NauticStar 223 DC Sport Deck

Posted: February 1, 2013

The new NauticStar 223 DC maximizes room, value and fun in a mid-sized package

By: Alan Jones

In 2012, we tested the NauticStar 203 DC Sport Deck powered by a Yamaha F115 and loved its performance, use of space and fun-in-the-sun quotient. For 2013, there’s a new, larger version called the 223 DC that really hits the sweet spot, giving owners even more capability and amenities.

Unique Features
Usually a boat has to be 24 feet or so before you get a head compartment, which for some families is a deal-killer, especially if kids are involved. But the 22-foot, 7-inch 223 DC has one that features a corner-opening door for easy entry, and it’s a grown-up-sized compartment that has a vanity for writers primping during video shoots (busted). A lot of deckboats have low gunwale heights, but the 223 DC has a deep cockpit that’s especially noticeable in the bowrider section, which gives a 6-footer like me plenty of legroom when reclining. The expansive foredeck can be used as a casting deck and can be fitted with an

optional fishing chair and a 24v Minn Kota Edge trolling motor with a foot control. The anchor locker sits pretty far back on the deck, and the 223 DC could use a centerline pop-up cleat to tie off the anchor line. For getting aboard after beachcombing, there’s a concealed ladder angled off to the starboard side.

You need a cooler on a deckboat, and you can normally find one under the cockpit seats, but NauticStar designers placed a carry-on 25-quart Igloo out of the way in the console walk-through, and there’s enough space in the open-air alcove to lift the lid without sliding it out. There’s another built-in model up front. For washing up, there’s a standard freshwater sink atop the port-side console with a generous 9-gallon tank.

Performance
Our test boat is powered by a Yamaha F150 four-stroke that’s a good, economical match for this boat. The Air Assist Chine hull design has vents on both sides of the hull that combine with its relatively shallow 13-degree deadrise to give the boat great out-of-the-hole performance. The 223 DC got on plane quickly with very little bowrise in just 2.8 seconds — a very useful trick for escaping shallow water. Time to 30 mph was a brisk 5.9 seconds, and we reached a top speed of 45.3 mph. The 223 DC is rated for up to 225 hp, and boaters looking to generate some wind in their face are in luck, thanks to Yamaha’s new F200 four-stroke, which sports an in-line 4-cylinder configuration. It’s 119 pounds lighter than Yamaha’s V6 version, which was part of the F225/F250 family.

Handling
Deckboats often feature a trimaran hull design to support a wide beam that’s carried all the way forward, but the 223 DC is based on a V-hull design with a sharper entry that helps slice through the chop. During our sea trial and photo shoot on Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta, conditions were rough enough that we had to run to the far side of the huge lake to find calm water. During the transit, the hull worked the chop well and gave us a better ride in these conditions than I would have anticipated with such a flat deadrise.

Hydraulic steering by Sea Star comes standard and makes the 223 a pleasure to drive. It corners well without leaning over all the way to the gunwales, which is what happens with deep-V hull designs and can make inexperienced boaters nervous. Our boat has the Teleflex X-Treme shift-control cables, which have a splined design that reduces friction and are the next best thing to electronic controls.

Best Uses
The NauticStar 223 DC is well suited to a wide variety of activities. It comes standard with a screw-in ski pylon and has a large in-floor locker with a rubber mat for keeping skis from getting scratched. Ski spotters/spectators have a relaxing perch with a port-side chaise lounge. A unique feature is a removable backrest for rearward-facing lounging behind the captain’s helm bucket. After the ski run is done, or for general boarding, a flip-up cushion on the starboard side allows entry into the cockpit without forcing you to step on the Leather Touch upholstery.

In addition to the optional trolling motor harness and a forward pedestal fishing chair, the fishing package comes with a forward livewell that’s plumbed into a 22-gallon cooler that also serves as a step-up to the bow deck. A 66-gallon fuel tank gives the NauticStar 223 DC plenty of range for cruising to remote fishing spots.

For a boat that measures 22 feet, 7 inches, it has big entertaining capabilities, with seating for 10 passengers in the bow and cockpit, which is completely encircled with seating. For snack presentation, there’s a large removable cockpit table that has dedicated storage in the head compartment. And for beverage parking, there are 11 cupholders scattered about, meaning that even with a full boat one guest can have two drinks going at the same time. On cool days, passengers in the cockpit will appreciate the tall, curved, tinted-glass windshield and bifold dam that blocks air in the console walk-through. A standard four-speaker Infinity JBL stereo has an MP3 input, so you can bring your own party mix.

Preferred Setup
The 223 DC’s extensive list of standard features includes items such as LED courtesy lights and a Bimini top, but to properly equip it, add the recessed shower for rinsing off after swimming and a pumpout head. At the helm station, the captain has full instrumentation and an ergonomically correct seating position on the flip-up bolster bucket seat. The rocker switches are lighted, so you always know which ones are engaged, and a thoughtful addition is the master power switch that allows you to make sure everything is off with one touch, to prevent your battery from dying. Although the dash is compact to conserve space, there’s room for an optional, flush-mounted Humminbird 385C color fishfinder/GPS display.

Specifications

LOA 22 ft., 7 in.
Beam 8 ft., 6 in.
Fuel 66 gals.
Engines Yamaha F150
Base Price As Tested - $51,396
Standard Equipment Tilt hydraulic steering, Sunbrella Bimini top, fore and aft boarding ladders, trash can, halogen docking lights
Optional Equipment Trailer (dealer option), snap-in carpeting, 12v air pump, pumpout head, single or double battery switch, fuel/water separator
Builder NauticStar Boats

NauticStar-223-DC-Sport-Deck Owner

Purchased By: an and Maureen van Hoek, plus Jan Gerard, 5, and Lucas, 7 , Riverview, Fla.

Purchased At: Thunder Marine, St. Petersburg, Fla.


What we liked

Styling, Stability of the hull design, Fishing features, Head compartment, Handling and performance


What we would change

We would like a double-wide captain’s seat, so my wife and I can sit closer together when we are running.


Why we bought it

Although we’ve belonged to two boat clubs in the past, this is the first boat we have ever owned. When we were looking at boats, we wanted something that would be stable for the kids and be capable enough to handle the waters of Tampa Bay. Our house is located at the mouth of the Alafia River, where it’s calm enough to tow the boys around on an inflatable tube. As they get older, we’ll probably get into skiing. Every once in a while, all of my neighbors get in their boats and head to places such as Beer Can Island or Shell Island. We’ve made trips to the Skyway Bridge and St. Pete Pier and like to explore the many islands and beaches in our area. We’ve had the boat out when conditions have been choppy, and it handled it really well. We like to fish for trout, redfish and snook, and the 223 DC makes a good, stable fishing platform, and the large livewell holds plenty of bait. At certain times during the year, the tides can get really low here, but our boat can take off and run in shallow water, which is a real plus. Thunder Marine gives us great service and has made our first boat-buying experience a good one.

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