Four Winns V305

The V305 is a unique cruiser that's a pleasure to operate.

Arranging a boat’s accommodation plan is like setting up a run of dominoes: The placement of an element at one end affects all the elements down the line. So it is with Four Winns V305 that the location of the galley allows for some truly spacious weekend digs.

We all know that cooking belowdecks is a drag. The requisite side effects of the culinary experience — grease, steam and spatter — are easier to cope with topside. That’s why most of us just use the refrigerator or nuke a can of soup in the cabin, reserving the display of our chef skills for a grill on the dock or in the cockpit.

Acknowledging this, Four Winns placed the galley in the portside corner of the cockpit — the bulk of it anyway, including a cooktop, sink, refrigerator and optional grill ($1,231). Belowdecks is a small fauxstone counter with sink and fridge and room for the optional microwave and coffee maker, referred to as the Breakfast Center. The result is more practical and makes for a roomier cabin.

For example, there’s space at the foot of the master berth for a U-shape lounge served by a generous hardwood table, around which at least six can sit. Install the filler, and this becomes a king-size berth. Coupled with the forward V-berth and the queen-size aft cabin berth, the arrangement results in the V305’s standard sleeping capacity for six. The aft cabin can open to the salon or, optionally, can be a private stateroom behind a bulkhead and door.

Comparable cruisers, such as Chaparral’s Signature 310 ($222,285, powered like my test boat), arrive at similar sleeping capacity in different ways. Aboard the Chaparral, this is accomplished by an optional air bed that expands the salon settee into a double at the touch of a switch. Aboard Sea Ray’s 310 Sundancer ($228,615, with twin 260 hp MerCruiser 5.0 MPI Axius joystick sterndrives), a four-seat, booth-style dinette converts to a double berth.

Another space maker: Check out the height of the V305’s hull, right at the rub rail where it connects to the deck. You’ll see that it’s proportionately higher than others. Most cruisers feature a deck flange that’s longer and canted inboard and extends down to connect with the hull. Four Winns’ method allows cabin furniture to be located farther outboard, while still retaining good headroom and functional depth to the cabinets, plus increasing the cabin sole area even more. This tall hull/short deck also allows installation of the wide, 13-foot-long hull side windows. These let in a ton of light. Were the deck and hull heights conventional, the joint between the two would bisect the windows.

A trio of overhead hatches in the V305 also lets in the light — and the breeze. In a Four Winns tradition that I’ve applauded for longer than a decade, each of the overhead hatches is hinged to open in a different direction. Doing so ensures good ventilation regardless of wind direction, with the added ability to have some air circulating even if it’s raining, since opening a hatch to leeward will have rain blowing against the propped hatch lid, instead of down the opening. Finally, there’s a screened slider to compliment the opaque Lexan companionway hatch. it allowed me to let in air and keep out bugs.

Decor isn’t neglected amidst all this function. Lovely linenlike bedding graces the berths. The headliner is taut, good-looking and easy to clean. Direct and indirect lighting, architecturally inspired plumbing fixtures and a Sony audio system with multiple remotely located MP3 ports combine with the rest to ensure all your senses get tickled.

Topside, I enjoyed the wood-grain white fiberglass table around which six can sit in the cockpit. The table drops on a hydraulic pedestal, forming a lounge. Out through the transom door is the swim platform. As in all Four Winns V-series cruisers, the V305’s platform is close to the water for easy reboarding. And as in all Four Winns, the battery switches are located right in the walkway, making it a snap to power up when you come aboard and power down as you button up to leave.

The 305 also boasts two different windshield arrangements. The extended-windshield option ($5,107) I tested provides standup protection from the wind, minimizes the amount of canvas you need to fuss with and makes the optional cockpit heat/air-conditioning very effective. The standard setup features a low-profile windshield of traditional height and a hardtop that provides protection and good mounting for antennas, and these still harmonize with the V305’s racy lines.

The extended windshield kept the entire cockpit blast-free during my test, even when I revved the twin 270 hp Volvo Penta 5.0 GXiCe Duoprop outboards to wide-open throttle, with the V305 flying across the bay at 43 mph. I also enjoyed precise, fingertip docking control thanks to Volvo Penta’s stern-drive joystick — a welcome option on a blustery test day.

Sociable, amenable and with a variety of intriguing options to suit varied tastes, Four Winns nailed it with the V305.