|Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.|
|Std. Power||2 x 320-hp Mercury Horizon 6.2L MPI|
|Tested Power||2 x 430-hp MerCruiser 8.2 HO|
2 x 330-hp Cummins QSB
2 x 380-hp Cummins QSB
2 x 420-hp Mercury 8.1L HO
At 35' 10" (10.92 m) the Meridian 341 Sedan may just make a viable first step up to an even larger cruising boat, and she's easily handled by a husband/wife team.
Meridian calls their 341 Sedan a “compact cruiser with a big yacht attitude.” We like to think of her more as a “starter motoryacht.” Meridian’s designers have tasked themselves with creating a functional cruising boat for two couples or a family, packing in many amenities found on far larger yachts, for an affordable price. The 341 has two cabins, good salon seating, a galley, and a very well equipped flying bridge. We have compared this boat with others in her class and found the Meridian to be impressive.
Captain's Report by Capt. Steve
The Meridian 341 is a sedan bridge which has aspirations of being a mini motoryacht. The builder says the boat is designed for people who want to do extended cruising, and if it is your dream to someday own a large motoryacht, then this is a fine place to start. If she is all you can afford, then count yourself lucky because the 341 will get the job done for you. There are not many true cruising boats in this size range, so you owe it to yourself to carefully check out this boat.
Thirty-five feet is a bit stubby for a cruising boat and that is why boats in this range often have a case of the uglies. Yet, somehow Meridian’s naval architects have managed to draw a 35’ 10” (10.92 m) sedan bridge cruiser that doesn’t offend my eye.
The Helm and Flying Bridge
There is no lower helm station on the 341 which is a design concept that I like. Having a helm on both the flying bridge and in the cabin is a huge waste of space and driving from below is always more problematic because of restricted visibility. However, if you plan on the extended cruising this boat is designed for, you’re going to have to have cruising canvas and isinglass on the flying bridge.
A trademark feature of every Meridian is the port side companion seating that adds more eyes looking forward. Notice the long engine control levers that are comfortable even when standing.
Visibility from the helm is great and even when backing into a slip you can see the stern through the hatchway in the bridge deck where the stairs pass through. There is plenty of seating on the fly bridge so it lends itself well to entertaining, and of course, it will be the main gathering spot when underway.
I found the Meridian 341 Sedan to be a very nice handling boat and she is heavy enough to give her a solid feel as she busted through the 2- to 3-foot waves we encountered during the test.
“IVC” Integrated Vessel Control Docking System
The “IVC” is a breeze to operate and makes anyone look like a pro. It gives you a single joystick control which is linked to the twin inboard gas engines and to the bow and stern thrusters.
With this system, you have full joystick capability with your inboard boat at a fraction of the cost of pods. What's more, you also have independent control of both the bow and stern thrusters which goes a long way towards adding a graceful flair to your docking.
When I say "graceful," here's what I mean. On test day, Meridian handed me the keys to the boat that was tucked into a narrow slip against a sea wall. There was a 55' (16.8 m) yacht a boat's length in front of me, so no room for error. With no practice, I was able to pull ahead, pivot, maneuver sideways, and easily leave the slip. The independent use of the thrusters made it easy.
Returning, I started to back down towards the slip, and while the 341 was continuing astern on its own momentum, I used the separate thrusters to guide her into the slip, stern to starboard, bow to port, then brought the bow in, pretty as you please. A tug back on the joystick kept her coming astern until I wanted to stop. Then it was just a matter of stepping off and tying up. Done.
Bow and Stern Thrusters
There is one important thing to know about all electric bow and stern thrusters no matter what brand of boat they are on – they are powered by a battery near the thruster. If you use them for too long at one time they can overheat and a circuit breaker will then shut them off. Also, the batteries can become exhausted after a short while. You’ll have plenty of power for docking but not enough for showing off for the camera, too. Veteran yachtsmen use them sparingly in short bursts, letting the momentum of the boat do most of the work.
Notice how the galley is set apart from the salon by the solid wood deck. We love the bottle storage in front of the sofa. Also notice how the lower windows are low enough to see out when seated.
Salon and Galley
Moving into the interior brought a few pleasant surprises. There was plenty of headroom (6' 5''/1.96 m) all throughout the boat. I liked how the guests are all facing each other in the main salon with the love seat to port and sofa to starboard. It made for a comfortable feeling.
The most notable feature in the salon was Meridian’s method for air handling. Inevitably, I’m always the guy who gets stuck next to the air conditioning vent, so I freeze, while everyone else is trying to stay cool. Problem solved on the 341. There are two recessed fiberglass moldings in the overhead that run fore and aft nearly the length of the salon.
