for a MP3 player. Chaparral Boats, Nashville, Ga. 229-686-7481; www.chaparralboats.com.