Century Cortez 1A stylish sport cruiser from a traditional company.

By Doug Dawson

To most boaters Century is synonymous with the tradi­tional inboard speedboat or runabout. The mahogany Century and its more recent offspring, the fiberglass Century Runabout, have been the basis for the Century Boat Company's success over the past six decades. The company is located in Manistee, Michigan; BMB Distributors, located in Orillia, Ontario, imports the Century line into Canada and also builds some models. Over the past few years, Century has broadened its line to include sleek sport boats, day cruisers and now full beam sport cruisers. The Century 300 Cortez Grande is a stylish soft-top express sport cruiser that offers an in cabin galley, a private head, two double berths in separate rooms and a mid-cabin as well.

Sea trials of the Century 300 were conducted on Lake Simcoe. The test boat was equipped with twin 260-hp Volvo Stern Drives. Lake Simcoe was smooth, so to assess the design's sea­worthiness, I resorted to repeatedly jumping the wake of the 37-foot Trojan 11 Meter photo boat. The Century rode smoothly, crossing the Trojan's wake at all angles and all speeds. It planed easily at 2,500 rpm while registering 25 mph on the speedometer. At 3,000 rpm it was extremely swift and manoeuvrable in figure eights, with the wheel spun from hard-over to hard-over. The full throttle of 4,000 rpm registered 40 mph. This was the first Grande to be powered with 260 Volvos, and the factory and the dealer were still experi­menting with different propellers for optimum performance. In future the boat will likely have far superior top­end performance than when I tested it.
I noticed that the Century 300 was quieter than most cruisers at all speeds; this is mainly due to Century's superior insulation of the engine room and hull. On the inside of the hull, a layer of foam sheeting is resined in place. This foam Coremat is similar to the familiar balsa core but has a better resin absorption for an improved sheer factor. The g foam adds tremendous sound deadening and strength to the hull. Above 3,000 rpm the water off the chine is thrown down and aft. At the transom this spray is only about four 8 feet out. Having the spray thrown close to the hull should make the boat much dryer when running on windy days. The deadrise is 18 degrees at the transom. With its dark accent stripes, the hull deck joint sheerline appears to be relatively straight, but in the deck profile actually breaks at the top of the cabin roof. From the bow pulpit the deck sweeps gradually upward to the bottom of the windshield and extends almost the entire width of the hull.

The side deck actually starts a foot below the spring line cleat at the corner of the windshield. There the bow rail becomes a handrail running full-length underneath the side windshield frame. Century's engineers have developed a streamlined exterior appearance with this raised sheerline forward. As a result, almost all of the full 10-foot, six-inch beam becomes usable space in the interior, and you still have a side deck past the windshield so you don't have to monkey up through a forward hatch. On all the deck surfaces, there is a generous use of nonskid where appropriate. The cockpit is much simpler to describe and understand. Across the back is a full-width wraparound sun lounge with thick cushions and backrests. The aft lounge is built with teak framing and legs. It is nice to see some teak being used outside for more than just taff rails, swim platforms and bow pulpits which, of course, the grander also has.

The cockpit hatches open easily to expose the engines for quick checks of oil levels and belts. At the cockpit forward end, both the helm and companion seats reverse to face the aft lounge, creating a comfortable conversation area. To face aft, the double width companion seat flips over so that the pedestal becomes the backrest. The high back helm seat is on pedestal and simply swivels around. The section of cockpit floor under the helm and companion seats is raised to provide headroom for the mid cabin. Cockpit lights are conveniently placed to illuminate the cockpit floor and steps. An interesting touch is the cockpit table, which can be lifted free of the floor and transported below to serve in the main cabin.
The dash panel must have been created by a designer who was raised in terraced subdivision. On the top, the compass is mounted in a molded base; on the next tier are found the two tachometers and speedometer; on the next tier are two oil and temperature gauges and one fuel gauge; on the next tier are two trim indicators, two voltmeters and another fuels gauge. This tiered area is protected by a layer of lightly smoked Plexiglas. On the vertical panel below the bottom tier is the steering wheel, with the trim tab buttons on one side and spotlight controls on the other. On each side of the Plexiglas are the accessory switches, paired with their fuses.

