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October 31, 2008

Bluewater 355e

If you want to be "in-the-know," sea trial a Bluewater prior to purchasing your next boat. There's nothing it doesn't do well.

The quiet ones often surprise you. I consider Bluewater Boats one of those "quiet ones." The company makes exceedingly excellent boats but doesn't toot its own horn very loudly. But cognoscenti know that Bluewater builds very seaworthy vessels with everything you could want in a fishing boat - done perfectly - but with no extraneous fluff.

Performance
What a day! Wind 30 knots from the northeast and an outgoing tide caused breaking surf across the mouth of the Fort Pierce, Florida, inlet. Laying the 355e broadside to the breaking seas (not what builder Paul Skilowitz would have chosen to do), I discovered that the wide, flat chines of the 355e kept the roll moment fairly short, and transitions, though very noticeable, couldn't be called uncomfortable. Heading back inside for speed trials, I discovered that heading down-sea in the six-footers, the 355e would start to swerve upon meeting the back of the next wave, and then stop. It could easily run with no hands on the wheel.
 
The 355e rose onto plane in about four seconds, hitting a top speed of 61.5 mph at 6,100 rpm, burning 74 gph. The factory claims to have hit 65 under ideal conditions, which we certainly didn't have when we ran the 355e. Cruising along at 35 mph, we used a modest 23 gph for all three muscular Suzuki 300s - economy I'd call pretty frugal.
 
Trolling at 8 mph generates significant turbulence almost to the third wave back, but clear alleys showcase your lures.

Fishing
As you'd expect in a 35-footer, the 355e provides tons of storage space. A huge fish box on centerline forward augments more in the cockpit. In fact, you'll find both dry and wet storage fore and aft - more than I'd ever likely need.

Certainly, you can stipulate how many rod holders you want on your Bluewater and where. Our test boat sported three on each side forward and another three in each gunwale aft, plus seven across the back of the handsome hardtop and more lockable rod storage in under-deck boxes in the cockpit.
 
In addition to rod and reel stowage, Bluewater provides remarkable space for tackle. Tilt-out lockers amidships in the  bulwarks hide removable Plano boxes, plus extraordinary storage in the leaning post for multiple sizes of Planos as well as drawers on stainless slides for stuff you don't take home. You also get a flip-down rigging   station on the back of the leaning post.