For Cruisers Yachts 60th birthday, its designers gave the company quite a present with the Limited Edition Black Diamond 328 Bow Rider
Our test boat features twin Volvo-Penta 5.7L V-8 engines, which produce 320 hp each. In addition to Duoprop outdrives, the flat planing pad in the stern assisted in improving the 328’s time to plane. These features combined to give the 11,000-pound Cruisers a time to plane of 3.9 seconds, which is pretty impressive considering it has a 22-degree deadrise, which normally makes it harder to reach plane quickly. Doing an impression of a 20-something sportboat, its time to 30 mph was 8.3 seconds, with a sprightly top speed of 50.8 mph.
Of course if you are chronically late, you can pump up the attitude a little by going with Volvo Penta’s new 380 hp 6.0L V-8 that weighs five pounds less than the 320 hp 5.7L engines. This option would put your top speed in the mid-50s. There’s also a twin 300 hp diesel option.
One of the biggest surprises is how easy the near-33-foot-long Cruisers 328 is to drive. With its 10-foot, 10-inch-wide beam, this flagship of the Sport Series casts an imposing figure that might be intimidating to someone more accustomed to driving something they could tow with their Crossover SUV. Here’s the shocker: Our test boat is easier to drive than a 20-footer. It’s equipped with optional joystick docking, so there is virtually no situation that will rattle you, once you get past the grueling 10-minute learning curve. Where the current and wind used to threaten to push you toward the nearest really expensive boat, now a slight movement of the joystick allows you to maneuver in any direction with total control. Although our boat is equipped with trim tabs, you can upgrade to Volvo Penta’s Boat Trim system that automatically trims the boat for you — bow up and down and levels from side to side — making even beginners look good when driving. Mercury also offers Joystick docking, so whatever power flavor you choose, you’re in total control.
Out in open water on the vast expanse that is Green Bay, not too far from the Cruisers Yachts factory, it was a bit lumpy. Not that you would notice if you were riding with your eyes closed. The combination of six-plus tons of boat heft, when loaded, plus the deep-V hull with 22 degrees of deadrise, allowed the 328 to cleave through the waves. Even plowing up some rollers with our wake did nothing to upset it. There aren’t many bowriders I would take to the Bahamas, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go island-hopping with this boat. The handling is nimble, and you can whip it in hard corners with ease and precision.
The 328’s primary mission is as a dayboat that you can load up with as many passengers as you have PFDs for — within common sense — since it’s certified as a yacht. A useful feature is the set of doublewide helm seats that allow two couples to face forward when cruising. Then when at rest, you can spin both seats around to face the stern, creating a giant cockpit conversation pit, perfect for parties. Up front is another huge gathering spot in the U-lounge that will give two groups the opportunity to talk about each other. Like in the cockpit, the wraparound seating is characterized by a generous amount of freeboard for passenger safety. A large wooden table for the bow sits to starboard and preserves walking-around room while providing lots of consumables parking space.
Although you can equip the 328 with an aluminum sport arch, there’s no tow point attachment and no stern ski tow attachment, which is a shame since the boat plows up a beautiful jumping wake at 20 mph.
Where the Cruisers Sport Series 328 is really in its element is plying the vast number of large bodies of water that dot North America. You get all the amenities of a fun-in-the-sun boat with the capability to handle adverse conditions should Mother Nature flip the toggle switch on her wind machine. With a 154-gallon fuel tank, you have the range to go exploring or cruising.
Our test boat features the Limited Edition Black Diamond styling package that Cruisers Yachts is featuring to commemorate its 60th anniversary. Only two boats in its lineup have this option (the other is the 45 Cantius cruiser). In addition to the Jet Black hull, a special red, black, silver and white upholstery scheme gives it some pop. It features Silvertex vinyl for the colored sections, which has a fabric-like texture that looks cool and keeps the surface cooler. Underneath is DriFast foam and a seat frame designed to channel any water off. A key addition needed to make the 328 the ultimate bowrider is a through-hull windlass with a chrome anchor that’s controlled at the helm or with foot controls at the bow. At the roomy helm, adding the Raymarine E97 display augments the Volvo Penta display.