Meridian 368 Motoryacht — By Richard Thiel —
Part 2: This being an aft cabin, I didn’t expect much from her performance—my mistake.
Three more steps up from the cockpit and you’re on the bridge, with two guest-seating modules, a three-person bench aft and a starboard settee, half of which faces aft and half of which faces forward. (A forward-facing navigator’s seat is another part of “The Meridian Difference.”) The helm is effectively laid out with adequate room for electronics, none of which are standard. (Two packages are available.) The single pedestal helm seat has a flip-up bolster that improves the view but isn’t terribly comfortable for extended periods. Nor did I care for the split controls, compared to single-lever units, a feature hardly exclusive to this boat. Sightlines forward and to the side are good, but the view aft is restricted, typical of aft-cabin boats.
The saloon, down five centerline steps from the cockpit, is also conventional, and is dominated by a small hi-lo table and, on our boat, an optional Flexsteel convertible sofa. (Double Flexsteel recliners are standard.) An entertainment center occupies the aft port corner, while an aft cabinet is devoted to electrical service. Our boat had an optional lower helm with duplicate instruments, but with restricted sightlines forward, too; I could see no closer than about 20 feet off the bow. The dual controls here are mounted vertically, making them difficult to modulate.
Another trademark Meridian feature is proprietary air conditioning ductwork that’s integrated into the overhead and reportedly draft-free. Not only did it work as advertised, but the system was also quiet, even with the fan on high. If you prefer natural ventilation, there’s an opening window on either side.
The L-shape, port-side galley is forward and one step down, with plenty of stowage—including an illuminated Lazy Susan, an undercounter refrigerator-freezer, and Karadon countertops—and lots of light. Immediately to starboard, the head has two doors, so it can serve the forward stateroom or function as a day head. It has a roomy stall shower and standard VacuFlush MSD.
Two layouts are available for the forward stateroom, which is another step down. My boat had the optional V-berth, table/filler, and port-side pilot berth, a design aimed at couples with children. A traditional island berth layout is standard, and both versions benefit from a full cedar-lined hanging locker to port, a half locker to starboard, and ventilation from a hatch and opening ports on both sides.
At the opposite end, an angled island berth dominates the compact aft cabin. A larger head with shower takes up the forward port corner, and stowage comes courtesy of a forward starboard full-length locker and shallow triangular half locker in the forward port corner. A large aft hatch provides for air or emergency egress, and there’s an opening port on each side for more ventilation.
This being an aft cabin, I didn’t expect much from her performance—my mistake. In short, steep chop, a brisk breeze, and with eight on the bridge, the 368 was surprisingly stable and, believe it or not, responsive to helm input, although I did find her steering heavy. I unsuccessfully tried every course to make her pound and appreciated the way she responded to trim tabs. By deflecting them, I could cruise on plane as slow as 2000 rpm.
Boaters looking for an aft-cabin motoryacht in this size range have a lot of choices today, and with most having basically the same layout, they’re looking for nuances like performance that make one model stand out from another. Certainly one of those will be the image of the builder, and now that Meridian has a clear one, it should find the job of selling boats like the 368 a lot easier.
Meridian Yachts Phone: (866) 992-2487. www.meridian-yachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.