power-larson_370-largeAs soon as we stepped into the cabin of the Larson 370 Day Cruiser, we knew we had found something special.

There are quite a few express cruisers out there, especially in the 30-40 foot range. Frankly, the competition is fierce so it's refreshing – even surprising – to see somebody take an all whole new approach to cruising boats, but Larson has done that with this boat.

Their new day cruiser is a variation on Larson's existing Cabrio 370 model – a very nice but conventional express cruiser. The Cabrio 370 has a salon with galley, an enclosed stateroom forward with ensuite head and an aft cabin that is open to the salon (but can be curtained off at night).

That makes a great family express cruiser...but not everyone has a (young) family.

Recognizing that many cruisers are now empty nester couples or single people traveling together – the stroke of brilliance was to devote as much of the entire boat as possible to daytime accommodations that work well either cruising or at dockside. A family can still make use of this boat but the emphasis is on entertaining and we love the result.

The excitement is definitely in the interior layout, so let's start with the cabin. From the bridge, you descend four steps into the cabin; you just won't believe that you're onboard a 37-footer. Dead ahead is a large expanse of open floor space; the thing that really impresses us is that instead of having a forward stateroom that divides the interior up, Larson has left it open from the stairs to the forepeak.

There is no bulkhead or division for the vee area – it's all one open space; to maximize the accommodations and the visual aspects, Larson has wrapped a curving beach seat all the way up the starboard side and around the port side back to the galley.

The test boat was finished in a beige, ultra suede-type material with matching colours on the side panels and a washable vinyl headliner. Making the area even nicer are dual overhead deck hatches and throughout the cabin, a total of four portholes, including two large ones covered by attractive Russian blinds. These all help to increase the already spacious feel.

You could easily seat up to 8 people in comfort for dinner or a card game around the magnificent circular table. With an inlaid wood compass rose and matching ceiling accent piece, this hydraulically operated table can either be dining table height or alternatively drop down to make up a vast circular berth area. Filler cushions for the berth stow forward underneath the 32-inch LCD television that's mounted in the forepeak; the seats that circle the table have plenty of space for cargo underneath.

Larson used an attractive "rope" design wood trim around the table and around the ceiling valance. The choice for flooring is Flexteak that mimics the look of a teak and holly floor but is an easy care material. It all feels nautical, but elegant too.

The attractive wood cabinetry continues through the galley and includes a party-oriented cabinet that displays your stemware. Below that is an available glass door wine cooler to expand on the already generous Nova Kool refrigerator freezer. Although unusually large for this size of cruiser, it is very handy to the companionway.

Other features in the galley include a Tappan microwave, Black & Decker coffeemaker, opening port hole, three storage drawers and a very nice, slide-out provisions locker that reveals large bottle storage behind.

A controversial feature is the genuine granite counter. They even used granite filler covers over the large circular stainless steel sink and the two-burner Kenyon ceramic top stove. It looks great, will wear well but weighs a lot. You decide.

The ship's electrical panel is in the companionway with controls for the 7.3 kW Kohler generator, air-conditioning system and the Clarion stereo system.

On the opposite side of the salon is the enclosed head. This is carried over from the Cabrio 370 express cruiser where space is at more of a premium. In the day cruiser, our opinion was that Larson could have made the head larger without sacrificing the spacious feel in the salon. As it is, the head is average size, has a vessel type sink in a vanity, towel rack, opening porthole and a mirror. Typically, the mirror is not located where you can really shave easily; it's a common problem. Perhaps the best features are the sliding semicircular shower enclosure, the full-size mirror on the door and six-foot standing height.

The Larson 370 Day Cruiser also has an aft cabin with a privacy curtain but this is otherwise left open. The space can function as another sleeping area or as a conversation area. The size would best accommodate one adult or a couple of kids.

The 370 Day Cruiser is clearly set up to host the party below decks but the bridge and cockpit got attention too.

The Flexteak flooring on our test boat carried right out to the transom swim platform and extension. This has a bottom-mounted boarding ladder. There is a transom storage area for cables and fenders and a solid looking composite transom door leading into the cockpit where you find a standard refreshment centre with sink, counter, blender and refrigerator lies directly ahead.

To starboard is a wraparound bench with removable table, creating an outdoor dining area. There is storage under the seats. An available hardtop protects the bridge and much of the cockpit. Lights are recessed into the underside and it is a great place for radar systems, aerials and to hang the side canvas from.

Engine service access is excellent. A huge section of floor and the aft bench seat all lift on an electric strut system.

The bridge has a double-wide power adjustable helm seat with lift bolster and the view forward was generally good except that the sun lounge seat on the deck blocked the view when you were seated. However, we found it was most comfortable standing. A Maxwell electric windlass is included and other exterior features include the thickly padded deck sun lounges with recliner and drink holders.

The helm has a very attractive wood rim steering wheel, handy armrest head of the throttle controls and full analog instruments for each of the 8.1 liter Volvo Penta GXi inboard engines. The test boat had the standard Raymarine electronics package with 8.4-inch screen and VHF radio plus a knot meter and autopilot.

The test boat featured the tried and proven straight shaft inboard layout but Volvo Penta IPS drives are an available option.

Performance with the inboards delivers good handling at dockside especially when combined with the bow thruster. The water was quite calm but we hit a respectable 36.6 mph top speed and felt it cruised best at 3,600 rpm doing 27.2 mph on the GPS.

The ride will be quite soft thanks to the 2-degree vee hull and we know from past experience to expect solid construction. Owners will be pleased with the performance but it is the innovative layout that leaves the big impression.

You should see this one in person!

By Andy Adams

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

Destinations

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CYOB Destinations: We Visit the Hilton Beach Marina

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