With four 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards, SeaVee's 390B is a master of efficiency. It cruises comfortably at 45 mph in 2' to 3' seas, while burning 44 gph. That's about double the consumption of a twin diesel inboard of the same length. But the 390B's economy is a bit better than 1 mpg, well above that of the twin diesel, which wouldn't make 45 mph unless it was loaded on a trailer. The 390B also provides family amenities without sacrificing fishability. It offers some of the best-conceived fishing features I've seen. And despite my objection to its raw-water head, usually smellier than a freshwater unit, the 390B is one great boat.
Holeshot is a sore spot for big center consoles. A ton of weight on the transom, an aft helm position, and a console with headroom conspire to blind a skipper trying to get on plane. Not so on the 390B. It never exceeded 4 degrees of inclination. SeaVee shimmed the engines to achieve 17 degrees of negative trim, 2 degrees more than usual. And while studying the 390B's bottom, I saw more reasons for its delightful running characteristics. The boat's designer, naval architect Robert S. Kaidy, elaborates: "The proper area of distribution fore and aft is critical…we spent time getting the placement of all weights, under all loading conditions, just right." SeaVee also mocked up the 390B's console before making molds to get it just the right size and shape to provide headroom and electronics stowage with no adverse effect on visibility.
The 390B's superior ride results from more than just its 22.5-degree transom deadrise. The strakes are proud forward, instead of fading out, which better separates the flow of water from the hull, Kaidy says. And its sections, when viewed head on, show a slight bulge between the keel and waterline. This "convex bell" softens the ride, defined by the lowest accelerations, or G-force.
Got the science? Now grab the levers. The 390B is head-snapping quick. Sure, it's fun, but there's power on tap when you're breaking inlets. I threw it into 50-mph turns with full negative trim-a potentially dangerous move. The 390B kept its bow level, its stern in the water, and me in the boat. Fast and strong, it will take care of novice skippers or those needing to make emergency moves. On the drift, the 390B has an easy roll. Trolling, it's as quiet as a sailboat, and if you're worried about engine failure, we planed and cruised (at 22 mph) on just two motors.
The 390B's technical prowess includes construction. For example, the stringers are fiberglassed in place, not glued, which is the quicker method. Modern adhesives work well but don't match the strength of fiberglass. SeaVee earns another gold star for incorporating a toekick across the transom. Most builders don't bother.
The 390B's onboard pneumatics are a revelation, too. Hit a button and the leaning post cooler slides out and locks in place, forming a seat. The head door is also air actuated. It slides sideways to open, instead of hinging up, so it doesn't block the skipper's view. If a crewmember is in the way, the door stops-a relief valve bleeds the pressure. An electric motor would pin him to the gunwale.
Custom hardware is seen in family-friendly features such as the standard aft seats, optional bow seats ($4,500), and standard dive door. The aft seats are lift-and-lay, providing a nice perch but disappearing when you want to fish. The forward seats-you get lockers if you don't opt for seats-are invisible when fishing, dropping down when you want to sit. You could swing a vault door on the dive door hinges. The ladder deploys from a sole hatch.
Serviceability? Large hatches open to provide drop-in-and-get-after-it pump and fitting access. A hatch inside the head provides terrific access to all things electrical. Everything is chafe-protected, bonded, shrink-sealed, and neatly run. Except for the long reach to one livewell through-hull, I'd score the boat A-plus. Naturally, SeaVee will install anything you're willing to pay for, so ask about electric through-hulls, such as the ones I saw aboard Intrepid's 370 Open, which goes for about $300,000 with triple 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards.