Bayliner 642 – Cleverly Conceived

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Bayline 642

Bayline is unquestionably one of the biggest names in trailer boating worldwide and has long been a part of the local boating scene. For over 30 years Bayliner boats have been available to Kiwi buyers and the success of the brand has been exceptional, especially considering the changing exchange rate and more recently the GFC.

However while Bayliner, like all brands has found it hard going in recent years, they too are on the come back and thanks to local importers Bayliner in looks set for a new phase of growth.

While we have more recently being associating the brand with bowriders, there is a whole new range of cuddy cabin models that will certainly find appeal with Kiwi/OZ buyers. The dedicated Cuddy range comprises three models; 642, 702 and 802, all of which are designed with open water cruising, lounging, swimming and entertaining in mind. Bayliner currently produces 22 models in bowrider, cuddy, deckboat or cruiser form. However while some of those models, such as the Cruiser range are not available in New Zealand, the Bowriders and Cuddy models have always proven popular locally. In fact the Bayliner 175 bowrider for the past 10 years, has outsold every other recreational bowrider on the global market.

Taupo based Lakeland Marine recently brought in a number of 2014 model Bayliner’s with the Bayliner 642 Overnighter amongst them. Bayliner created the 6.53 m 642 Overnighter to provide a small cruiser that can also offer a sheltered cuddy cabin for an occasional overnight. The onboard amenities make it a capable day boat for family and friends, and it offers not only some versatility, but options that increase the comfort level. 

The 642 Overnighter is packed with features such as high gunwales providing 83 cm cockpit depth and more headroom in the cabin.  There’s a large walkthrough from the swim platform to the cockpit making boarding easier and reducing wear on upholstery and a sun pad cushion that lifts to form a rear lounge.

Innovative Cockpit

Bayliner has been earning kudos of late and the Bayliner 642 Overnighter is an example of why. It’s got good looks and functionality that make it an interesting offering. Let’s start with the cockpit since that’s where everyone will be gathered. Bayliner went with L-shaped seating that utilises significantly more useful space than the typical bench seat across the stern seen in virtually all cuddy sport boats this size. With the seat back slid aft, a forward facing observer’s seat is created, and another set of eyes are looking out for traffic. With the seatback forward, the back becomes a reclining chaise for a spotter when towing, or a place for sunning.

An optional table makes the scene complete and the helm seat is spaced just right to allow it to swing around and join the meal, or hors d’oeuvres, or whatever. Below the port seating is a huge compartment that can be used for all sorts of purposes. There is dedicated storage here for the optional table.

With the engine hatch opened, two more storage compartments are revealed that can hold rags, oil, tools…etc. They also provide a good place to dry out wet bathing suits or clothes using the engine heat. There is also enough space ahead of the engine to stand at the level of the engine, easing maintenance and daily checks. An automatic fire extinguisher is standard, which is unusual in this price-point class. A neat feature is how the bimini top stores neatly into position without taking up any additional space and is hidden from view when not in position.

Storage is available in plenty of dedicated spaces, including an in-deck storage compartment that includes a drawer creating a bit more storage than just an open space. The helm is simplistically functional with room for adequate instruments and an MFD screen. Four-in-one gauges keep the clutter to a minimum. The companionway door slides under the instrument panel and when in the open position, the lower step forms a footrest for the operator.

Steps up to the companionway hatch and a walkthrough windshield makes accessing the bow easy on the 642. Well-placed grab rails provide a safe transition to the bow Of course, there are other areas to enjoy on the 642 Overnighter besides the cockpit. With the sun pad flipped open, a non-skid walkthrough to the swim platform is exposed, with a three-step reboarding ladder that lies flush to the platform.

A nearly full beam sun pad provides the required sunning area and even converts to a chaise lounge. And an optional sun pad for the bow adds yet another place to relax while on the drift, beached, or at anchor. The starboard seat has insulated storage underneath to double as a large cooler.

