From a church pew as a kid, I heard a minister quote from the book of Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun.” Well, that preacher never laid eyes on the Solace 345 nor met the company co-founder, CEO and chief designer, Stephen Dougherty.
This new center-console fishing boat reflects truly new thinking, starting with the most prominent feature—a patented FishThru transom platform that extends aft between and beyond twin outboards that are spaced out on the edges of the hull. Riding above the waterline, the 52-inch-long platform lets you fish astern of the outboards and steer a hooked fish around the motors. The 23-inch-high gunwales lead to a beefy transom door. From below, a hydraulically operated swim platform with a boarding ladder extends farther astern. This deep-V monohull consists of a carbon-fiber, Innegra-fiber and epoxy laminate that is vacuum-infused and oven-cured for strength and durability.
Innovation comes natural to Dougherty, who hails from American boatbuilding royalty. His father, the late Bob Dougherty, served for decades as a chief designer for Boston Whaler, then founded EdgeWater Power Boats and subsequently Everglades Boats. Stephen also served at all three companies (and co-owned the latter two), where he developed his penchant for trendsetting concepts.
Still, innovation must translate to functionality. It does so with this design. Two anglers can fish side by side on the platform, which tapers from 42 inches wide at the transom to 38 inches wide at the aft end. Twin pressurized 45-gallon livewells flank the entrance to the platform, and each features an adjacent tuna tube.
How do those motors—in this case, twin Yamaha 425 XTO V-8s—positioned on the outside edges of the hull perform? The props maintained their bite, even while cornering at speed in choppy seas. The 425s propelled the 345 to 30 mph in 13.5 seconds. Top speed was 55 mph at 5,700 rpm. An optional Seakeeper 2 gyrostabilizer on our test boat eliminated roll and kept the hull on an even keel while underway. Zipwake trim tabs helped adjust the running attitude.
Another innovation is the optional elevated second station with two high-back helm seats with flip-up bolsters and a carbon-fiber buggy top. Ascend by climbing atop of the console from the helm deck. This perch offered a full set of controls, including a second joystick for the standard Yamaha Helm Master docking system and a Garmin GPSMap 7612xsv that was networked with the twin Garmin GPSMap 8617 displays flush-mounted in the 53-inch-wide dash panel below. The buggy top folds down in just a few minutes. While the tower is a great location from which to scout for fish, the hardtop blocks the view to the aft cockpit, so you can’t really use the second station to monitor crew action below. On the other hand, the big hardtop features an Amerishade cockpit shade that extends electrically from within. The rod rack tilts down to allow the shade to deploy.
The main helm offers three high-back Llebroc Billfish chairs, each mounted on a Shockwave S5 base to help cushion the bum in bumpy seas. A SeaDek helm pad with an extra 4 inches of shock-mitigating closed-foam EVA underneath pampers your feet and knees. The center of the pad—where the captain stands—hydraulically levitates as much as 10 inches.
The tempered-glass helm enclosure melds with the hardtop, and the windshield hinges upward on hydraulic actuators for a cooling breeze. Two Scanstrut Rokk wireless, waterproof charging mounts secure cellphones at the helm, and dual glove boxes let you stash car keys, sunglasses and tubes of sunscreen. The 345’s switching—including controls for hydraulic accessories—is all digital.
The portside console door features an impressive stainless-steel hinge. Inside is 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom and dark wood cabinetry, a vanity with a Corian countertop, an illuminated glass vessel sink, an electric-flush marine toilet, a settee that converts to a berth, and a microwave. The interior is served by a 6,000 Btu air-conditioning system. Back on deck, there’s a 42-inch-long two-person lounger on the forward console, as well as the twin 44-inch-long loungers in the bow. Aft of the helm seating resides a workstation featuring a Corian countertop, cutting board, dual-basin sink with freshwater faucet and shower hose, electric grill and stainless-steel drawer fridge/freezer. For additional seating, a three-person couch hydraulically deploys from within the workstation.
You can’t find a direct comparison for the Solace 345, but the Boston Whaler 350 Outrage ($414, 991 with triple Mercury 300 Verado V-8 outboards) offers some similar features and options, and has a comparable beam.
The 345 abounds with lots of inventive touches and creature comforts, including retractable washdown hoses, folding stern seats, a deluxe sound system, an inverter, and full-spectrum LED lighting throughout. While preachers will continue to rehash the same ol’ lessons every Sunday, the Solace 345 proves that a clever and motivated boatbuilder can engineer new ways to enjoy your time on a blue ocean and under a sunny sky.
- FishThru transom makes it easy to fish, swim, snorkel and scuba off the stern.
- No shortage of seating and lounging aboard this boat.
- Buggy top for elevated second station easily folds down for towing.
- Scupper system on the FishThru platform will get your shoes wet.
- Hardtop blocks view of the aft cockpit from the second station.
- You will need to settle for twin outboards; triples are not an option.
Price: $650,000 (base with twin Yamaha 425 XTO outboards)
Available Power: Outboard
How We Tested
Engine: Twin 425 hp Yamaha 425 XTO outboards
Drive/Prop: Outboard/Yamaha XTO OS 16 5/8″ x 20″ 3-blade stainless steel
Gear Ratio: 2.037:1
Fuel Load: 125 gal.
Crew Weight: 1,000 lb.
Solace Boats – Edgewater, Florida; 386-302-6287; solaceboats.com