Teeming with stowage, integral speaker mounting flats and armrests, the sculpted fiberglass panels that ring the cockpit of Monterey’s 234SS provide the cohesive look and ergonomic functionality of a touring automobile. They’re a unique treatment — seeing as most runabout builders cut holes in the liner and then upholster them — and one I applaud. The panels look great and provide easy cleanup in the short term. For the long haul, tears, rips and fading, long the bane of runabout aesthetics, have been minimized or eliminated.
Notable too is extra space allotted to the aft cockpit compared with other bowriders this size. There’s about a 70/30 split, the results allowing for more comfort in the primary area of the boat. Sitting on the aft lounge, I didn’t feel cramped by the helm seats. Also, the large aft cockpit allows for the integration of the aft lounge, which converts from cockpit seating to sun pad to fore- and aft-facing reclining chaise. Combined with the extended swim platform, inlayed with optional SeaDek faux teak ($875), the 234SS delivers the amenity of a larger day boat in a trailerable, single-engine package.
I tested the 234SS with a 300 hp MerCruiser 350 Mag Bravo Three sterndrive on a wake-roiled stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway. It accelerated briskly, handled the slop with aplomb, and displayed no handling glitches I could sniff out.
Service access to the engine stood out, but the 234SS possesses other details that impressed me. The four-step ladder deploys deeper in the water than most, easing boarding. The cockpit drains are integral to the aft lounge base, not separate fittings, so they allow quicker drainage and nicer looks. Hinges and hardware are through-bolted; where the fastening is blind, T-nuts are used; security is assured. The helm is nonglare. There’s another four-step ladder in the bow.
Eye candy aplenty exists in the form of the square-shaped latches, oval-section rails and overall angular “edge” styling that has become the signature look of Monterey’s SS series.
For all of this, Monterey’s 234SS stands out as one of the few distinct boats in a size and type that have regrettably been reduced to commodity status.
Comparable model: Cobalt 232