- I would happily use it to skip across the crests of a steep, messy Solent or to frolic among the Atlantic rollers of West Wales …
- I would also consider it pretty enough to hold its own among even the sveltest of bow riders at the local marina.
- I have no doubts at all about the ability of this 20ft deck boat to do a great job in the UK.
Glastron GTD 200: The Best Boat You’ll Never Buy?
Alex Smith heads for the lazy afternoon swells of Marseille to put Glastron’s distinctly un-British 20ft deck boat to the test.
Let me start by saying that none of Glastron’s four dealers (Burton Waters, Cambrian, Tingdene and Windermere Boat Sales) stock this boat. In fact, none of them stock any of Glastron’s GTD line, and the reason for that is that here in Britain, the buying public seems to have something against deck boats.
Now I’m not blind. I can perfectly understand us Brits objecting to the agricultural pontoon boats that lumber inelegantly across the lakes of America in their thousands. After all, a pontoon boat is essentially a platform perched on a couple of sponsons. It’s pretty much what you might cobble together out of desperation if you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but sticks and tin cans to work with – and given our fondness for coastal boating in the UK, it is wholly appropriate that we should eye such boats with mistrust. But a good deck boat is completely undeserving of the same treatment. It’s basically a sporting monohull with a broad beam and a spacious bow. All other things being equal, it’s like the bow riders we so unquestioningly enjoy, but substantially better in a lot of important recreational ways.
A comparison with Glastron’s bow rider
In accordance with the dictates of the type, a deck boat takes its generous beam and carries it all the way forward to the bow, transforming the elegant, tapered forepeak of the classical bow rider into a blunt, thick-browed, fibreglass wedge. While that doesn’t sound like a stylistic triumph (and in most cases, it isn’t), it does that with a specific purpose in mind – namely to generate extra internal space for the passengers.
In the case of the new GTD 200 (where ‘D’ stands for ‘Deck’), it uses a 2.54m beam compared to the 2.4m of the conventional GT 200 bow rider, plus a 17-degree deadrise compared to the GT model’s 21 degrees. It also employs the classical squared-off bow shape of the deck boat, with much of the beam preserved right through to the broad forepeak boarding platform – and that converts into very easy, comfortable and versatile seating for 11 people, compared to the eight or nine of the GT 200.
And the good news doesn’t end there. With its broader beam and shallower deadrise, the new GTD is a shade heavier, but it also enjoys extra weight-carrying capacity (1089kg versus 998kg) alongside the space for an uprated fuel tank of 151 litres instead of just 121. True, Galstron’s test figures suggest that it isn’t quite as fast or efficient as the GT model, but the fact that it can be paired with a smaller base engine in the form of the 115 rather than the 150 enables it to maximise the range of the big fuel tank for longer spells between visits to the fuel pump.
The GTD also comes with a degree of internal flexibility that the GT 200 lacks. You can take advantage of a trio of standard layout options to spec it with a single console; with the twin consoles of the test boat; or with twin consoles, a full-width, bow rider-style screen and a central wind partition. In all cases, however, you get more space to move and more space to sit, plus two authentic dining stations, one forward and one aft, allied to a bow that can be fitted with a ladder and used as an additional swim platform. And yet, despite all of these benefits, the GTD 200 is also more affordable to buy than the GT. Rigged with the 150hp outboard, it comes in at around 1,500 euros less than its similarly rigged bow rider sibling.
So what about the driving experience?
If the moderate deadrise, the beam-forward bow and the broad forward mouldings of the GTD 200 in any way compromised the dynamic ability of this boat, the glaring practical merits of its family-friendly design would rightly be brought into question. But in this case, the helming experience is supremely impressive.
