Bayliss 84 – Boat Review

The crew at Bayliss Boatworks creates a stunning beauty in Orion.

May 27, 2014

In Greek mythology, Orion is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and known in ancient times as a supernaturally strong hunter. Aptly named, the new 84-foot Bayliss, Orion, is indeed a big, strong rig built specifically for hunting pelagic sport fish. With its drop shear, raked stem, massive bridge and trademark window line, the workmanship, attention to detail and systems are exemplary, like all of the boats that come from the shop of John Bayliss.

At 84 feet in length overall, with a 21-foot beam and a draft of 5 feet, 8 inches, it is a beast of a boat. Its mass and structure become readily evident at the dock and on the water. Twin 2,600 hp MTU diesels power Orion, providing a 32-knot cruise at an easy 1,950 rpm with an 80 percent engine load. It has two 38 kW Northern Lights generators to alternately power its many systems. It holds 3,000 gallons of fuel, 450 gallons of water, has a 250-gallon holding tank, as well as a 110-gallon reserve oil tank. That’s a lot of fluids, along with all the other typical gear that a traveling boat of this size requires, and yet it provides outstanding performance. Set up for traveling, this boat will surely fit that bill with a lot of comfort.

When walking through a Bayliss boat, you can just count the hours in the detail. Every closet, drawer, cabinet, hatch, hold, compartment, and bilge is neatly finished and organized. The interior woodwork cabinetry is as good as you can find anywhere. The meticulous wiring comes combed and bound in chases; plumbing systems are neatly aligned, organized, and run with little visible intrusion into any space. The folks at Bayliss pay great attention to serviceability, which immediately hits home with me.


Tower and Bridge

Graced with a massive Palm Beach Towers’ full tower and five-spreader Rupp hydraulic riggers, the 84 has many neat little things that make a day’s fishing better. For instance, a multifunction Simrad NSE echo sounder/chart plotter with a rudder-angle indicator in the aft end of the overhead-teaser reel box allows the captain to look at that information while facing backward, also looking at baits. This setup lets him know where his rudders are when backing down chasing a fish. Instead of having the teaser line hidden in a hardtop chase, there are chases that allow the teaser line to come out of the hardtop, so you can grab them by hand, and manipulate the teaser and the tease by hand. This is something I do on the boats I rig, because by the time you are off and on with the buttons, you’ve missed the fish.

The massive bridge has seating for you and 25 of your closest friends. A curved, wraparound bench seat contains storage at the front of the bridge with cabinets at each end. Along the front of the center console, a bench seat with a secondary row of seating over that provides a great spot to sit for an impromptu bridge cocktail party. Yes, stadium seating on a flybridge! Between all this seating in the center of the bridge, a large built-in varnished teak table with inlaid trim has a massive freezer underneath, and can also double as a stage for that cocktail party.


Nice rod lockers on either side of the bridge come with sliding doors for easy access. The business end of the console has four big 19-inch KEP monitors that display the Simrad NSO data, a Furuno 120-mile radar and WASSP (wide-angle sonar seafloor profiler) information. On either side of the helm, lift-up lids for cabinets hold a host of gear, including equipment on/off switches, tank monitoring and switching, Fusion audio, main engine start and stops, and much more.

An overhead drop-down electronics box houses a Simrad NSE unit and a pair of Standard Horizon VHF radios. Three Release Marine helm and companion chairs round out the seating on the bridge, while along the aft rail, eight rod holders await your gear, in addition to the three on each tower leg at the cockpit level.



The ladder down to the cockpit from the bridge lies to port, aft through a bridge-floor hatch at the main salon entrance. If I had one criticism, it would be this arrangement — not just on this boat but many. There are few good handholds to help guests get up or down the ladder at the bridge level, making it especially tricky when underway, and because it drops right in front of the salon door, it blocks traffic in and out of the salon when someone is going up or down. Having run boats with this arrangement, I just don’t like a hole in the floor and the awkwardness guests feel when climbing up and down. However it is common on many boats and will -continue to be, but it’s certainly not the most ergonomic or safest configuration available.

Orion‘s well-laid-out cockpit offers good storage, a host of refrigeration, good seating and plenty of fishing room. On the mezzanine to starboard, a bench seat provides storage beneath, and a large freezer under the deck combines with a huge drink box at the salon entrance, both with lift-up lids. To port behind the ladder, you’ll find a tackle locker with pullout drawers and a grill under a lift-up lid. Plus under the mezzanine deck, outboard to port and starboard, I found nice storage bins large enough to hold a pair of buckets and a host of other gear.

Storage bins beneath the gunwales have sliding doors that make access very easy. A huge built-in livewell/fish box on the transom complements a cavernous, stainless-steel in-deck fish box (which the ice machine dumps into) on the centerline of the cockpit. It also has a sea-chest livewell system for two 60-gallon on-deck oval wells. The centerline engine room access opens up into an incredibly clean and well-thought-out engine space. The massive MTU engines are readily serviced and maintained with plenty of room to get around to critical items. The generators sit aft of the engines, while outboard to port sit storage drawers and hydraulic tanks. To starboard, there’s a cabinet with pullout drawers for battery storage and refrigeration, and AC units sit on top of the cabinet.



The salon features a day head to port in the aft corner, with a U-shaped leather settee to starboard with a big table. The galley sits two steps up with a dinette to port and a large U-shaped galley counter to starboard with five bar stools around it. There are six pullout refrigerator/freezer drawer units along the outboard starboard wall and a host of over-the-counter storage along the forward bulkhead. The electrical distribution lies forward of the dinette to port.

Going below, the companionway turns to the right, and drops down to a landing to go forward to a pair of staterooms on either side with queen bunks and en-suite heads, and again a pair of staterooms with over/-under bunks with en-suite heads fully forward to each side. At the landing of the stairs going below, turning right, you enter the full-beam master stateroom. This is why the galley is raised — to offer the headroom for the large master with walk-in closet, full desk work area, large head, king island berth, and a lounge to starboard.


We ran the boat on a nice day out of Florida’s Lake Worth Inlet with an ESE breeze at 10 to 15 knots creating a 3-foot chop. We had 1,200 gallons of fuel and five people aboard. It eased on plane with little effort and after heading out of the inlet, the conditions had little effect on its mass. Orion pushes a big hole in the air and moves a lot of water. We pushed it up to 1,700 rpm, and it whisked along at an easy 27.8 knots burning 124 gph; pushing it up to 1,850 rpm, we made 31 knots pushing its fuel burn to 164 gph. Its sweet spot was 1,950 rpm, making 32 knots and burning 174 gph. At 2,150 rpm, it hit 36.7 knots, burning 212 gph.

When trolling, it slips around easily with little white water, making for a clean bait spread. It backs around -down-sea without burying the transom quicker than most anglers can gain line, and can spin and back very well to gain position on a fish. There’s excellent visibility from the helm — I could see both corners and the front of the chair.

Hats off to the folks at Bayliss for creating another well-laid-out, well-executed, beautifully crafted, custom sport-fishing boat. Without a doubt, the early pioneers of Outer Banks boatbuilding would be quite impressed.


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