Mission NOT Impossible -- The Cruisers Sport Series 338 BR
The mission is to build a bowrider 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 -- all of this and be able to tackle blue water as well as inland lakes. That is a tough mission statement but one we think has been met by the Cruisers Sport Series 338 Bow Rider. The Cruisers Sport Series 338 Bow Rider measures 32'11" (9.98 m) LOA with a 10'6" (3.20 m) beam, and that means she can be loaded up with friends and family -- up to 16 people according to our count -- to spend the day on the water. But what about the once in awhile trips to the remote destination for overnights? The CSS 338 has that covered as well. She's got a mid cabin with standing headroom suitable for two people to sleep quite comfortably, and mini galley and an enclosed wet head. And now those "once-in-a-while" overnight trips become once every weekend.
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 ($915). 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 back rests 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-qt. cooler for beverages. By having a cooler here, guests up front 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 ($6,375) 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 ($6,245). A VHF radio can be added ($1,105). 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 ($915) 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 Bow Rider… 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 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 Bow Rider is the level Cruisers Sport Series 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 Sport Series 338 SS has a length overall of 32'11" (9.98 m), a beam of 10'6" (3.20 m) and a draft of 27" (.69 m) with gear up. She has a 22-degree deadrise at the transom. With an empty weight of 11,000 lbs. (4,990 kgs.) and two people onboard we had an estimated test weight of just over 11,570 lbs. (5,259 kgs.)With a pair of Volvo Penta V-8 320 catalyzed engines turning DuoProp outdrives with FH6 propellers we reached a top speed of 50.3 mph at 5300 rpm. At that speed we were burning 46 gph giving us a range of 152 miles.
came in at 3500 rpm and 29.8 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 19.5 gph giving us a range of 212 miles and an endurance of 7 hours and 6 minutes while still holding back a 10% fuel reserve.We had a time to plane of 3.9 seconds, reached 20 mph in 6.1 seconds, and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 9.7 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 stern drive 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 Bow Rider 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 ($1,655). (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 an 120V inverter ($3,915) so shore power can be used for 12V appliances and recharging the batteries. Those requiring 120V can be run off shore power.
More Power to You.
For those planning on spending several nights anchored out, particularly in the tropics, air conditioning might be wanted ($4,795). Then a generator will be needed. A 5 kW gas genset will add $17,485 and a 5 kW diesel will add $19,640, and both will be enclosed in a sound protective shield. It's nice to be able to cook while underway so a microwave will add another $550. Food will need to be stored somewhere, which means a refrigerator, for $2,140. A flatscreen TV will be $2,140.An electric head with holding tank comes standard, but no one wants to do with a troublesome head so why not upgrade to a centrifuge system with a holding tank ($1,510)?
Exterior and Mechanical
We're going to need at least two cockpit tables ($915 each), 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, sub woofer, and remote controls at the bow and stern ($1,900). A transom shower is a must have ($190). Might as well go the full class route with the underwater lights ($960) and an anchor windlass with line and chain ($6375).
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.
Eleven catalyzed engines are offered for the American market, and six for the international market. If MerCruiser engines are chosen prices will range between $227,000 for a pair of 300-hp 350 MAG engines turning B III outdrives on up to $273,000 for a pair of fresh water cooled 380-hp 8.2 MAG, again with B III outdrives and Axius joystick control.If Volvo Penta are the engines of choice prices will range from $239,000 for a pair of 320-hp V8 engines with Duoprop outdrives and EVC, to $269,000 for a pair of fresh water cooled 380-hp V8 engines, again with duo prop outdrives, EVC, and sterndrive joystick.A diesel option is also offered in the form of a pair of 300 hp Volvo Penta D4 engines for $336,650.
Practically speaking how will this boat be used and is she worth the money? From our perspective the CSS 238 BR is remarkably functional for people who want to do a lot of day boating with friends and then sneak away as a couple for a long weekend to a distant location. Because she has two large cockpits that each function independently with an enclosed head in between, she can be used with adults in one end and their kids in the other. During sunset cocktail cruises golfers can be at one end and tennis players at the other, etc. Because she holds so many people she can be a yacht club VIP for the start of sailboat races.Because the CSS 338 RB is really two boats in one, for some people she may be the best buy on the market.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Cruisers Sport Series 338 Bow Rider (2014-) is 50.3 mph (81 kph), burning 46.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 174.11 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Cruisers Sport Series 338 Bow Rider (2014-) is 29.8 mph (48 kph), and the boat gets 1.53 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.65 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 212 miles (341.18 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 320-hp Volvo Penta V8-320C DP EVC.
Standard and Optional Features
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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