We hit the plane, flat and fast, in a shade under two seconds and fly through the rev band to a top end of around 42 knots. The use of reverse chines seems to work beautifully here, with plenty of grip, a relatively soft and graduated ride, and a distinctly elevated plane, with the waterline well aft. In fact, with a healthy bit of trim and throttle dialled in, you get a sense that you’re actually flying over a seascape rather than being forced to plot the ‘course of least pain’ through its various peaks and troughs. You can trim her way out, even in a head sea, and that doesn’t so much lift the bow as elevate the boat, enabling you to keep the power hard down without any temptation for that bow to lift too high, either in response to wave shapes or in reaction to the aerofoil effect of the wind scooting past that broad forward profile.
The engine here is mounted relatively high and seems to work well with this hull, generating some very respectable efficiency figures. During our test session we registered a fuel flow of around a litre per nautical mile from an impressive low-speed 13-knot plane right through to a 27-knot cruise. And while the top end of 42 knots is joyously simple to achieve, even through a decent bit of chop, the relative (though by no means excessive) shallowness of the accommodation here makes this boat great fun even at moderate pace. The sensation of speed is amplified both by your proximity to the water’s surface and by the windblast that rides largely unchecked over the low, curved windscreen pods that perch on top of the consoles. You could, of course, spec the full-width screen and enjoy the same level of cockpit protection as a regular bow rider, but I have to say, such is the entertainment on offer at the helm that the full screen would be a gesture of benevolence toward the cockpit passengers rather than the skipper.
Even with the tiny console-top screens in place, the helm station is very sound indeed. The hull feels soft, controllable, aggressive and grippy – and while there’s no dedicated armrest for your throttle hand, the forward edge of the helm seat’s lateral wing is perfect for resting your arm and making really fine adjustments to the revs. The weight distribution feels pristine, and the ergonomic correctness of the helm, with its wrap-around bucket seat, its moulded foot brace and its perfect placement of controls, enables you to get on with the job of enjoying that to the utmost.
Those keen on inboard power should be aware that this boat is also available with an inboard engine and a ‘GTD 205’ badge. I’ve tried that boat, and while its performance and handling are equally impressive, the difference in terms of the helming experience is one of taste rather than calibre. While the outboard model is full of light-footed throttle response and smile-inducing grip, the inboard feels more about torque, about the preservation of pace and the inclusion of a little slide through the turn.
Given the way we tend to go boating, I still think our disregard for the pontoon boat is fully justified, but it seems to me that our disregard for the deck boat is built on little more than ignorance, because I have no doubts at all about the ability of this 20ft deck boat to do a great job in the UK. I would happily use it to skip across the crests of a steep, messy Solent or to frolic among the Atlantic rollers of West Wales – and I would also consider it pretty enough to hold its own among even the sveltest of bow riders at the local marina.
Of course, I feel certain that the vast majority of people reading this will still go to their local dealer and buy a bow rider instead – and that’s perfectly fair. After all, the boats in Glastron’s GT line are particularly classy examples of their type, and, in line with the company’s hard-won reputation, they are some of the most enjoyable driving machines on the market. But as you sign the cheque and walk away, be in no doubt – but for the collective impetus of the UK’s buying public, you could probably have bought yourself a better boat.
- Lovely helming experience
- Novice-friendly manners
- Trio of layout arrangements
- Seating for 11
- Good value
- The ‘Cognac’ upholstery gets very hot
- It could do with more grab rails
- It’s not currently stocked in the UK
RPM Speed (kn) Fuel flow (L/h) Range (nm @ 90%)
1000 4.0 2.5 217.4
1500 5.6 4.7 161.9
2000 7.0 8.2 116.0
2500 8.3 13.9 81.1
3000 13.0 15.0 117.8
3500 21.0 20.0 142.7
4000 25.5 26.4 131.3
4500 30.0 34.7 117.5
5000 34.0 52.1 88.7
5500 37.0 77.0 65.3
6000 42.0 79.0 72.3
- LOA: 6.2m
- Beam: 2.54m
- Weight: 1361kg
- Deadrise: 17 degrees
- Fuel capacity: 151 litres
- People capacity: 11
- Max. power: 115–200 hp
- Test engine: Mercury Verado 150
From around £31,877