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Fort Pierce, Florida, is center console country. It is home to an easily navigable inlet that gives anglers access to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Stream, rich with sailfish, dolphin, snapper, grouper, tuna and many other good-eating species. The inlet itself is lined with sandbars that draw scores of boats on the weekends, and the historic downtown fronts on the ICW, which acts as a waterborne highway for local boaters taking day trips north to Vero Beach or south to Stuart and Jupiter.

So, it’s only natural that Fort Pierce should be the home of Pursuit Boats, one of America’s best-known brands of center console and dual console fishing boats. Which is why, on a sultry day in October, I was on the dock at Fort Pierce City Marina, attending the media launch of the latest Pursuit to hit the water, the S 358 Sport.

The large cockpit has a summer kitchen, including a fridge, sink and grill, and rear-facing seats

The large cockpit has a summer kitchen, including a fridge, sink and grill, and rear-facing seats

Big, shiny and new, it was easy to pick out from all the center consoles around, thanks to its wide beam, extended hardtop and twin Yamaha 425 XTO outboards, totaling 850 hp worth of muscle. This is Pursuit’s first-ever 35-foot center console. According to Christopher Gratz, Pursuit VP of engineering, that’s a “sweet spot” in the builder’s Sport center console range, which runs from 26 to 42 feet.

As Gratz talked us through the new model’s many features, I found myself wondering if you could really call this a center console. Until recently, that type of fishing boat typically had an open cockpit, narrow helm and small console with a side entry to a simple head. By contrast, the new Pursuit boasts bow- and aft-cockpit seating areas, an on-deck galley, and a full cabin in the console that’s accessed through a helm entry. The cabin can accommodate a couple for a weekend cruise. What’s more, according to Pursuit, this is the only center console in its size range to feature a separate, enclosed head.

Pursuit_S358_MM901786_CMYK

Over the two-year design process for the S 358, Pursuit interviewed existing customers as well as its Dealer Design Council and learned that today’s large center-console buyer wants a fully equipped offshore fishing machine that also can serve as a comfortable, versatile platform for socializing, cruising, sandbar-hopping, water sports and more. Gratz said the design goal for the S 358 was: “Uncompromised functionality in different use scenarios.”

That’s a pretty tall order for a 35-footer. But later that day, on a sea trial in the ICW off Fort Pierce, I was impressed by the sheer amount of features and equipment that Pursuit has packed into this new model. That includes integrated transom platforms on either side of the outboards that stretch all the way back to the ends of the engines. They facilitate water sports nearly as well as a traditional swim platform, but the boat also has a side dive door. The detachable dive ladder stores in the aft machinery hatch—a large, well-laid-out space that speaks volumes about Pursuit’s attention to detail. Equipment like fuel filters is all easily accessed and labeled. All removable parts have dedicated storage racks; even the aft anchor.

The S 358’s deck layout encompasses large “social zones” in the bow and cockpit with face-to-face seating and removable tables. There is no need to go below to get a drink or a snack because the “summer kitchen,” complete with fridge, sink and grill, is on deck, behind the helm seats. In order to maintain fishing functionality, the cockpit seats fold up and out of the way. However, the rear-facing seats were designed with a 60/40 split configuration that makes accessing the galley easier.

A third social zone is found in the cabin, which is noteworthy both in size and layout. Maximum headroom here is 79 inches. The sofa, located to starboard opposite a flat-screen TV, has a backrest that pulls off and acts as a fill cushion for a double berth. Only a sleeper’s lower extremities are beneath a low overhang; there are no obstructions above your upper body. The pièce de résistance, of course, is the enclosed head. Although it is a “wet head,” its sink is sizable and there is plenty of room to turn around. Both the head and cabin have opening portholes for ventilation.

Power comes from twin Yamaha 425 XTOs.

Power comes from twin Yamaha 425 XTOs.

Giving the cabin an aft-facing companionway door rather than the usual side access was a feat of engineering for the Pursuit team. It’s located to port, leaving room for a large helm station to starboard, where there are two 16-inch flush-mounted Garmin multifunction displays and a Yamaha Helm Master joystick control. Pursuit does not offer optional electronics for the S 358. Partnering with Garmin has allowed the company to select the specific suite of equipment it believes will provide an optimal boating experience for owners and install it at the factory. Similarly, the only power available for the S 358 is the 850-hp Yahama 425 XTO package.

Driving the S 358 is a blast. The helm station has three large seats with independent armrests (no need to share), and the middle seat is fully adjustable via an electric motor. A sunroof in the hardtop opens to let in the breeze (and also to offer easy access to the antennas overhead). As I advanced the throttles on the big Yamahas, the S 358 planed quickly and without appreciable bowrise. Running south along the ICW, we settled in at a comfortable cruising speed of about 29 knots at 4200 rpm, with fuel consumption at 1 mpg. At wide-open throttle, we saw a top speed of just over 43 knots.

During our sea trial on the calm ICW, we had no need for the optional Seakeeper II gyro stabilizer, but the boat was designed with a custom cradle for the unit that is integrated into the boat’s structural grid. This further demonstrates Pursuit’s dedication to providing a high level of comfort for owners and their families on board.

The helm station features dual 16-inch Garmin MFDs and three seats with independent armrests.

The helm station features dual 16-inch Garmin MFDs and three seats with independent armrests.

There isn’t space here even to scratch the surface of the extensive equipment list for the new Pursuit S 358. Fishing features, overnight amenities, entertainment, lighting—it’s got it all, and much of it is standard. Base price is currently $528,760, including the engines, but this definitely feels like a million-dollar boat. 

Specifications

LOA: 37’4”
Beam: 11’4”
Draft (engines up): 2’5”
Displ. (w/engines): 16,600 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 343 gals.
Power: (2) Yamaha 425 XTOs
Price (w/power): $528,760

This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.

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