I grew up on the water and have had the opportunity to run all kinds of boats in many places around the world, but it’s not often that something comes along that is thoroughly different and innovative. I’ve been testing and running the Volvo Penta IPS (Inboard Performance System) for about four years now, and each time I run it, I enjoy the drive system more.
I have been waiting impatiently for a center console builder to pick up the system and run with it, and now SeaVee Boats has not only picked it up, they have knocked it out of the park. Their new 390i with twin six-cylinder, 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS600 drives is one of the most outrageously high-performing boats I have ever driven.
A lot of well-known professional fishermen have not yet warmed to the capabilities of IPS because the drives have not been available in the correct platform or they had bad drivers who really didn’t understand how to make IPS maneuver. The SeaVee 390i with IPS will make anyone a better boat driver, but it will also make a good boat driver excellent, and an excellent driver an ace.
The SeaVee can do an amazing number of things with IPS – for instance, using the joystick control, we pulled away from the dock sideways, crabbing briskly from our side-to moor, and then I spun the boat 360 degrees on its own axis in less than 14 seconds. The IPS system provided agility and speed that I’ve rarely seen before – but this boat was better.
The forward-facing propellers on IPS drives run parallel to the surface, so when you’re backing down, the props don’t pull down the transom like conventional inboards do. Using the computerized Sportfish Mode with the standard electric controls, the boat backed down straight at speeds approaching 10 knots and maneuvered from side to side instantly and effortlessly with incredible quickness. This is undoubtedly the best light-tackle billfishing boat ever made.
It’s also incredibly efficient: Imagine a center console that gets nearly two miles per gallon while cruising over 36 mph at 2,750 rpm and burning only 22 gallons per hour. The boat carries 380 gallons of fuel, giving it a cruising range of nearly 600 miles – that’s almost 16 hours at cruise speed!
The 390i with IPS is basically identical to the outboard 390 from the console forward, but it has been reconfigured aft to handle the IPS drives and the engines themselves. The drives are under the boat, positioned on the hull bottom just forward of the transom, utilizing a short jackshaft forward to the engines to power them. To get the engines to fit, SeaVee built a good-looking and functional engine box that has an integral leaning-post-style seat on the forward end and heaps of storage.
The engine box is hinged on its forward edge and fitted with a large ram to open the box for complete service to the engines, but there is also a day-access hatch on the aft side to check engine oil and do a visual inspection without lifting the box. The box can also be easily removed for more extensive engine compartment cleaning and service. All of these engine box features add up to fewer hours for service because of the ease of access.
You might think that the inboard engines take up a lot of room, but the engine box and several nice in-deck lockers house Racor fuel filters, an oil change system and more, and everything is right where you need it for traveling and fishing because there is such good utilization of space. Without engines hanging on the back, the 390 can fit a 70-gallon livewell in the transom and another 90-gallon well in-deck, forward of the transom, for more live bait capacity than most fishermen could ever possibly use. I really liked the large, channeled drain system from the in-deck hatches. These gutters are large enough to actually get rid of water that gets on deck, unlike so many other boats with undersized gutters and even smaller drain plumbing that can’t possibly get rid of water, instead letting it overrun into the bilge. The cockpit drain system on the 390 goes out the side of the boat, so even when backing around as hard as I could, we got very little water on deck.
The 390i looks good, is very functional and performs like an acrobatic airplane, but its efficiency and running performance numbers are its finest attributes. In a world full of triple and quad-engine outboard boats, the 390i IPS stands alone, offering performance that almost rivals those multi-engine outboards, combined with efficiency and maneuverability they can’t touch.
If you enjoy boats and state-of-the-art systems, and you like to see the two combined into one superior product, you need to go for a ride on the SeaVee 390i powered by the revolutionary Volvo Penta IPS drives – it’ll blow you away.
SeaVee 390i IPS
**W/Twin 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS600 Drives
SeaVee Boats ? 305.759.6419 ? seaveeboats.com