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Sea Ray’s 370 Venture. The Express Cruiser with the Outboard Motors. Photo by Glenn Hayes
Sea Ray’s 370 Venture. The Express Cruiser with the Outboard Motors. Photo by Glenn Hayes

Outboard Motor Express Cruisers

Attend any boat show and you might note some pretty drastic changes within the marine industry recently. The recession that hit all aspects of the industry, ever-increasing fuel costs, and tightened environmental regulations have also pushed manufacturers to consider new technologies in order to bring in new customers and retain old ones. This has translated into some innovative products for the ever more demanding consumer.

A couple of examples: Sea Ray’s 370 Venture and Pursuit’s SC 365i are unlike anything previously offered – a whole new breed of express cruisers. Powered with twin outboards – that’s right outboards – these vessels are traveling where cruisers before them could not go. Looking much like their inboard and outdrives brethren, these new boats offer some surprising new capabilities.

From its headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., and plants in Florida, Sea Ray has produced the 370 Venture powered by twin 300HP supercharged Mercury Verado four strokes. The 37-foot, 2-inch-long boat has a beam of 11 feet, 3 inches. Because of its new power supply, it boasts a tremendous amount of room both on deck and below.

The look of the boat is similar to other express cruisers with the outboards hidden beneath two sun pad covers in front of a large swim platform.

Seeing the boat on the water you would think it was no different from other Sea Rays.

Pursuit Boats, based in Fort Pierce, Fla., fills a similar niche with its impressive SC 365i. The “i” stands for its all-new “Integrated Outboard Technology.” Powered by twin 350HP Yamaha four strokes, this 41-foot, 2-inch cruiser sports a 12-foot, 6-inch beam and can run in as little as 28 inches of water with the engines up and 39 inches with them down.

Similar to the Sea Ray, the engines are hidden beneath an engine cover, giving the boat a traditional express cruiser appearance. Unlike the Sea Ray it has a larger single domed hatch. It lacks a sun pad but adds to the all-new sleek appearance that is a departure from Pursuit’s other offerings.

Why Focus on Outboard Motors on an Express Design Cruiser?

Outboards have developed into a reliable and efficient means of propulsion that meet or exceed stricter emission regulations and require less maintenance than other offerings.

Plus, By simply switching to outboards, these companies have opened themselves to a rapidly growing market of outboard enthusiasts.

Another very noticeable difference is in the extra space created by using the smaller outboard instead of inboards or outdrives. Both the 370 Venture and the SC 365i boast much larger than normal master suites with queen-size beds and seating along with large windows and ample room. One look at both master suites and you feel like you are in a much bigger vessel.

The cockpit of both vessels is also more spacious, with seating capability for 10 to 12 people in the Sea Ray and dining available for six. Larger outside bar and service counters also benefit from the additional space. Sitting or making your way through either vessel you can’t help but feel you are on a boat bigger than the stated length.

Because of their clever design, these cruisers have the ability to be beached with no running gear damage. Simply trim up the motors (they can be fully raised out of the water) and the boats can rest on their own bottom. Being able to trim the motors up also allows these boats to run in shallower waters that previously were off limits.

With the motors up and out of the water, docked boats can avoid corrosion and growth issues, minimizing maintenance costs.

Another obvious benefit of the integrated outboard technology is the noise (or lack of it). The already quiet outboards benefit from their soundproofed cowlings and engine covers. The result is a remarkably quiet boat even at cruising speeds. The wind and water end up making more noise than the engines, and you find yourself carrying on a conversation at normal levels and not having to raise your voice to be heard.

Because of the efficiency of the motors and the weight saving compared to other power plants, these boats burn fuel at a lower rate. Tests on both boats show that at all speeds they prove to be quite efficient and will save on fuel bills compared to other power options. The larger Yamaha engines of the Pursuit burned more than the Mercury Verados, but the performance from the extra 100HP is the trade off.

If you are in the market for an express cruiser and want to take a look at the future of this boat type, either of these innovative boats would be worth a good look. They are roomy, efficient, easy to maintain and can go places comparable boats could only dream of going.

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