Birchwood 350 — By Elizabeth Ginns Britten
— October 2005
Anything But Average
Part 2: With generous seating, amenities, speed, and handling, the Birchwood 350 is sure to be a cruisers’ delight.
Below decks, things are even more unusual. My test boat, measuring nearly 37 feet LOA, featured just one stateroom where most bridge boats in this size range would have two and occasionally three. The stateroom itself is more in keeping with staterooms I’ve seen on boats in the 40-foot size range. It features a walkaround queen island berth, 6'2" headroom, a hanging locker, plus a vanity. It’s a good size for a mid-30s boat. But, more importantly, this nontraditional layout, combined with the 11'4" beam, allows for a roomy saloon featuring a U-shape dinette to starboard that converts to a double berth and an L-shape seating area to port; both areas are flanked by overhead windows and ports (four in total) that flood the saloon with light. This layout pushes the galley all the way aft and to port of the cockpit stairs. It’s an uncommon location, but it works, as it allows for the extra seating space in the saloon, handy if you enjoy entertaining aboard. (Another version gives owners the option to lose the L-shape seating area and move the galley there in favor of gaining a second stateroom with twin bunks, for kids.)
The galley is U-shape, features a porthole above the cherry cabinets, and has a clever hatch for ventilation that unfortunately opens into the cockpit, so it could result in bruised shins if you’re not careful. Headroom in the galley, saloon, and the head is superb—in excess of six feet and close to seven feet in some areas. In fact, the only place I could find where headroom was lacking—even for me—was in her engine space (accessible via the cockpit sole), which is definitely a crawl space. All routine service points are easily accessible, but if you needed to tend to anything located on the outboard side of the engines, you’d have a difficult time.
There was nothing quirky about the 350’s performance. She shined on the flat-calm water of Long Island Sound when I went back for round two of the test the following week. Powered by twin 285-hp Volvo Penta diesel stern drives, our test boat managed an average top speed of 41.4 mph. She also handled the figure-eight and 180-degree turns smoothly and with nary a drop in speed. Time to WOT was quick (less than 40 seconds), as was time to plane, and sound levels were reasonable, even without the canvas: just 81 dB-A at WOT (65 is normal conversation).
With generous seating, amenities, speed, and handling, the Birchwood 350 is sure to be a cruisers’ delight. She’s not your average 35-foot express cruiser, but her quirky elements make her a good choice as a weekender or day boat for a couple, or a couple that occasionally cruises with friends or small children. And while she may be a newcomer, her unusual design makes her a good bet to succeed.
Birchwood USA ( (877) 906-1212. www.birchwood.co.uk.
This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.