CRUISE IN COMFORT
This was the fourth Crownline Barry Thompson has reviewed and, to date the biggest. As part of a family of compact cruisers, the Crownline 294CR is the second largest model in the Crownline stable but the biggest to land in New Zealand. When Napier based Euro City Marine committed to bringing the US-built Crownline boats into New Zealand, they didn’t do it by halves. Dealer Principal Terry Elmsly gave this highly respected US builder an order for over a dozen boats, and they have been arriving steadily since mid last year.
The 294CR is designed for a family of four to cruise and enjoy mooring up in a quiet bay or alongside a dock or jetty in the case of the States. There is plenty of extras on the options list, but it doesn’t include any fishing-specific products. If you want to add a touch of Kiwi, then you have to do that when the boat arrives. Euro City Marine are happy to oblige and will sort out any extras you need before taking delivery.
The sea off the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, Auckland was reasonably choppy with a 20 knot Easterly when I reviewed the latest Crownline. I found a calm stretch close to the cliffs to give the 294CR a WOT test and recorded 45 knots @ 5500 rpm on the GPS. Dropping that back to 4500 rpm, the fuel consumption went from 92 lp to 56 lph, and the range from 219nm to 292 nm (based on 10% reserve).
At 28 knots (42 lph), I found that the boat sat well and offered a comfortable ride, but it was even better back at 3500rpm @ 25.5 knots, which also delivered the best range of close to 350nm.
The 18 deg hull is almost 3m wide and loaded, the boat weighs in at around 5500 kgs. All that contributes in some way to the handling of the boat in choppy seas. It’s not a boat to run flat out in rough seas, but it was never designed to be.
American compact cruisers are bulky in appearance, and the Crownline 294CR is no exception. That high profile look is necessary to accommodate the cruiser style layout, which includes a full-height cabin, separate head/shower, galley, forward double berth and aft cabin under the cockpit sole. That’s a lot to pack into a 9m boat.
The aft cabin is surprisingly spacious, although while having minimal sitting headroom, the berth is huge, and there is plenty of light and ventilation. If only two of you are away on the boat, then it’s the perfect place to stow gear.
The forward berth is a little different. Where a V-berth and infill is common, the Crownline 294CR has a one-piece double berth that fills the entire void. To starboard is a double lounger, with a full-size head/shower cubicle aft. Opposite is the complete galley, with sink unit, electric hob, fridge, microwave and plenty of storage. Added to all that, the air conditioning/heater is standard, and you can choose various timber and fabric combinations.
The cockpit is all about seating, something I have remarked on before with Crownline boats. They put a great emphasis on offering plenty of seating yet still allowing space to move. To port is a double lounger that also converts to a sunbed and opposite the helm with a double helm seat. In the centre of the transom, Crownline has built-in another sunpad, split by a reversible back cushion. There is a drop-in table available, and it’s close to the starboard side wet bar. A port side opening allows easy access to the full-width boarding platform. Add some rails, and this becomes the perfect place to fish from or works just as well for tender storage.
On that party theme its worth mentioning the forward sun pad on the bow accessible via the cabin sliding door and opening centre screen. With no side decks it’s the only way forward. The solid arch neatly stows the rear bimini when not required and then can be extended to provide full shade over the aft seating.
At nearly 3m wide, this is more than a trailer boat, although it can be trailed with a permit. Crownline Boats are an exciting and progressive boat company with innovative design philosophies that are sporty, sophisticated, and classy.
For a full review on the Crownline 294 CR, check out the Nov-Dec issue of Pacific PowerBoat magazine (Online Oct 24)