Chris-Craft 360 Commander
Posted on 31 October 2012
Written by Steve Knauth
Looking for a used boat can be a little like fishing. You cast, reel in and see what you’ve got on the hook. Thumbing through the classifieds, Chris Frosina and his wife, Ayse, came up with a keeper in the 1974 Chris-Craft 360 Commander Tournament Fisherman.
“The size is perfect for our needs,” says Frosina, 52, a cabinetmaker from Shoreham, N.Y., on Long Island’s Peconic Bay. “It has a large cockpit, good for fishing or socializing, and the boat is dependable, as well. I’ve found that this Chris-Craft has lived up to its reputation.”
It’s not the first Chris-Craft Frosina has owned. In fact, Chris-Craft has been a theme in his boating life. As one of five children growing up on Long Island, he recalls cruising local waters in the family’s wooden Chris-Craft (and a Wheeler), visiting harbors and learning about boats and seamanship along the way. He also learned hard work. “It was our job to scrape the bottom and stuff the seams with cotton, then paint the bottom and do all the other things that come with owning a wooden boat,” Frosina says. “But from the experiences I had with the family Wheeler and Chris-Craft, I decided that boating was for me.”
It’s only natural that the first boat he and his wife bought was a Chris-Craft, a 21-foot Continental. Then came a 30-footer they bought in 1994 and owned for five years. “We loved that boat, but we decided we wanted to go a little bigger,” he says.
The couple came upon the 360 Commander Tournament Fisherman in 1999 in the pages of Soundings. The boat was in nearby New Rochelle, N.Y., and they went to take a look. It was bigger than they wanted and in rough shape, but they saw the potential. They bought it for $32,000.
It took some work to get the boat into shape. “The first year we had her I replaced the rear bulkhead [removing an air conditioner] and the interior walls and cover boards,” Frosina says. The next major renovation was to repower with twin diesels and add a 5-kW generator. “I did the repower myself and spent the entire winter on this project,” he says. “I’ve since installed air conditioning, carpeting, wooden floors, furniture and many other amenities.”
Today, the boat gets used from mid-March to mid-November for fishing, long-distance cruising and weekending. “We go out for fluke and blues in the Peconic bays and on Long Island Sound,” Frosina says.
The Tournament Edition of the 360 Commander came with a fishbox, rod holders and other gear, and the flybridge is designed for good sightlines and communication with anglers in the cockpit. But the 360 Commander also makes a great cruising boat, with all of the comforts that make staying aboard easy. The main saloon includes a galley-up (with a refrigerator, microwave, three-burner stove and oven), and the head has a separate shower. “The stateroom has a large bed, hanging lockers and a large hatch,” he says. “And the side stateroom works as a good storage area since it’s only the two of us.
“We go away for two weeks every summer, and we rarely visit a dock,” Frosina adds. “We pick up a mooring wherever we travel. The main saloon, with its A/C, is comfortable, like relaxing in your living room.”
The couple’s cruising grounds cover the area from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to New York Harbor, including Cuttyhunk, Mass., Newport, R.I., Greenport and Shelter Island in New York, and Mystic Seaport, Hamburg Cove and Essex in Connecticut. “We love to cruise to new locations, but we also have familiar places that we go to,” he says. “Block Island is really our favorite destination, and we always make sure we get there at least once every season.”
Frosina’s Commander is powered by twin 330-hp Cummins diesels, which were new in 2002. Cruising speed is 20 to 22 mph, burning about 16 gallons an hour, he says. Top speed is about 28 to 29 mph. Electronics include a 36-mile Furuno radar, a Garmin 2010 GPS/plotter, an ICOM IC-59 VHF and a Si-Tex CVS 106 depth sounder, along with digital tachometers.
The modified-vee hull features a sharp entry and a nearly flat transom. “In a following sea on a rear corner, she’s a little more work to handle but manageable,” Frosina says. “Other than that, the boat is very capable in all other seas and conditions. We enjoy the layout and the comfort of the ride she provides.”
The Chris-Craft 360 Commander shows off its classic 1970s styling with a hint of military bearing in the command bridge and windshield brow and the bold striping. True to its convertible roots, the design provides a good fishing platform as well as the comfort of a cruising boat.
The solid fiberglass hull has a sharp entry and moderate bow flare, flattening to a modified-vee at the transom. The large, open flush cockpit features an in-deck fishbox and space for an optional bait well and a fighting chair. No transom door was offered. The foredeck is ringed by a sturdy rail, with plenty of room for handling lines, fenders and ground tackle. The flybridge, reached by a ladder, is small by today’s standards, but its simplicity works well for fishing.
Chris-Craft offered several interior layouts over the years. All provided two cabins — a master stateroom forward with a double V-berth and the guest cabin laid out with bunks or berths. Galleys were fully equipped with a stove, refrigerator, oven and (in later models) a microwave. Inside steering stations were available, as well. Fuel capacity was increased from 300 gallons to 400 after 1982, and the saloon area was reconfigured the year before the boat went out of production.
The Commander series of convertibles proved to be among Chris-Craft’s most successful. The 360 Commander Tournament Fisherman built on the popularity of the 38 Commander, first in the revolutionary series, which was built in total secrecy and debuted with much fanfare at the 1964 New York Boat Show. With its twin cabins and standard and optional fishing gear, the 360 offers both “comfortable accommodations and big-water fishability,” Ed McKnew says in The Powerboat Guide. In 1977, Chris-Craft dropped “tournament” from the name, and it became simply the 360 Commander. The model then enjoyed a long 14-year production run before being phased out after 1986. Today, the storied builder offers a variety of boats from 20 to 36 feet.
LOA: 36 feet
BEAM: 13 feet
DRAFT: 3 feet, 2 inches
WEIGHT: 22,600 pounds
POWER: twin 330-hp gas engines, (original)
TANKAGE: 300 gallons fuel (400 after 1985), 75 gallons water (100 after 1985)
BUILDER: Chris-Craft Corp., Sarasota, Fla., (941) 351-4900.
November 2012 issue
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