Whether you want to call it a day cruiser, an overnight boat, a weekender or a sports cuddy, a compact sports boat with a forward cabin can be a very exciting thing. It’s a tough task blending the lightweight dexterity of an open sports boat with serviceable sleeping facilities – particularly as effectiveness in one regard tends to diminish effectiveness in the other. But while a great many cuddies struggle to strike the right balance, the following ten platforms do more than enough to warrant your attention.
Bayliner is very good at compact cruising boats, as illustrated by the buying public’s continued regard for the 642. But despite being slightly shorter, the more recent VR5 has a broader beam, more space in the forward part of the cabin, a rating to carry eight (rather than seven) people and a slightly larger fuel tank. Equipped with an outboard, the storage is also huge – and for many, that combination of talents makes it an even more convincing weekend companion.
The concept of the Flyer, with three layout options on a compact selection of identical hulls, continues to work very well. If you want an open boat with great freedom of movement, you buy the Spacedeck; if you want a bowrider-style layout with an optional wakeboard tower, you buy the Sportdeck; and if you want the sun (or indeed the cuddy cabin that lurks beneath that cushion-lined bow), you buy the Sundeck. It comes with a 200hp outboard, seating for eight, a small cabin with optional marine toilet and a convertible double berth in the cockpit. I still reckon a lot of that pretty trim looks like it would give up the ghost in a stiff breeze, but it won European Powerboat of the Year in 2015 and it remains right up there for value.