300 Express — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Part 2: Elbowroom is the major-league feature of the 300’s interior.
The virtues were obvious. To begin with, the push-button panels on the dash are waterproof. Then behind-the-dash wiring is comparatively simple—gone is the multicolored “spaghetti” of yesteryear, replaced by those few single simple wires. And finally there’s the weight savings. Hundreds of feet of conventional wire runs traveling between each individual dashboard switch and its engine-room component have been nixed, replaced with a few simple wires.
When finished with the switches, I headed back to the marina. Docking the 300 after our sea trial was a breeze, despite the fact that the detents on the single-lever, cable-type engine controls were poorly adjusted, making it difficult to tell whether I was in reverse, forward, or neutral. Still, I enjoyed spinning the boat around a few times—and S-curving her backwards down the fairway—prior to returning her to the slip. You can’t beat the directionality of the DuoProp stern drive, especially when going astern.
As soon as we were tied up I discovered the 300’s cockpit is eminently sociable. Although we all sat in different places to discuss the 300’s topside layout—one of us on the crescent-shape lounge to port, another on the benchseat aft, and me at the helm—normal conversation was no problem. And nifty details were numerous. The stainless steel handrail for the molded steps to the windshield-walkthrough was rock-solid. The 25-quart cooler under the port-side wet bar seemed like an excellent idea—for portability, a cooler beats a small refrigerator any day of the week. And, the rigidity of the cockpit sole testified to solid, all-glass construction, with highlights like a urethane-cored stringer grid and a bolted hull-to-deck joint that’s also chemically bonded with methacrylate adhesive.
As mentioned earlier, elbowroom is the major-league feature of the 300’s interior. I suggest you check the boat out at your nearest dealer or at an upcoming boat show, since there’s no way to fully convey in words or pictures the super size of the saloon/galley/head area, especially when you consider the midcabin offers a hanging locker, bureau-type stowage, and sit-down headroom; and the sleeping area forward offers virtually the same features. The fact that Cruisers was able to add comfortable double berths to both spaces lends extra clout to my contention: for a mid-ranger, the 300’s layout is immense.
Once our 320-hp Volvo Penta 5.7Gxi’s had cooled down, I lifted a pneumatically actuated hatch in the aft cockpit sole, which lifts on electric actuators and gave our engine room a gander. I was again impressed. Everything was labeled with crisp, clear tags, from the cast-bronze Buck Algonquin seawater strainers to the plex-shielded fuses for the dash, D.C. panel, and Maxwell windlass. The electrics were a joy to behold, with heavy-duty battery leads going to intermediate busbars, connections brush-coated with corrosion-resistant Corrosion-X liquid, and circuit-board-like wire runs. The one thing that mystified me was the optional Kohler genset—there was no soundbox, although the unit’s location, amidships forward of the engines, offered enough space for one. Cruisers engineers have since told me that Kohler does not offer a soundbox for its 5-kW gasoline-fired models.
Twinges of regret niggled me as I wound things up. Given the exigencies of airline travel these days and the fact that I had a Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol scheduled for the morrow, there was absolutely no time to even briefly revisit Tampa Bay with the fast, sweet-handling Cruisers 300 Express.
“Too bad,” opined one of the Cruisers reps with a conspiratorial grin.
My trip to the airport at the helm of a wimpy, tin-can rental car only served to confirm the guy’s sad sentiments.
Cruisers Yachts Phone: (920) 834-2211. www.cruisersyachts.com.
Look for the upcoming video of the Cruisers 300 on the PMY Web site.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.