346 Motor Yacht — By Capt. Bill Pike — September 2001
Small Town Girl
|Part 2: Carver 346 Motor Yacht continued|
Construction technique seemed to benefit from the same caring, old-fashioned approach. The solid-glass bottom of the 346 is designed to withstand a grounding now and then, thanks to tough Knytex substrates and polyester resin, with a vinylester barrier coat to nix osmotic blistering. Hull sides, decks, and superstructure are cored with Baltek AL600/10 to cut weight, and the bridge is solidly supported on eight aluminum uprights hidden inside mullions and other structures, a measure that takes all compressive weight off the windows, thus allowing them to be custom-cut and "floated" in rubbery adhesive for watertight integrity. The saloon sole, with engine-room access hatches unencumbered by furniture, is underbraced by a grid of aluminum box beams with stainless steel supports, and the engines are secured on double-gussetted steel brackets bolted solidly into a one-piece, molded-glass, secondarily bonded stringer grid. Done right? Done right!
Having finished about mid-morning, Schmitt and I headed for Green Bay to link up with a teenage, summertime employee of Carver named Matt at a little marina on the Fox River. As the three of us eased a brand-new 346 out into the main channel, the nostalgia thing hit me even harder than it had in Pulaski. Yellow sunlight shone down upon the lime-green, tree-lined Fox the same way it used to on the St. Lawrence River of my youth. Matt's obvious delight in being on the bridge of the 346, instead of dealing with a bucket of summer-job suds back at the marina, reminded me of myself. And to top it all off, the faint whiffs of marinized internal combustion I caught every now and again--a perfume that still spells pure adventure to me--kept gently reminding me of the wonderful day my dad brought home his first Evinrude.
Driving the 346 kept the good times rolling. In fact the experience was so pleasurable that at one point, during a swoopy top-end run, a minor case of the marvels hit me. Sure, the fingertip control of the Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic steering was nice. The stability of the boat in turns was fine. And the top speed of 37 mph was plenty respectable. But there was something else to driving the 346 on this particular day, an ineffable something that took me back to just about all the great boat rides I'd ever taken as a kid. To embellish the enjoyment, an easy windlessness prevailed at the end of the test, making docking the 346 stern-to a virtual no-brainer, although I'd rather have had the optional diesels to work with than our test boat's gas engines. Low-end diesel torque makes a midranger like the 346 maneuver smoother: Throttle is seldom required--just clutch in, clutch out.
While Matt worked the 346 over with a hose and a fast chamois, Schmitt and I, agreeing that certain perquisites should be accorded to semi-seniors like us, deployed all three zones of the optional Marine Air air-conditioning system below decks, slid the main hatch closed, and started a languid tour of the 346's aft-cabin layout, a practical arrangement that's been Carver's forte for almost as far back as I can remember.
Like all great ideas, it's pretty simple, with a large master stateroom aft, a smaller VIP forward, and everything else comfortably stowed in between. American cherry glaze with water-based polyurethane brought a comfortable warmth to the version on our 346, as did the soft UltraLeather sofas in the saloon and the durable, 85-ounce Gold Rush tufted carpet. Both master and VIP offered an abundance of hanging lockers, bins, shelves, and other stowage areas as well as large, adjoining heads. A couple of interior details I especially liked were the optional filter spliced into the sanitary system to cut holding tank odors, mirrors directly over the head sinks, not off at some neck-stretching angle, and the small hatches in the sides of the aft-cabin stairwell that expose the bilge for fast, easy checking, even underway. A couple of details I didn't like were the cramped and cluttered access to the steering hydraulics at the rear of the aft cabin, under a panel at the bottom of a locker, and the faux-granite fiberglass countertops in the galley. They look pretty but can scar during food prep.
I dallied dockside once we'd finished with the boat that afternoon, not wanting to call it quits. But Schmitt had to get back to Pulaski, Matt had more suds to sling, and I had a plane to catch. Before hitting the trail, however, I took a stroll over to the nerve center of the marina, a little office with a pickup truck parked in front, an open door, and a guy sitting at a desk.
"Catch anythin' with that Carver?" he grinned. The question put the finishing touches on a perfect day.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.