It was about halfway through my sea trial of the Cruisers Yachts 390 Express Coupe, while motoring in a rather choppy Lower Bay south of New York City, that a memory of the mantra from an old TV beer commercial hit me like a rogue wave: Tastes great! Less filling! Like the brew in the ad, the 390 EC proved possession of two features generally thought incompatible.
Open cockpit! Climate controlled!
Every boat’s a compromise, right? Well, yeah. But check out the key elements Cruisers Yachts developed to ensure that the 390 EC serves both as a day boat and a cruiser.
For one thing, it features an accordionlike Taylor Made sunshade that is like nothing I have seen before. Closed, it thwarts rain. Open it up and the sky’s the limit. The space vacated grants the 390 EC a 42-square-foot skylight opening, the largest in its class, according to Cruisers Yachts. Compared with the retracting skylights aboard some boats I have tested, this one doesn’t rattle or create a whistle when it’s open while underway.
Compliment-inducing as that sunshade might be, I was also impressed with the windshield. This is a rope-thick piece of curved glass spanning the beam of the helm and delivering an unobstructed view. It’s important to the 390 EC’s mission to note that the vista is afforded whether piloting the 390 EC or reclining on the companion lounge. Stand by.
Now, if you haven’t yet noticed from gawking at the pictures, the 390 EC’s side-deck access steps are forward, just abaft the helm, instead of in the typical aft location. This allows the full beam of the aft cockpit to be used for accommodation space, a fact meriting kudos all by itself. But Cruisers Yachts delivered even more boaty goodness by utilizing that extra real estate to create a seating arrangement that can take on four distinct layouts.
There is no primary seating plan. It all depends upon what the day holds in store. I came into the 390 EC over the swim platform and through a centerline walkway between two L-shaped lounges. But during the course of our photo shoot, I changed the layout by sliding the portside L-lounge to starboard and creating a U-shaped seating area, served by a table at which six could sit. Then I dropped the folding wenge cockpit table ($2,405 with fillers) and lay down the aft backrests, turning the seating into a sun lounge. The fourth iteration manifests itself by leaving the aft backrests erect and deploying the kickstands that prop the forward seat bottoms at an angle so as to create chaiselike backrests, thus creating an encircled “playpen” lounge.
I should mention that the cockpit sole is all one level for ease of access from transom to companionway. Also, there is a bow chaise lounge optionally available ($5,020) and our tester sported the complete wet bar with the grill ($1,890) and the refrigerator ($2,920).
Putting it all together, you open the sunshade and create a breeze-filled cockpit with seating for about a dozen, or lounging for six, or quiet reading at anchor for two, or … You can entertain to suit the crowd du jour.
Now close the sunshade. In fact, put up the weather curtains. These enclose the helm and companion lounge so you can enjoy protection from the weather en route to a weekend getaway. Because the hardtop extends aft of the drop curtain, if you leave one zipper unzipped, you can dash out to the transom platform, or up and around the side decks to the bow, without any canvas in your way. It’s very seamanlike, and the boat that was yesterday’s darling at the dock is today appreciated for the comfort provided in making a big water crossing.
Comfort is delivered via ride quality too. Test day’s blustery weather kept our helicopter grounded “on call” and us on station in a steadily building chop. In those gray whitecaps, the Cruisers Yachts 390 EC fared well. Landings were soft — pounding more an expectation than an occurrence. The 390 EC felt buoyant. Running down-sea, it tracked admirably straight. Weight savings in the form of balsa-core construction, resin infusion, and careful materials and accessories selection help it to achieve excellent speed and performance. For example, we hit 40.3 mph powered by twin 430 hp MerCruiser 8.1 HO Bravo Three X Axius Premier sterndrives. But as the seas built to those described, we were most comfortable at about 22 mph.
Belowdecks, the 390 EC offers a full-beam aft master stateroom — the only boat so arranged in this size class. Eight hull-side windows (they’re actually one long window per side with masks: cool, huh?) and a skylight under the windshield work together to ensure this designer cabin’s lightness and airiness.
You might compare the 390 EC to Beneteau’s GT 38 ($358,900 with twin 300 hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel sterndrives) or the Sea Ray 370 Sundancer ($468,712 with twin 380 hp MerCruiser gasoline sterndrives). You might. But the Cruisers Yachts 390 EC combines a unique set of features that we’ve yet to see another builder replicate.