Day cruiser, overnighting option.

Boat Test #1495

Monterey’s newest addition to their 2018 lineup, the 385 SE (Super Express), is a luxurious open bow day cruiser that features triple outboards on its transom. The 385 SE comes with triple 300 hp four stroke outboards as standard, or you can opt up to triple 350 hp outboards, powered by either Mercury or Yamaha. 

Replacing stern drives with outboards frees up below deck of the aft cockpit for storage, and easier access to pumps and batteries. 

The added space also allows for a very nifty feature on the Monterey 385 SE, a Sea Keeper 3 gyro stabilizer, a new option for Monterey in 2018. This feature minimizes side-to-side roll from bumpy water conditions. 

On our test boat, the Monterey 385 featured seven 12 -volt batteries with one battery for each of the outboard engines, two batteries for the house electronics, and two batteries for the Sea Keeper 3 gyro stabilizer. In 2 to 3 foot seas on the Atlantic Ocean just off Boca Raton, Florida, the Sea Keeper 3 performed amazingly well, keeping the boat quite level when it was at rest. This feature makes the boating experience more enjoyable, especially when boating on big lakes or on the ocean.

At 37’ in length with an 11’ beam, the 385 SE is a really big bowrider, one of the largest on the market. With that extra size, Monterey came up with a design that works for day boating, cruising, socializing and overnights.  Clearly, Monterey took inspiration from yachts when designing the 385 SE. 

There’s plenty of seating for relaxing and socializing in the bow section and in the cockpit. For example, in the bow, cushions that fill in the walk through create a large area for passengers to enjoy the sun.  The fold down arm rests add to comfort of reclining in the bow section while enjoying the view.  Cockpit seating wraps around the aft of the boat and the seating turns into in a sun pad in the aft section. The helm seat is extra wide easily accommodating the driver and co-pilot with room to spare. The fiberglass hard top is stylish looking and provides shade for driver and passengers.

Monterey designed the 385 SE with plenty of height. The spaciousness is evident in the cabin on the starboard side and head compartment on the port side, which are 6’ in height. The array of features for living and entertaining on the 385 SE gives this bow rider a much bigger boat feel. For example, there’s a refrigerator both in the cabin and cockpit. The cabin also features a stereo system, an unexpectedly large 40” flat screen LED TV, and a queen size berth for sleeping. The cabin also features a microwave that, along with the electric grill, which is an option in the cockpit, makes the 385 SE the ideal boat for socializing and overnight boating. 

The helm features a modern look inspired by Italian made yachts with a chrome steering wheel wrapped in leather and plenty of space on the dash for electronic displays, gauges and the stereo system. Taking a nod from bigger boats, the 385 SE features an anchoring system with a stainless steel anchor chafe plate.

We tested the 385 SE with triple 300hp Mercury outboards. The quietness of the four stroke outboards is noticeable. In 2-foot seas, the 385 SE performed admirable with a solid ride and reached a top speed of 51.5 mph, making this big bowrider fun. No doubt, a few more mph would be added to the top end speed of the 385 SE when boating on calmer conditions. 

By Zenon Bilas