Look at the Company
Choosing any boat is a very subjective process, made more so today now that the real stinkers have been forced out of the market by buyer education, competition, NMMA Certification, the Internet, and the economy. Most boats are more than adequate for their intended use from a quality standpoint – picking one over another is more a matter of style, accommodations and price than a matter of seaworthiness for its intended use. Nevertheless, not all companies are the same. Some treat their customers like kings, others like -- well, not like kings. One way to decide which of several seemingly similar boats to buy is to look at the companies that build them and their owners or top management.
Five Industry CSI Awards
Six or seven years ago, around the time that J.D. Powers & Associate figured that the boat business would be its next gold mine, the industry association (NMMA) decided that it would institute its own "consumer satisfaction index" to reward its member boat builders which had CSI scores of 90% or better. It doesn't get much play, and all of the good builders win it most years, but that is precisely our point -- the good builders with good customer service, win it. And, Monterey has been awarded the NMMA's CSI award for the last five years. Since no customers are harder to please than boat buyers, making that 90% mark says a company works very hard to ensure happy customers.
Costing Out the Dream
Anyone thinking of dropping $600 or $700,000 on a boat (the Monterey 400 SY lists at $607,302, MSRP, with standard power; we spec'd our dream boat on the company website: $685,757, loaded) will want to be sure the company will be there if things go wrong.
The Monterey 400 SY is a nice example of a mid-size express cruiser, with berths for four in two cabins (the dinette converts for two more), two heads and a cockpit set up for fun in the sun. Or, more accurately, under the hardtop, which is standard. Bridge clearance with the top is 10'7", plus the height of whatever antennas and radar scanners you mount there. Our spec boat included electronics package C ($12,125), including a Raymarine E80 chartplotter/GPS, radar and VHF. We also added the video-upgrade package ($3,333), adding a 15" flat-screen TV/DVD in both staterooms; they are 12v., so you won't have to run the genset (8-kW is standard) all night to watch the box. A 26" flat-screen is standard in the main cabin. There's also a satellite-TV option. We didn't price that – we're trying to cut down.
Designed for IPS
Introduced in 2008, the 400 SY was one of the first boats to be designed from a blank sheet of paper for Volvo Penta's IPS drives. Standard power is twin Volvo IPS500 diesels, 370-hp each; 435-hp IPS600s are optional ($44,556 extra). The Volvos live in a gel coated engine room, which will make keeping it clean and sparkling less of a chore. Access is via an electrically actuated hatch in the cockpit.
Air conditioning is standard in the cabin, but optional in the cockpit; if you boat in Florida or other warm climates, it could be a wise investment. We prefer fresh air here at BoatTEST.com in Stamford, CT. A bow thruster is also optional, but you don't need one with the IPS. An anchor windlass is standard, as is an anchor wash down. But you don't wash just the anchor, you wash the rode, as well. Why? Wait until you stow smelly-mud-caked anchor rode and let it fester for a few days; then you won't need to ask. All-chain rodes stay cleaner, but add weight; nevertheless, we prefer them.
We added the factory-installed autopilot to our spec boat; it's $8,000, and you could probably get it for less from a local electronics installer. But factory-installed often causes fewer problems – and you can probably negotiate a better price from your Monterey dealer anyhow. We also want the cockpit electric grill ($1,625), a no-brainer for this kind of boat, where you live outside most of the time.
The cabin arrangement is pretty standard but the IPS system allows the engines to be placed father aft and creates more room in the living quarters than 40' boats with a standard inboard configuration might have. The cockpit is also pretty much like many others in class, but the huge swim platform which extends well past the props is a big plus. We think the fact that the boat was designed from scratch for IPS is a big plus, because some boats in class simply installed them on their existing hulls and as a result performance is not maximized. We have not tested the Monterey so we have no idea of how it will perform, but all boats we have tested with IPS have outperformed similar models with straight inboards. We'd say a bigger question is whether or not to order twin 370s or the 425-hp diesels. Either way you get the joystick docking feature. We think that one of the 400's strong points is its styling, which to our eye she is more attractive than some other boats in class. If you agree, then this boat should be on your short list.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!