Well, it sorta started out this way.......
To get more use out of our Sundowner 225 cuddy cabin boat, we put it in an In-and-Out Rack Service for the season. When it came time for vacation, we rented a transient slip at the marina. It rained for 4 days (doesn't it always do that on vacation), so we did what comes natural for boaters that cannot use their boat - we went boat shopping!
As it typically is with boat shoppers, we were only half-serious. It simply gave us something to do. Then on the last day (of rain - and our vacation), we decided to try one more marina - and there it was - the 26ft cruiser of our (current) dreams. The boat was a 1999 model - the same year as our current boat, just as clean, and within our price range.
I commissioned a surveyor to ascertain its condition. He described the boat with terms such as "mint" and "unused condition", and only 84 hours on the engine.
After considering the lower interest rates that were available in the summer of 2002, and with the tax advantages of having a "qualified second home", we determined that this boat was not going to cost much more than our current boat. Well, other than the slip fees we would have to start paying. We made the decision to purchase it, and are now the owners of this boat. Rain can be a good thing to a boater after all!
The overall characteristics of the boat are:
- Length: 25' 8" (28' 2" with swim platform)
- Beam: 8' 6"
- Weight: 6500lb
- Engine: Volvo/Penta 5.7 GSi/DP @ 280Hp
This design debut was in 1999 - so this is one of the first Vista 268s Four Winns made. Although improvements have been made in later years, I believe they have been cosmetic for the most part.
With this boat, my trailering days are over. Although this is technically still a trailerable boat, it did not come with a trailer. Besides, my 1999 Dodge RAM 1500 pickup could not tow the boat, even with its 8,000lb towing package. I estimated the boat and trailer would have weighed over 9,500lbs.
We're talking Michigan here - so the boat must be stored in the winter. I am getting a pretty good deal at the marina for winter storage. The marina I am at has an In-and-Out service. Since many of the summer boats are pulled out of rack storage for the winter months, I can winter-store my boat in a vacant rack for about half the cost of floor-storage. The result is that I can store the boat for not much more than a single truck payment.
The marnia gives me a discount on the summer slip since I winter store the boat with them. The incredible thing is when I add this discount to the cost of winterizing the boat's engine, fresh water system, head, shrink wrapping, trailer license fee, extra insurance, and even the fuel required should I desire to winter store the boat at my house, it is actually about $20 cheaper to store the boat at the marina. And that is without yet factoring in the cost of a trailer or truck!
you enter the boat, notice the large swim platform at dock level. Along
with the entry door, this boat provides easy access. This may become
important as we get older.
We had a custom graphic and boat name made for this boat. The name Migration has a double meaning, and is so distinctive that we have used it on two boats now.
In the upper right corner of the transom, you can see the transom shower hatch. The location of this item is different for the 1999 models than for later year Vistas. This is one of the cosmetic differences, and I like the fit of the 1999 model transom shower better.
a 26ft boat, it has lots of storage. This transom storage locker is an
example. While the design does result in loss of some cockpit space, it
is at least converted to storage. You can fit a couple of fenders,
hose, shorepower cord, and dock line in this locker.
You can also see the hatch for the boarding ladder molded into the swim platform.
you pass through the transom door, a cooler storage area is built into
the port coaming area. Again, a cosmetic difference with newer Vista
model years is the door in the newer boats is a bi-fold arrangement.
Just forward of this area is another storage hatch.
In the forward section of the cooler storage area you will find a courtesy deck light.
While you cannot see it from this angle, the rear section of the cooler storage houses the main DC battery selector switch, as well as the main DC breaker, bilge, and windlass circuit breakers.
the right side of the entry way, you can see the cockpit lounge area.
The side and rear seating area can be removed to allow for alternative
use of the boat - maybe for fishing or diving.
The deck table can be removed, and a filler cushion converts this area into a rather large square sunpad. One adult or two children could sleep here in nice weather, but there is a limitation of about 5ft of headroom. One of my sons likes to sleep here on hot summer nights, and he simply sleeps at an angle.
On newer model Vistas, the table pedestal is beefier, and the table is more "teardrop" shaped. The upholstery is a bit different as well - more minor changes.
you continue forward into the cockpit, you arrive at the helm on the
starboard. The helm is located immediately forward of the cockpit
The helm offers a full complement of gauges, a chart table, and probably most importantly (for us do-it-yourselfers), plenty of area to mount electronics.
While it cannot be seen here, the newer Vistas have a flip-up bolster seat at the helm, and an upgraded steering wheel.
As shown here, I have mounted a GPS Chartplotter in the right cupholder. This installation is detailed on my projects page.
the immediate left of the helm is the cabin entry. A nice feature of
this boat is that it has two doors to the cabin. As shown here, the
main security door is open, revealing the inner screen door.
