A pocketed fiberglass sliding door leads below to the cabin-an improvement over the 348's acrylic door. Our test boat had a simple interior finished in fiberglass with vinyl trim; again, the options list is open. For example, obtaining wood trim and custom soft goods is no problem. A seating area converts to a double berth and a push of a button allows access to a storage area within. The galley is fitted with a standard stainless steel sink and a dual-voltage refrigerator. An enclosed head/shower comes equipped with a stainless steel sink and an electric head hidden within a molded seat. Air-conditioning is fitted; there is space aft in the bilge beneath the cockpit for a generator.
Intrepid has long favored a single transverse-step hull design. Hull steps must be positioned with an eye for dynamic balance and trim and they must be properly ventilated. Given this they can deliver a comfortable and efficient ride. The 350's hull form features Intrepid's latest thinking on the matter. "The 370 and now the 350 incorporate what we refer to as our generation-two step design," says Beaver. While Beaver is not willing to share the design details, he suggests that the tweaking was done with the goal of increasing comfort. Stepped hulls, particularly those with multiple steps, are typically stiffer longitudinally in a seaway. The 350's forward sections are deep, designed to soften head seas; the after planing surface is approximately 22 degrees-rather deep as well. I found the result to be a dry and comfortable ride in the 3-foot seas offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
We conducted our speed runs in the Waterway. I recorded a top speed of 43.4 knots at 5800 rpm. The Mercury electronics indicated a fuel burn of 55.4 gallons per hour. Easing her back to 4000 rpm reduced the fuel burn to 22 gallons per hour and I recorded a speed of 29.0 knots. This was my first experience with Mercury's new Verado outboards and I must admit I was very impressed. First, as is typical of four-strokes, they were exceedingly quiet; in fact, dockside I did not even notice they were running. Unlike some four-strokes I have tested, the supercharged 250 hp Verados are quite responsive. I advanced the electronic and the 350 rose evenly and steadily with no significant flat spots or excessive trim angles.
The 350's stepped hull also deserves credit in this regard. "One of the key benefits of a single-stepped hull," Beaver says, "is that the after section generates significant lift aft of the center of gravity, which minimizes trim angle at transition (almost planing) speed." That said, the 350 and the Verados seem a perfect match. Intrepid's position on engine choice is simple: Customers call the shots in terms of powering and the 350 is rated for up to 600 hp.
While performance (speed) has always been a focus in this market, comfort (ride) now seems to share an equal billing-particularly for folks used to larger yachts. Beaver suggests that this is the case whether customers are downsizing or adding to their fleet. "Intrepid's demographic is split roughly down the middle," he says. "A lot of our owners have had large inboards but are attracted to the simplicity of operation and maintenance that our boats offer; others with large yachts and professional captains keep our boats as tenders, as they are versatile and fun to drive." The 350 wears these caps well; she has a style and pedigree that is truly unique.
Contact: Intrepid Powerboats, (954) 922-7544; www.intrepidboats.com.