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POWER-Monterey340250The brass at Monterey Boats in Williston Florida were no doubt bursting their buttons when they learned that they had just been awarded their 4th CSI award in as many years. Such recognition in the Sterndrive and Express Boat category speaks volumes about Monterey’s attention to quality and customer satisfaction.

We were similarly pleased to climb aboard a 2009 Monterey 340 Sport Yacht after the Toronto In-Water Boat Show to put it through its paces.

The 340’s classic lines and forward-facing radar arch provide a timeless styling. While also available in Onyx, Sapphire and Sterling, the Pearl exterior with Onyx accents caught the attention of more than a few show attendees. At 35’3” LOA and a beam of 11’3”, this model is an ideal choice for a group of four wishing to engage in some extended cruising.

Immediately evident upon boarding is a cockpit designed for up to eight people who like nothing more than to spend time on deck enjoying sun, scenery and the company of good friends. The optional snap-in, sand-coloured carpeting added a sense of overall luxury. To starboard, an expansive U-shaped lounge stretches from behind the helm seats, along the starboard side and across the stern leaving just enough room for a walkway onto the swim platform. Add the removable cockpit table and there’s no need to go below-decks to enjoy snacks or light meals. It’s within easy reach of food and beverages stored in the refreshment centre with Karadon countertop, sink with fold-up fixture, Isotherm refrigerator and trash receptacle.

Some manufacturers seem to struggle a bit when it comes to effective utilization of the stern section over the engine compartment, often relegating it to storage. When not seated at the rear of the U-shaped lounge, passengers can simply angle forward the hinged backrest and enjoy a rear-facing lounge ideal for two to recline and take in the sunset. Ample storage for fenders, shore powercords and other gear still exists starboard of the lounge. Hidden in the swim platform is a telescoping 3-rung ladder for easy reboarding and a built-in hot and cold transom shower – a great way to rinse off any sand before re-entering the cockpit.

Cockpit space is often at a premium in mid-sized cruisers. The 340 maximizes under-seat storage for canvas, safety equipment and all your bring-aboards. A full-sized igloo cooler tucks nicely under the U-shaped lounge should the need arise to replenish the food and beverage stocks.

Should sunbathing on the foredeck’s dual-width sun pad be the order of the day, moulded-in steps make access to the foredeck through the center-folding windshield an effortless task. Stainless steel handholds on the radar arch also enable safe and secure bow access via the side decks.

The skipper and mate perch comfortably at dual helm and companion seats each with flip-up bolsters. Before them is a fully arrayed, thoughtfully configured four-tiered dash. Black on white fog-resistant Faria gauges and lighted rocker switches monitor and control all essential systems. Optional electronics included a Raymarine GPS/Chartplotter and Ray 49 VHF Radio. Raymarine’s ST40 Bi-Data display system is standard equipment. Integrated throttles and shifters controlled the twin Volvo-Penta 5.7 Gi 300 h.p. engines powering duo-prop drives turning Volvo-Penta F6 stainless propellers. To port of the helm is a rear-facing chaise lounge with contoured backrest for other guests.

A translucent sliding cabin hatch and three pod steps provide access to the cabin. A stainless handhold to port and a railing to starboard help keep this transition safe even while underway. We were pleasantly surprised to experience 6’7” of headroom and a queen-sized berth that could easily accommodate my 6’4” frame.

A privacy curtain that retracts into its own cabinet isolates the forward berth from the salon. Steps at either side of the berth simplify (and dignify) access. A padded surround makes an ideal backrest for those wishing to sit up while watching their favourite DVD on the optional 15” LG flat panel television. No need to fuss with pillows to get comfortable! Ambient light from the overhead circular hatch and screened port holes with blackout curtains at either side provide a welcoming atmosphere. Ample storage is provided with two drawers in the island pedestal and a small hanging locker to starboard. At the base of the locker an extension of the first step provides a handy bench for use while dressing. Two storage cabinets to port hide the NESA CD/DVD Player, Kenwood Satellite Radio and 10-disc CD Changer.

