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January 21, 2010

Pursuit OS 345

Pursuit's OS 345 gives fishing families plush comfort with real fishing features.

Pursuit recently introduced its new OS 345 express boat, a scaled-down version of the company's popular OS 375. The main difference between the 37- and 34-foot versions comes in terms of power options and room - the 375 has a triple-engine option, while the 345 comes rigged with only twin outboards, and the 345 obviously sports a slightly smaller cabin.

But that's about it in terms of what you give up by opting for the smaller boat, and in return you save a lot of money, so the choice is yours: You can go for gold with the triple-engine 375 or get 90 percent of the benefit in a less expensive package in the 345. It's a classic win-win situation.

We tested the 345 courtesy of Caribee Boat Sales (the Keys Pursuit dealer) in Islamorada, Florida. The 345 looks larger than 34 feet thanks to a large crowned bow deck, which is shaped that way to create ample room down below - where it counts. More on that later, but as we eased away from the dock for a sea trial, I checked out the cockpit, the business end of the boat.

The twin Yamaha F350s sit on a large integrated engine platform, separated from the cockpit by a transom bulkhead which has a gate to port, allowing access to the stern, where you'll find a shower with both hot and cold fresh water. A large fold-down seat disappears into the bulkhead when not needed for passenger seating. Inside the bulkhead, there's a handy storage area for the boat's batteries and switches, accessed by a large fiberglass hatch which raises on gas rams, making it a snap to get to a battery or throw a switch. The hatch seals with a rubber gasket and a locking stainless-steel latch to keep everything dry.

Two large in-deck fish boxes run fore and aft in the cockpit sole, outboard of a huge centerline lazarette, which contains the boat's pumps and through-hulls, all easily reached for service. The boat's Fischer-Panda generator sits down here too, protected by a canvas cover to ward off saltwater spray.

A large tackle center resides at the forward end of the cockpit, and it holds yet another folding passenger seat, this aft-facing one disappearing into a recess in the port side of the molded fiberglass unit. The port box also contains two pullout tackle drawers, and a Kenyon grill rests on top next to a freshwater sink. The starboard cockpit box holds a refrigerator-freezer box. You control the temperature by turning a knob, making it handy for storing drinks, frozen bait or anything in between.