Luxist Does the Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau Run on the MasterCraft 300
MasterCraft began four decades ago in a barn in Tennessee, when some folks who wanted more from a boat took a Ski Nautique hull and cut it in half, then built the hull they really wanted. Today MasterCraft owns the market for inboard ski boats, wakeboarding boats and sport craft. But three worlds could never be enough, and that's why we have the MasterCraft 300, the firm's first excursion into day-trip yachts.
The incipient exploration of a new market, by any company, is as wildly unpredictable as bog snorkeling - shoo-ins have taken terrible losses, sure losers have gone on to run the establishment. MasterCraft invited Luxist to Ft. Lauderdale for a ride to Nassau in the 30-foot vessel, and although we missed out on the dark and stormy night, we had an overcast and tempestuous day to come to our own conclusions about how the 300 might make a name for itself.
Gallery: MasterCraft 300 by Sergio Jurado
The 300 isn't merely something for MasterCraft's ego to gorge itself on (assuming it sells well). In addition to expanding its market reach, there are three audiences this boat is primarily aimed at: recreational boaters already in the MasterCraft family who want a bigger boat to relax on or want to head out on larger waters; people downsizing from 45-foot boats who don't want to give up the comforts they're used to; people new to the segment who want the quality and amenities of a larger boat at a 30-footer's price.
Modern assistance with the effort came from in-house engineers who have worked with other yachtbuilders including Cobalt, Hatteras, Cruiser, and Hinckley. Historical inspiration came from the twin-tipped, tunnel-hulled racing boats of builders like Angelo Molinari. MasterCraft added the feature - still seen on high-speed racing boats today - one of its recreational lines, and now it's the first to append the feature to a day yacht. The bow design spreads the weight across the bow, provides greater lift and a higher ride, and offers a fantastic amount of additional room because it allows a lengthier span in which the boat can take advantage of its full beam. We would see...
The plan was a low-key run from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas to explore the mien and manners of the boat. To help out in case any swabbing of decks was necessary, we convinced our Miami-based fashion photographer friend Sergio Jurado to join. Not only could he do the trip justice in photos, it would give us the chance to focus on our first port-of-call: Bimini. And focus we did, although not for the reasons expected. The Atlantic was in a funk that day, and threw an admittedly low-level tantrum in the form of four-to-six-foot waves. We had to stow our plans for a MasterCraft meditation session, right next to the sandwiches, grapes, chocolates and champagne.
Yet we did get to see how the MasterCraft behaved over troubled waters, and above decks it was all good. A little rough and a fair bit tumble, but there was little way around that. The potential disadvantage of a twin-tipped hull would be that the flat frontal and lighter ride would cause it to do a lot of thudding and smacking on the waves. Yet even with the large frontal area of the Superfly bow she never got truly unruly up top. Nor did the occasional moments when we slowed from the ideal wave-riding speed cause her composure to disappear. She might not have cut through the waves like a deep-vee, but her modified-vee wasn't smacked around by them either, getting us through the trip plenty comfortably for us not to send any Maydays for helicopter extraction.
We didn't have any business going below decks in such conditions, but we did. It went as one might expect: "Hold on!" We don't know why no amusement park has built a ride called 'Small Inboard in a Storm.' It would be guaranteed thrills, although they'd have to peel a fair number of riders out of it at ride's end... and it could get messy...
Point being, though: the 300 is solid in a swell. After all, MasterCraft does have a long history of knowing how to handle chop.
At Bimini we made a quick stop for fuel and got underway again. Once pushed off for Nassau, the Atlantic gave us the joyous news that the Three Hour Tour portion of the day was concluded. There's a shallower undersea shelf between Bimini and the Bahamas that generally keeps the water calmer (at least, that's what we were told). And that gave us a chance to explore our ride.
You step from the teak-floored platform to the teak decking in the lounge area and helm under the radar arch. On each side is a wetbar with glossy, hardwood cabinets and Karadon quarts countertops. The one on the left comes with a sink and removable cooler, and you can equip the wetbar on the right with mod-cons like a fridge, grille, icemaker or waterproof LCD television. The actual curved seating area and adjustable transom chairs come wrapped in top-grade vinyl, or you can up-spec exterior grade Ultra-Leather.
The cockpit is command central, where the captain can monitor every one of the boat's systems and a 3-D map of the ocean floor. Two skylights and LED task lights abound. In the center is a Raymarine navigation system, flanked by more hardwood and leather, upon which sit programmable switches and the optional Joystick Maneuvering System meant - with the help of bow thrusters - to make docking a thing of breeze.
The radar arch overhead comes with the 300, but the hardtop and its five-piece tinted glass panel are optional. We recommend it. A novel bit of middle ground between open air and a canvas top, the tempered, aluminum-framed glass blocks 90% of the sun's UV rays but still retains the full-bodied feeling of the outdoors, and it comes with a misting feature to cool your guests if for some intriguing reason they don't want to get in the water. If you want to get all buttoned up you can order an Isinglass kit for genuinely inclement weather.
Ahead of that is the walk-around windscreen with an offset opening on the port side, arrived at via teak steps. Another nice touch on the 300: the windshield latches are connected top and bottom, so when you open the top set the bottom set open as well - no need to fiddle with it twice. When you need the scenic route, integrated sidedecks with handrails should get you safely to the anchor or the bunny pads at the sunning area on the bow. Speaking of the anchor, it's placed on the forward face of the hull so no one on deck ever need earn a bruise because of it.
Still, for all that, the real feast is down below and up front. We found the deck door a little finicky, but once you get past that there is enough standing room below for someone 6'1" in stature, and that standing giant will find more leather and hardwood cabinets and floors and quartz counters, a galley with microwave, refrigerator/freezer and sink, a settee that flops into a double berth, and a stand-up shower with a full-sized door.
Beyond all of that would be the huge, nearly-rectangular bed that's a whopping 6'6" long. And that means you don't have to curl up unless you really, really want to. An adjoining settee has a fold-out table, above which is a 26-inch LCD television, which can be controlled - along with everything else on the boat, like the lights, air conditioning and alarm - with the Contour Zone remote control.
Engine choices are varied, but the 300's composite hull can stow two diesel or gasoline motors of up to 800 horsepower combined. That hull also hides a 200-gallon fuel tank and a 30-gallon water tank, and weighs 14,000 pounds dry.
At this point we have to admit that after all that hard work of touring the vessel we don't remember much. MasterCraft was also taking the day to get press shots of the 300 during our voyage so there was a model slinking about as well, but such things were on the periphery. Stretching out on the bow's lounge pads, the 300 beneath us cutting a brisk clip for Nassau, we have recollections of sun, cool splashes of Atlantic brine, a camera shutter sounding off somewhere... Atlantis... a few more splashes, a lot more sun...
We did get pulled over by the Bahamian water police at one point. Then not long after, we were pulled over again by a different police boat, which happened to be captained by the brother of policeman in charge of the first boat. Caribbean trifles, soon dispatched and we were on our way, still perfectly oblivious to just about everything...
But did we mention there was a rainbow over Atlantis?
So even if we could tell you more about the 300, isn't that enough? After all, isn't that what the perfect trip on a day cruiser is supposed to be?