This outboard-powered cruiser can hit 50 mph and host a dockside sunset dinner.
When the GPS speed indicator hit 50 mph, the three people aboard the Cutwater 302 Sport Coupe — myself and Cutwater’s Dan Sadler and Sam Bisset — wanted to exchange high-fives. But we were on top of a choppy sea going, as I indicated, 50 mph in one of the latest models from the folks at Fluid Motion, the Monroe, Wash.-based builder of Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats.
The twin Yamaha V6 Offshore F300 outboards were spinning at their 6000 rpm maximum and cranking out a combined 600 hp to push the double-stepped hull to that speed, and they were only burning a combined 53 gph, according to the Yamaha display situated between two Garmin 7612 MFDs on the near-vertical dash, resulting in just better than 0.9 mpg. For the hardcore anglers and cruisers out there, that gives the 302 SC a range of about 245 miles (with a 10 percent reserve) at top speed. Getting 20 or 30 miles offshore, or moving between island hotspots won’t be a problem. At 4200 rpm, the boat was cruising along at 32 mph and the F300s were burning a combined 26 gph, delivering a range of better than 330 miles. That’s a good incentive for all-day cruising, especially given the quiet nature of the four-stroke Yamahas. With the canvas barrier between cockpit and cabin stowed, the highest decibel reading I noted was 89, so the noise level was comfortable, and we were able to hold a fairly normal conversation.
Our time from zero to 30 mph was 14.8 seconds without the tabs engaged, which isn’t bad for a boat that’s more than 10,000 pounds dry. With them engaged, we shaved a second off that time. Driving the C-302 SC is fun thanks to sporty performance that includes tight turns, a sportboat-like lean, quickness out of the hole, and wave-slicing and skipping ability.
Fish & Friends
Looking at the aft end of the 302 SC, it’s obvious fishing is one of the boat’s strengths. The cockpit is oversized and free of any toe-stubbing obstructions, six rod holders are anchored in the gunwales and a six-rod rack is mounted on the hardtop, which extends over about half of the cockpit, so there is some shade but still room to work rods. Downriggers are optional. A livewell and a sink are built into an integrated console on the transom. Another sink is built into a console in the forward port corner, and a refrigerator (or an optional ice-maker) is in the console underneath it. When it’s time to net the big one, the swim step is actually functional, because the big Yamahas are mounted at the aft end of it, leaving room to maneuver forward of them and to either side. And to keep the prize catch fresh, there’s a fishbox with a lid in the portside lazarette under the cockpit sole.
But wait, if there’s all that open area for fishing, what about socializing outside? No worries. Seating for six is hidden around the cockpit. To port and starboard, a two-person seat folds out of the gunwales, actually extending outward, to leave as much room as possible in the cockpit. Another seat folds down from the transom console. And I miscounted. Two more people can be part of the cockpit social scene, because the backrest on the aft dinette settee moves forward and aft, so the settee can be part of the inside seating or the outside seating. That’s possible because on the Sport Coupe there isn’t a bulkhead between the cockpit and the main cabin. Canvas zips in and out, but there isn’t a door and windows like on the C-302 Coupe.
Dine & Drive
In the main cabin, Cutwater made the most of the space it had, placing a linear galley to port and a dinette across from it. A doublewide captain’s seat immediately forward of the dinette faces the helm, and a companion seat is across from it, immediately forward of the galley. Above the helm and the windshield is a TV that folds up for storage and easily extends down for viewing.
What appears to be an expanse of maple countertop to port is actually the galley. The maple is in three sections, one of which is a prep space and two of which lift independently to reveal a stovetop and a sink, and — interestingly — the seatback of the companion seat, which can hide away when not in use. A refrigerator/freezer, a microwave and drawers occupy the space under the counter. In the Luxury Edition the stovetop is electric and the microwave is also a convection oven. In the Northwest Edition, the stove is propane fueled, as is the oven, which replaces the convection. The microwave is just a microwave.
Much like the aft dinette settee can be forward or aft situated, the captain’s seat serves double duty. It obviously faces forward for driving, but a clever system of hardware allows it to flip, lower a bit and become an aft-facing dinette settee for meals at the dock or on the hook. Plus, the table lowers and converts to a berth. Under the captain’s seat, built into the base of the seat console, is a wine refrigerator (which, I’m told, keeps other things cold too).
A three-panel windshield, two windows on either side of the cabin — the forward one on each side opens — and the open bulkhead aft ensure that visibility is excellent from anywhere.
Bedtime & Bathing
Down a couple of steps between the helm and the companion seat is the stateroom. The island berth is oddly shaped, to accommodate the head, but it sleeps two easily, and four portholes and two overhead hatches let in plenty of natural light, so it doesn’t feel tucked away and forgotten. Shelves and drawers provide the storage, and the foot of the bed lifts to reveal even more storage. A flat-screen TV with a DVD player provides the entertainment. The head includes a toilet, a basin sink and a shower whose round enclosure deploys during a shower and stows all other times.
A second berth is cleverly hidden beneath the main cabin dinette and extends all the way under the helm. The mattress extends 80 inches, so all but the tallest people will fit on it. There’s no room to stand — it’s really for sleeping only — and getting into the space can be tight without lifting the aft settee, through a vertical hatch in the base of the settee console. Lifting the settee provides a roomier entry.
The dark blue hull and red boot stripe give the Cutwater 302 SC a good-looking profile on the water, and those 300 hp Yamahas look impressive, too. But those good looks aren’t limited to when the sun is up. The boat has blue underwater lights at the stern and blue LEDs under the hardtop overhang along the sidedecks and in the cockpit. Throw in red lights at the helm, and the spectacle is sure to draw second (and maybe third) looks.
A big part of Fluid Motion’s boatbuilding MO is portability: the ability to get from point A to a distant point B without having to be in the water the entire way. Ranger Tugs and Cutwater boat models can be trailered, giving Seattle boaters the option of cruising Alaska or California boaters the option of cruising Mexico without having to drive the boat the whole way. Heck, a few years ago Sea featured a couple who trailered their Ranger Tug from Texas to Washington state to take part in a rendezvous and cruise for the summer.
The C-302 SC is an extension of that philosophy. If fishing isn’t as big a concern, or if a fully enclosed main cabin is a driving factor, buyers might want to consider the C-302 Coupe because of its solid aft bulkhead. The C-302 SC, though, provides a cruising couple, whether they are newbies or well-versed boaters who are stepping down in size, the basics to stay on the water for a week or two (or more), and the tools — bow and stern thrusters, the latest electronics, water heater, heat or air conditioning, and more — to do so safely and comfortably. And quickly. Going 50 mph is a lot of fun.