Sea Vee 340I: Fixed Bayonet

Sea Vee's 340I is built tough with spectacular offshore performance.

Most hot-to-trot center consoles are rigged with outboards. Why? Outboards don't weigh much and they have a high horsepower-to-weight ratio. In other words, they are fast and relatively efficient. Plus they're the only propulsion units manufactured exclusively for marine use. Also, these motors take up less space - in fact, no space at all - inside the boat. This allows the builder to incorporate a bigger console, head and cabin enclosures, and more stowage than a design with inboard power. But inboards hold a couple of aces, too: Their weight and location provide a boat with a low center of gravity, and they deliver megatons of torque. Outboards don't have enough cubic inches to generate the torque your boat needs to turn big blades that can push lots of water. You'll never mistake the ride of an inboard for that of an outboard-powered center console. With their small props and minimum torque, outboards work best when you're running them at a good clip. That's fine until you start launching off waves. Flying off waves at 30 mph can beat the tar out of the hardiest anglers during a 100-mile jaunt - even in moderate seas. ****

THE HIGHS: A true fishboat that doesn't make the mistake of trying to please too many masters. Offshore performance is spectacular. Built tough, with a layout that lets you get to work.

THE LOWS: The anchor locker and rodholders drain into the bilge. Several of the options on this model come as standard equipment on its competitors.

And even if you and your boat can handle the punishment, your gear may not. I've seen tower leg welds fail. Rodlockers can look as if some angry giant was playing pickup sticks. If you want to set up the throttles and skip waves like an SKA pro, line up some factory sponsors - you'll need the money. So, what do you do instead? Throttle back the outboards as you ride down the face of a wave. Then as you try to climb the back of the next wave, the rpm drops so you must push the throttles forward. First you're going, then you're slowing. Running with outboards is like using a socket wrench to fasten a dock cleat with an 8" lag bolt. You're forever pushing the handle forward then pulling it back; pushing it forward, pulling it back.

NO CARPEL THROTTLE SYNDROME HERE. Which brings us to the new Sea Vee 340I, a diesel-powered inboard. You can cruise it to distant oil rigs, the Bahamas, or the canyons. If you're like me and you like to fish - and fish hard - check out this boat. It's a dedicated war wagon that doesn't make the mistake of trying to please too many masters. Throttle it up to 33.4 mph and run downsea in stacked three-to-five-footers. Now what? Leave the levers alone. Big props and mucho torque keep up those rpm. The 340I's 10,500-pound displacement - a full ton of which comes from its test engines, twin 300-bhp Yanmar 6LP-STEs - provides the momentum to climb waves. Coming down the face, the 340I tracks straight as it hits the trough. Its deep-V hullform and reserve buoyancy forward are responsible. Swing the 340I into head seas and throttle it down to 24.4 mph. Reentry: nice and soft. Why? All that weight prevents you from going airborne. It also keeps the hull wet from chine to chine so you land on center, and it holds the 340I's deep transom deadrise - 23.5 degrees - at the proper angle so it can knife smoothly through the water. Do you want to go trolling? The 340I doesn't wander and leaves wide, clean alleys in its wake.

GOOD TO THE BONE. The 340I's ride and construction can take on Neptune's nastiest. Its three-piece hull, deck, and liner are joined with through-bolts and fiberglass to create a rugged, watertight seal, as well as a secure toe-kick around the boat. Bolted through hard beds, the Yanmars will stay aligned for the long haul. Even the sea strainers are bolted through aluminum plate - the proper way to install hefty bronze hardware. All the mechanicals are easily serviced by raising the console front. Lift one of the three strut-assisted, piano-hinged hatch lids forward and note the deep gutter and thick gasket that protect the lockable rod stowage and overboard-draining fishboxes from spray. (Macerator pumps, often a standard on other boats, are $350 each on the 340I.) Now close the lid and jump on it. Like the hull itself, the hatch lids are internally stiffened with Divinycell, a weight-saving, closed-cell foam that inhibits flex. That, combined with wooden inserts installed where the hinges fasten, ensures that the hinge bolts won't spring loose over time.

