A LOVER AND A FIGHTER
By Kevin Falvey
Performance, cruising, and fishing intersect aboard Intrepid’s 390 Sport Yacht. Triple 275-hp Mercury Verado outboards hurled us across the water at more than 56 mph, and the 390 Sport Yacht’s single-stepped hull provided confidence during every crazy maneuver I pulled. Anglers and divers will appreciate the wide open, self-bailing cockpit, complete with fishboxes, washdown, and livewell. In a more sedate mood? Throttle back and enjoy the company of guests sprawled before you — where you can see and speak with them — in the lounges forward of the helm. Feeling frisky? Step belowdecks, where you’ll be guaranteed a successful weekend getaway. Family fishboats are a hard target to hit, but the 390 Sport Yacht makes the combination work with little compromise.
For all the talk about how boaters are energy gluttons, Intrepid’s 390 Sport Yacht is at the vanguard of harnessing technology to do more while burning less fuel. Its hull is designed for efficiency, not high speed. It’s powered by outboards, which deliver the best power-to-weight ratio. And its highly engineered fiberglass laminate is a combination of cored, vacuum-bagged, resin-infused, uni- and multi-directional fibers that delivers strength and stiffness without horsepower-robbing, fuel-consuming excess weight. By winning this techno-trifecta — design, construction, propulsion — the 390 Sport Yacht delivers a range of speeds at which economy exceeds a mile per gallon. There’s no fleeting, single-speed “sweet spot.” Just set the tachs between 3000 and 4500 rpm and go. This 40' performance cruiser delivers outstanding performance, and while some tractor-, pod- and stern drive–powered cruisers can match it, none can multitask like this boat.
One boat that might give the 390 Sport Yacht a run for its money is Contender’s 38E. That triple outboard–powered cruiser rides a nonstepped, 22-degree deadrise deep-V hull. The Contender offers a second stateroom and its topside layout looks equally versatile, with an open cockpit and expansive lounges forward. Pricing wasn’t available at press time, but it can be powered by triple outboards totaling 1,150 hp. We’ll let you know how it does when we test it.
How does the 390 Sport Yacht handle? Grab the throttles. I’ve tested Intrepids for years, but this was my first trial of its Version 2 hullform, which has been specifically designed for the new heavier outboards. Changes include a wider chine beam and increased buoyancy aft. The result is a quick-stepping boat, providing what I can only describe as nimble heft. Its bow is responsive, coming around sportboat quick. Yet even trimmed out fully and running across wakes and waves, it never feels flighty. But, boy, does this boat fly, planing fast and flat and making a one-way top speed of 57.6 mph during speed trials—with the half-tower installed. Enjoy all that power. This boat lets you thrill to speed, and it does so without any foibles that I could wring out.
Some of that added chine beam made it topside: The cockpit lounge forward of the 390 Sport Yacht’s helm is one honkin’ mosh pit. I especially liked the electrically reclining starboard lounge. Note the details. Upholstery tufts are a tight 2½" apart to create a firm feel. The recliner backrests are scoops, providing lateral and back support, and are comfortably inclined. Your passengers can put their feet up and never feel as if they’ll lose their seats as you romp across the waves. A fiddle-topped console holds snacks above and houses a refrigerator below. In front of the helm is a cooler that’s also been plumbed as a livewell. The entire forward cockpit, from the windshield to the double electrically adjustable helm bench, is covered by a sleek arch-style hardtop. Cambered and crowned, this top looks great, though the spotlight should be moved off it. The beam is going to glare off the bow when you use it.
Across the transom is removable aft bench seating for four. Between here and the helm is 70 square feet of self-bailing cockpit. The sole is punctuated with an array of hatches, but it doesn’t look cluttered because the hatch lids swing on hidden hinges, and clearances between the lids and their gutters are tight and consistent. Open the aft hatch and you’ll find electric through-hull fittings. (Why bend and reach when you can hit a switch?) Rigging is mostly excellent, with everything neatly routed, labeled, and installed, although the head hose passes through a bulkhead without chafe protection. Real attention to detail is found under the hatch that hides the generator. Check the vented loop on its intake line: There’s a small hose to carry the inevitable salt drip to the bilge. Aboard most boats brine would dribble and start corroding your gear.
Water access is provided via the standard transom door and dive platform. This meets the ABYC recommendation for providing a means of solo reboarding, a criterion many outboard boats fail. My test boat also had the optional dive door, installed at the gunwale between transom and hardtop. When open, this deploys the integral ladder to a comfortable depth. Order it and you get a bonus: Two frames run to the keel and shoulder the loads normally carried by the hullside without the door cutout.
Head down the companionway — which could use a screen — and you land on a teak-and-holly sole. The fiberglass headliner, the galley and berth bases, and the hullsides around the V-berth are gel coated, which makes them bright and easy to clean. The sole, the blue leather salon lounge (which opens to a double berth), and the cherry cabinetry provide good contrast to avoid an industrial feel. Most striking are the four large, fixed windows forward. The view of water rushing past is hypnotic—and the light they allow inside sets off the grain of the wood, the sheen of the leather, and the gloss of the dark blue, faux-stone galley counter in a way artificial light just can’t. The head is abaft the companionway and is white gel coat set off by cherry cabinets. There’s a teak grate in the shower stall. The 390 Sport Yacht ensures a pleasant weekend away for two — or perhaps a couple and their kids.
Details that impressed me were the slam-free Blum drawers, which suck themselves shut at a touch. There’s also a drawer refrigerator, and the stove lid slides under the counter. I was delightfully surprised to find a hanging locker just inside the companionway, where you can reach for a slicker easily. Of course, with outboard power, which requires less maintenance and hassle than just about any other type of propulsion, and with features like electric seacocks, a helm electronics panel that rises at the touch of a switch, and voltage-sensitive relays so I don’t have to fuss with battery switches to stay charged, this boat is built, among other things, for convenience of ownership. I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Boating (July 2007)