The salon itself is open, comfortable and very well appointed with simulated Cherry cabinetry and Sapele trim. Two semi-circular, screened overhead hatches provide even illumination and, with the side port holes, enable good flow-through ventilation. Six recessed ceiling lights provide ample supplementary lighting. Along the starboard side is a crescent-shaped dinette sofa for four that can be converted into a single sleeper. Its design also houses a handy fold-down insert in the center backrest containing two stainless steel cup holders and access to both 12 and 120 volt power. A removable wooden dinette table can be added when dining in is preferred. When removed, this will be the location of choice for watching the second LG 15” flat-screen TV located to starboard of the companionway. Above the sofa, a great deal of storage capacity exists in various-sized compartments. A shelf equipped with fiddles also provides an ideal spot for knick-knacks.

Directly across is the head compartment fitted with vacu-flush toilet, vanity, sink, hand-held shower and curtain. Upper, mirrored storage cabinets are ideally placed to facilitate shaving or applying makeup without having to crouch awkwardly. For those wishing to sit, a hinged panel folds down over the commode.

Forward of the head is the galley equipped with stainless steel Isotherm refrigerator/freezer, two-burner stovetop with fiddles, coffeemaker and overhead microwave. The Karadon countertop with covered stainless sink provides a small work area for meal preparation and cleanup. Supplementary lighting below the overhead cabinets was a nice touch. A larger sink, however, would have been preferable for chores like washing dishes.

The aft section of the cabin contains an L-shaped couch with filler cushions for conversion into a double berth. This section also houses the main electrical panel which can be folded out to reveal the underlying circuitry. (Score 10 points for considering easy access maintenance in the design!). Powering these electronics and the 16,000 BTU Combo AC & heating unit while underway is a Kohler 5.0 kw Generator with remote start and sound shielding. (Monterey has also designed what they label an AC Panel Transfer Switch that allows main shore power and AC to be run with a single power cord.)

Heading out onto Lake Ontario with two aboard and the fuel gauge reading one half, we were greeted with a two-foot chop. Nevertheless, the 340 came onto plane in a very respectable 9.4 seconds and reached 30 mph (GPS) in 14.3 seconds at 3,700 rpm. Top-end was reached at 5,000 rpm tipping the waves at 45.9 mph. Best cruise had the GPS reading 28.7 mph and the tachometer steady at 3,600. Opting to max out by adding another 75 horses giving 375 per side might just edge these readings up a notch. Monterey even offers the choice of Mercury or Volvo-Penta power plants but the decision is far from easy. With Mercury, you can include their new Axius and Seacore Systems while, with Volvo-Penta, you can economize your cruising with twin D4 marine diesels at 225, 260 or 300 horses.

Whether accelerating or cruising, we were impressed with just how quietly the engines ran. There was no need to speak loudly to be heard even under full canvas. As though sensing our desire to see how the 340 handled in rougher water, Lake Ontario decided to kick up a bit of a snit. Nevertheless, the 17 degrees of deadrise softened our ride and kept all the breakables in their places. Even with waves hitting us abeam, the 340 maintained her lateral composure. We just wish that the starboard wiper had been larger, more robust and better able to clear our field of view. Upon our return, the optional Vetus Bow Thruster eased any trepidation involved with guiding this 7-plus ton craft artfully into her slip.

Overall, we’d be hard pressed to disagree with the National Marine Manufacturing Association’s choice for CMMI award again this year. When a manufacturer combines tried and true design with a dash of innovation and careful attention to fit and finish, you’ve got a recipe for success, especially in this popularly sized package. Make sure you check out the 2009 Monterey 340 Sport Yacht this boat show season.

To see if this boat is available, go to http://www.boatcan.com to check listings.

By Ian Gilson