First Impressions – Scout 350 Abaco

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Scout 350 Abaco

With much fanfare, Grady-White in 2005 unveiled a 36-foot open cockpit express boat powered by a trio of Yamaha F250s. The Express 360 was the largest boat with outboard propulsion, Grady-White claimed at the Miami International Boat Show.

 

Three years later, at least five builders offer an outboard-powered express in the ballpark of 35 feet. You have the Pro-Line 35 Express, Stamas 340 Express, Glacier Bay 3470 Ocean Runner, Pursuit OS 375 and Wellcraft 340 Coastal.

With the arrival of 300- and 350-hp outboards, manufacturers now can get away with powering these boats with two engines instead of three. Scout Boats, of Summerville, S.C, built the 350 Abaco — the largest boat in its 29-model fleet — to run with a pair of Yamaha’s 350-hp 4-strokes. The company plopped the vessel in a high-profile slip at this year’s Miami show, and I took the opportunity to poke around dockside and take it for a spin.

Center of attention

The skipper commands the 350 from a center helm, where the windshield extends all the way to the T-top. I prefer this design to windshields that stop a foot or so from the hardtop, with a sheet of clear plastic in between that often restricts visibility. The wiper covers the entire top of the windshield, and the electronics displays have room to breath in a vertical panel. A tinted Plexiglas brow rims the panel to ward off glare so you can see the displays better.

Two columns of toggle switches sandwich the digital engine readouts in a mini panel between the wheel and the electronics displays. When seated, the panel blocks the bottom portion of the displays. There’s plenty of room between the wheel and the powered captain’s chair, which adjusts up and down and fore and aft.

The Yamahas pushed the Abaco out of the hole without a struggle, and she rose to plane at a flat angle. I never lost sight of the horizon. I directed the boat through a course of zigzags and circles, sizing up its maneuverability. The power-assist steering was very responsive, and the stern stayed glued to the water through high-speed turns.

Deadrise at the transom measures 22 degrees, but it’s the vee shape at entry and amidships that work hardest at smoothing the ride on the Abaco.

Designed by naval architect Michael Peters, the 350 has a single step that reduces drag for increased speed and efficiency. The test boat’s best mileage came at 4,100 rpm; she cruised at a comfortable 31 mph, getting 1 mpg for a range of 305 miles using 90 percent of the 325-gallon tank. Sound levels were respectable at this throttle setting at 88 dBA.

Soft edges

This boat is meant to fish hard, but its soft edges and thoughtful design features give it a yacht-like feel. I am talking about the tumblehome transom, swim platform with teak inlays, bridge deck step, the cabin’s etched glass artwork and matching-grain cherry, and the remotely operated battery switches.

“No question, we wanted the boat to have a yacht-like appearance,” says Scout president Steve Potts.

Potts and his Scout team paid a good deal of attention to the 350’s cockpit and boarding platform design. Two differences set the boat apart from some others of this type. First, the Abaco has no raised fishing station in the stern, so anglers can more easily coax a fish around the outboards to the side of the boat. Second, the outboard rigging travels directly down into the boarding platform, which frees up some walking space forward of the engines.

The cockpit melds cruising and fishing features nicely. The two-person transom seat flips out without a fuss. (Extracting this seat from some boats can be a back-straining job.) Two drink holders flanking the seat are ready for duty, and the fishing station forward includes a live well, cutting board and freshwater sink. Rod holders welded to the hardtop’s aluminum framework are positioned well inboard of the side decks, so you don’t have to shuffle around them.

Despite the flat foredeck, headroom in the cabin is 6 feet, 3 inches. The companionway steps are easy to navigate thanks to a well-placed handrail, and the electrical panel is recessed and covered. The galley to port touts a pull-out refrigerator and freezer, Corian countertop and two-burner stove. A nice galley, but I think it needs more cabinetry. I also thought some people might have difficulty getting up and onto the raised master berth. There’s also a midcabin berth.

On centerline, just forward of the cockpit, is the bridge deck hatch to the “systems room.” It houses the lion’s share of the maintenance equipment, including the brain boxes for the electronics, pumps (water, steering, live well), batteries and their switches, breakers and fuse panels. A finished white gelcoat makes this area bright and easy to see.

Never intending it to be a lightweight boat, Scout builds the Abaco with a solid bottom and sides. The decks are cored. The company uses vinylester resin in the entire layup.

Final thoughts

I was impressed with the boat’s blend of yacht-like cruising comforts and fishing equipment. Fit and finish ranks right up there with the Cabos of the boating world. The quality doesn’t come cheap: With its twin 350-hp Yamaha 4-strokes, the 350 Abaco retails for $359,000.

LOA: 35 feet, 10 inches (without pulpit)

BEAM: 11 feet, 11 inches

DRAFT: 26 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 11,000 pounds (with engines)

TRANSOM DEADRISE: 22 degrees

TANKAGE: 325 gallons fuel, 70 gallons water, 21 gallons waste

POWER: twin Yamaha F350s

SPEED: 55 mph top, 30 mph cruise

PRICE: $359,000

CONTACT: Scout Boats, Summerville, S.C.

Phone: (843) 821-0068.

www.scoutboats.com