The new Palmetto Custom 360 is yet another example of the trend towards larger outboard-powered center consoles designed to get you to distant fishing grounds in a hurry. The Palmetto is a reworked version of the Dakota line of boats, which was purchased last year by Sea Pro Boats of Newberry, South Carolina.
The 360 has a relatively narrow 9' 4" beam and is quite fast. Our test boat featured twin 250-hp Evinrude Ficht outboards, and cruised easily at 34 mph at 4000 rpm. At full throttle, the 360 topped out at 54 mph, and acceleration and handling were excellent throughout the power band. The Palmetto's well-balanced deep-vee hull rode soft and dry in the chop off Stuart, Florida, even when we drove it hard into the seas. It was an exemplary ride.
Fishermen will love the wide-open space this boat offers. The console sits slightly farther aft on the 360 than on comparable boats, providing an incredible amount of fishing room forward. Three large in-deck storage boxes can be used as fishboxes or dry storage. The level deck arrangement in the bow makes it easy to move around, and coaming pads are standard.
Palmetto has developed an innovative rod-storage system in the form of two in-deck lockers on either side of the console. These lockers will hold seven outfits apiece, keeping them secure yet readily available.
The massive console features a huge flat surface for mounting electronics above the helm. It's one of the largest we've seen, and should be able to accommodate a serious array of devices. There's a nicely finished head compartment beneath the console that is accessed through a door on the forward side. An electric head with a Y-valve and holding tank are standard, as are a fresh water sink, shower and two opening portholes to let in light and fresh air.
A hatch at the aft end of the compartment opens to reveal the boat's wiring, which is controlled through a unique solenoid panel that routes electricity throughout the boat. It's a very high-tech setup. The 360 also features a marine-grade, tinned-copper wiring harness, as well as soldered and heat-shrunk connections. In addition, the entire electrical system is bonded.
The cockpit has still another fishbox beneath the deck, and the integrated transom design allowed Palmetto to build a 50-gallon live well and fresh water sink into the transom bulkhead. Standard pads fasten atop the transom bulkhead, and a removable backrest converts the whole thing into passenger seating. Even though the console and rocket launcher sit well aft, there's still plenty of room in the cockpit.
The 360 OF comes with a lengthy standard-equipment list that includes a T-top with rocket launcher, a custom leaning post, fresh and raw-water washdown, dual-ram trim tabs, heavy-duty pop-up cleats and a bow pulpit. Options include extra live well and fuel capacity, custom colors and an upgraded fiberglass leaning post that contains a second live well. Palmettos are built wood-free, and the company backs its boats with a ten-year structural hull warranty. You can also order the boat in a cuddy-cabin version.
However you order it, the Palmetto Custom 360 is sure to be a hit among serious offshore types. It's fast, strong, good-looking, offers a smooth, dry ride, and was designed with fishermen in mind. That's about as much as you can ask of any boat.
Palmetto Custom, Newberry, SC; (803) 321-5777; www.palmettoboats.com