OLD GLORY. Our test boat's hull sported a navy gel coat with white sport graphics ($500). Very salty. But the foredeck really caught my eye. No slick, bulbous access-through-the-windshield-only sunpad here. The 300 has a flat, working foredeck etched with nonslip and surrounded by thigh-high, 1"-diameter bowrails. There's even a scuppered toerail that starts aft and runs forward along the outboard edge of a 6.5"-wide sidedeck. Its windshield wraps farther aft than aboard most boats and can serve as a grabrail.
Unfortunately, it's a 2' step to the sidedecks from the cockpit. Mounting the bow through the split windshield is a problem, too. The molded helm steps are fine, but as you gain the cabin top you could get clotheslined by the Bimini top frame - it's only 5' off the deck. A pair of cockpit steps aft and a Bimini that folds back against the arch would be better.
There's no pulpit sprouting from the 300's bow. The anchor stows in a chute and roller through the stem without detracting from the 300's lines. Rode is accessed through a 2'-by-2'2" hatch. Opening it revealed a Simpson Lawrence windlass with chain gypsy ($1,495) mounted on a sloped platform whose incline matched the anchor chute's. Nice job.
CERTIFIED TEST RESULTS Chris-Craft 300 Express Cruiser
|Advertised fuel capacity 150 gallons. Range based on 90 percent of that figure. Performance measured with two persons aboard, three-quarters fuel, no water. Sound levels taken at helm, in dB-A.|
WE'RE ALL CONNECTED. The water fill is also located under the anchor hatch. Why? Because the freshwater tank is located under the V-berth, leaving more room in the engine compartment. In placing the water supply forward, Chris-Craft netted enough space under the 300's motor hatch to keep any cruising necessities within easy reach. Besides the V-8 Volvo Pentas, I found a 4.5kW Kohler genset ($6,995); 6-gallon hot water heater; 35-gallon gray water tank; waste tank and suction pump; and a triple battery bank - one house, one each for the motors.
As we've said, the 300's 10'6" maximum beam contributes to its fine ride. It measures 9'10" at the transom. That all six feet of me could work in the space remaining around the engines and accessories to troubleshoot a snafu with our test gear is a tribute to the 300's design. The neatly run plumbing and wiring helped, too. It's bundled, labeled and supported with Adell clamps.
The systems installation aboard the Chris-Craft - and its hull specs and foredeck, too - proves two things. One, disparate items (like water fills and engine rooms) are all related within the limited confines of a boat. Secondly, allowing form to follow function works best.