Boat Review – by Pat Carson
They are back! Wellcraft joined the Beneteau group in 2014 and earlier this year launched the all-new 355 sport boat. For more than 60 years Wellcraft has been building multipurpose offshore boats, and after a several year hiatus they are back in 2023 with the introduction of the 355. This past summer I was fortunate enough to get a call from Iegor Latyshev at NAOS Yachts in Richmond informing me that the first 355 on the West Coast is in Richmond, is fully commissioned and ready for a sea trial.
On a bright sunny day in San Francisco Bay, I met Iegor at the new NAOS Yacht Center that is located inside the KKMI facility in Pt. Richmond. When I arrived Iegor and the team already had the 355 prepared for takeoff. Now, we only needed our photographer for the day. Ty and the camera boat needed to pick up the pace and finish readying for a day of fun in the sun playing with boats. As the Wellcraft brochures state, the new 355 is “built to push the limits” and I hope to do just that today with near perfect weather all around the Bay.
Our 355 is side tied at the end of “G” dock and access to the cockpit is from either side by stepping around those trip mercs and passing through either of the polished stainless transom gates. The massive stainless steel combination roll bar, ski tow mount and fender rack make for a perfect grab handle when stepping aboard. At the aft end of the cockpit and just forward of the fender stowage there is seating for three, forward is plenty of room to move around the cockpit and on the starboard side forward is a countertop with cup holders and stowage beneath.
Entry to the interior is via a large door set to port and you are in the cabin. Inside the cabin there is nearly an unbroken 360-degree view from all the expansive glass and nearly all windows open to let the fresh air in. The aft window hinges up, and with the door locked open the cabin is now open to the cockpit. And, if that is not enough fresh air and sunlight, the cabin has a large and nearly full width sunroof aft and two more forward over the galley and helm.
In the cabin to starboard there is an L shaped settee wrapping around a folding table providing enough seating for four. Across on the port side is the mini galley with a single burner cooktop, refrigerator, sink and some stowage. It might be mini, but all the necessary pieces are there for a weekend away from the dock.
Another nice touch is the triple seating up forward with the operator’s chair set just off center to starboard, the navigator’s seat to the right and another seat for a guest set to the left. The helm seat is complete with a flip up bolster for standing at the helm and a footrest should you decide to stay seated during takeoff.
Moving forward the well-equipped helm is smartly laid out with the dual Garmin flagship 16-inch multi-function displays exactly where I would want them, a row of switches to control the vessel’s basic systems and the thruster control easy to grab if necessary mounted to the left of the wheel. To the right is the automatic trim tab control and the Mercruiser joystick control, complete with Skyhook function. Just below the leather wrapped wheel and to the left is the VHF radio with AIS Rx and to the right are the dual action electronic throttle/shift controls. A door on the starboard side slides back and opens a large passageway to the outside decks. From the navigators seat it is simple to open the door, maneuver to the gunwales and attend to lines and fenders. Everyone up here gets their own cupholder as there are three of them here.
Entry to the below decks is through a companionway set off center to port and down a few steps where we find a centerline double berth, forward stowage and countertops on both sides and an appropriately sized head with separate shower set to starboard. Again, everything you need for a comfortable weekend away.
As you approach from the quarter she looks long and sleek. It is not until you see her from the beam that you really see the plumb bow, reversed shear and the forward racked windshield of the house that appears much akin to a commercial vessel designed for the offshore snotty stuff.
Leaving the docks at Pt. Richmond we have a rather long minimum wake area, and this provides plenty of time for me to get the boat configured. Enough time to press every button, pull every lever and touch every soft key under the watchful eyes of Iegor. Fortunately, all the systems are pretty intuitive and for several questions I have, Iegor is standing by to answer them. By the time we make the Potrero Turn and pass the graving yards, we have the boat all set up and can start taking some performance numbers. Almost immediately she jumps on plane at 10 kts with just a smidgeon of throttle and holds a respectable better than 1 nautical mile per gallon fuel economy. Even at this slow speed and barely on plane she runs straight with very little bow wander.
Working our way down the calm waters of Potrero Reach I get all the SOG vs. RPM numbers, and by the time we are ready to make a hard left and cross Southampton Shoals we are scooting along at nearly 30 knots with the Merc’s quietly humming at 4000 RPM. I had not planned to run at this RPM or SOG, it just felt natural as the boat fell into her happy spot. But as the advertisement said, the 355 is built to push the limits, so of course we had to do just that.
Pointing the ship at the east side of Alcatraz I jam the throttles as far forward as they go and in a few short seconds I look down and see the GPS speed climbing past 45 knots, the 350’s hitting 5500 RPM and still climbing. We cover the six miles or so to Alcatraz in less than 10 minutes and find the 355 perfectly well mannered, fast and fun. Arriving at our first location for a few beauty shots on the east side of Alcatraz, the camera boat is nowhere in sight. Apparently, Ty got a slow boat and they did not like the ferry wakes and wind chop that we barely felt.
After a few photos we head to the gate for some spirited slalom driving around the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge where we find a bit of ebb chop along with a two to three-foot swell. The 355 was rock solid in the choppy seas with no grunting and groaning, she responded predictably to helm and throttle inputs and did not complain much when we launched off a swell or two. Iegor explained about the 355’s superior design with more ribs, resin infused and foam filled and although that doesn’t mean much to me, it does mean she is a tough boat and built to push the limits.
On Nov. 1, 2022 NAOS Yachts was offered the exciting opportunity to open a new Beneteau and Lagoon boat dealership in the San Francisco Bay Area and on Feb. 11, 2023 NAOS Yachts SF Bay officially opened its new office at the Maritime Centre in Point Richmond.
NAOS Yachts has based its new office in the Maritime Center next to the KKMI boatyard in Pt. Richmond. This close proximity to a boatyard allows the NAOS Yachts service team to provide the best service to its customers and be a stone’s throw away from all maintenance and repair work on their boats.
“We are beyond excited to welcome the NAOS Yachts San Francisco Bay office as one of the newest tenants of the Maritime Centre in Point Richmond,” says Maritime Centre General Manager Geli Burgin. One of the key tenants of the Maritime Centre is the KKMI boatyard. KKMI owner Paul Kaplan could not be more thrilled to have NAOS as a shared tenant. “I’ve personally worked with everyone on this team and have always been impressed with their professionalism and customer care. I couldn’t dream of a better partner for our maritime center at KKMI boatyard!”
Ready to have a closer look at the Wellcraft 355 in person, call Iegor or any of the team members at NAOS Yachts in Pt. Richmond 510-778-8818. Visit www.naosyachts.com for more information on Wellcraft or any of the other lines NAOS Yachts offers.