Inside, to port under the companionway is a two door hanging locker for jackets and other apparel. Directly in front of you is the L-shaped dinette. This dinette is a little different than most in that the seat bottoms are quite wide and padded with lots of foam. The long rectangular table (having been transported below) runs lengthwise and has four holes for glasses. Lots of storage is concealed below. The dinette converts to a double berth by sliding out a panel, however care must be taken to prevent the panel from jamming. Forward of the dinette is the windowed privacy bulkhead. On the dinnette side of the bulkhead is a bar with a Plexiglas bottle and glass rack. Sliding open the two piece mirrored window in the bulkhead reveals the forward state room with raised double bed.

This mirrored sliding window allows light into the forward cabin and makes the boat feel much larger. The doorway to the forward cabin has a drape to close it off for privacy. Having gone to the trouble of installing the sliding windows, it does seem inconsistent of Century to have employed a drape rather than a door on the forward cabin. The layout the designers created for the forward cabin would probably have accommodated a door poorly; at any rate, door or drape, true sound insulation should not be expected from a private cabin in a boat this size.

Opposite the bed on the forward cabin's starboard side is a teak-framed seat. Below the bed is a bank of three drawers made of wood, rather than plastic. Along both sides of the hull against the upper side of the deck are long teak storage cabinets with sliding Plexiglas doors. Both the forward and aft bulkheads are covered with smoked plastic mirrors. In the middle of the plush white ceiling is a large hatch.

The galley, to starboard and aft of the mirrored bulkhead, is larger in counter and storage area than those found on most 29-footers. It is equipped with a double sink, hot and cold pressure water, a two way 110 V electric and alcohol stove with a hardwood lid for extra counter space and a 12V / 110 V under the counter refrigerator. A cruiser equipped with a dual-use fridge and stove makes it possible for you to prepare a meal both at the dock and anchored out. Forward in the galley, beside the fridge, are three deep drawers and forward of those a short hanging locker with additional counter space on the top. Along the inboard edge of the galley counter is a thoughtfully placed flat aluminum handrail for gripping when cruising at high speeds. A teak sea rail runs along the edge of the galley countertop. Across the outboard side of the galley is an additional storage cabinet, and a teak dish and cup rack is mounted on the aft bulkhead of the galley, between the galley and head. Two duplex outlets allow you to plug in four electrical appliances at once. 

The interior of the head is a one-piece beige fiberglass unit incorporating the sink, counter, vanity cabinet, sole and shower drain. Teak trim borders all openings. A hefty teak grate over the shower drain adds to the flavor of a Swedish sauna. The toilet itself is a reliable, hand pump Brydon marine toilet with holding tank. The only thing that I could see missing from the interior of the head was a shower curtain to keep water from sneaking under the door.

The small mid cabin is suitable for two children. It includes shelving, a hanging locker, a wall to wall mattress, a screened window to the cockpit for ventilation and a privacy drape.

The craftsmanship aboard the Century 300 Cortez Grande is excellent throughout, maintaining the same high standards and attention to detail as its forerunners.

Century 300 2A wraparound sun lounge stretches the width of the cockpit. Both the helm and companion seats reverse to create a comfortable conversation area. The smoked plexigas door and window of the companionway allow plenty of light into the main cabin and provide good visibility from inside.

Manufacturer: Century 300
Model: Cortez Grande
Model: 1984
Length: 25-30 Ft
Doug Dawson owns Doug Dawson Yacht Sales. He is an experienced member of the marine industry and past president of the Ontario Marina Operators Associations.
Originally Published in Canadian Yachting Nov 1984 issue.