Satisfying your needs.
by Capt. Tom Serio
“I feel the need, the need for speed! Yow!”
Photos Courtesy of Wellcraft
There’s a lot of that kind of sentiment going on nowadays, thanks to the movie “Top Gun”. But look around, we have a generation of mid-somethings that have an insatiable appetite for all things speed related and need to satisfy these cravings in their daily lives. They are adventure junkies looking for that next great curl, or vertical offroad excursions or the natural high from high altitude hijinks. Now, adventure has been found at sea level with the new Wellcraft 355.
Sure, you know the name, and yes, they are still around, known today for their line of blue-water bustin’ center console fishing machines. Wellcraft also built their name with the Scarab brand of go-fast boats. It didn’t hurt that their boats were featured on the famous TV show “Miami Vice”. By the looks of the 355, Wellcraft may very well be on their way to again carving a piece of history in the boating annals.
Seeing the 355 at the official unveiling recently in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I was struck by the exterior styling, generous freeboard and enclosed pilothouse. With a low-profile look, reversed raked windshields and plumb bow, the 355 not only appears to be a hard-charging vessel, it is one.
This boat was built with a purpose: to satisfy the need to get from Point A to Point B quickly. Wellcraft coins the 355 as their “commuter boat” line. There’s ample seating for 10 or more around the boat allowing for safe passage of the masses. But the 355 is oh so much more.
The fully enclosed pilothouse can become fully open, thanks to the aft bulkhead door and tilt-up window. There’s a large side opening window next to the port helm seat and a sliding door to starboard. Overhead electric hatches and a sunroof panel bring in the light and the breeze.
All Decked Out
On deck, the bow area forward of the house has a generously sized three-person sunpad/lounger. Forward is an aft facing bench seat, which makes this an inviting gathering area. With walk-around decks, line and fender handling can be done safely. Wellcraft makes the port deck a bit narrower than the starboard to give some space back to the interior volume. Port and starboard side gates make boarding at the cockpit a breeze.
You have options on the aft deck. Wellcraft designed a cockpit tow bar that has multiple functions. It can prevent someone from falling on the outboards, tow a skier and also be used for fender storage (nice that someone thought of this). Or securely store air tanks for diving. Add the transom bench right in front of the storage or remove completely and go with the aft galley module. Point here is that you can design the 355 to your boating style.
Inside is a layout that makes the 355 more than a day boat. A galley to port includes an undercounter fridge, stainless sink with cover, single burner cooktop and microwave. Across is an L-shaped dinette with fold-out table that doubles as an additional berth. Grey walnut wood finish and Fortezza flooring adorn the cabin throughout. Salon headroom is 6’7”.
Forward are three helm seats, one to port, two to starboard at the helm. The outer starboard seat is next to the side door, allowing for easy access to lines and fenders so single-handling this boat is a breeze.
The dash is well sized for twin 16” 8416 Garmin multi-function displays (don’t forget to add Active Captain and other Garmin features), thruster control, Mercury marine electronic throttles and joystick controller and more.
Below decks is a spacious cabin with a large double berth that extends to 6’ for sleeping (5’5” when closed), cushioned seat and TV. Surprisingly, there’s a separate shower stall in the head, a nice touch.
There’s more to the 355 than just a cool boat. It’s also a re-imaging of this 60-year-old company. Having been acquired by several companies over the years, Group Beneteau took the reins of Wellcraft in 2014, and added them to their other holdings, including Four Winns, Scarab, Prestige, Lagoon and other recognizable brands, now all under one roof.
According to Nick Harvey, Wellcraft’s Brand Director, the focus of the 355 is to help take Wellcraft into the next century. “The world of adventure is seeing a hyper-growth of activity. People are looking for thrills and excitement,” said Harvey, “And they want adventure in boating, too,” he added. With that as the baseline, the 355 was born.
To deliver an exhilarating yet safe and stable ride, Wellcraft called on naval architect firm Michael Peters Yacht Design to draw the hull. Chris Critchett, naval architect from Michael Peters, gave me some insight as to their thought process. “It’s a plumb bow design with a conservative shape, not a typical deep V,” Critchett explained. Deep V’s are suited for max speed but tend to roll in a sea way. The 355 is a steady boat even without a stabilization system (although a Seakeeper can be added). Having good balance is essential. “Weight and shape are key on this boat, and we are very pleased with this hull,” added Critchett.
And pleased they should be as our sea trial on the 355 was very invigorating. Wellcraft Product Developer Martin Meyer was on the wheel putting the 355 through the paces, and he knew what to do. Powered by triple Mercury 350-hp four-stroke Verado outboards, our test numbers were pretty much in line with what Wellcraft published. Cruise along at 27.7 mph, 3500 RPM for a burn of 28 gph. At 10 mph you’ll burn 10 gph for 175 nm range. We did hit wide open in a 2-foot chop and saw 51.9 mph. A flat ocean should yield a little higher speed. Either way, this hull performed true, tracked very well and felt stable underfoot. Leaning well into tight turns at speed, the padded helm seats keep you in place.
Adding to the features are a hardtop roof rack for kayaks and boards, interior grab rails, forward light bar, teak decking, bow awning, water heater, gen set and a wrap or paint finish.
Why This Now?
Part of my conversation with Nick Harvey was to understand the “Why?”. With the pride of a new father and assuredness of someone who fully understands the goals, Harvey gave some insight to the new Wellcraft branding. “The core idea is that we built it to push the limits, to go anywhere, do anything, built with a purpose,” he said. Supporting their values, Harvey added that the 355 is “Powerful and authentic, built to last.” And he noted that they are not trying to be like other brands as there’s no comparison.
From the “infujection” (infusion and injection) cored vacuum-bagged hull that’s bonded to the stringer grid during layup resulting in an exceptionally strong hull, to the speed and agility of a finely tuned running surface to the strength of the Beneteau Group brand that stands behind the name, Wellcraft has just introduced something exciting to the market. Get on and let it satisfy your need for speed and adventure.
Low profile makes for an excellent river boat.
Has a stout hull for rough lakes and ocean crossings.
A fishing package adds rod holders, baitwell, washdown.
- LOA: 38’10”
- Beam: 10’9”
- Draft: 4’6”
- Weight: 16,131 lbs.
- Fuel Capacity: 264 gals.
- Water Capacity: 42 gals
- Power (as tested): 3x Mercury Verdado 350hp outboards
- Price (fully rigged): Approx. $700,000
- Website: wellcraft.com