Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
If you’re wondering if you’ve ever heard the name NauticStar before, it’s entirely possible that you haven’t. The brand is a relative newcomer to the Canadian market, but with a well entrenched history of building quality craft in US waters. Closing in on 20 years since the launch of the brand, NauticStar builds an excellent lineup of models suitable to any waterway.
If you haven’t heard of NauticStar, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard of Mastercraft. Known for building some of the finest machines in the watersports segment, Mastercraft acquired NauticStar just a few short years ago. They did so because NauticStars’ commitment to build quality and their rugged and reliable craft in the thriving center console segment were a perfect addition to Mastercraft’s offering.
The 2302 Legacy is a shining example of the NauticStar commitment to incredibly well-built boats.To say I was looking forward to running this package through our detailed test processes would be an understatement.
The center console market has held a firm position in US retail sales for years. Until recently, Canadian boaters viewed these machines as SUV’s for the water, many of which were used to accommodate cottage families looking for a small boat for the under 16 crowd. The last half dozen years have changed that mindset, and a quick walk through at a boat show will open any boaters’ eyes to the options, versatility, and usability of center console models.
Our test boat was dressed in hull side black gel with a beautifully optioned T top and Yamaha’s veritable 200 four stroke on her stern. The smile on my face as we walked down to the dock said it all and the excitement in my soul said, ‘Let’s go!’
Most test days start with a detailed walk through. We open and inspect every hatch, we look at hardware, we look for flaws or oversights, and we strive to think like a consumer examining what compartments would hold safety gear, fishing equipment or kids’ toys. The 2302 Legacy got ‘10’s’ across the board in virtually every category.
Starting at the bow– There is a generously sized anchor locker with locking tabs to secure your anchor. The comfortable bow seating features Syntec vinyl with Nano-Block stain protection– for me that means if my friends and family spill anything I’m covered. The bow seats both open to present generously sized fish lockers with durable ram struts that hold the seats up while you are securing your catch. There’s also grab rails on both port and starboard, so precious cargo can hold securely while you play. Our test boat featured optional flip out back rests– if I was using this boat for family time that’s a must-have option for my crew.
The helm offers plenty of seating room for two, and I was an immediate fan of the optional Deluxe leaning post with flip up bolsters. Stainless steel toggle switches are quality, and there’s ample dash space for your choice of electronics options suited to your needs. The 9” SimradGo9 on our test boat still left lots of space for an additional graph if desired. When we were running, I absolutely loved the custom stainless-steel wheel with power knob. You’ll also find a monster 94-quart (89 litre) cooler under the helm seat. There’s a standard Infiniti BlueTooth stereo with 2 speakers (although I’d like to see 4 as standard), and forward of the helm there’s an enclosure with a Portside window and light– perfect for a port a potti if that meets your needs. There’s a forward-facing seat with back rest mounted ahead of the console that adds room for one more in the bow section– this seat also houses a 15 gallon cooler that can be optioned as a live well.
Our test boat was dressed with the optional T top. In addition to protection from the sun, the T Top rails were treated in white powder coat (which carries into the seat rails). Here we also found an additional storage box in the upper, LED lighting, 4 rod holders and an additional pair of speakers.
The 2302 has 3 across aft seating with maximized storage underneath– batteries to starboard, an insulated cooler in center, and a large bait bucket to port.
If hard core angling is your thing you will love that virtually all the vinyl in the boat can be readily removed, and therefore protected, while you chase your next catch. And there’s so much more here: storage for 3 rods both port and starboard, a pair of rod holders on both sides of the wide gunnel, 4 rod holders on the back of the helm seat, a lighted aft livewell, high pressure transom washdown, easy to manage (and clean) self bailing cockpit with non skid flooring, and the aforementioned pair of 20 gallon fish boxes under the bow seats.
Test time – Finally!
We eased out onto Buckhorn Lake on a perfect August day with 21 C degrees and blue sky, limited chop, ¼ tank of fuel, and two guys with standard safety gear and an array of camera equipment. NauticStar lists Yamaha’s F200XB as the recommended engine, and our dealer paired the test boat with Yamaha’s Reliance 14 ½ x 15 SST prop.
After taking time to get to know how she handled in a few turns and some cruiser chop we set out to get our numbers. Four hole shot trials gave us an acceptable 4.1 second average. We played with a variety of cruising speeds and I appreciated the range of where this hull would stay on step. For us, 19.2 MPH @ 3,100 RPM & 24.9 MPH @ 3,800 RPM seemed just about right. Fuel, gear, and guests on board will affect where you find your perfect speed– take the time to get to know your boat and you will find what works for you.
Top speed trial results were also perfectly acceptable. Using about ¾ of available engine trim we found our way to a top GPS speed of 44.1 MPH @ 6,050 RPM. The boat can be optioned up with a Yamaha F250 and I’m told– like normal– you will only see an extra 2–3 MPH. If you must have top speed then I say go for it, but if you want the perfect package then I say listen to the folks who built the boat and buy your Legacy with a 200.
NauticStar may be a newcomer to Canadian waters but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give this brand a look. There’s more quality here than I can write on these pages, and with a 20-year brand history and operating under the watchful eye of Mastercraft, a very clear passion for crafting exceptionally well-built hulls is very evident. This brand should be on your radar. The 2302 Legacy checks many of the boxes on my boating list with versatility and rugged reliability as the highest.
|Dry weight:||2,700 lbs||1,225 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||85 US gals||322 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Yamaha|
|Engine HP:||250 Max|