Boat design is subjective. For me, a good design finds creative ways to get the most out of every square inch of space while maintaining performance and ride. I think that’s why I fell so hard for the Cutwater C-288 Coupe.
With her 10-foot beam and 32-foot, 6-inch LOA, I wouldn’t call the boat large, yet you could easily steal away for a long weekend and stay aboard comfortably, whether you’re a family of four or two couples. The smart use of space and outboard power makes the C-288 feel roomier than most boats this size, yet you have everything you need—a full galley, head, three berths, outdoor entertaining space and a top-end speed in the 42-knot range—without any extraneous stuff tacked on that you don’t need or seldom use. The company really nailed the proportions of the boat. Each area flows into the next, and whether you’re sitting at the dinette or at the helm, you’re never cramped. Yet the boat’s smaller stature makes it easy to operate, dock and moor. You can even trailer it.
Dave Livingston, one of the company’s founders, built his first boat when he was a teenager, and his mind never stops creating inventive functionality. His hands were all over two of the most innovative features on the C-288: the Clear-Path walkway, which creates a swim step forward of the twin 250-hp Yamahas, and the transom seat that rotates so it can open to face either the engines and open water or the cockpit.
Moving all of the engine rigging and cables under the Clear-Path walkway was no easy feat. The designers came up with a 180-degree elbow to run the rigging bundle back toward the engine and then down under the deck, leaving a 32-square-foot uncluttered space that makes boarding the boat (either from the water or a floating dock) very easy. It also freed up space in the corners of the transom to place an electric grill on one side and a livewell on the other. I also liked how the company placed the fuel fills on the starboard aft corner so you don’t have to pull a gas hose across the cockpit or up the side deck, leaving smudge marks on the boat every time you fill up.
Cutwater is all about building “do-it-all” boats, and the C-288’s cockpit falls right in line. Fold-down seating is there when you need it and can be stowed away when you don’t. A large storage area under the deck provides plenty of space for gear. There’s no genset, but you can opt for a package that includes air-conditioning powered by lithium batteries. Want to open the boat up? Just lift the portside glass bulkhead, adjust the dinette backrest so you can face the cockpit and you’ve got a prime spot to enjoy the view. The forward dinette seat also adjusts so you can sit at the table for a meal or face the windshield when underway. And if you need a third berth, the table drops down for a filler cushion.
The quarter berth located under the dinette reminded me of the sleeping quarters above the cab of my uncle’s RV. We used to love that space when we were kids. I think the kiddos will like the C-288’s berth tucked under the dinette just as much. It’s also a safe spot to stow gear when en route. The galley is situated to starboard. Again, you have everything you need, but in a relatively small version. Cold storage may be a bit of an issue on multi-day trips, but that’s easily solved with a cooler.
The helm is comfortable with clear views ahead and astern. There’s a 12-inch Garmin MFD and room for a second. The captain can spin the boat easily thanks to a bowthruster, and the standard windlass makes anchoring a breeze. The hull features Cutwater’s laminar flow interrupters, which kind of resemble dimples—these help to break up the surface tension for tight cornering and keep the bow up to eliminate porpoising. The C-288’s hull is also double-stepped to increase the time to plane and gain some speed. I was aboard hull number one at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show, and while we didn’t get a chance to run the vessel, the company says it will cruise at roughly 30 knots with the twin 250s and have a range of 225 to 425 miles depending on load, conditions and speed.
When you combine the C-288’s can-do attitude with the quality fit-and-finish, speed and ride, it’s no wonder this boat has earned so much interest. And one thing Cutwater does that I wish more builders did, is offer owners a two-day training course in the company’s home waters of the Pacific Northwest. Take delivery on the West Coast, enjoy a couple days of systems and handling training, then ship the boat to your home dealer. That sounds like a perfect start to owning an infinitely enjoyable little cruiser.
Cutwater C-288 Specifications:
Fuel: 200 gal.
Water: 41 gal.
Power: 2/250-hp Yamahas