No passport needed to enjoy Cypress Cay’s luxury Cayman retreat.
Author: Alan Jones
Unlike in politics, a flip-flop is a good thing when it describes Cypress Cay’s versatile rear lounger seat on the Cayman SLE 230. It has a backrest that flips forward to create a living room-style recliner couch for hanging out on while at rest, watching the swimmers cavort. Positioned all the way forward, the backrest lays flat to create a roomy sunpad for personal solar-ray collecting or stargazing after the sunset cruise is over. And when it’s flopped all the way back, it’s the backrest for the stern bench section of the L-lounge group, which also has a rearward-facing recliner. Something I’ve never seen before is the rearward-facing solo transom seat, which is incredibly comfortable.
Because the Cayman SLE 230 uses sterndrive power, there’s no outboard engine to intrude into your back-porch space, so the rear swim platform is wide open for watersports pleasure. A unique feature is a pair of cupholders built into the vinyl-covered swim platform. The standard ski pylon is secured by a pin at the base, but it has a wire lanyard loop attached to it that could snare the feet of someone jumping into the water. A screw-in pylon would be preferable or, at the very least, snip the lanyard and buy a few extra pins.
Under the engine hatch, we find a 300 hp MerCruiser 350 MAG ECT, which is the most powerful engine available for this model. All Cayman SLE 230s feature the T3 Performance Package, which uses three 25-inch pontoons with the middle one set 1 inch lower. An aluminum underskin comes with the package and reduces the drag (and noise) coming from spray hitting the crossmembers. The center tube has lifting strakes on both sides, and the outer tubes have them on the inside, which gives the boat tremendous lift. Assisting us out of the hole was the twin-prop Bravo III outdrive, which provided extra bite. The SLE 230 reached plane in only 2.5 seconds with little bowrise. The MerCruiser has a very linear power curve, and the Cayman accelerated smoothly to 30 mph in 6.5 seconds. We trimmed the sterndrive out to reduce the wetted surface and hit a top speed of 46.4 mph.
Because the MerCruiser weighs 350 to 500 pounds more than a V-6 outboard, the bow rides slightly higher than it does on outboard-powered models, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of pontoon owners don’t trim them up far enough and drive around with unnecessary tube drag. Also, boaters who have made the transition to a pontoon from a “regular” boat assume they should trim pontoons all the way down when going for a hard turn. I’ve found that with three-log performance pontoons like this one, it’s beneficial to trim the outdrive up a little to bring the nosecones clear of the water. On the Cayman 230, that action happens naturally, and the results are shown in its very impressive cornering ability. When the driver cranks it hard over, it leans in like a sportboat, thanks in part to the lack of lifting strakes on the outside of the outer logs, which can “push back.”
The slight bow-up running orientation also comes in handy when scooting across choppy water, such as what we experienced in the center of Lake Wawasee in northern Indiana when the wind picked up late in the afternoon. This gives you a little extra freeboard up front to inhibit submarining the front deck when things get rough. Our test boat has the Rough Water Package, which gives you reinforced nosecones along with spray deflectors that did their job well during our test.
As I mentioned, because there’s no outboard to get in the way, the Cayman 230 SLE lends itself to watersports of all kinds, or just hanging out while sitting on the swim platform. The ski pylon is the ideal height for slaloming or tubing, and it’s just tall enough for wakeboarding. Although pontoons, in general, produce a relatively flat wake, the extra weight of the sterndrive gives the wake a little extra ramp at slower speeds, for better wakeboard launching. For ski storage, there’s an available centerline storage locker that is 6 feet long and has its own bilge pump. Often, these centerline hatches have Starboard lids that are very slick when they’re wet, but Cypress Cay fixes that with a nonskid rubber mat that’s glued to the hatch.
Several seating configurations are available on the Cayman SLE 230, including the Fish & Cruise version, which gives you twin captain’s seats in the bow. The standard setup is twin wrap-around bow benches that create maximum seating. Our test boat features the preferred two-piece bow chair group with two upscale captain’s chairs on the port side with a flip-up table in between them that’s perfect for snack presentation. The helm station uses a faux curly maple steering wheel and dash inserts, which is a new look for Cypress Cay this year and gives it a rich and sporty feel. If you are fishing it up, you can add a GPS fishfinder, but because there’s no room in the compact dash for a flush-mount unit, it requires a gimbal-mount. Our boat is optioned with a killer Alpine Diamond iPod stereo that has a subwoofer and six well-positioned speakers, including two rear-firing Alpines on the transom for jammin’ while swimmin’.