Cuddy Cabin

And then, of course, there’s the cuddy. This provides a welcome respite from the day’s events, whether it be used by the infant needing a much needed mid-day naptime, or adults overnighting at a distant getaway — or a place for an afternoon nap at anchor. It also becomes a place to get out of the rain when at anchor.

The cuddy doesn’t provide much more than sleeping space, but for most of us, we don’t need much more than that. There is an optional portable head, which is always a good idea. This cuddy is too small for a galley, but for those who want to cook, why not go for a charcoal or propane grill in the cockpit? It is easy enough to add a rod holder in the aftermarket to hold the grill.

The 642 has a generous freeboard height forward which not only makes her better at sheading water in sloppy conditions, it also gives more headroom in the cuddy. There is 1.32 m of headroom from deck to overhead, and 0.91m of sitting headroom. This means most people can sit upright in the cuddy. The maximum length of the cushions fore-and-aft is 2.03m.

Notable Options

While well equipped, there are some notable options that we just couldn’t do without — like camper canvas, for starters. The camper canvas package would greatly increase the overnight capacity allowing the kids to sleep on deck while the parents are nestled in the cuddy. This would of course require the Bimini top option as well, which nearly all owners should seriously consider in any case.

The preferred equipment package is exactly as the name implies. It’s the most preferred items that anyone would want to have. It includes the snap-in carpet runners, a teak cockpit table, Porta-Potti, and stainless steel trim package. We recommend this package. Anytime a helm seat upgrade is offered, go for it. It’s the one seat that gets used regardless of how many people are onboard, and it’s the one that gets the most abuse as well.

The driving position is excellent, with a high screen and coamings offering excellent protection but without inhibiting the visibility.

The port side sink and transom shower is another must have option as it can never be overstated how valuable running water is on a boat. It allows rinsing off feet covered in beach sand or rinsing off the salt water after a swim. This option has a portside sink, pressure water, faucet and transom shower.

The standard engine is a 135-hp MPI Mercruiser sterndrive. That will be good enough for most operations, but boaters tend to have a lot of friends, and when loaded with full fuel, full water and the max capacity of people on board, owners will still want some get-up-and-go that the 135 may struggle with. The 220-hp 4.3L engine should keep everyone happy, particularly when towing. This 220 hp 4.3 Liter V-6 offers an abundance of torque on tap thanks to precise electronic Multiport Fuel Injection. With SmartCraft integrated technology, the advanced engine control module delivers information to the helm, controls fuel and spark and drives the Engine Guardian engine protection system to help protect your engine and Alpha 1 drive.

You can expect a top speed of around 50mph with the 4.3 litre V6 and 35mph with the smaller 135 MPI. In our trials, we found the handling and performance of the 642 in light to moderate water was predictable and controlled. In tight high speed turns, there is virtually no cavitation and if you are into towing water toys, the acceleration when you punch the throttle is great. This is a boat that punches above its weight in the handling department.


The Bayliner 642 comes with a limited lifetime transferable hull warranty and a 5-year deck warranty. The engine comes with MerCruiser’s 2-year warranty. Old timers will remember the day when virtually all sport boats were cuddy designs. Then the bowrider appeared and the world moved to this concept. Today only about 5% (in the US) of the sport boats sold are cuddys. But they have their advantages.

First, they look cool. To our eye, well-designed sport boats are like sports cars on the water. Another way to view them is like mini high performance boats. The covered foredeck with windshield makes cuddys much more seaworthy offshore and the Bayliner 642 Overnighter is capable of cruising around bodies of water such as Lake Taupo or the Hauraki Gulf. With a bimini overhead and buttoned up with a cruising canvas, they make a dry, cozy environment on a rainy or chilly day. As already pointed out, in this mode they can also sleep four people.

The Bayliner 642 Overnighter is an ideal boat with overnighting capabilities or simply day cruise and is a great platform for entertaining. It comes with more features than you’d find in a Kiwi or Aussie built boat and still at a reasonable price.

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