At BoatTEST, we look at more than test numbers and features. We study brochures and websites, question company representatives, and ponder the boat as a whole to answer one basic question: What separates this boat from all the others like it on the market? In the case of Rinker’s 34-foot cabin cruiser, the answer came down to two words, standard equipment. Most boats in this class include such conveniences as a microwave and refrigerator in the galley, a depth sounder and VHF radio at the helm, and a fresh water shower at the swim platform. Others will include more expensive equipment such as air conditioning or an electric anchor windlass. Rinker is a family owned company; a family inspired by boating, not accounting. Their company philosophy is clear: Build boats the way we like to use them, including all of the necessary equipment. This is noticeably true of the Fiesta Vee 342, which is outfitted from the factory with ALL of the equipment required for family outings and extended cruises, at a surprisingly competitive price.The most notable (and most expensive) standard feature is the five kilowatt generator, which is more than adequate to power the air conditioners, water heater, and galley appliances simultaneously. The cockpit wet bar includes an icemaker, two cubic foot refrigerator, and a built in blender. Other standard equipment includes a GPS receiver at the helm, built in coffee maker in the galley, and even a central vacuum system. Because the equipment list is quite inclusive, Rinker doesn’t offer many options. This can, however, be disadvantageous. For example, a bow thruster would have to be a custom aftermarket installation, which tends to be more costly than a factory option. Alternately, consumers who could do without some of the equipment are paying for it regardless. The company’s viewpoint is that if a boat is to ultimately include something, it is cost effective to incorporate it while building the boat, rather than inserting it later. This is clearly reflected in the boat’s price, which offers a lot of bang for the buck when compared to other similarly equipped boats.The 342 offers a lot in addition to its value, especially for cruising. While she is intended primarily for families, the layout can comfortably accommodate two couples. The aft bed, which sits beneath the forward part of the cockpit, is rectangular and larger than a standard queen bed. The forward V-berth is slightly smaller because of its shape, but is a bit more open and accessible. The salon table drops to form an additional double bed, although not as wide as the others. Another great feature for cruising, the head includes a separate, roomy, fully enclosed shower stall. The galley countertop is split with the stove slightly higher than the sink, primarily to allow a taller refrigerator. I found the difference in height to be practical too, as it raises the stovetop for cooking and keeps little ones fingers farther from the heat. The built in coffee maker, at shoulder level behind the sink, is a great addition. In my experience, this is the most used appliance aboard, but because of the size of a coffee maker, it is difficult to securely and conveniently store. Across from the galley, the C-shaped dinette is fitted with drawers, rather than the usual arrangement of lockers accessed by lifting up the seat bottoms. To some, these drawers may seem insignificant or even superfluous, but most people find this the best location to store canned and dry foods. Ever forget the bottle of ketchup until after six people are seated at the table?The layout above decks shows careful consideration as well. The wet bar is oriented diagonally just aft of the helm on the starboard side, sensibly placed in the center of traffic flow. The Corian countertop conceals a sink, removable trash container, and a fixed mounted blender. The icemaker and refrigerator are flush mounted beneath the counter. The forward bimini top and enclosure protect the helm seat and large forward lounge from the elements. The aft bimini shades the entire aft deck, including the transom-width lounge. By stowing the aft bimini against the radar arch and inserting the filler cushions, the aft lounge becomes a large sunpad. The swim platform, accessed via a walkthrough on the starboard side, includes a recessed telescoping ladder, a fresh water shower, and plenty of storage. The platform can be fitted with Weaver Davits, a system for expediently storing and deploying a tender. Rinker offers a complete system including a rigid hulled inflatable, and a 3.3 horsepower outboard that stores in the lazarette.While the list of optional equipment is short, Rinker offers a wide array of engines. To suit the preferences and budgets of purchasers, the boat is offered with gas and diesel engine options from 260 to 320 horsepower, in both inboard and stern drive configurations. The boat we tested was equipped with twin 320 horsepower MerCruiser 6.2 liter engines affixed to Bravo 3 out-drives. We reached a maximum speed of 47.3 miles-per-hour at 5100 RPM, and cruised most economically at 4000 RPM, making 36.9 miles-per-hour and burning 28.3 gallon-per-hour. This equated to 1.3 miles-per-gallon for a range of 276 miles from her 235 gallon fuel tanks. Interestingly, the same engines are offered with Bravo 2 stern-drives. While the top speeds probably wouldn’t be as fast as the dual prop Bravo 3s, time to plane and mid-speed performance should be better. I also tend to prefer the single prop Bravo 2s for their simplicity, and because they allow the boat handle more like a conventional twin engine boat while docking.While I obviously like the boat, I am impressed by the company as well. Management espoused a dedication to continually improving their product. When the television’s swiveling bracket pinched my fingers I put this principle to the test, bringing it to the attention of Kim Slocum, the company’s general manager. He immediately escorted me to the boat and took notes regarding the problem and our discussion of possible solutions. He explained Rinker’s active efforts to encourage constructive criticism, honestly evaluate it, and incorporate sensible changes into future models. As I am writing this article, Mr. Slocum reports that the design is being modified to eliminate the hazard. I offered one other negative comment: The sunpad on the foredeck is too short to stretch out. Mr. Slocum also asked for positive feedback. One item stood out in my mind: The cockpit refrigerator has a remote-mounted condensing unit. Most small refrigerators incorporate the condenser within the refrigerator, typically at the back of the bottom shelf. While it costs Rinker more to install the separate condenser, it significantly increases the usable space inside what would otherwise be a tiny refrigerator.Finding the right boat is very much a personal endeavor. Many get caught in a quagmire of comparing features and benefits of various models. I suggest instead envisioning your intended use of the boat, and contemplating its suitability for that purpose. A restful night of air-conditioned sleep in a secluded anchorage, quiescent morning coffee with loved ones, and margaritas in the afternoon; all aboard a remarkably complete and affordably priced boat. These are great reasons to investigate Rinker’s Fiesta Vee 342.By Capt. Vince DanielloTest Captain
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Rinker 342 Fiesta Vee is 47.3 mph (76.1 kph), burning 48.8 gallons per hour (gph) or 184.71 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Rinker 342 Fiesta Vee is 36.9 mph (59.4 kph), and the boat gets 1.30 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.55 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 276 miles (444.18 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2 MPI.
Standard and Optional Features
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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