Cruisers Yachts has recently entered a realm that market research has shown the entire industry is trending towards… that of outboard-powered cruisers. The company’s first, but surely not the last, entry into this growing segment is the 338 OB. A class-packed weekender that is already turning heads. She’s got a large layout with multiple gathering areas that make her a qualified day boat, and a modest cabin and head that allows her to venture well beyond the home marina and firmly plants her into the overnight category. We took her out on her world premier for a full features inspection and performance evaluation to see how Cruisers has done, and in a word, she was impressive. Both to us and everyone we passed.
- Convertible sun pad
- Cooler storage and bow storage
- Full-featured helm seat with lower storage
- Head with a toilet, sink, and shower system
- Under floor storage for ski equipment
|Length Overall||32' 10'' / 10.01 m|
Acceleration Times & Conditions
|Time to Plane||4.0 sec.|
|0 to 30||11.8 sec.|
|Load||2 persons, 1/2 fuel, no water, 50 lbs. of gear|
|Climate||76 deg., 60 humid; wind: 5-10 mph; seas: calm|
2 x 350-hp Mercury Verado
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When a company already has a boat that can host a small army of friends for cruising, picnics, grilling or towing watersports by day, be a sunset cocktail platform in the evening, yet also be an overnight cabin cruiser with sleeping and living accommodations comfortable enough for a couple… oh, and the ability to tackle blue water as well as inland lakes, how does it improve on its already well established success?
Well, in the case of Cruisers Yachts, it converts the power plant of that boat to a system that is well planted in a growing market trend… outboards. Such is the case with the latest launch to come out of the Cruisers Yachts factory, the 338 OB. We recently had the opportunity to test this boat and ride along for her world premiere and found it to be a combination that hit the proverbial ball right out of the park. Now, this multi-functional bowrider, that can be loaded up with friends and family – up to 16, according to our count — can accommodate trips to a remote destination for overnights while cranking out good times during the days, is now outboard powered and she handles great.
The bow area is recessed below the main cockpit deck and offers a roomy layout for half a dozen people to relax and enjoy each other's company without feeling crowded by knocking knees. (Remember, this boat has a 10'6" beam, much of which is carried well forward.) An optional pedestal table adds to the inviting atmosphere. There are accommodations for storage under each of the seats and a dedicated place for the table. Drink holders are nestled into the bulwarks along with speakers. The fit-and-finish is on par with the premium build. Drink holders are stainless steel. Stainless grab rails are mounted low to the caprail.
Bow Riding Offshore.
As this boat is made for blue water (Bimini, anyone?), the bow cockpit is deep, with full-size backrests plus a raised grab rail port and starboard. Riding here should be comfortable in normal conditions at all speeds thanks to her deep-V bottom and high freeboard. Speed and wave height will determine comfort sitting here offshore, but if speed matches the conditions we think the bow will be a fun place to sit in all but sloppy conditions. Because of the J-shaped seating, two people can be seated facing forward, something that most bowriders can't accommodate. Under this seat is a standard slide-out 48-quart cooler for beverages. By having a cooler here, guests upfront don't have to depend on their friends aft to keep them well supplied. At the foredeck is a hatch concealing a recessed optional windlass with the anchor and rode running through the stem leaving a clean look to the bow.
The helm is at once elegant and functional with carbon fiber paneling accented with brushed stainless steel and vinyl trim accents. Dual fuel gauges take a prominent location to the upper left of the panel. A trio of multi-function gauges takes the center top position. To the mid-left of the panel is an optional Raymarine E97 display. A VHF radio can be added. The wheel is leather-wrapped with color-matched accent stitching. All switches are toggle type and lighted at the ends when activated.
The cockpit makes an equally inviting atmosphere with the captain and observer seats swiveling around to join the conversation. Again, as with the bow, an optional pedestal table completes the warm ambiance. A wet bar is offered as an option with either a cooler or a cockpit refrigerator.
And now we come to the most distinguishing feature of the 338 OB… the cabin. Of course, it seems like a contradiction of terms to discuss a cabin and a bowrider in the same sentence, but it’s accurate here. Just to the left of the helm is the cabin door leading into a spacious and well laid out mid-cabin. With this clever design, Cruisers Yachts was able to design a cabin with standing headroom throughout and even include the now requisite amenities that overnight boaters are demanding such as an enclosed wet head, mini galley, TV, stereo, and even air conditioning. Naturally, these are options, but making them available requires making space to accommodate them, and here it is done with style included.
Attention to Detail
One of the things that is impressive about this 338 OB is the level Cruisers Yachts has gone to with its attention to detail. Everywhere the eye can move shows another example of how just a little more attention was taken to fine-tune the product and enhance its appeal. This is the kind of TLC that separates a high-end builder such as Cruisers from high-volume production boat builders.
The Cruisers Yachts 338 OB has a LOA of 32’10” (10.01 m) and a beam of 10’10” (3.30 m). With an empty weight of 12,470 lbs. (5,656 kg), 50% fuel, and two people onboard, we had an estimated test weight of 13,502 lbs. (6,124 kg). Powered by twin 350-hp Mercury Verados turning 16x18 Enertia props, we reached a top speed of 53.8 mph at 5800 rpm. At that speed, we were burning 61 gph for a range of 174 statute miles.
Best cruise was 35 mph at 4000 rpm. At that speed, the fuel burn was reduced to 23.5 gph while still holding back a 10% reserve. We reached time-to-plane in 4.0 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 6.6 seconds, and continued accelerating to 30 mph in 11.8 seconds.
As this is an EVC-controlled boat, we let the auto trim control the outdrives making for effortless driving. She comes up on plane with just a momentary loss of visibility to the horizon. Time-to-plane is remarkably fast for this weight of boat. While the 338 was equipped with trim tabs we never felt the need to use them and they would probably only be necessary for an uneven distribution of weight.
When turning she rolls only 11-degrees into the turn remaining comfortable throughout. She presents a wonderfully solid ride, remaining barely perceptible when crossing through wakes throwing hardly any spray. This also makes her one of the driest boats we've operated in class.
Response to the digital controls was instantaneous and we also used the engine sync to match the two engines together. With her 11,000-lb.+ displacement and her deep-V bottom she was a joy to take through the chop and her ride was just as soft as one might expect with this bottom shape. When it was time to come back into the dock the sterndrive joystick made it ever so easy to dock the 338 with nearly surgical precision and accuracy. This should remove any doubts about whether transitioning up into a boat this size will present any difficulties.
Options To Consider
Every good builder designs each boat to accommodate a wide range of customers. The only way to do that is by making options available that will meet the needs specific to each customer. This 338 OB is no exception. Here are some of the options that we think should be considered--
We would start with the electrical system. Here it is important to carefully consider how the cabin of the boat will be used. Will it be used at anchor now and then, more or less like camping out? Will it be used only at a marina? Will it be used on the hook for extended periods in tropical locations? What level of amenities and comfort are desired below?
The answers to these questions will determine what options to buy. For any use other than a casual "camping out" night or two aboard will mean extra batteries with an inverter. (Inverters take DC power from a battery and, utilizing sophisticated circuitry, change it into 120 Volt AC current. But they will only provide 120 Volt AC power as long as there is ample juice left in the 12 Volt batteries. It is strongly recommended that you have a separate, dedicated engine starting battery to avoid accidentally draining the entire 12V system.) Marina operation will mean a 120V inverter so shore power can be used for 12V appliances and recharging the batteries. Those requiring 120V can be run offshore power.
More Power to You.
For those planning on spending several nights anchored out, particularly in the tropics, air conditioning might be wanted. Then a generator will be needed. A 5 kW gas genset or 5 kW diesel are available as options, and both will be enclosed in a sound protective shield. It's nice to be able to cook while underway so a microwave is an option. Food will need to be stored somewhere, which means a refrigerator. A flat-screen TV is offered as an option as well. An electric head with holding tank comes standard, but no one wants to deal with a troublesome head so why not upgrade to a centrifuge system with a holding tank?
Exterior and Mechanical
We're going to need at least two cockpit tables, one forward and one aft. There's no sense having a class act boat like this with the standard stereo. An upgrade includes an amplifier, two additional speakers, subwoofer, and remote controls at the bow and stern. A transom shower is a must-have option. Might as well go the full class route with the underwater lights and an anchor windlass with line and chain.
The Black Diamond Limited Edition
For Cruisers' 60th anniversary, the company is making a limited run of its Black Diamond series available, which includes a host of upgrades that include IMEDGE gelcoat, special edition cockpit upholstery, black gunwale molding, the cockpit woven matting, platinum cockpit tables, and bow filler cushions, all at a price to be determined.
The Cruisers Yachts 338 OB is available with twin 350-hp Mercury Verado outboards for $412,022.
Cruisers Yachts has made a smart move by venturing into this growing segment of outboard power and has done so with a boat that is at once versatile, comfortable, and good looking. Her handling was on par with the best of the company’s boats and it was one of those tests that we just didn’t want to end. In fact, we just kept driving her into the late hours until they said we “had to give it back!” So goes the life of testing boats. No matter how much we tried, they just needed it for everyone else. Her new owner will have a boatload of bragging rights with a premium level weekender that is setting a new direction for a company that has done so well with inboard and sterndrive powered boats and is sure to do well with outboards. It’s off to a good start.