The success of that first model was always going to be a hard act to follow, yet the factory seem to have been undaunted by the task, and has produced a fabulous follow-on, with the 3350.
Issue: January 1999
The rebirth of the Mariner range has been an unprecedented, outstanding success. Loaded with awards, and with an order book stretched to the seams, the Mariner 3850 had been recognised by the industry and the buying public alike, as a refreshing newcomer that, apart from being loaded with style, quality and performance, also represented good value for money.
The success of that first model was always going to be a hard act to follow, yet the factory seem to have been undaunted by the task, and has produced a fabulous follow-on, with the 3350. The old Mortein motto - 'when you're on a good thing stick to it' - has rung true for Mariner, with the 3350 embodying so much of the style, quality and finish of that successful 3850.
The rounded edges to all the deck, cockpit and superstructure mouldings; the raking lines that integrate the saloon windows, the flybridge and the cockpit; and the neat and tidy manner in which so many of the cockpit and flybridge fittings and facilities are integrated with the main body mouldings and finishes, all contribute to the success of the 3850. Now again in the 3350 they reflect a boat that has been well thought out and well designed to give a long life that is highlighted by low maintenance and a practical service. With the 3350, there are the usual Riviera-engineered niceties. Take, for example, the moulded cockpit sink and storage unit which hinges away to provide external access to the engine room, or the moulded cockpit liner with the drain recess around all the edges, that drains cockpit water away quickly and effectively no matter which way the boat may be resting or rocking. Or there's the integrally moulded bowsprit and the protection that is built in to shield the glass and gelcoat finish from marking and damage that can result from the anchor and chain.
With the canvas or soft top bimini to the flybridge, the 3350 is standard with twin helm stations. For a hardtop option, a single upper station is compulsory. Since the hardtop package includes all-round clears, the single station is viewed as a viable and practical option. Personally, as a cruising man, I prefer the twin stations. Our test day
was a little cool and wet (despite what the Tourism ads tell us, it's not always sunny and warm in Queensland) so the protection and the warmth offered by the saloon-based lower helm station was most welcome. In doing a lot of this test from this lower station, we got to appreciate just how quiet and smooth the twin 210hp Cummins diesel installation is. Cruising anywhere between 2000 and 2400rpm, the engine noise is so quiet and smooth, I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to travel anywhere but inside should the weather take even the slightest change from ideal. There is nothing to drown out conversation, and the outlook is just so good and clear from this lower station and from the saloon lounges generally. The Mariner has a naturally level trim attitude and doesn't rely too much on the tabs. To hold the planing speed down as low as possible (around 1700 to 1800rpm) a little down tab is a great help, and running into a big sea, the tabs can keep the bow a lot steadier.
In a sea - and I'm talking about a three-metre swell built up against an outgoing tide offshore of the Seaway on the Gold Coast, all whipped up by a freshening onshore wind - the boat has a very solid feel about it. It doesn't shake; there's no shudder or rattling if you push harder than need be, and the hull works powerfully into a head sea, and will track quite true and straight with a following sea, particularly with the tabs let right up and the bow given a bit of air. I quite liked the lower helm station. Mariner have made an attempt to give this part of the boat a sports image and it has worked well.
While there is adequate standard instrumentation and electronics on both the lower and upper helm stations, there still remains plenty of room for the extra gear that inevitably seems to be added right at the outset, or over the years. The flybridge has an enormous panel off to the starboard side of the console, for extension of instrumentation and electronics, and since the hardtop option makes it compulsory for a single (upper) station, then this is understandable. The interior layout is traditional, and the finish and fitout fairly standard for this type of boat. It is a simple, clean and uncluttered interior, but one that has a quality and attention to detail that almost puts this boat into a class of its own. It may not have the 'vogue' interior nor the upmarket luxurious finishes of the European imports, but the simplicity and the effectiveness of this interior are what make it so pleasing. And given the starting price for this cruiser, it represents exceptional value for money - much better I believe than its stablemate - the 3850! The galley, for example, is very well finished. It's not the galley that makes you stand back and go 'Wow!', but it is a galley that is generous in its space and has adequate facilities to accommodate the needs for a cruising lifestyle.
The dinette is simply that. While it is sufficient for two people to sit down to a full meal, the table is going to be found wanting for a complement of four - a complement which the boat has the capacity to sleep. For a couple who enjoy cruising on their own, and do the occassional on-board entertaining, this boat is ideal. The layout is good, the facilities most practical and the forward cabin with its double island berth is adequate for the role. The base price for a 3350 is a low $229,000, but this needs adding to before a functional and practical package is put on the water. While there are twin 235hp Cummins B330 engines offered as options, these aren't essential. I believe the 210s give more than enough performance, so it is really only necessary to look at the cruising and fishing packages along with a few of the 'canvas' extras that are listed in the options, to complete the package.
For around $260,000 you will get a very well-equipped cruising boat, very similarly fitted to the boat tested. The extras I had taken into account with this $260,000 would largely take in what Mariner call their cruising package. This includes, amongst a list of lighting and other cruising facilities, a 6.5kw Onan genset, two-burner cooktop, convection microwave and eutectic cockpit freezer. On top of this, there are the flybridge clears and some covers, giving you a great cruising and entertaining boat, with both upper and lower helm stations, and sleeping accommodation for up to four persons.
With this pricing, coupled to the quality of the fitout and finish, and the performance from the twin 210hp diesels, the success that this boat has experienced - both locally and internationally - since its release at the 1999 Sydney International Boat Show, is understandable. Any areas for improvement ? Well, just one that I could find in our few hours of this test. There needs to be another grab rail on the side of the saloon to help stepping to and from the side deck and the cockpit. The moulded steps, the side deck width, and the rails generally are all OK. It's just that the initial step out of the cockpit around onto the sidedeck will find you grabbing for nothing but air. However, I understand that this is all in hand and we should see either an additional grab rail or an extension to what is already there in future product.
Story by David Toyer.