Good Boats Start At The Top
Founded in 1988, Scout Boats has emerged during the last decade as a preeminent builder of offshore center console boats. As is so often the case in boat building, Scout's founder and CEO, Steve Potts, is the company's visionary who is also involved in virtually every detail of the boat from the time it is a gleam in his eye to the moment a finished product rolls out the door. Potts is on the shop floor, in the design office and all around the 230,000 sq. ft. plant with all of the energy and enthusiasm one might expect from a successful entrepreneur. Regular readers know that we highly prize boat companies that have the CEO deeply engaged with all facets of a boat's gestation and Potts certainly does that. We think that is why his company has been able to so successfully challenge the older and more famous names in the offshore center console business during the last five years or so. Just take one look at his boats and you'll see what we're talking about.
The 345 XSF Mission
This is a big center console whose mission is to go offshore and hunt for both billfish and meat fish, but do it in relative comfort and with a heavy dose of panache. After all, the glossy red hull and the teak swim platform you see above will do little to raise fish, but will do a lot to raise the temperature of any red-blooded fishermen who sees her.
We'll start at the stern which is where twin Yamaha 350s are mounted and like most other things on this boat the way Scout has done it is different. First, what you can't see: the molded in transom bracket is attached to what the company calls its "Strata-Mount." This is a clever system that takes the longitudinal stringers right through the transom to the outboard engine bracket. In that way the 1,116 lbs. (507 kgs.) of iron hanging there isn't putting all of its weight on the transom. In fact, with this design, the boat doesn't even need a transom, as the load and stress is spread all along the bottom of the hull to the bow. The second thing we liked about the 345's stern is the optional teak swim platform. Scout has carefully laid teak on top of a platform that wraps around the two huge engines, inviting people to use this space for swimming, scuba diving, or just sitting with one's legs dangling in the water. You may not want the teak decks as this boat has, but consider teak here.
We are also a big believer in transom doors on offshore boats that open out, not in. It is here that we take issue with our trusty test captain (Capt. Steve) who likes it the other way around - that is, opening in. Here's why we like the way Scout has designed its transom door: The biggest danger to a small open boat, even one as big as a 35-footer, in offshore conditions is the chance of taking a rogue wave over the gunwale and having the boat swamp. The free surface effect of water in a boat such as a center console will cause it to capsize with very little effort exerted. Once a boat has been capsized it can't be righted.
The solution to a swamped boat is getting the water out of the cockpit as quickly as possible -- we're talking seconds here, not minutes -- and the only way to do that is with a transom door that opens out, and opens out quickly -- obviously the larger the better. The scuppers in all boats are just not designed to dewater a boat quickly enough in a swamping situation. And a transom door designed to open out is less likely to be popped open by a large following sea, or when backing down hard on a fish - both circumstances when you want the door to stay closed. Capt. Steve likes the transom doors opening inward so that if someone falls against it they won't tumble out. That is precisely why Scout has a big, beefy transom gate that brings the cockpit coaming across the top of the door.
The Tour Begins Here
Having established that the new 345 is a looker and has been built by people who know what they are doing, let’s take a closer look at this innovative design.
We have not been lucky enough to test this beautiful boat, but the folks at Yamaha have. They tell us that with a pair of their 300-hp engines and a total vessel weight of 12,627 lbs. (5,739.5 kgs.) on a cool day in flat seas the boat hit a WOT of 55.5 mph. They say that at the most fuel efficient running speed (39.9 mph and 4500 rpm) the boat got 1.38 mpg, burning 28.9 gph. That will give the boat a cruising range of 410 statute miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Yamaha has also tested the boat with a pair of their 350s. These 804 lb. (365.5 kg.) engines and a few more people aboard brought the boat's weight up to 13,227 lbs. (6,012.2 kg.). With the 350s, the Yamaha techs say the boat goes 63.8 mph WOT. Best cruise was rated at 3500 rpm where she went 28.9 mph, getting 23.7 gph for 1.22 mpg. But wait! You mean best cruise was slower with the 350s? In terms of finding the most economical cruising speed, yes. If you would like to crank up the 350s to 4500 rpm where the smaller engine was most efficient, the 350s will push the 345 XSF at 42.4 mph burning 36.1 gph, getting 1.18 mpg. Conversely, according to Yamaha’s numbers, if you drop the 300s down to 4000 rpms the speed of the Scout 345 will drop to 31.9 mph, burn 18.8 gph and get 1.06 mpg. This is probably the speed where we would drive the boat most of the time offshore, and ironically at this speed the boat gets better fuel economy with the bigger engines loping along at 3500 rpm.
All Scout boats come with a three-year stem-to-stern warranty program, which they self insure. We like that for a number of reasons. There is also a 10-year limited warranty on their hulls. At the Miami Boat Show with a fire engine red hull, teak decks and loaded with options the Scout 345 XSF had a MSRP of $312,995. Her show special price was significantly lower, but it’s too late to get that price now. Since you are talking serious money here you have to check out what is available, but if you don't at least see the 345 for yourself, you'll be making a mistake.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Standard|
|Washdown: Raw Water||Standard|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!