By Captain Steve Larivee
We’ve been looking forward to testing the Meridian 341 Sedan now that she’s been repowered with MerCruiser’s newest 425-hp 8.2L MPI HO engines. But before we get underway, let’s take a look at the operational features of this cruising yacht.
Upon entering the 341 Sedan, there is a switch right next to the sliding glass doors to the salon to control the courtesy lights at the aft deck and stairs leading to the flying bridge. This is a thoughtful touch as it’s not always bright and sunny when stepping aboard, and a large number of people, including the staff at BoatTEST.com, enjoy boating at night.
The first stop is in the salon where the main battery switches are located in a lower cabinet next to the couch. Once the main power is brought on it's time to activate individual systems.
The ships power panel lies behind a cabinet to the opposite side of the glass entry doors. The ignition keys are at the top of the panel embedded with the DC circuit breakers, and turning the key simply activates the control station at the helm on the flying bridge. All of the labels to the switches are backlit in green making them easily read at night. The 120-V controls are in a subpanel just below. Beneath the panels are two gauges providing readouts for the water tank and holding tank levels. With an optional generator, the controls are located here as well.
There are two areas to focus on for the daily checks. First is under the hatch in the aft deck. This is where the optional generator is located, as well as the main batteries. Meridian Yachts offers either a 7.3 kW gas generator or a 9 kW diesel generator.
The main engines are located under a hatch in the salon. The entire compartment is well soundproofed. Removable access stairs lead in to the compartment to a platform directly between the two engines allowing for easy access to daily check points. There's also access to the outboard side of the engines for more involved maintenance.
The bow is accessed by rather narrow side decks but as this isn't exactly a heavily traveled corridor, the width is a fair trade-off to adding space in the salon. Meridian Yachts did a fine job of placing grab rails where they needed to be, and the side rails have a height that exceeds ABYC standards.
At the bow, our test boat was equipped with the optional features that included an electric windlass with foot control switches, and a remote controlled spotlight. A 10” (25.4 cm) cleat is mounted next to the anchor for securing the rode.
An access hatch to the side is opened with a much preferred lift-and-lock type of latch rather than the turn-and-lock type. Where the rest of the industry simply offers an open space to the deep anchor locker to allow for managing tangles, Meridian cleverly chose to make the top area a usable space by providing a liftout base to hold a washdown hose that connects to the freshwater spigot. Should any rode tangles occur, remove the hose and lift up the "floor" of the compartment allowing free access under the windlass.
Flying Bridge Helm
The flying bridge is accessed from stairs to the port side of the aft deck. There are hand rails everywhere and I was never out of reach of something to hold onto as I made my way up. There are not only safety rails surrounding the stairs preventing anyone from falling down accidentally, but the stairs can be closed off with a lengthy, and lockable hatch.
The helm is located forward and to starboard. I think that Meridian did an outstanding job with the helm layout, creating a functional and attractive workstation. The wood and leather steering wheel is mounted to a tilt base. Just ahead are two optional Raymarine hybrid touch navigation displays to either side of the digital depth gauge. To either side of the panel are 4-in-1 gauges and analog tachometers for each of the two engines.
Below, and to the left, is a subpanel housing the stereo remote, VHF radio, and the SmartCraft VesselView display. To starboard is the chrome plated DTS (Digital Throttle and Shift) controls with their long sticks that I have really come to appreciate. These controls also feature separate functionality for engine sync, single-lever control, low-power docking mode… etc.
Slightly behind are the controls for the bow and stern thruster. The close proximity of these controls to the engine controls provided excellent ergonomics when backing into the dock. There's full visibility to the entire length of the 341 Sedan. With one hand on the engine controls and one hand on the thrusters precision maneuvering is easy to maintain.
The helm seat is a wraparound bucket seat with an open lumbar area and a flip up bolster. It slides, swivels and the pedestal telescopes to adjust for height.
The Test Numbers
The Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan has a length overall of 35'10" (10.9 m), a beam of 12'6" (3.8 m) and a draft of 3'4" (1 m). With an empty weight of 18,254 lbs. (8,280 kgs.), one quarter fuel and two people onboard we had a test weight of 19,049 lbs (8,640 kgs.).With a pair of MerCruiser 8.2 L MPI HO engines powering our test boat and turning 23 x 22.5 x 4 Nibral props, we reached a top speed at 4700 rpm of 36.3 mph. At that speed fuel burn was 71.05 gph giving us a range of 115 miles. Best cruise came in at 3500 rpm and 25.2 mph. That speed reduced the fuel burn to 35.75 gph giving the 341 Sedan a range of 158 miles and an endurance of 6 hours 18 minutes while still maintaining a 10% reserve.We reached planing speed in 4.7 seconds, accelerated to 20 mph in 7.3 seconds, and continued accelerating through 30 mph in 14.7 seconds.Optional power packages include the T330 or T380 QSB Cummins diesels. Click the TEST RESULTS tab at the top of this page to view the full test results.
One of the first things that impressed me with the 341 Sedan's handling characteristics was how tightly she turned. The Meridian Yachts factory is in a relatively landlocked position on the Intracoastal Waterway and open water is hours away. For that reason we had to find the widest spot we could on the Intracoastal, which frankly still wasn't very wide. But the 341 Sedan had no trouble maneuvering in this confined space even at speed. Clearly this was thanks to the design team at Meridian for engineering good-sized rudders.
She presents a 10-degree bow high attitude upon accelerating, and once on plane the 341 Sedan settles into a 5-degree attitude. Naturally, thanks to the elevated position of the flying bridge helm, there's no loss of visibility to the horizon. She responds so well to the helm that beginners will have no trouble quickly developing a comfort level with the 341's operations. At cruise, the fish pots that popped up could be easily seen far ahead and avoided. Of course this is not to imply that vigilance doesn't need to be maintained, but reaction time is not as critical as one would think.When taking power off she settles back into the water at a level attitude.
Of course when transitioning into this yacht from a smaller boat many people will be concerned about whether she can be handled around the dock. While it's true that she is a conventional inboard boat with straight shafts and rudders, she's easily maneuvered thanks to the thrust that the large propellers provide.
When Thrusters Pay Off
Additionally, our test boat was fitted with the optional bow and stern thrusters which significantly reduce the workload while maneuvering around the dock. I simply use the engines to provide directional momentum, and the thrusters to maintain directional control and was able to ease in to the dock effortlessly, even against a stiff crosswind.
There’s certainly a lot to like with the Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan. She's not only a well laid out yacht, but remarkably easy to handle, offering excellent control-ability for even the novice captain. For anyone looking to transition from a smaller boat to a real cruising yacht, I think this is one that deserves serious consideration.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan (2014-) is 36.3 mph (58.4 kph), burning 71.05 gallons per hour (gph) or 268.92 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Meridian Yachts 341 Sedan (2014-) is 25.2 mph (40.6 kph), and the boat gets 0.70 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.3 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 158 miles (254.28 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 425-hp Mercury ECT 8.2 MPI HO DTS.
Standard and Optional Features
|Dripless Shaft Seals||Standard|
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|Oil Change System||Optional|