SCOUT 355 LXF

This boat de­liv­ers lux­u­ri­ous com­forts and fisha­bil­ity, plus a style and at­ten­tion to de­tail exceeding the norm.

Boating - - FRONT PAGE - —John Tiger

G Got 2-foot-itis? Eye up Scout’s new­est 355 LXF. It packs all the ameni­ties of its larger sib­lings at an eas­ier-to-han­dle size and price.

Our tester was rigged for per­for­mance, us­ing three Mer­cury Ver­ado 350 out­boards to reach an ex­hil­a­rat­ing top speed of 66 mph. Punch­ing the throt­tle, we jumped on plane and passed the 30 mph mark in just 6.8 sec­onds. Range with the stan­dard 310-gal­lon fuel cell is 336 miles at a best-cruise speed just shy of 40 mph, where the triple 350s burned fuel at 32.6 gph, net­ting an ef­fi­ciency of 1.2 mpg.

Per our pre-trial sem­i­nar from Scout CEO Steve Potts, the 355 was born from

cus­tomer feed­back, ask­ing for the fea­tures from the larger 380 and 420 mod­els. Since Potts doesn’t like the idea of jam­ming big-boat fea­tures into smaller hulls not de­signed to han­dle them, he or­dered a com­plete re­design. While the dual-step hull was re­tained, ev­ery­thing else was changed to ac­com­mo­date boat-owner in­put.

And what were those de­sires? Scout own­ers clam­ored for the ad­di­tion of a Sea­keeper 3DC gy­rosta­bi­lizer, which re­quires room amid­ships and care in in­stal­la­tion for proper hull bal­ance due to its heft. Potts and crew re­designed the stringer grid sys­tem and re­lo­cated the fuel cells and bat­ter­ies to en­sure that the 355 pos­sessed proper cen­ter of grav­ity for fast ocean­go­ing runs. If the Sea­keeper op­tion is not cho­sen, a huge cooler is in­stalled in­stead.

Like all Scout lux­ury cen­ter-con­soles we’ve tested, this is a high-per­for­mance fin chaser at heart but feels right at home as a dinner-cruise ves­sel, yacht ten­der, or is­land-hopping play boat. Our test in the Charleston Har­bor gave us foot-high wind

Scout’s re­mas­tered 355 LXF adds de­tails from the 380 and 420, with­out the added cost and length.

chop along with steep wakes from pass­ing cruis­ers. The 355 gave it right back, rip­ping through har­bor traf­fic. Cor­ner­ing de­liv­ered a pro­nounced, con­fi­dent heel un­der tight con­trol. The dou­ble-stepped running sur­face pro­duced speeds ap­proach­ing 70 mph with three aboard, which gave a fleet-of-feet sen­sa­tion even in a large hull. Spray is de­flected down­ward by the hard chines and Carolina bow flare. The hull frees up quickly, re­leas­ing faster for less wet­ted sur­face; higher ef­fi­ciency is the re­sult, es­pe­cially in calm wa­ter.

The wide cen­ter con­sole mim­ics those aboard the 380 and 420 mod­els, and it of­fers a heated, triple helm seat. The setup in­cludes a new lean­ing-post de­sign for bet­ter com­fort and po­si­tion. The T-top perches atop sculpted ex­truded sup­ports, like all Scout boats. Up on the roof, a so­lar panel keeps the stan­dard AGM bat­ter­ies charg­ing, even un­der the load of the Sea­keeper and all the other cool elec­tronic ac­ces­sories. Those ac­ces­sories in­clude a stan­dard high-res­o­lu­tion bow cam­era.

Scout builds in a high-level com­bi­na­tion of pure fish­ing func­tion with lux­ury touches and qual­ity. The con­struc­tion part of that be­gins with the 355 LXF’s resin­in­fused hull and deck. Epoxy is used for the hull lam­i­na­tion, while polyester resin is used for the deck. This pro­vides max­i­mum weight sav­ings and strength. There is no wood core or tran­som ply­wood to rot. When you look un­der­neath, it’s a plea­sure to see that all fas­ten­ers are through-bolted with no wood screws to vi­brate out.

The deck and in­te­rior lay­out fol­lows the Scout lux­ury cen­ter-con­sole for­mula: At the bow, be­hind the stan­dard con­cealed an­chor wind­lass, there’s a re­lax­ation sta­tion to ri­val that aboard any lux­ury bowrider. Cen­ter-fac­ing cush­ions sur­round the (op­tional) elec­tron­i­cally op­er­ated party ta­ble that can be set higher for din­ing or low­ered and cov­ered with (stan­dard) cush­ions to form a huge re­cessed sun deck. For­ward of the cen­ter-con­sole wind­shield, there’s a re­clined dou­ble lounge. Cav­ernous dry stowage abounds; even the bow cush­ions tuck away with­out has­sle.

The con­sole is all-dig­i­tal, with a wide touch­screen fea­tur­ing e-con­nec­tiv­ity so you can op­er­ate per­ti­nent func­tions at the dash or with your smart­phone. Re­dun­dant “tra­di­tional” switches pro­vide backup. The Ver­a­dos’ horses are kept in line with Mer­cury’s power steer­ing and dig­i­tal throt­tle/ shift con­trols, as well as op­tional Mer­cury au­topi­lot, joy­stick and Sky­hook con­trols.

Through the port­side cabin door, the belowdecks ameni­ties proved com­fort­able and ac­com­mo­dat­ing for a cozy couple overnight. The twin queen berth fits tall folks com­fort­ably, and a full gal­ley and en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter are stan­dard. Air con­di­tion­ing is avail­able.

Abovedecks, Scout’s sculpted re­cessed grab rail en­cir­cles the cock­pit, pro­vid­ing a se­cure hand­hold. Plenty of rod stowage re­sides un­der the gun­wales. Fish stowage at the tran­som is 60 gal­lons, along with a cir­cu­lat­ing baitwell. A walk-through tran­som door al­lows ac­cess to the full-width tran­som bracket/plat­form with its Arm­strong dive lad­der.

In the 35-foot cen­ter-con­sole mar­ket, Co­bia’s 344CC starts at $244,889 with twin Yamaha 350 V-8s; with triple F300s, it sells for around $285,000. Bos­ton Whaler’s 350 Out­rage mim­ics the Scout in size and weight, and rigged with triple 300 Ver­a­dos, it starts at $389,785; with 350s, it tabs at just over $404,000. Pur­suit’s S328 mea­sures out at just un­der 35 feet, starts at $315,495 with twin Yamaha F300s, and tips the scales at just over 12,000 pounds rigged and ready.

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