Bold, commanding in profile and plush, Monterey’s 328SS Anniversary also proved its ability to run through the rough stuff with grace during my test. While eating up miles of three-to-fives at 22 mph is more an attribute of a fish boat than a high-class day boat, I’d argue that such sea-kindliness allows its owner to head to that special island, cove or sandbar on marginal days when many boats will be staying inside. In short, this party boat gives you more days to party.
Interviewing Monterey’s design team, I learned that the reasons for the 328SS Anniversary’s great ride go beyond its simply having a deep-V hull. Extra pains were taken to make the keel extra-sharp, which is harder to mold but better for tracking and soft landings. Additionally, the displacement-to-bottom-area ratio was refined, Monterey carefully distributing weight over the wetted surface that supports the boat while on plane. And an in-depth weight study was performed, resulting in placing the longitudinal center of gravity in just the right spot. all of this combined to make a boat that isn’t slowed much by a head sea, climbs following seas like a mountain goat, tracks wonderfully (even with waves quartering from astern, the toughest condition in which to maintain a course) and, perhaps best of all, provided me with that intangible experience of balance, of feeling as one with the boat while at the helm and charging along in the whitecaps.
Hull design is largely based on the successes of the past, with many new boats riding tried-and-true old hulls. That’s fine, and it makes good business sense. But the 328SS Anniversary proves the merit of taking things a bit further, evolving the shape rather than resting on drawing-board laurels.
Monterey pulled no stops in designing the rest of the 328SS Anniversary either. The hallmark edge styling — in which corners and straight lines, rather than radiuses and swoops, create a dramatic interplay of light and shadow — lends the 328SS Anniversary an aggressive stance when viewed in profile. This philosophy is applied to more than just the prominent lines like sheer, stem and rake of the windshield. Grab rails, bow rails, fiddle rails and windshield support rails are square in section. Insets and recesses, such as those for stereo speakers or drink holders, also feature edge styling. There’s the base of the radar arch, the wet-bar inlay, the engine vents — heck, even the stitched tufting of the upholstery reinforces the theme. The sum is a powerful visual impact.
A stainless-steel windshield frame is standard, and led accent lights are installed in the engine vents, around the platform and around the perimeter of the aft lounge. The helm seat hardware is lustrous stainless — in a place where so many builders use cheaper powder-coated metal — and so are the cleats, embossed with Monterey’s marque. There’s plenty of sparkle day or night aboard the 328SS Anniversary.
The boat incorporates all the details you’d expect from an outsize bowrider, and some you might not have considered at all. Most prominent is the cabin within the portside console. Here hides a berth and a half, 8 feet long, with a nicely done headliner, a microwave and synthetic teak flooring. This may be a day boat, but if opportunity knocks, a couple could overnight, no sweat.
The aft lounge converts to a sun pad, as aboard many boats, such as Formula’s 310 Bowrider ($238,275, powered like my tester). But here the lounge morphs electrically into seven different seating/reclining/ lounging positions, rather than simply up or down. The companion bench is also a chaise — or seats three facing abeam.
At the helm, I noticed a pair of small displays bracketing the wheel. These are the accessory “switches,” though they aren’t switches in the traditional sense. Instead, Monterey fitted the 328SS Anniversary with a multiplex system that allows you to scroll through and select the functions you want to operate. You can call up any function on either display. These are wired through separate circuits for redundant reliability. Such networked switching reduces the amount of wiring and makes troubleshooting simpler. It also makes the electrical system more robust by reducing the chance of chafe or corrosion. More proof Monterey sees that the future is now: The engine controls are mounted on a nifty pedestal, and the Volvo joystick is incorporated into the helm. I found using the ’stick at the dock more comfortable than aboard other boats, where its location seemed an afterthought. At the wet bar, I admired the way the split solid-surface lid for the sink leaves a gap in the middle. It makes it easy to scrape waste into the sink, without having to remove the buffet from the top to do so. Beneath are stowage and the refrigerator.
Forward, I liked the anchor setup, with its chute and scuff plate. More stainless. Better still, there is a chain stop to take the strain of the windlass drum, a feature many boats lack. The bow lounge itself is capacious, offering seating without knee-knocking your crewmates, and armrests for longer lounging sojourns.
Monterey couldn’t have come out with a better boat than the 328SS Anniversary to commemorate a quarter-century of boatbuilding.
Price: $235,858 (w/test power)
Comparable model: Formula 310 Bowrider