I had anticipated this day for more than two months, ever since first seeing the Sea Vee 322Z at the 2018 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. From the carpeted floor of the convention center, I checked out the twin-step, cross-ventilated running surface, then climbed aboard to tour the new layout and imagined myself fishing from the deck.
Now the day had arrived for the real thing. I found the same exact boat from the show docked in the canal behind the North Miami, Florida, home of Jimmy Montes, who welcomed me aboard the 322Z that he now owned. Also joining the crew on this early January morning were Sea Vee’s Eddie Juan and Sport Fishing group publisher, Scott Salyers.
Montes had a floating pen tied at his dock full of goggle-eyes — perfect bait for targeting sailfish, as was our intent for this trip. Salyers and I helped load ice and provisions and stowed rods along the sides of the center console, while Montes and Juan transferred the goggle-eyes to the twin 40-gallon pressurized livewells in each stern quarter. Aquarium-style windows allowed us to see how the liveys were settling into their new abodes.
Roomy Aft Deck
Before we even left the dock, I was struck by the deck space afforded by the aft cockpit, which seemed to stretch farther aft than most, owing to the compressed-transom design. This allows anglers to more easily work a fish around the twin Mercury 350 Verado outboards. The 322Z is available with a transom door on the port side for access to the integral swim platform, but my tester was ordered without this feature.
We cast off and cruised toward Haulover Inlet. As we cleared the cut, Montes punched the throttle, and we headed due east at 5,000 rpm and 43 mph, where the twin 350s burned 40 gallons per hour for 1.07 mpg. The current ran north, and the wind blew 10 to 15 mph out of the northwest, churning waves of 2 to 3 feet. The 322Z handled them with aplomb, riding smoothly on the patented SpeedRail stepped-hull design that features multiple lifting bodies and maintains a fixed trim angle throughout a wide range of speeds. A redesigned bow with greater flare and new reverse chines tossed spray downward for a dry ride.
Within a few miles, we reached purple-blue water indicating the edge of the Gulf Stream. The direction of the wind and current required that Juan jockey the throttles at idle speed to keep the bow of the 322Z pointed into the wind, while Montes and Salyers deployed a single kite and set out three lines, each baited with a frisky goggle-eye.
I joined Juan at the helm, who explained that the 322Z is available with two different foredeck configurations — either a luxury seating package or an open-fisherman layout. My test boat featured the latter, with an expansive, uncluttered foredeck that most hardcore anglers will prefer for easier access to the rail around the bow.
Every Sea Vee boat is built to customer specifications, and this was reflected in Montes’ decision to equip his 322Z with a coffin box forward. This option adds 210 quarts of cold stowage. With the comfortable upholstered top, it also makes for a nice seat. A hydraulic lift tilts the entire box to starboard to access a 129-gallon below‑deck insulated fish locker.
A pair of 51-gallon stowage lockers flanks the coffin box. There’s also a 48-gallon fish box just forward of the console that can be plumbed to serve as an additional livewell. In the forepeak, I found a roomy anchor locker with a system for securing a fluke-style anchor.
Family Style If family cruising proves more to your liking, consider the luxury edition (LE) upgrade for the 322Z, which features a pair of upholstered seating pods with stowage compartments below and flip-up backrests that convert each to a forward-facing lounger.
While my boat did not have the forward seating, it was fitted with an optional aft-facing seat for two abaft the leaning-post module — a spot that would normally host a tackle station and fold-down shelf for rigging terminal gear and baits, with a slide-out cooler below.
Not to worry about losing tackle or cold storage; the seatback lifts up (and can be removed) to reveal a locker for tackle boxes. Above the seatback I found a foldout rigging shelf and a row of handy rod holders. There’s a built-in 120-quart cooler below the seat bottom. The optional aft-facing seat proved particularly comfy thanks to an angled backrest that feels far more natural than the straight vertical backrest often found on seats in this location.
A removable transom bench seat and backrest make it easy to add accommodations for guests on days when fishing is not a priority. Montes chose to leave this item at home during our trip.
Another comfortable seat forward of the console slides open to port for access to the step-down console interior, where I found immaculate helm rigging, a Sea Vee trademark that hints at the high quality that you find throughout these boats.
I found similarly impressive rigging in the bilge. The compartment included four livewell pumps in a valved pump box that eliminates aeration before delivering water to the livewells. This is particularly important with a stepped hull that by design generates aerated water along the running surface.
Below the aft deck, I discovered five large stowage compartments, including two that are designed to accept and secure the ubiquitous five-gallon buckets. In characteristic Sea Vee fashion, the hatches for all compartments shut with an authoritative thump — another indicator of quality throughout.
Level and Safe
As I made my way around the boat, I noted that the deck offered great stability in sloppy seas, and the diamond nonskid sole granted excellent traction. The level deck eliminates any trip points as you traverse from transom to bow and back again. A beefy boarding door on the port side of the aft cockpit makes it easier to land large tuna or swordfish or even release fish such as marlin or sails.
Juan kept one eye on the twin Simrad NSS16 evo3 multifunction displays to gauge depth and drift, and another eye on the surface waters around the boat. That paid off when he spotted a swirl and the telltale flash of a sail to the port side. Everyone readied for a bite, but none materialized.
I rejoined Juan and noted a thickly padded helm seat that doubles as the leaning post, thanks to a contoured forward portion of the seat bottom — an elegantly simple way to eliminate the need for foldout bolsters. I took advantage of the stowage compartment underneath the seat to stash my camera until the need arose to shoot a picture of fish.
By the Numbers
Unfortunately, our efforts were not rewarded by a picture fish on this particular morning. So, around noon, we reeled in the lines, retrieved the kite, and headed in, weaving our way into the Intracoastal Waterway. The 322Z cornered with predictable confidence at speed.
Turning Mercury Eco 18-inch-pitch, three-blade stainless-steel propellers, the 322Z jumped on to plane in 8 seconds and reached 30 mph in 13 seconds from dead idle. My testing with four adult males, a heavy load of fuel, fish boxes stuffed with ice, and full livewells produced a top speed of 55 mph at 6,100 rpm, where the twin Merc 350 Verado outboards burned 60.8 gallons of fuel per hour for 0.90 mpg. With lighter loads, expect speeds of 60-plus mph with 350s and 65-plus with 400s, according to Sea Vee.
In my tests, the 322Z attained its best fuel efficiency at 4,500 rpm and 39 mph, where the two Verados consumed 26.8 gph for 1.45 mpg. That translates to a range of more than 425 miles based on the 325-gallon fuel capacity.
It’s hard to beat a Sea Vee when it comes to solid construction, attention to detail and offshore fishability. The 322Z proves that in spades and, with the availability of the LE edition, this boat will appeal just as much to nonfishing members of your family as it does to you.
Power: Twin Mercury 350 Verados
Load: 315 gal. fuel, four crew
Top Speed: 55 mph @ 6,100 rpm
Time to 30 MPH: 13 sec.
Best MPG: 1.45 @ 39 mph (4,500 rpm)
LOA: 32 ft. 9 in.
Beam: 9 ft. 6 in.
Transom Deadrise: 22 deg.
Dry Weight: 6,800 lb. (w/o engines)
Draft: 1 ft. 8 in.
Fuel: 325 gal.
Max Power: 1,000 hp
MSRP: $216,000 (base boat w/ twin Mercury 350 Verados)
Sea Vee Boats