The Stamas family has been building fishing boats in Tarpon Springs, Florida, for almost 50 years, and Stamas Yacht is still run by descendants of the Stamas brothers who founded the company. It is one of the oldest boat manufacturers in the U.S. that has been continuously owned and operated by the same family. That's reassuring to many of us. Stamas went all-fiberglass in 1959, making it one of the more experienced companies in the world with that material.
The latest boat to grace the Stamas line is the 340 Express, which falls squarely between the larger 370 Express, introduced a couple of years ago, and the 310 Express, a longtime mainstay. Like the 370, the 340 features a raised bridgedeck that is slightly higher than a conventional express design. It was built that way to make room for a mid-cabin berth, but the resulting gain in height also provides excellent visibility from the helm and the entire bridgedeck. The helm has bench seating, with a second bench to port for passengers. Both have handy coolers under the seats to keep the beverage of your choice within easy reach. Stamas provides a large area above the helm for mounting electronics, and a tilt wheel so you can drive comfortably whether standing or sitting.
Head aft, down two steps, and you enter a very large, open cockpit. To port, at the aft end of the bridgedeck, is an aft-facing seat with a cooler below, providing a convenient place for a crewmember to watch the baits. On the starboard side, a molded box contains a sink with cutting board and eight tackle drawers.
Most of the cockpit sole is actually a giant engine hatch. The hatch opens electrically, providing complete access to the engines, in our case twin 370-hp Yanmar diesels. An optional Northern Lights 5.5 kW generator was located aft and to port beneath the cockpit deck, and saddle fuel tanks are positioned outboard of the mains. Everything can be easily reached and serviced with such an open arrangement. A large lazarette aft of the engine compartment is equally open, containing the boat's batteries, mufflers, and trim tab and bilge pumps.
A large fishbox on the centerline of the transom drains overboard, and there's a live well of unstated capacity to port. The fiberglass transom door to starboard looks sturdy, but lacks a section of covering board across the top. A passenger seat runs along the forward edge of the transom, but you can remove it easily for storage when the fishing gets hot and heavy. Standard coaming pads surround the entire 'pit.
At the other end of the boat, Stamas has designed a truly spacious cabin for a 34-foot boat. The aforementioned mid-berth is located aft, under the bridgedeck, and would be a great place to stash the kids when overnighting. It could also be used as a giant storage space, as it provides a great spot for stowing almost anything that doesn't need to be tied down while underway.
There's a full head with shower to starboard and a compact, but well-equipped galley forward of that. The galley comes with an AC/DC refrigerator, a microwave oven, and an alcohol/electric stove. Forward, a large double berth in the forepeak has plentiful storage beneath it, and the dinette, to port, converts to a second double berth. The entire cabin is finished in rich teak wood, and the cabin sole is teak and holly. It is a downright beautiful area.
The 340 runs very well with the 370 Yanmars, posting a cruise speed of 26.4 knots at 3000 rpm. At a wide-open 3525 rpm, the 340 hit 30.96 knots. Stamas builds the boat with propeller pockets that give it a very shallow 28-inch draft and help reduce the shaft angle. The latter gives the boat a very level attitude while underway. Our test day was calm, but Stamas boats have a reputation as being very good sea boats, and this one should be no exception. There are several MerCruiser gas options, and diesel options up to twin 440-hp Yanmars.
It's clear that Stamas has another winner on its hands. The 340 will be a great choice for the family that likes to fish and cruise, and it's always nice to know that there's someone named Stamas back at company headquarters who can answer questions or offer assistance should you need it.
Stamas Yacht, Tarpon Springs, FL; (800) 782-6271; www.stamas.com.