Many cruisers this size have a central opening, consisting of a sliding door. However, by placing the opening all the way to the left side, this design allows for much improved access to the rear berth, which was very important to us.
Although it is not too apparent here, the cockpit walkway is all on one level. This is in contrast to many other boats in this size range where the cockpit is on two levels.
to the cabin is gained by opening the door, then sliding an access
hatch forward. The top of the hatch includes a grab-rail and can serve
as another chart area when underway (assuming the hatch is closed).
Although I indicated that the cockpit is at the same level, you may be able to see that there is a step up to reach the helm. However, what can be referred to as the aisleway to the transom is at a single level.
you begin entry into the cabin, you can get a general idea of its
layout. The galley is on the left, the head on the right, and the front
v-berth/salon is forward. There is ample access into the cabin even for
a tall 6'2" guy like me.
The galley features a single burner Alcohol/Electric stove, built-in sink with chopping board cover, an AC/DC refrigerator/freezer, and microwave oven. It has almost all the conveniences of home - but no dishwasher.
The dinette table on the 1999 model Vista is considerably larger than the newer models. However, on the newer models, the galley area is finished in woodgrain rather than white as we have.
steps down, and you arrive in the cabin. The cabin, as well as the
cockpit features a fiberglass liner with snap-in carpeting. This gives
the the boat a bit of an antiseptic milk-jug look, but it sure makes
things easy to keep clean.
The headroom at this point is just a bit more than 6 ft. The documentation indicates 6'0", but I find that at the highest spot, my head just grazes the headliner. Unfortunately, every 26ft boat we looked at had limited height - so tall guys like me either have to buy a much larger boat, or wait until gravity and old-age reduce our height.
To the right of the head door is a half-height hanging locker.
you enter the cabin, to the immediate right is the electrical service
panel. This area includes the AC breaker panel, DC switches for the
cabin, and a Kenwood AM/FM/CD Stereo radio. Newer Vistas include an AC
Voltmeter in the breaker panel, and a different stereo.
There is ample room in this panel to add additional equipment, such as Voltmeters, CD-Changers, and the like.
galley area offers some storage. On any boat this size, storage space
is at a premium. The galley offers two cabinets above the sink area,
and a cabinet and drawer below. The refrigerator is also located below
One of the two AC outlets in the boat is located near the porthole in the galley, as well as a cigarette lighter type DC outlet. An under-counter fluorescent light is located in the galley as well.
All of the cabinet doors feature nice euro-style hinges, and the door pulls have a neat locking mechanism to keep the doors from opening in rough seas.
of the galley is the head (toilet). The entire head is built out of
fiberglass, so it can function as a shower as well.
The head features a manual pump toilet, sink with gooseneck type shower head, mirror, porthole, lighting, medicine cabinet, waste and fresh water tank level indicator, and an under-sink cabinet.
A shower sump pump is located in the bottom of the fiberglass liner. Although I have taken a shower in the head, we only have a 6 gallon hot water heater - so you have to be a bit frugal on water use.
you continue the tour, you come to the forward salon. Like many things
on this boat, this is a multi-use area, and doubles as the main dining
area, and v-berth sleeping area.
At night, the table gets taken down, and filler cushions convert the area into a berth.
The one-inch thick solid Cherry table is one of the things that made my wife fall in love with this boat.
Located on either side of the salon are the front portholes. The boat offers both mood and spot lighting in this area.
aft of the galley area is the rear/mid berth cabin. It has plenty of
room, and is approx. 6' 5" x 4' 10" in size - which is more than ample
for our needs. The large access area means this area can be used by
adults. Unfortunately, many boats this size have a restricted access to
this area. Four Winns did a great job in designing this area of the
The berth includes an under-mattress storage area, as well as two storage lockers at the foot of the berth. However, if you purchase the grey water holding tank or air conditioning options, some of these areas are no longer available for storage.
Wiring tube location Did you know there are two wiring tubes hidden under the sole in the cabin?
In conclusion, I think the overall impression of this boat is that it has a lot of room. For the most part, boats from the competition in this size (and even some that were a bit larger) did not seem to have as much interior room.
boat is quite a step up from our 22ft cuddy cabin boat, and had several
years of enjoyment out of it. One trait that boaters seem to
have is that once they own a boat, they begin to be on the lookout for
the next one. Afterall, the boat you see at the boat show this year
might be the boat you own in a few years.
Summary of updates we have done on the boat - many of which are shown on www.Boat-Project.Com:
Summary of updates we have done on the boat - many of which are shown on www.Boat-Project.Com: