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.
**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.
Find 12-volt electrical outlets for downriggers and kite reels under both aft gunwales, and request more if you wish.
The 355e boasts a big in-deck livewell to augment the large pressurized one in the transom. The transom well comes with a removable wall to separate diverse baits should you require that.
Design and Construction
Bluewater does several things better than many of its competitors: The large anchor locker has a molded hanger and a great lock-in system to keep the hook from bouncing around under way. A radius curve on top of the console door affords you greatly increased headroom when entering and exiting the “belowdecks” space. I say belowdecks because, in this case, you actually get full standing headroom in the console – about 6 1/2 feet, in fact. Bluewater manages this by placing the sole of this space all the way down on the keel. You’ll also find superb access to wiring and the back of your electronics suite through hatches here, plus considerable shelf storage.
Find quick-connect outlets for washdown hoses at five points around the boat. Overall, Bluewater has always paid superb attention to detail. For example, the rocket launcher across the back of the leaning post features individual hoses channeling any water that enters the rod holders down into the bilge rather than letting it run into the storage areas of the tackle center, which by the way, has hangers for leader bags as well as built-in leader dispensers. Handholds – one of my pet peeves on most boats – are plentiful and perfectly placed. The hardtop doesn’t whack the tip of your rod as you fight a fish from stem to stern, and its underside matches the hull color.
Being larger than average, I particularly appreciate the excellent access to pumps, plumbing, wiring and hydraulics in the lazarette, and the fold-down frame there that holds two 5-gallon buckets is a nice touch too.
Bluewater installs much-better-than-average hardware on this boat, from the cleats and running lights to the rod holders and even the transom door latch. And the indirect lighting under all gunwales makes this boat look killer at night.
One construction feature particularly impressed me. The stringer grid, bonded into the hull prior to the boat being pulled from the mold, has 56 “holes” between stringers. Each of these ultimately gets filled with closed-cell foam. Then the deck bonds to the stringers. Not only does this make the boat pretty much one solid piece, it also assures that every in-deck box has more insulation than any other boat on the market. Your ice, drinks and the like will stay cold forever.
Since the Bluewater family doesn’t publicly pat itself on the back or boast of its quality of design and performance, please allow me to do it for them. Bluewater makes terrific boats!
LOA……35 ft. 9 in.
HULL DRAFT……2 ft.
WEIGHT……12,980 lb. (as tested)
MAX HP……Triple 300 hp OB
MSRP……$153,610 (w/ twin 300s)
Bluewater Boats / Fort Pierce, Florida / 772-464-3735 / www.bluewaterboats.com