Fiesta Vee 342 — By Capt. Bill Pike
The Ultimate Comparo
|Look Ma... Just One Big Option!|
The Rinker Fiesta Vee 342 is about the most complete cruiser I’ve ever tested in this size range. Except for the stern drive and inboard running gear configurations that distinguished one test boat from the other and the $2,995 “dinghy package” that came with each (see specifications for the list of ingredients), everything else I laid eyes on was standard.
The 342’s interior layout is simple and the same whether you go stern drive or inboard. There’s a V-berth forward; a larger, rectangular berth aft in an open, midcabin area; and in between, a galley and opposed dinette, as well as head with a separate stall shower. American cherry laminates and trim create a warm ambiance throughout. The joinery’s serviceable, and cruise-friendly amenities abound. Thanks to various sound-attenuating features, the 16,000-Btu, self-contained Marine Air air conditioning unit under the V-berth is quiet. I recorded just 54 dBs in the forward sleeping area with it and the genset running, and just 55 dB-A in the midcabin—about all I could hear in both instances was the purr of cool air! (sixty-five is the level of normal conversation).
The machinery spaces of both the inboard and stern-drive versions of the 342 are accessed through a cockpit hatch abaft the bridge deck and are similarly set up. Since the inboard’s V-drive installation puts the engines close to the transom, they wind up in virtually the same spot as the mains in the stern-drive version. More specifically, Rinker says the LCG (Longitudinal Center of Gravity) of the inboard is only about three inches forward of the stern drive’s.
Driving both boats was fun and no-sweat easy. The arrangement of instruments at the helm was logical and as solid as the roster of brand names represented there. Although the electronics package did not include radar, there was room for one on the dash. Steering (whether via stern-drive power-assist or hydraulics on the inboard) was smooth and the Lenco electric trim tabs fast acting.
All told I enjoyed our two versions of the Rinker Fiesta Vee 342. She’s a nice, totally outfitted, economically priced family cruiser, with just one significant option—stern drives or inboards? —B.P.
This article originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.