You'll feel it the first time you run it. It's that sensation of complete comfort and confidence. Sure, your kid's first keeper, other offshore adventures, plus how well the boat holds up after five seasons will rate high on your satisfaction index, but running the boat is the thing, especially the first time. And on that score, the Everglades 350 EX delivers. This is due not just to its great ride, handling, and performance but also to its construction, layout, equipment, installation, lines, and finish. All these combine to raise this boat above its competition. To say the 350 EX hits all the marks doesn't quite do it justice-it's how it hits the marks that are the real story.
Triple 350-hp Yamaha F350 outboards deliver thrilling performance. Mash the throttles. You'll rocket out of the hole, topping out at 57.8 mph in a serious hurry. I careened into a turn where the ICW meets the inlet, throttled back to 35 mph, and powered over and through the line beyond the jetty tips. Thuk-thuk-thuk. Though the break was steep and foamy, and the swells outside the bar were running 6', the 350 EX maintained its attitude fore and aft, and remained dead-level across its beam. There are reasons for this, and the 25-degree transom deadrise ranks high among them.
Another is the 350 EX's length-to-beam ratio. At more than 3:1, it's optimized for a soft re-entry, quick throttle response, and excellent tracking. From the standpoints of speed and efficiency, narrower boats ride better, hold a course better, and use horsepower better. Plus, the 350 EX's stability on the drift is fine. If a 28' boat with a 10'8" beam is as stable as the dock, lengthening it by 7' won't it make it rock and roll more. The 350 EX isn't narrow for its length. It's long for its beam.
Everglades' rapid-molded core assembly process (rampcap) also contributes to the 350 EX's let's-go attitude. Sure, vacuum-bagging solid foam between the hull, deck, and inner liner is more labor intensive, but it creates a stiffer structure. This eliminates rack and twist-and the leaks, creaks, and shudders that come with the more common construction method of blowing foam into voids. It makes the 350 EX unsinkable and deadens vibration and noise, too.
Think that noise doesn't have an averse effect on the quality of your ride? Try this. Run your boat outside on a rough day. Return to the dock and offload the loose gear. Now run your boat again. Without the racket from all your stuff banging around during every wave, I guarantee you'll feel as if you're in a different boat. The 350 EX eliminates this problem with robust accessory mounts and subassemblies that keep gear in place. Shoulder the tackle center, pull on a latched hatch lid, or swing like an ape from the hardtop, and you'll see what I mean.
If your current ride is an inboard express, you'd probably assume that being under a hardtop is just plain loud. Sorry, but unlike inboards, the trio of F350s powering the 350 EX aren't underfoot. The noise they make originates outside the boat. Check the dB-A levels, which we measure at the helm. I'd expect similar quiet from Boston Whaler's 345 Conquest ($380,620 with triple 300-hp Mercury Verado DTS outboards), which also has a solid enclosure.
Although Everglades calls its helm enclosure a hardtop, think of it more as a deckhouse. In principle it's no different than a Palm Beach day boat or a Downeaster chartering tuna out of Montauk. Tempered glass runs full height. A canvas curtain with a zipper door closes off the aft end. There's seating enough for a canyon-bound crew or island-bound family to enjoy the standard air conditioning. Wipers, washers, a defroster, and a nonglare helm ensure visibility. Sight lines are excellent for running, docking, and communicating with the cockpit. The enclosure also makes the 350 EX ideal for entertaining.
The cabin is more like a cruiser's than most fishboat cabins. rampcap allows for lower stringers, which makes a wider cabin with more headroom. Soled with teak, the cabin boasts a double berth with sitting headroom aft. Forward is a convertible V-berth and dinette upholstered in distressed faux leather. Overhead, glossy wood houses a light cluster and frames the deck hatch. Hullsides are bright white.
The galley features drawer refrigeration beneath its faux-stone top. There's also a sink, microwave, and single-burner stove. Adding a fiddle rail across the top of the upper cabinets would increase stowage. I'd suggest the same addition to the linen closet in the enclosed head.
The 350 EX is smartly equipped, too. Not counting the rodracks on the hardtop's underside, you can stow 20 rods. However, because you can't reach the tip of a rod placed in it, the aftmost gunwale holder should be moved forward.
The sole is back-plated for a fighting chair-and at 95 square feet, this cockpit can easily accommodate one. There's a refrigerated cooler built-in and a bait freezer. The rigging center has a sink, three large drawers, and nine tackle trays. Atop the transom are a whopper fishbox and a livewell. You might call the chairs that fold open from below jump seats, but they're more comfortable than most with that moniker. Lift the sole hatch. There's jump-in-and-get-at-it access to pumps and fittings, plus there's a standard genset. What's with that spring-loaded "doggie door" in the transom door? It's a freeing port to help the scuppers evacuate the cockpit should you get pooped. The inclusion of a redundant safety feature such as this is as telling about this boat as the way it makes you feel at the wheel.