The A/C units pump cold air into a channel in the molding and it gently spills over the lip along the entire length, rather than blasting out of one three inch opening. This treatment is rarely seen on a production boat of this size and price. Full marks to Meridian’s engineers for incorporating this feature, which we hope is much imitated.
The table is free floating so it can move about the salon. Raised, it is high enough to make an impromptu dinner table. The cabinet to the left (starboard) houses the electrical panels.
The galley design is another one of the secrets of this boat. By putting part of the galley in the passage way to the accommodations below, Meridian has picked up added seating in the salon. The downside is that the cook will have to move against the counter when someone wants to go below. We think that is small price to pay for the added utility of the layout.
Considerable space is saved by splitting the galley. The sink and working counter are to port while the stove is to starboard, across the companionway.
The extended overhead on the aft deck is noteworthy. This is a prime gathering spot on nice days while anchored, and speaking as the resident fair skinned guy at BoatTEST, the additional shade is a welcome sight. Another advantage to this design is that you can install cruising canvas and isinglass here to create another living space in cool or rainy weather.
Moving below decks, the island berth in the master stateroom has been pretty much standard on boats the last 20 years. But what’s not so standard in a 34-footer is the amount of room Meridian designed in at the foot of the bed. There’s room here to dress and move past your partner to get to the ensuite head.
Plenty of natural light spills in from the portlights and the overhead hatch. The two lights at the head swivel up to add indirect lighting when you're not reading. You can just make out the flat screen TV to the right on the bulkhead.
The second stateroom is a mid cabin arrangement tucked up under the salon. Headroom is limited, particularly on the starboard side, but the cabin is certainly functional and makes cruising with another couple or kids far more pleasant than having to open up the sofa or break down a dining settee. I’ll take this cabin over the other options anytime.
While the guest accommodations are comfortable, you do have to be aware of the varying overhead geometry. At the foot there is standing room. At the head, not so much. The two berths can be converted into a queen with filler cushions.
Standard Equipment Impressive
I was impressed by the number of important items that Meridian has built in as standard equipment on this boat. Here is a list of items that caught my eye as being a little unusual as standard: radar arch, spotlight, seat covers, dripless shaft logs, IVC docking system, natural hardwood cabin soles, rolling pantry, VacuFlush head, Ultraleather coverings on the lounge, and windshield cover. None of these items is earth-shaking (except IVC), but it is reassuring to see so many on the standard list and all are important to have.
Handling in 2' - 3' Seas
Test day had solid 15-20 mph winds blowing from the east right into the hazardous Hillsboro Inlet. As we headed out, the seas were crashing over the sea wall, warning signs of local knowledge being required to navigate the inlet. Check.
Once offshore, I committed to getting test numbers no matter the conditions. But for the record, those conditions were solid 2' (.6 m) seas with occasional 3' (.9 m) and a 3 second cycle. Heading into this ocean washboard at speed was not going to happen so I did two opposing runs in beam seas to get the numbers.
For starters, in a beam sea, she's not a bad handling boat at all. We stayed relatively stable from any sideways list as we went up and over the beam seas. We also threw very little water, the 341 having more of a tendency to drive through the waves than throw them aside. The boat weighs 18,254 lbs. dry (8,280 kg).
Head seas were another matter. At idle we had the natural porpoising as we went up and down the waves. Adding power needed to be a bit aggressive, as I needed to get the bow up. Accelerating slowly just caused us to plunge into the seas and we wanted over them. Put the power on, get the bow up and keep it up.
Now we were much more comfortable and much more in control of that comfort level. In these 2 to 3-footers, I was able to keep about 16 -18 knots on without any pounding, and the ride was actually quite comfortable. When I would encounter a larger wave, we'd ride over it, and I braced for an impact into the next wave that never came. We'd plunge through and onward, of course throwing water well off to the sides.
In a following sea, the 341 found her niche. There was no tendency for the stern to continually get pushed around, and I was able to maintain a nice straight track, even in quartering seas. I was also able to push the throttles to the stops without worry of stuffing the bow as I came down into the backside of a wave. But… while I didn't stuff the bow, I could see it happening so I backed off to about 20 knots and rode the whole way into the inlet in comfort.
With such a lot going on in the way of amenities, the seakindly handing characteristics, and the private accommodations, this is truly a yacht that belies her size. All this, coupled with a reasonable price, combine to make this an attractive choice when the time comes for trading up to a real cruising yacht.
|Dripless Shaft Seals|
|Washdown: Fresh Water|
|Washdown: Raw Water|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
|Boats More Than 30 Feet|
|Oil Change System|
= Standard = Optional
|Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.|