Move aft and check the water tank. It's aluminum and painted with Awlgrip for long life. The 340I's tinned-copper wiring is neatly run, properly supported, and terminated with sealed connections. No matter where you look, this boat's construction is just plain bulletproof. Features? Forward there's a stowage shelf located beneath the gunwale, pop-up cleats, pop-up navlights, and a huge anchor locker that, unfortunately, drains into the bilge. Take my advice, Sea Vee: Plumb this overboard, and while you're at it, plumb the rodracks along the console side to the self-bailing liner. Buyers of a bluewater thoroughbred boat such as this expect to have any - and all - water routed overboard. ****

LOA..........34'9" ****

Beam..........10'0" ****

Draft..........3'0"****

Displacement (lbs., approx) ..........10,500 ****

Transom deadrise.....23.5° ****

Bridge clearance..... (hard top) 5'4"; (tower) 16'1" ****

Minimum cockpit depth.....2'4" ****

Max. cabin headroom.....4'2" ****

Fuel capacity (gal.)..... 260 ****

Water capacity (gal.).....40 ****

Price (w/standard power) ..........$102,000

Price (w/test power) ..........$132,500 ****

STANDARD POWER: Single 300-bhp MerCruiser D-tronic diesel jack shaft stern drive.****

OPTIONAL POWER: Single or twin Yanmar diesel inboards to 840 bhp total; single or twin Yanmar diesel jack shaft stern drives to 600 bhp total; single Cummins diesel inboards to 450 bhp. ****

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 300-bhp Yanmar 6LP-STE diesel inboards with 254.04 cid, 3.70" bore x 3.94" stroke, swinging four-bladed 20" x 27" bronze props through 2:1 reductions. ****

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Hydraulic steering; 70-gal. transom livewell; integrated transom platform; transom door; dual overboard-draining, insulated in-sole fishboxes; Bennett trim tabs; Racor fuel filters; compass; dual auto. bilge pumps; console lift system; dual battery system; tinned-copper electrical wiring; 4 rodholders; mufflers. Move aft and you'll find enough space to work a trolling spread with a full crew and a leaning post with a cooler and stowage. Performing any chores around the cockpit is easy. There's nothing to get in your way. I remember one company bigwig who, responding to my skepticism about placing cushy seats in the cockpit of his new sportfisherman, looked me straight in the eye and said, "In real life the upholstery never gets torn or bloody." Puh-leeze. You and your crew can't reset the spread, gaff a big tuna, or wire a marlin while parked on a lounge. I guess his real life is a lot different than ours. The 340I's helm provides enough installation space for all the requisite electronics and protects them behind a clear, plastic shield. Sight lines are excellent.

AND IN THIS CORNER... Among the 340I's competitors is the 31'7" Strike 29 ($105,000 with a single 330-bhp Cummins diesel) and the 30'8" Rybo Runner 31 Open Fish ($107,000 with a 300-bhp Yanmar diesel). If you prefer outboard power, the 36' Contender 36 ($145,000 with triple 250-hp Yamahas) is another center console guaranteed to wow the crowds at the weigh in. In fact, if you insisted on owning a 340I with outboard power, Sea Vee will build one for you. Options? If the 340I's over-the-top fishability sounds perfect for you, consider adding a T-top with spotting station ($4,400). You might also want to add Rupp Radial outriggers ($135) and a pair of swiveling rodholders ($135) for deep dropping with electric reels or giant tuna work. Saltwater washdown ($350) - a Rybo Runner standard - and a console tacklebox ($250) will come in handy. Before you order the removable stern seat ($1,100), consider that, after a day of hardcore fishing on the 340I, you can rest on your laurels. ****

LAST WORD. Watch out fish! Here's a strong boat with a solid, steady ride that will keep you rested and ready for battle-and with all your gear intact.