The Yamaha 242 Limited S Is Ready To Escape the Lake

We venture out the inlet on a sloppy day to see how Yamaha's 360-horsepower jet-drive boat fares in the Atlantic.

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Ezra Dyer

Engines: Twin 1.8-liter I4, 180 hp each / Drives: jet drives with 155 mm high-pressure pumps and stainless steel three-blade impellers, saltwater corrosion-resistant driveline / Length: 24 feet / Beam: 8' 6" / Draft: 20" / Dry weight: 3,713 pounds / Passenger Capacity: 12 people or 2,698 pounds / Fuel capacity: 50 gallons / Base price: $66,999

Yamaha's jet-drive bowriders aren't known as ocean boats. You tend to see them on lakes, pulling tubers and anchored at party coves. Even Yamaha doesn't seem to think of the 242 Limited S as a salty vessel, in that every photo on their web site depicts it on a glassy lake—probably somewhere near Vonore, Tennessee, where Yamaha builds its jet boats at a factory on the Little Tennessee River.

But could a Yamaha 242 fit into a dual-purpose fresh-saltwater role, in the manner of a Mastercraft X24 Saltwater Series? It's worth investigating, particularly since said Mastercraft goes for about, oh, $200,000. So I took the Limited S out off the coast of North Carolina, and not on a particularly calm day—the swell was flat, but the wind was driving steep waves that registered 3.6 feet on the local buoy. That's not dangerous, but it might be enough to make you decide not to go fishing, based on the dearth of other boats.



I'll be honest: I was skeptical as we made our way out the inlet. The Yamaha doesn't appear to have any flair up front to knock down spray, and at the bow the freeboard (the distance from the edge of the boat down to the deck) is minimal. Looking at it, you don't see how there's enough buoyancy to keep the bow from stuffing into waves and scooping water like a 24-foot spoon. And unlike an outboard boat, you can't adjust trim to angle the bow up or down. It just is what it is.

But somehow, the 242 Limited S works great in the ocean even when you're flying the boat halfway out of the water at the crest of each wave. I guess naval architecture is like tire tread design, in that you can't necessarily tell how it'll perform just by eyeballing it. And in the case of the 242, the crucial action happens down low, where hard chines kick spray to the side before it gets high enough to bother you. The 20 degree deadrise at the stern is a pretty common angle for oceangoing boats, too.

And so, with miles of water all to ourselves, we went tubing. The 242's rear seating area is also a great place to strap a towable while you're in transit, so our three-man tube rode back there rather than taking up space in the cockpit. Normally, a mischievous driver tries to launch tubers off the boat's wake, running slow to kick up a big curl before circling around on it. None of that was necessary in the sloshed-up bathtub of the Atlantic, where the main challenge was going fast enough to keep the tube on plane without launching the boat six feet in the air like Don Aronow running Miami to Nassau. The tubers didn't last long.

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Rough day on the tube when that’s not even the wake.
Ezra Dyer

So we ran the inlet in the opposite direction, soaking in the stares from people fishing off the beach—that Yamaha's coming from outside? Indeed, although it must be said that the next stop, the sandbar, was more its milieu. With a seven-speaker stereo and shade from the bimini top that stretches across the foldable tower, there's a temptation not to leave the boat. So I didn't. But everyone else scurried off the integrated telescoping bow ladder, which made disembarking (and boarding) a whole lot easier than the usual "gimmie a boost" method of heaving oneself over the gunwale.

The 242 Limited S throws spray low and away from the boat.

Somewhere in the lawless land between the Intracoastal and the ocean, I opened the throttles and found the 242 topping out about where I expected, given the fuel load and number of people—mid to high 40s. With a lighter load, I'm sure 360 horsepower would get you past 50 mph. Probably more important, the midrange feels punchy, the jets offering immediate thrust. And at cruising speed, the 242 is reasonably quiet. The way I'd explain it is that, at the helm, you hear the wind and the spray of the water far more than the engines.

So, yes, the 242 can fill that hybrid freshwater-saltwater role, particularly if you're trailering it in for day trips (as a friend of mine with a Saltwater Package Mastercraft does when he occasionally runs to Block Island). But the deck isn't self-bailing, which would make me nervous about leaving it on a mooring or at a slip without daily use. Which, I suppose, applies to freshwater, too.

As with so many boat-related issues—bottom growth, electrolysis, storm surges—a boat lift would solve that problem. As would a 24-foot version of the 210 FSH center-console, the saltiest setup in the Yamaha lineup. Maybe that'll happen and maybe it won't, but the 242 Limited S proves that Yamaha's 24-foot bowriders are fully capable of escaping the lake.

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