Boat Test: Solace 345

A singular fishing machine with its focus on efficiency, comfort and innovation.

Solace 345 running shot
With twin 425 XTOs, the Solace tops 56 mph, and has a range of 350 miles at 4,000 rpm.Courtesy Solace

From the broad scope of building materials and processes to the radical design elements, top-notch metal fabrication, fit and finish, and fine-tuned—and often reinvented—features and accessories, the 345 epitomizes forward thinking, and states loudly that boatbuilder Stephen Dougherty and his team have set their sights on taking the fishing-boat market by storm.

The Solace’s use of space is also commendable. The gunwales hold stowage for tackle, fenders and other cumbersome items, leaving the three insulated in-deck compartments with overboard discharge—an 80-gallon forward and twin 68-gallon in the cockpit to port and starboard—as dedicated fish boxes.

A pair of abovedecks compartments and a filler bridge at the forward end provide wraparound bow seating. Full-height backrests add comfort, while magnets, instead of snaps, keep cushions in place, allowing easy removal to turn the seats into casting platforms.

Dual lounge seating on the forward console features backrests that stop just short of the tempered glass windshield, which opens fully or partially on hydraulic actuators. It’s designed as an integral part of the hardtop, which is bolstered by a carbon-fiber support structure and incorporates a hydraulic sunroof, storage hatch, LED lighting, and mounting space for dual VHF radios, an engine-monitoring display, and a switch panel that backs up CZone switching integrated with dual 17-inch MFDs on the dash, where said displays, plus the optional stereo and other electronics sit behind a lockable panel.

Solace 345 upper tower
A second helm station with folding buggy top is a keen option.Courtesy Solace

Just below, the steering wheel, trim-tab switches, throttle, 12-volt charging station, two smartphone induction charging mounts, and standard joystick control line up with the center seat in the trio of Billfish chairs on Shockwave S5 mounts. For added comfort, the floor at the helm hydraulically rises up to 10 inches to fit the skipper’s height.

A pantograph door provides entry into the cabin—cooled by a 6,000 Btu air conditioner—inside the console, where you find wood cabinetry with storage, counter and sink, marine head with macerater, 110-volt outlet, two USB ports, microwave oven, settee seating that turns into a bed, and a rack to store nine 7-foot rods upright.

Solace 345 aft fishing platform
The clearance the FishThru stern offers comes in handy in many situations.Courtesy Solace

The FishThru transom, which extends between and beyond the motors, adds to the overall length (38 feet total), and provides clearance at the transom for fighting fish—or even changing or clearing props on the water. A transom door makes it easy to pull big fish aboard or access the swim platform.

Rocket launchers in the motorwells keep three rods at the ready to port and starboard. Slightly forward, a pair of 42-gallon pressurized livewells with tuna tubes are fed by a custom sea chest. Just inboard, two benches—angled to widen the cockpit—offer aft seating for four or fold out of the way.

A workstation in back of the helm seats includes storage, sink, dual fridges and a grill, and a retractable shade covers the ­entire cockpit.

Bow and stern ­anchor lockers, a through-stem anchor system with windlass, coaming pads, toe rails, outriggers, two kingfish-style angled rod holders and 10 flush-mounted, an eight-rod rocket launcher on the hardtop, racks for three rods on both gunwales, and a pair of 30-amp plugs for downriggers or electric reels are also ­noteworthy features.

Solace 345 rod holders
A multipurpose workstation behind the helm seats includes a sink with faucet and sprayer, dual refrigerators and a grill.Courtesy Solace

Options include a second helm station, FLIR thermal camera, cockpit camera, spotlight and more.

After a walkaround survey, we cruised out Ponce Inlet, where performance quickly matched dock appeal. Handling was enhanced by the outboard placement of the motors, which also seemed to mitigate prop torque and make tight turns a cakewalk, even in reverse.

The hull tracked true at varying speeds, never leaning excessively through the turns. Though we jumped rollers, the landings warranted neither a call to a dentist nor a chiropractor. The ­46-degree deadrise at the bow and 22 degrees at the transom provided a smooth ride with a head, beam or following sea, with stability enhanced by the standard Seakeeper 2 gyrostabilizer.

Solace 345 livewell
Twin 45-gallon livewells with tuna tube are located on opposite sides of the cockpit.Courtesy Solace

We averaged 10.7 seconds going zero to 30 mph, and noticed acceleration ramped up considerably at 3,500 rpm as the hull shed water drag and planed freely en route to 56 mph at wide-open throttle.

While the wow factor may not be enough to convince some buyers, the wealth of features and performance of the Solace is bound to do the trick. If you’re shopping for a center-console in its class, don’t leave the 345 off your short list.

Specs

Length: 33'6"
Beam: 10'6"
Draft: 22"
Water: 40 gal.
Fuel: 325 gal.
Weight: 14,300 lb.
Max HP: 900
Price: $650,000 w/ twin Yamaha 425 XTOs
Solace: solaceboats.com

Test Conditions

Weather: Partly cloudy
Location: New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Wind: East 10 knots
Sea State: 2-foot chop
Test Load: Two adults, 170 gallons of fuel, 40 gallons of water