If you were to desire a vessel with more luxury and livability than what’s aboard Monterey’s finely detailed 360SC, you’d have to hire a crew to run it. The beauty of the 360SC is the clever way space is maximized to wring the last measure of day-boat essence from its deck plan, and it’s so maneuverable that operating it will invite even the less-experienced skippers to the helm.
Sterndrive power is the key to its ease of operation. Even with standard nonjoystick steering, the 360SC pivots easily, crabs sideways for tricky side-to docking and cruises through choppy waters with comfort. Visibility proved panoramic from the helm, and the dual seat offered a great seating or standing position from which to pilot the ship.
Instrumentation was arrayed logically, trim switches were set ergonomically, and electronics space proved ample. The convertible companion seat allows passengers to converse with the skipper and adds to the versatility of the helm deck space.
The combination worked beautifully for us offshore of Boca Raton, Florida. The positive control of the drives was reassuring as we navigated the tricky Boca Raton Inlet. In seas, we tucked the drives in at 30 knots and whipped the helm left and right, enjoying its ability to hold turns, stay on plane and come out of the turns without prop slip or ventilation. We noted too the hull’s ability to cleave seas. One would think that in a vessel with so much on board, a cabinet door, a latch or a hinge might rattle, but none did. We quietly crushed the rollers.
Dockside, a swift current swept past our moorings, which were flanked with more spankin’ new Montereys, barely leaving a couple of feet of clearance on either end. This is where Axius Joystick Piloting makes timid skippers look like old salts. I easily adjusted the 360SC’s clearance between the other boats before gently nudging the dockside padding.
Test day dawned with air humid enough to form puddles around cold drinks, but at the helm we kept cool thanks to the air conditioning ($5,115). How very nice in a hot climate.
Access to the cockpit is via a transom door at the starboard side of the roughly 4-foot swim platform. Yep, there’s a shower there to wash off sand or salt, and as you walk through you can grab a cold drink from the cooler drawer in the starboard coaming. Or, with the transom seat laid flat, make like a starfish on the broad sun pad. Flip it up and aft-facing seats become ideal for catching a sunset while on the hook.
Regal‘s 35 Sport Coupe ($313,740 with twin 300 hp MerCruiser 350 MAG Bravo Three DTS sterndrives) boasts a comparable transom seating area, but its flip-over seat-back design offers only front- or aft-facing seat backs, not both as does the Monterey. Regal’s sliding roof completely opens the cockpit, while better shading the aft seating area.
Another distinction of Monterey’s design leadership resides in the cockpit. Unlike the rounded, puffy seating that is so commonplace, I discovered upholstered settees with crisp, squared edges and generous padding. They’re firmly comfortable, offering a secure ride while delighting the eye and giving a firm nod to the angular seating found in European sports cars. Grab rails parrot the angular look with easy-to-grab, rectangular-section stainless steel.
The cabin below offers shattering beauty with a feeling of workmanship, luxury and utility warmly toned in wood and stone. Passages between galley and settee are generous. The galley counter is a stonelike surface with a ceramic cooktop and stainless-steel sink. A stainless-steel fridge doubles cooling capacity when combined with another in the cockpit. Overhead cabinets give secure stowage for neccessaries and easy access to the circuit panel.
An aft berth is roomy with good headroom, and the V-berth forward makes comfortable a family or two couples. Remember though that this is a day boat. The forward-positioned helm and expanded topside amenities that foster the day-boat mission result in a cabin more suited to serving those enjoying a party topside than being the boat’s focal point for entertaining. One can weekend aboard, but “berth count” cruising is not what the 360SC was built for.
That said, the woodwork is top-notch. Contrasting hardwood dog-bone inlays add accents, as do contrasting hardwood cup holders inset on hinged table corners. The design offers a smooth table for dining or a poker-style table for more casual affairs.
Thoughts of gaming aside, Monterey has also designed entertainment functionality with the sports spectator in mind. Flat-panel TVs with quality speaker systems and generous amps give plenty of viewing options and cabin- or cockpit-filling sound.
We’d be remiss if we simply focused on the comfort and convenience of operating the 360SC. It’s been ideally designed for easy maintenance too. A large hatch gives great access to engines, genset and plumbing. Small hatches within the main hatch accommodate quick checks on strainers and dipsticks. Such attention to the “back end” of boating means the front end is more enjoyable for the skipper without a paid crew. And running Monterey’s 360SC is too much fun to pawn off to a hired hand.
Comparable model: Regal 350 Sport Coupe