340 Convertible — By Capt. Bill Pike — May 2000
|Part 2: Engineering Niftiness|
Engineering details onboard the 340 are commensurate with manufacturing developments. Up forward is what Luhrs calls a "Utility Room," an athwartship crawl space accessed by lifting the hinged stairway that connects the saloon and the lower deck hallway. It's loaded with savvy details, the most impressive being an arsenal of sea strainers, one for the livewell in the port-side cockpit console box, another for the saltwater washdown, and yet another for the Marine Air air conditioning system. Few boats I test these days have fluids systems so thoroughly protected. Other notables here include an extra-high-capacity, 60-amp Sentry battery charger, a dedicated two-way battery switch for the genset, and two-part, compression-type plastic chafe guards wherever wiring passes through holes in bulkheads or timbers.
Further examples of engineering niftiness include electric-fan-actuated, aft-facing, saltwater-resistant, engine room vents recessed into the "BridgeWalk," an easy-to-use molded-glass stairway between the cockpit and flying bridge. Looped drain hoses with seacocks are fitted to the sinks to prevent water intrusion and CO ingress, and easily removable panels in the saloon sole improve engine access, which is otherwise a bit cramped, with hands-and-knees headroom and a cockpit hatch.
While the 340's standard welded-aluminum, rocket-launcher-equipped half-tower and molded hardtop (with electronics box) is the most impressive feature about the on-deck layout, the most striking thing about the layout below decks is the high-altitude headroom--6'8"--a feature directly attributable to the raised profile. Beyond that, the joinery is serviceable and features maple and maple veneers.
There's an innerspring mattress in the diagonal berth in the forward cabin as well as two cedar-lined hanging lockers and a vanity with Corian countertop. The stand-up stall shower in the port-side half of the head is huge, roughly 4' x 4'. The standard MSD in the starboard half is an electric PAR, with an optional VacuFlush available.
Drawer sides and bottoms in the port side galley and elsewhere are plywood surfaced with high-pressure laminate, butt-jointed and nailed, with powder-coated steel sliders and positive, pop-out type Lamp latches. The ultraleather settee in the saloon pulls out to form a double, and the back of the settee swings up to create a small bunk with two braided-nylon suspension straps.
While I was able to examine the 340's construction and componentry in detail, I wasn't able to be quite so thorough in evaluating her performance. I drove our test boat in virtually flat seas. Top speed was 32.8 mph, and time to plane averaged six seconds, a couple of lively numbers I'd say are partly due to the weight savings inherent in all the thermoform parts. Our optional Hynautic engine controls were predictably smooth, although they seemed a bit large for this size boat. Visibility was great from either of the two Garelick flying-bridge helm chairs, and as you'd expect from a comparatively small boat with a lofty profile, hardtop, and half-tower, alternating thrust from one engine to another tended to tip the boat slightly each time, although a beamy underbody prevented excessive leaning in turns, even at top speed.
Luhrs marketing director Chip Shea docked the 340 Convertible when our test runs ended. A narrow slip fraught with enough sideways current to list the outboard pilings convinced me that, on this particular day at least, a little boathandling discretion on my behalf was the better part of valor. As things turned out, Shea had little trouble docking the boat in the slip, and I had little trouble mooring her there. Once we'd finished, I stood back and took a look at the 340. Lofty profile. Top-of-the-line engineering details. And thermoform parts galore. Indeed, boats have changed a lot in the past 13 years.
Luhrs Phone: (904) 829-0500. Fax: (904) 827-2156. www.luhrs.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.