Boat Review by: Rick Layzell
If ever a boat was designed by a great set of engineers and then handed over to a brilliant marketing team to craft a catchy name, then the 8520 Party Fish is just that boat. In less than a moment at the dock your eyes tell you this design is a party in the front and fish in the back. Exploring this new Sylvan was gonna be fantastic!
Sitting dockside, it’s virtually impossible to not have your eyes drawn to the unique lines created in the exterior rail designs, and then to the sheer height of the forward loungers– they screamed comfort! Jumping on board for an initial walkthrough I was met with a sculpted interior that playfully teased with different textures, colours, and stitching, while the Sylvan logo was proudly and tastefully inscribed in all the right places. And yes, I did indeed take a moment to stretch out on both the port and starboard forward loungers, and yes, they are wicked comfortable.
The optional Sea Weave flooring carried the soft greys of the exterior fence into the interior and blended perfectly with the accent colours on the marine grade vinyl on the seats. While the Sea Weave flooring is an option, it is one that I wouldn’t miss and could in fact become a standard feature. It is my humble opinion that carpet has no business being on a pontoon floor, as the long-term pains from years of a wet environment just don’t add up.
The full fiberglass helm station showed no mistakes and delivered all the right pieces I’d be looking for in a boat of this stature. The helm seat featured the optional high backrest on a base that swivels and slides with ease. The dash displayed the basic compliment of gauges, easy access to the Bluetooth equipped sound system, and left plenty of room for any captain to add a graph of choice based on personal needs.
The L shaped lounger to port shared the same vinyl treatments as the forward loungers and I actually took a moment to appreciate the ‘real world’ number of cup holders– as opposed to some boat designs that seem to jam endless cup holders everywhere that will simply never get used.
As I stated earlier, the ‘fish in the back’ idea really begins aft of the helm seat. Here you’ll find a pair of comfortable casting chairs ready to accommodate any angler, and easy open access through a rear gate to the transom. Nestled centre in the rear deck is a fishing station featuring multiple rod holders, tool holders, measuring tool, and a generously sized livewell.
On the transom our test boat was equipped with the standard stainless-steel reboarding ladder and a well-engineered underdeck mounted ski tow. If you’re wanting your boat to cross over both segments– Party & Fish-- then the ski tow is a must. You’re also bound to have guests who will appreciate the standard 10’ bimini.
Our test rocket was dialed in with Mercury’s sweet looking 115 XS on the transom and full 3rd log with lifting strakes underneath. As we eased out of the mouth of the river and onto an angry looking Lake Simcoe, I was glad to have both the power and the extra stability and performance of the log design. Seriously– we eased out into 2’ waves and the Sylvan jumped on plane, readily got on top of those waves, and stayed there with ease. What a dream to drive!
We had consistent 4 second hole shots, found great cruising speeds at 18 or 22 MPH (4,000 & 4,750 RPM, respectively) and a perfectly acceptable top speed of 31 MPH at 6,000 RPM. There’s likely a little more to be had there, but with 8 degree Celsius temps, plus lots of wind and waves, I was perfectly fine with the test results.
At 22’ 10” overall there’s loads of legroom to stretch out with friends and family and go exploring. Whether you are the angler in the family or the Captain who wants to cruise while meeting the needs of your guests, the Sylvan Mirage 8520 Party Fish, with it’s incredible layout and fantastic handling, is a definite ‘must see’ on your shopping list.
Time well invested on a boat well built. Congratulations to Sylvan, and to you if you choose to join the family.
|Dry weight:||2,061 lbs||935 kg|
|Fuel Capacity:||38 US gals||144 L|
|Base Engine / Drive:||Mercury|
|Engine HP:||115 XS|