300 Express — By Capt. Bill Pike —
A two-cabin express from Cruisers Yachts has sportscar pizzazz.
I love drivin’ boats. Always have. Particularly when they’re even a little bit like the new 300 Express from Cruisers Yachts. Not that the 300’s a guts-and-glory go-fast, with engines high-strung and rebuild-prone. Nope—she’s a bonafide express cruiser, with all the standards that make weekending on the water (or even vacationing now and again) as kickback comfortable as it is fun. More to the point, if you think there’s no way to fit two, elbowroomy staterooms into a mid-range watercraft, one at the bow and the other abaft an expansive saloon/dinette/head area, get ready for a shock: The 300 pulls it off.
But back to drivin’ boats for a bit. I’d arranged to pick up my 300 in St. Petersburg, Florida, so Tampa Bay was my sea-trial venue for the day. Weather conditions were typical South Florida summertime fare: A temperature of 92 in the shade was roasting coastal St. Pete, and a southerly breeze was generating little more than a one- to two-foot chop. It was so hot even the dolphins cavorting beyond the sea buoy were sweating.
Fun was the watchword at the helm, though. The 300 was fast—I recorded an average top speed of 48.1 mph with my radar gun. Not exactly blistering from the go-fast standpoint, but rip-snortin’ for an express-type cruiser loaded down with appliances and amenities. And the way she handled was flat-out exhilarating—there’s nothing that more readily evokes solid cornering and swoopy straightaway performance than a power-assisted steering system synched into a well-balanced, modified-V hull form (with a transom deadrise of 18.5 degrees) designed by an experienced guy like Mike Myers, Cruisers’ naval architect.
I contacted Myers a few days after the test, to enthuse about the 300’s open-water performance. He said two major design elements were at play. First up was a keel pad (with an average deadrise of 7 degrees), which stretches from transom to forefoot—it produces well-balanced lift, thereby boosting speed and tightening turns. Second was the set of “trip,” or secondary, chines that back up the primary chines of the 300’s running surface. Not only do they increase transverse stability both at rest and underway, they also add five inches of beam (each secondary chine is two and a half inches wide), a detail that translates into a roomier interior layout.
“Feels like drivin’ a raceboat,” I told the two Cruisers reps onboard as I carved a figure-eight and headed south toward the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. My seat was cushy, with a fold-up bolster that made for a high, cool vantage point. Sit-down visibility was excellent as well, whether astern, to the sides, or through the Taylor Made windshield. Lenco electric trim tabs were quick, although seemingly unnecessary, except for windage adjustments. And the switches on the dash looked so intriguingly state-of-the-art that I had to ultimately stop the boat and ask what the heck made ‘em tick.
“Fly-by-wire technology,” replied one of the guys, nodding toward the two dashboard panels I’d been sneaking peeks at, each one a nifty, sealed, rubberized display of push-buttons. He explained that the panels were interconnected via a single, twisted-pair wire, then connected via another much longer wire to two multiplex breaker boxes in the engine room. The boxes were linked to pumps and other components with short, wholly conventional wires. So when you push the bilge-pump button, for example, a digital signal travels back to the boxes, which then energize the pump through the conventional wiring.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.