The typical 30-ish-foot express cruiser has a double berth forward, usually mounted diagonally, along one side of the hull. Sometimes there's a door for privacy, or a partial bulkhead; if not, the foot of the berth intrudes, at least visually, into the cabin. This arrangement lets sleepers walk to the berth and climb in, but traps the person on the outside; if he needs to get up during the night, he has to climb over, and usually awaken, his partner. This doesn't always make for convivial cruising.
Monterey changed this: The 320 SY has a raised sleeping platform, not a berth. It spans the entire hull forward of the salon, and is open – there's no door or even partial bulkhead. Sleepers enter by stepping onto a lounge across the foot of the berth and climbing in. This may not be the most graceful way to crawl into bed, and it doesn't allow much privacy – but that's not an issue with only two aboard for overnights. On the other hand, either party can come and go at night without disturbing the other. During the day, the berth is a place for folks to sit or lounge while still participating in goings-on in the salon. Add the optional 15" TV and it's a place to space out, or to keep the kids occupied. The foot of the berth forms the upholstered backrest to a small bench seat, too.
Quality Starts at the Computer
We're not surprised Monterey created such a usable arrangement in the 320 SY, because the company does lots of preliminary work before building a new model. Rather than the "seat-of-the-pants" method followed by many companies, Monterey employs sophisticated CAD software to create their boats. Company designers and engineers virtually "build" a new boat on the computer before taking the first step on the production floor.Once the boat is perfected on the computer, Monterey builds a full-scale model, mocking-up interiors, helms, cockpits and so forth. This is common practice in custom yacht building, but not all production builders spend the time and money to do it. This is where problems unpredictable on the computer can be solved inexpensively, rather than after the tooling is built.
After the kinks are worked out of the mock-up, Monterey builds one or more functional prototypes for real-world testing. Prototyping lets the company fine-tune engines, systems, performance, handling – all the 1,001 things that go into a boat. When everyone is happy with the prototype, the manufacturing team goes to work building hull and deck molds and other tooling.
Monterey prototypes, tests and sea-trials its boats from an R&D facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida, but builds its boats inland, in two modern facilities in Williston, north of Orlando. The laminate schedule includes a layer of 4-oz cloth, laid in AME vinylester resin, immediately behind the gel coat to shield against osmosis, followed by sprayed-in polyester core to make the outer hull even tougher. The bulk of the laminate is conventional fiberglass fabric. After the stringers and floors are installed, the open spaces are filled with foam for sound-dampening and to add a bit of flotation.
Each Monterey is covered by a limited lifetime warranty on the hull and deck, transferable during the first 10 years. The warranty also provides coverage against gel coat crazing, stress-cracking or blistering for five years, covers upholstery against material and manufacturing problems, and even includes five years' canvas coverage.
Our nearby Monterey dealer has a 2011 320 SY listed for $279,698 with twin 300-hp Volvo Penta 5.7Gi gas V-8s and Duoprop sterndrives, one of many engine options from Volvo Penta and MerCruiser. The Volvos come with EVC – electronic shifts and throttles – but the Volvo Sterndrive Joystick is optional. The above price includes it, since it's a popular option that "everybody wants," our dealer said. We'd want it, too. Oddly, opting for twin 320-hp Volvos, max power for this boat, adds only a few dollars.Other than the joystick, the 320 SY comes mostly complete as standard, so we estimate a fully equipped boat, with a few more options, should cost around $300,000 without electronics, maybe a bit less. That's a competitive price for a boat with this much equipment and this well-engineered and built. A Sea Ray 330 Sundancer with twin 300-hp MerCruisers, Axius joystick and a roughly similar level of equipment lists for about $268,000, while a Tiara 3200 Open, with twin 385-hp Crusader inboards starts at $322,890.Based on all of the above, we'd say the Monterey 320 SY is well worth checking out if you're looking for a 30-something express cruiser. And be sure to go belowdecks – that's where her best feature lies.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet