Deep Impact 360 CBy Kevin Koenig
Deep Impact’s 360 C keeps all the sizzle, but adds some comfort to the speed equation.
First things first, how’d you like to go 58 knots in a 36-foot open boat? Can you picture it? The wind whipping so fast that everything that’s not tied down flies away, the ocean spray nailing you in the face so hard it feels like hail, and the boat’s engines whining like an angry mosquito trapped inside your ear. It’s a wild, crazy ride, and you can have it onboard the Deep Impact 360 C. The model is about as close as you can come to owning a true muscle boat while still retaining a measure of onboard comfort. Her twin-stepped hull combines with optional triple 300-horsepower Mercury Verados to get the boat up on plane so fast the G-forces will literally pin you to your seat. From idle she’s out of the hole in seven seconds—after 19 seconds, she has already hit 51 knots. And then she goes faster. And acceleration is incredibly important in a boat like this. You’ll hear it from owners of performance machines—be they motorcycles, speed boats, or PWCs—top-end speed is nice, but once inertia kicks in, speed doesn’t matter as much as acceleration. That’s where the thrill is. And the 360 C has more thrills than Great Adventure.
The Deep Impact’s steering is, as you might expect, exceptionally nimble, and—cliché as it may be—she really does perform like one of those aforementioned PWCs, particularly considering how exposed the passengers are to the elements. Her ride is unarguably exhilarating. Owners stepping up (pun intended) from a more traditional modified-V hull would be wise to take some lessons on how to handle the 360 C, since stepped hulls have their own quirks. The ride is generally not quite as predictable as one might be accustomed to, and sharp turns can be a real trick. (Pro tip: Ease into that turn.) These attributes are thanks to the hydrodynamics of those steps, which essentially allow the boat to “float,” so to speak, on a cushion of air. But once an owner does get a handle on the hull’s idiosyncrasies, the only thing left to do is hold on tight and smile into the wind.
The 360 C’s exterior is about as eye-popping as her performance numbers are. Her sheerline rolls ever so sweetly from bow to stern, bending and curving in all the right places. Deep Impact also mixes its own paints, which means your boat can be just about any color you’d like. My test boat (shown here) was Harley-Davidson copper. That’s a shade Deep Impact came up with after one of their customers saw a chopper with a particular hue he just had to have. I should point out, the Harley-Davidson copper is not to be confused with the Lamborghini copper. No, that’s an entirely different bird altogether. Never let it be said that Deep Impact doesn’t like to be flashy. This boat is about as South Beach as boats get. One can just imagine a modern-day Sonny Crockett hitting up the Miami P.D.’s brass for the 400 grand or so to procure one, just so he could “blend into the scene.”
But that’s not to say that this boat doesn’t have some serious construction cred. The 360 has five stringers—two mains, two smaller ones, and one in the keel—that help keep her rigid and strong, even when slapping against waves at breakneck speeds. The day I had her out just south of Miami’s Haulover Cut the seas were whipped up by some pretty strong gusts into a solid two-foot chop replete with whitecaps. We weren’t exactly crossing the Gulf Stream in a gale, but it wasn’t glass either, and the 360 C handled it with aplomb. No doubt a main source of the boat’s surprisingly sturdy ride is her not-insignificant dry weight of 13,000 pounds, which helps keep her from feeling like a potato chip.
Deep Impact knows this boat will be used to go fast and hard, and this knowledge evinces itself onboard, where the boat is engineered with admirable ruggedness. Case in point, the beefy Latham tie bar on the Mercury mounts, which lends the whole outboard setup durability, and the boat stability. Another case in point, the battery boxes are bolted into the sole to prevent jostling at high speeds. And lastly—a detail I was thankful for during my test—the seats onboard are all soft and plush, so you don’t compress your spine flying off the crest of a wave at 45 knots, as I suspect some Deep Impact owners may be wont to do.
Another onboard highlight of the 360 C is her cuddy cabin, which, unlike many boats of this type, is one you might actually like to hit the hay in. The convertible V-berth is 7 feet long plus, and big enough for one, or maybe two, people to easily get some decent shuteye in it. Yes, doing an overnight on a boat like this might often sound better on paper, but still, it’s nice to have the option. An indoor sink, fridge, and head make her even more livable, should you want to pop over to Bimini and forego a hotel room. (Emphasis on pop—with a cruise speed of about 50 knots with the triple Mercs, you can theoretically get from Ft. Lauderdale to Alice Town in about an hour.)
The boat’s helm is well-suited for that kind of travel with three performance-worthy bolster seats—the kind with the armrests that help hold you in place. There are also sharp-looking carbon-fiber control panels and an optional Garmin GPSMAP 5212 screen to aid with navigation. Lastly, the helm has what Deep Impact’s onboard representative half-jokingly (I think) referred to as “the most important thing on the boat.” That is, the iPod dock hooked up to JL Audio marine speakers.
That’s a telling quote insomuch as it points up that Deep Impact understands its place in the market. The company lists among its major competitors NorTech, Cigarette, and Intrepid. Those are, of course, boatbuilders with very different goals in mind. Many Intrepid models are all-purpose, highly customizable, SUV-type boats, albeit with attention paid to performance. Meanwhile NorTech and Cigarette are the Corvettes and Ferraris of the marine world. Deep Impact has nestled itself right in between these two kinds of boats. The stepped hull, brawny power packages, and high speeds its models boast may very well knock the socks off a more traditional center console owner. Indeed, at speeds less than 30 knots, the 360 C almost feels peevish, like holding an amped-up puppy in your arms when all it wants to do is tear around the backyard. However, the boat is certainly more user friendly (not to mention fishable) than a purebred go-fast, and generally easier to handle. The 360 C is, essentially, a boat built for a hard-charging good time. Crank up the tunes, rev up the engines, and take off like a bat out of hell—and do it all in relative comfort. If that sounds good to you, then good luck, and Godspeed.
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This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.