Want enough speed so that the landscape blurs as you zip past? Need enough space for family and friends? Then check out Monterey's 298S. This big, beamy, 60.9-mph bowrider with its enclosed head, daring graphics, and neat design features may be your ticket.
Though we found some things to nitpick - the anchor locker, for one - the 298S impressed us overall, providing an exhilarating ride, complete with the pulsing throb of a through-transom exhaust. If you have a refined nature, don't worry about the noise. The pounding of your heart will probably be louder.
RUN, RUN, RUN. So catch your breath and grip the wheel. The 298S slingshots out of the hole. With the twin 280-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GSi DuoProp stern drives, we rocketed to 60.9 mph in just under 12 seconds. That's quick for a 9'6"-wide, 29'7"-long (without its standard, bolt-on, extended swim platform) boat with a ride-smoothing 22 degrees of transom deadrise. The 27'9"-by-9'4" Four Winns 280 ($77,643) nearly achieved the 60-mph mark, reaching a top speed of 57.8 mph when we tested it. Like the 298S, the Four Winns 280 was tested with twin Volvo Penta GSi stern drives, but it used a single-prop SX stern drive unit.
Inclination - bowrise - proved favorable aboard the 298S: Without using the standard trim tabs, we experienced a quick blip to six degrees at 17.3 mph before settling into a near ideal fore-and-aft trim of three degrees throughout the cruising range. So get comfy in that doublewide, drop-seat helm bench. Aboard the 298S, sight lines aren't sacrificed while seated. Too bad Monterey didn't incorporate a footrest, though. This big dayboat's stellar performance will find you concocting reasons to keep on running. Adding a footrest would make all-day cavorting more comfortable.
THE HIGHS: Dressed to thrill: bold styling inside and out. Euro-yacht accommodation plan. From gunwale top to engine compartment, attention to detail has been paid.
THE LOWS: Add a footrest for increased comfort at the helm. Plumb the engine hatch to drain overboard. Remote oil filters would be a welcome addition.
Handling? The Monterey is a strong horse with a soft mouth: Gentle input to the helm and controls results in seemingly instantaneous changes in speed and direction. No tugging, no grunting, no unexpected reactions. To what do we attribute this performance? Credit the crisp response of the fuel-injected Volvo Penta engines and the low-slip bite of their DuoProp propsets. Accolades, too, go to the Monterey design team. The 298S' hullform, like those of other Montereys we've tested, is both gratifying and obliging.
RETRO THERAPY. This spirit of performance is evident in the 298S' detailing. Visualize a classic Charger, GTO, or Boss Mustang. Sink into one of the creamy, overstuffed faux-leather upholstered lounges. They're piped in silver and embroidered with the Monterey crest. Check out the helm. The wheel's a purple-and-black racing job by Dino. Engine controls? They're nestled on a wide flat, not scrunched up against the inwale as aboard many boats. This provides a grip that fits your fist. Yellow-ringed Faria engine gauges are arrayed across a panel decked out in blue and purple swirls. A battery of illuminated accessory switches protrudes from a lower panel of equally subtle psychedelia. When I looked up, I half-expected to see a Sun vacuum gauge, instead of the compass, atop the helm. Vroom-vroom! Crank up the Top 40!
The 298S' exterior styling is no less bold. The topsides are artfully swathed in a dark blue that's punctuated by a competition yellow boot, a white waterline, and a stainless-steel rubrail insert. It's a powerful look that befits this machine's performance.
