Well designed boats are increasingly common in this era of computer-assisted design, precision tooling and consumer demand for quality. Even so, it's especially satisfying when a plan comes together like it did with Scout's new flagship 350 Abaco. After a preview at the Miami International Boat Show, I had high expectations climbing aboard in Charleston, South Carolina, a couple weeks later. I wasn't disappointed because this boat is the epitome of thoughtful design and execution.
Intended as a "step-up/step-down" model for owners who want yacht-like features matched with the speed and range of big-block outboard engines, the 350 delivers. Scout's design team spent more than two years studying the big-boat market before embarking on this project, and the homework paid off.
The most noteworthy design feature is the dedicated systems room. This finished space is neatly organized with convenient access to the electrical system, the Fischer Panda 8 kW diesel generator and the five standard batteries. Its deck panels are removable to gain access to the plumbing system, and a built-in fire extinguisher mount is molded into the hatch. If more storage is desired, the flexible layout allows the batteries to be shifted without impacting the boat's center of gravity. System rooms are common in million-dollar sport-fishing yachts, but this is the first I'm aware of in a boat this size.
The yacht-like similarities extend into the cabin. From the teak and holly sole and cedar-lined hanging closet to the Guy Harvey etched-glass art highlighting the salon, the cabin interior is classy yet practical for extended stays aboard. The convertible dinette and a complete galley with stainless steel pullout refrigerator and freezer supplement the spacious forward and aft berths, and the glass cooktop and Corian countertops can handle duty from full meals to snacks.
The premium sound system, 26-inch flat-screen LCD television and combiation of natural and LED lights provide a warm and comfortable ambience. The head features 6 feet, 4 inches of headroom with a teak-floored shower, a sink with a Corian countertop and a marine head with holding tank.A 50-gallon freshwater tank and an 11-gallon hot water heater ensure comfort after a long day on the water.
From the smooth transition on the foredeck to its unmistakable broken sheer, the 350 is sleek and pleasing to the eye. Looks aside, it also has the performance necessary to compete with the big boys. The Michael Peters-designed stepped hull is fuel efficient and fast, too. A pair of standard Yamaha F350 V-8 four-stroke engines provides a top speed of 53 miles per hour while burning 69.5 gallons per hour. Dialing the throttles back to 4,000 rpm, the 350 cruises at a comfortable 30.4 miles per hour while burning 27.3 gallons per hour. Factory tests have estimated a range of 450 miles under normal sea conditions.
During our sea trial in Charleston Harbor, the 350 flattened confused waves without hesitation, and we stayed comfortably dry behind the rakish wraparound windshield. This is a heavy boat, but it popped up quickly and settled immediately so sight lines were always maintained. The centerline helm also offers an unobstructed view for docking and tight maneuvers. The helm layout is ergonomic and easily accessible, and the power-assisted hydraulic steering response is immediate, yet in tight, hairpin turns the hull spins around like a top. A trolling spread will show up nicely in the clean wake.
A retractable Glendinning 50-amp shore power system is one of the few options available on this fully equipped boat. An electrical helm seat, Rupp outriggers with integrated teaser reels, a Raymarine electronics package and fish-box freezer plates are among the others. Items such as the Lewmar bow thruster (with dedicated battery and charger), the beefy hardtop with spreader lights and recessed speakers, dual air conditioning (cabin and helm) and windlass system with remote control and freshwater washdown are all standard.
But the 350 offers more than just looks and style - it's also a serious fishing machine. The clean and spacious 85-square-foot cockpit contains a 15-gallon insulated livewell and two oversized fish boxes in the sole. All are equipped with diaphragm pumps for dependable operation. The starboard rigging station has a freshwater sink, cutting board and freezer box for bait. To port, a combination cooler-freezer will hold drinks or more bait.
Rod storage includes a stacked rocket launcher arrangement to quickly clear trolling rods. Supplemental lockable rod storage is available below the deck and inside the cabin. There are plenty of spots for the crew to wait for strikes, including a port lounge and starboard seat on the helm deck, both of which have integrated coolers. The transom bench seat stows away cleanly when the bite is on.
The hand-laminated composite hull and deck are a reverse shoebox design for strength and rigidity. Radiused corners give the boat a clean, soft look, and the gasketed drawers have recessed edges for easy opening. There are several other examples of Scout's attention to detail: The cockpit's raw and freshwater bibs occupy separate corners to avoid confusion. The engine bracket has a built-in freshwater outlet to easily flush the outboards when the boat remains in the slip, and the entire boat can be safely secured at the end of the day. When you return early the next morning, a single key fob activates the cockpit lights so you don't stumble around in the dark. A first-aid kit, high-water alarm system and carbon monoxide detector are also standard.
Scout's goal was to build a serious outboard-powered fish boat that included yacht-like amenities to please the wife and family, and that's just what they have accomplished.
SCOUT 350 ABACO
MAX. HP.....700 hp
W/TWIN 350-HP YAMAHA F350 FOUR-STROKE OUTBOARDS
Scout Boats ? 843.821.0068 ? scoutboats.com