Buying a boat always seems to come with a built-in surprise. By the time you add all the options and accessories you want, the price tag is usually greater than you had anticipated.
To prevent this surprise, consider the Rinker Fiesta Vee 342. Aside from power choices, this boat probably has the shortest list of options on the market today: two.
The 342 is an express cruiser that comes fully loaded with just about everything you could need or want. The only add-ons are radar and a tender.
Air conditioning, an auxiliary generator, an anchor windlass, a central vacuum system and even a blender in the cockpit are all included in the base price.
This family size boat is ideal for freshwater day tripping or overnighting. When equipped with Volvo Ocean Series stern drives, it becomes a serious bluewater cruiser.
With nine available engine and drive options — including diesels — the choice is yours, depending on where and how you plan to use this boat.
The Rinker Fiesta Vee 342 measures an even 37 feet in length overall and has a beam of exactly 12 feet. You’ll find space inside and outside, with a layout that’s designed for entertaining.
The cockpit has two bench seats. One is to port and L-shaped; the other runs the length of the transom (except for the gate to the swim platform). Filler cushions convert this seat to a sunpad — and there’s a removable table for it, as well.
Both bench seats have under-cushion storage compartments. There’s a doublewide adjustable bench seat at the helm, as well.
The cockpit can be protected from the weather with a full camper canvas enclosure — a standard feature. The electronics arch, another standard feature, breaks the canvas top in two sections — so, you can just shade the forward area, if you’d like.
One feature we liked about the enclosure panels is the color-coded tabs at each corner that you can use to mate the pieces properly. No more zipping up a panel part way, only to discover that it goes on the other side of the boat.
Everything is within easy sight and reach, at the helm of the Rinker 342. And by ?everything,? we mean just that — including a standard VHF radio, a depth sounder, a GPS, engine synchronization, a remote spotlight and the toggle switch for both the port and starboard windshield wipers.
There is a large panel to the left of the wood-trimmed steering wheel for an optional radar display. Rinker offers a Raymarine combo unit that includes a GPS chart plotter, or you can add your own.
Cruise to Margaritaville
There’s an entertainment center directly behind the helm seat that includes even more standard equipment. There’s an ice-maker and a 2-cubic-foot refrigerator, along with a sink that has pressurized cold water. To top it off, there’s even a blender.
If that isn’t enough to keep you entertained topside, how about an awesome Sony music system with six-disc CD changer, an 800-watt amplifier and six speakers, including a subwoofer. You’ll also find two remote controls. Rinker has nearly given away the farm here.
Maybe we should talk about an option: You know, one of the extras that you pay for. The 342 is one of the few boats in its class that is made to handle a tender.
Sure, you can strap an inflatable on the transom of almost any 30-something-footer with a swim platform, but the 342 was actually designed to accommodate one. Built-in brackets make flipping a tender in or out of the water easy, and there’s a compartment in the transom specially fitted to hold the Mercury outboard that powers it.
Behind Curtain #1
Rinker didn’t compromise on cabin outfitting either, when it comes to standard features on the Fiesta Vee 342.
For starters, there’s a galley to port that includes a 3-cubic-foot refrigerator, a two-burner electric stove and a stainless steel sink in a Corian countertop, plus a coffeemaker and a microwave oven. You’ll find attractive cherry wood cabinetty with lots of drawers and nooks for storage.
There’s a solid wood table in front of the U-shaped settee, on the opposite side of the cabin. The settee base has a variety of drawers and storage compartments. The tabletop drops to create an additional sleeping berth, when needed.
Just forward of the settee, the wood cabinetry holds a 13-inch television/DVD player combo that slides out and rotates for viewing in any part of the cabin.
The forward cabin has a privacy curtain to separate it from the main area. There’s a V-berth with storage under the mattress and drawers below, as well as a hanging locker to one side.
The aft cabin is also separated with a privacy curtain. It features a queen-size berth.
The 342’s head compartment has just over 6 feet of headroom throughout, even in the enclosed shower stall. The 6-gallon hot water heater has a heat exchanger connection with one of the engines, for maximum efficiency. There’s a level gauge for both the freshwater and wastewater tanks.
Take a Ride
The Rinker Fiesta Vee 342 can be powered to cruise any waters, from inland lakes to the ocean. You’ll find a selection of both MerCruiser and Volvo Penta gasoline powerplants from 280 hp to 320 hp, plus a Yanmar diesel option. All are twins.
Our test boat was powered by a pair of Volvo Penta 5.7 OSis with Saltwater DuoProps. The boat came on plane in just under five seconds. There was some bow rise that was easily corrected by applying the trim tabs. (Did I mention the trim tabs are standard?)
Midrange acceleration was excellent, as was tracking in chop. The 342 runs well at a cruising speed of 26.5 mph, at 3,600 rpm. It held tight and stable in high-speed turns throughout our on-the-water maneuvers.
If you’re in search of a sporty and versatile pocket cruiser that you won’t have to spend a king’s ransom to outfit, the Rinker Fiesta Vee 342 is your boat. It comes with all the necessities and just about every amenity you could possibly want — and the price tag has only one surprise: It’s lower than you’d expect.
Rinker Fiesta Vee 342 Specifications
|Draft (drives down)||3|
|Weight (less engines)||14,280 pounds|
|Fuel capacity||235 gallons|
|Water capacity||51 gallons|
|Base price with twin 350 MPI MerCruiser engines||$166,000|
|Price as tested with twin 280-hp Volvo Penta 5.7 OSi engines||$168,800|
(Price does not include freight and dealer prep.)
|Top speed||41.1 mph|
|Miles per gallon at 26.5-mph cruising speed||1.1|
|Range at 26.5-mph cruising speed||234 statute miles (with 10 percent reserve)|
|Sound level at 26.5-mph cruising speed||86 dbA|
Air conditioning; two refrigerators; microwave oven; auxiliary generator; Sony AM/FM stereo with CD changer and six speakers; full camper canvas; ice-maker; windlass; electronics package; television/DVD player combo.
Radar arch, tender.
Hand-laid hull is solid multi-layered fiberglass to waterline; cored above; vinylester resin.
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