HIGHLY ACCOMMODATING. If the 298S' sportboat styling cues indicate what it can do, then its interior layout speaks well of what you can do with it. Step onto the extended swim platform to see what we mean. The aft arrangement of the 298S is lifted from that of 50' dayboats popular in the Mediterranean. Instead of a cruiser's boarding door or a sportboat's full-width sunpad blocking the way between wetbar and water, the transition here is seamless. After a half-step onto the integrated platform, a wide walkway to port leads to the nonslip-covered, self-bailing cockpit. Snap-in carpet is an option ($550), as it is aboard the Four Winns 280 and Chaparral's 27'6"-by-9'3" 280 SSi ($86,406 powered as our test boat). Though the walkway is the most natural way to board, we like that Monterey took care to coat the gunwale tops aft with nonslip as well. There'll be times when you have to step in from a high pier. Also impressive is the way Monterey integrated aft seating, a sunpad, and engine access without the clumsiness of pulling pins or removing cushions.
Aboard the 298S, the aft lounge's backrest folds to increase the size of the sunpad. This lounge also tilts forward and the sunpad tilts aft. This clamshell design affords excellent access to the gel-coated engine compartment. Service points are in easy reach. All but one, that is: We think a remote oil filter kit would be a welcome addition. Installed as low as they are, the filters are difficult to get at. And even though the engine hatch is guttered and drained, the drain hoses discharge into the bilge. There's enough height between the gutter and the waterline for them to be plumbed overboard using through-hull fittings. Additional seating is provided by the companion lounge, which accommodates either two passengers sitting abreast or one reclining sun worshipper. There's also a doublewide bench backing the helm seat. This assembly is a single unit with back-to-back seating that hinges up to reveal massive stowage. Your wakeboards, skis, and PFDs have a home. We thought we'd find access to the fuel tank sending unit here, but didn't.
Additional seating is provided by the companion lounge, which accommodates either two passengers sitting abreast or one reclining sun worshipper. There's also a doublewide bench backing the helm seat. This assembly is a single unit with back-to-back seating that hinges up to reveal massive stowage. Your wakeboards, skis, and PFDs have a home. We thought we'd find access to the fuel tank sending unit here, but didn't.
The bow lounge seats four abeam. Alternatively, two can kick back in the recliners sculpted against the front of the consoles. There are armrests, grabhandles, and stowage beneath each cushion. Our test boat was fitted with a windlass ($1,850) under the anchor locker hatch. The locker was fitted with a bitter-end tieoff, able to hold only about 100' of line. The 298S, though a dayboat, is capable of transiting open water. Pop-up cleats and a low-profile bowrail maintain its streamlined look. We'd like to see a pop-up bowlight, too, since there are no chocks to keep the anchor rode from sweeping the existing fixed light fixture.
The head resides beneath the helm console and features a vent port, cold-water sink, and portable MSD. The Weekend Package ($2,845) gets you a manually operated porcelain commode and holding tank as well as a dual-voltage wetbar refrigerator, battery charger, water heater, hot and cold transom shower, microwave, and shorepower. In the cabin in the port console is a full-size pad that serves as a berth for a quick nap. A TV/VCR will keep kids happy, and there's plenty of light and ventilation, thanks to a 2'-diameter circular hatch and vent port.
LAST WORD. Crank it up. A 560-hp jukebox.
Displacement (lbs., approx.)....6,500
Minimum cockpit depth...2'10"
Max. cabin headroom......4'10"
Fuel capacity (gal.)...142
Water capacity (gal.)..17
Price (w/standard power) ..........$86,301
Price (w/ test power) ..........$91,700
STANDARD POWER: Twin 240-hp MerCruiser 5.0L EFI Bravo Three V-8 gas stern drives.
OPTIONAL POWER: Twin MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline stern drives to 600 hp total.
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 280-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 GSi DP-S V-8 gasoline stern drives with 350 cid, 4.00" bore x 3.48" stroke, swinging an F7 ss propset through 1.95:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Extended swim platform w/ladder; anchor roller; enclosed head w/sink, vanity, and portable MSD; single berth; Bimini top, side, and aft curtains; depthsounder; Sony AM/FM/CD stereo w/4 speakers; tilt steering; hydraulic trim tabs; wetbar; CO detector; battery switch; compass; galvanic isolator; pressurized water system; auto. fire extinguishing system.