The cream always rises to the top. SeaVee has produced solidly performing, feature-rich boats for years, growing a loyal following, and that continues with the introduction of the Z-series high-performance stepped-hull 320, 340 and 390 models.
Back in the ’90s, I frequently remarked that steps had a purpose: to get to the second floor. They didn’t belong on a fishing boat. Stepped hulls then — racing bottoms with fishing decks — were fast, but there were handling issues. SeaVee can take a bow for eliminating these and boosting overall performance, not just top-end speed. SeaVee developed the Z line in a lengthy process of evaluation, proprietary computer design, and fluid-dynamics modeling of the hull surface, previously used only by NASA and the U.S. Navy. Countless hours running, fishing and testing ultimately produced this patent-pending stepped hull.
We test-drove the new 390Z out of Baker’s Haulover Inlet, Florida, and as expected, the boat was wholly impressive from stem to stern. These guys work hard to build a boat that gets the details right, so the whole boat is tight and focused, and everywhere you turn, useful. The solid build starts with Corecell M130, vacuum-bagged in the hull sides and bottom to keep things light and strong.
The boat has so many practical features, it’s easy to see why the company is successful. The anchor locker is accessed from on deck as well as under the gunwale through a door on the forward bulkhead. Our test boat had a through-hull anchor, chute and windlass, as well as a slam latch so you can’t forget to latch the hatch before you take off. Both sides of the bow hold molded-in under-gunwale storage shelves and recesses for speakers.
A split hatch on the 200-gallon in-deck locker on the centerline in the bow makes it easy to reach all or part of the storage. Our test boat had optional forward seating along the sides that maintains full access to the bow for fishing. The seats have electric flip-up backrests and storage underneath. Pullout bins along each side provide storage for towels, day bags — you name it.
Forward of the console, an 80-gallon in-deck storage bin can be plumbed as a livewell. The console is well laid out, with access to the inside through the air-assist sliding door. The console interior is fully molded, with a counter and sink, breaker panel, full head with black-water system, and ready access to the batteries and wiring. Wiring is tightly combed and fastened, and labeled and color-coded for purpose. There had to be 10 different shades of brown, which makes it nice when you are chasing down a problem. Even the acrylic doors, panels and windows are color matched to the gelcoat.
Vertical rod storage lines both sides of the console with cutouts for rod tips in the hardtop. The business end of the console is well thought out with centerline steering, with switches under a Plexiglas cover under the helm. Electronics are within reach and in front of the operator, and the roomy panel accommodates 18-inch MFDs. The console is easy to see over, with clear all-around visibility. Our test boat was rigged with the new Captain’s Edition helm and tackle center, with storage under the large seat.
Doors on either side of the unit open to space belowdecks for more big-bag storage. The aft end of the tackle center has a comfortable two-person seat with a split cooler below and tackle storage behind the backrest cushion, complete with a leader-dispenser drawer. A 120-gallon storage bin in-deck on the centerline converts to an optional livewell. The lazarette access hatch is large, and opens up to the fuel-tank valves and custom stainless-steel livewell sump box, as well as the bilge pumps and other gear, organized for easy service.
The freshwater and saltwater washdown hoses store under-gunwale alongside the tackle center. The 390Z has fold-out jump seats in each corner of the transom that can be swapped out for 30-gallon livewells. A 65-gallon livewell with a clear Plexiglas lid sits center in the transom.
We ran the boat out of Haulover in calm conditions with three people and 400 gallons of fuel. Its triple F-350 hp Yamaha outboards, just one of many power options, lifted it to plane quickly with negligible bow lift, and I never lost sight of the horizon. The boat blistered along at 60 mph as if on rails. Put through its paces, the boat turned tightly without sliding on SeaVee’s proprietary Speed Rails. The 390Z was stable drifting, trolled nicely and backed to both sides, atypical of stepped hulls, which usually back only one way. At 50 mph we got a mile to the gallon. With its 500-gallon capacity, we joked we could be in Isla Mujeres from Key West in about seven hours, and still have fuel to fish!
Once again, the guys at SeaVee set out to make a finely tuned, fast, feature-appropriate, stepped-hull performance boat. From where I stand, they succeeded. The attention to detail, engineering, execution, and overall package are first class and worthy of a look if you are thinking of a quality center console between 34 and 40 feet