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Rising tide: Ebbtide 215 SE Bow Rider.


Ebbtide Boats is a private family owned company that's been around since 1963, and a couple of things that haven't changed over the years, as evidenced by the new 215 SE Bow Rider, are attention to detail and handcraftsmanship. At the factory in White Bluff, Tenn., you won't find employees spraying the hull with a chopper gun to add bulk, but instead you'll see them hand laying in sheets of fiberglass, one layer at a time. Sure, it takes longer to build them this way, but Ebbtide president Tommy Trabue thinks it's the only way to ensure a consistent, quality product.

Unique Factor

One of my beefs with some builders is that most boats have an MP3 plug-in these days, but there's usually nowhere to secure the player other than dropping it in a cupholder where it rattles around. On the 215 SE, there's a slide-out Digital Media iPod docking station that keeps your 10,000 songs safe from the elements and holds the unit in place. There's that attention-to-detail thing we were talking about.

The 215 SE replaces the 214 SE, and like the guitar amplifier in "Spinal Tap," it's one better, with an all-new hull design that gives passengers 10 more inches of cockpit space, and while it means tall, reclining bowriders might have to bend a knee to fit, there's more on-the-deck legroom, plus a passenger can face rearward at the bow in comfort.


If you let the topic of cars slip into a conversation with Trabue, you'll quickly discover a man with a passion for cars and high performance. This is reflected in his lineup of boats, whose designs he works on endlessly to extract every bit of performance possible. But he's a sports car guy with a penchant for Porsches, so it's not just about straight-line speed, but also how a boat comes out of the hole and how it corners. He achieves this performance not by jamming a huge, fuel-sucking engine into the compartment, but by tweaking the Dyna-Plane hull to get the most out of a relatively modest lineup of Volvo Penta and MerCruiser sterndrives. The lineup starts with a 220 hp 4.3L model and ends with a 270 hp 5.0L model (Volvo Penta).

Our test boat has the 260 hp MerCruiser 5.0L catalyzed V-8, for reduced emissions. True to expectations, we got out of the hole cleanly with limited bowrise and eased on plane in only 3.1 seconds. Our time to 30 mph clocked in at 8.3 seconds, and the engine ran very quiet at this speed, with our sound meter reading only 80 decibels. Top speed was reached at 4800 rpm, where the GPS revealed we were busting along at 52.8 mph.


The new 215 hull has an extended running surface for more stability, making it feel like a larger boat than the 214. The main body of 38,000-acre Lake Lanier, north of Atlanta, "was angry that day, my friends" (obligatory annual Seinfeld reference). To run top-speed tests, we had to transit some pretty rough stuff to find a secluded cove. We found that at 23 mph we actually had a comfortable ride ... something that often wasn't the case that day. The Dyna-Plane hull deep-Vs out at 20 degrees, which gave us nice sliceability.

After reaching calm waters and pumping up the MerCruiser's volume, we never found a speed we didn't like, although 30 mph seemed to be its happiest cruise speed. Even at wide-open throttle, control wasn't an issue. We detected no penchant to porpoise with the trim up, which seems to be a tendency of other sterndrives this size.

The 215 SE is a blast to drive, especially when you are showing off its cornering ability. We could really corner hard and nimbly, and it kept on cranking until the very end of the turn when the prop would blow out a little as we tried to straighten it back out.

Best Uses

Our 215 SE sports a satin-finish rearward-swept wakeboard tower that is cleanly executed and solidly anchored. As a refreshing departure, it was high enough and didn't have any low-hanging obstructions to clunk my head on. There's a large centerline locker with a rubber mat to reduce ski banging. The extended swim platform has been neatly joined to the hull, and there are no toe-stubbing obstructions out back, with pop-up cleats and the boarding ladder under a hatch. We could have used a shower option for rinsing off, though (see this month's DIY on page 20 to see how to install one yourself).

As a fun-in-the-sun machine, the Ebbtide 215 excels, with an extra-large sunpad that turns into a double-wide recliner when you prop up the optional starboard-side cushion ($350). When guests board, you flip the same cushion all the way to reveal a walk-through alcove. The standard MB Quart premium stereo keeps heads bobbing and is controlled by the captain--as it should be--at the helm station, which includes a clean instrument installation as well as a fat sport wheel. Both crew seats are backless for ventilation and stylish looks and feature flip-up bolsters.


Preferred Setup

Ebbtide keeps the price low by offering a fairly basic standard package that includes a few extra touches such as a four-speaker iPod/MP3 stereo, tilt steering and eight stainless steel cupholders, to name a few. The a la carte options menu allows owners to customize with a wide variety of addons. If owners want to up their style from a white hull, they will find an extensive range of hull bling, from a small accent stripe ($325) all the way to full hull side color with small poly flake ($1,495). You'll definitely want a Bimini top ($635) as well as snap-in carpet ($545). We highly recommend that you take the 215 SE to its full potential with the 5.0L engine choice.


$243/month w/15% down and 6% interest for 15 years



1 Large centerline ski locker sits between twin consoles


2 Deluxe captain's seat features open-back design


3 Bowrider seats have contoured armrests for comfort


4 Stern sunpad has flip-up sectional that reveals walkthrough and creates a recliner


5 Wakeboard tower is sturdy and sporty


Length                                      21 ft., 8 in.
Beam                                         8 ft., 6 in.
Deadrise                                       20 degrees
Capacity                                        10 people
Dry Weight                                     3,080 lbs.
Fuel Capacity                                    36 gals.


                                         mph    rpm   dBA

Peak                                    52.8   4800    93
Cruise                                  30.5   3000    80
Time to Plane                                   3.1 secs.
Time to 30 mph                                  8.3 secs.


Test                        MerCruiser 260 hp 5.0L w/cat.
Max hp                                                270
Cylinders                                             V-8
Displacement                                         5.0L
Weight w/Bravo 1 outdrive                        993 lbs.
WOT Range                                   4600-5000 rpm
Base Price                      w/5.0L MerCruiser $35,875


Insulated cooler, tilt sport wheel, crew
buckets w/flip-up bolsters, courtesy lights


Bimini top, hull color, pull-up amidships
cleats, stainless steel prop, digital


Ebbtide Boats,

Circle 3 on reader service card, page 33
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Title Annotation:tested: Ebbtide 215 SE Bow Rider; new boat from Ebbtide Boats
Author:Jones, Alan
Publication:Boating World
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:May 1, 2011
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