Meridian Yachts' new 391 Sedan Bridge is the latest addition to what is an impressive lineup of well-equipped — yet well-priced — motoryachts. So often, looking at a new boat leaves you with the feeling of "I like this boat, but ..." This is not the case with the 391 Sedan Bridge. The list of standard features and amenities is about as all-inclusive as you can get.
What's more, there's spirited performance "under the hood.? The Meridian designers really did their homework putting this one together.
Above and on Top
Let's start with curb — or dock — appeal, if you will, because the 391 is, in a sense, a condo on the water. The expanses of dark tinted windows break up what would be a large sea of white gelcoat, giving the boat a stylish flair. The large flybridge overhangs the cockpit, extending its useful space and protecting the area below. The helm has a swivel bucket seat that rotates to become part of the conversation group at the aft settee when not under way.
The J-shaped bench runs along the port side and across the aft, seating at least half a dozen adults. There's a doublewide bench to port of the helm that comfortably holds two adults facing forward (or one with legs stretched out abeam). A standard wet bar is to port, and there's space on the starboard side for an optional refrigerator.
Meridian's standard canvas package for the 391 includes a Bimini top with full side curtains above plus an enclosure for the cockpit on the main deck. Our test boat's starboard side helm featured engine instrumentation using panel gauges, plus electronic monitoring through an optional Northstar 6000i 12-inch display interfaced with a Mercury SmartCraft Integrated Systems Monitor. Helm ergonomics seemed just right; everything was within easy reach. The electronics display panel was tilted slightly inward and all of the electrical switches were conveniently located on a panel directly starboard of the helm seat.
On the foredeck, a double sunpad is a standard feature and a windlass is optional. There's a large anchor locker with fender storage and a washdown fixture. Aft, a very clever design feature provides spacious access to the engine compartment; the stairway leading to the flybridge is a fiberglass module that lifts to reveal another stairway leading below.
The 391's salon is a cozy, comfortable place when the curtains are drawn, but a dramatic change takes place when you open everything up. There's a nearly 360-degree panorama to take in the outdoors. Two levels of windows let you see outside whether you're seated or standing, and most important, allow you to view the horizon. A settee that converts to a berth lines the starboard side and a pair of Flexsteel incliners are to port. The salon deck extends all the way forward to the windshield, where one step up puts you in the dinette and one step down takes you to the galley.
There's an entertainment center in the aft port corner of the salon that holds a flat-screen TV and an audio system; both are standard. The TV screen is at eye level for those seated in the salon. That's a nice touch, but even better, the main electrical breaker panel is immediately above the TV, right at standing eye level. I've seen so many boats where you have to get on your hands and knees to read the labels on the breakers. Thank you, Meridian designers!
The galley has a Karadon? countertop with removable panes for the cooktop and the sink. Under the counter, there's a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer and a lazy Susan storage unit in a corner cabinet. Additional storage is in a compartment in the galley sole.
When you move about the 391's salon, you notice not only an abundance of natural daylight but also an even dispersion of air conditioning. Meridian uses a system of long, narrow vents — called Ultra Flow — located in the ceiling to disperse cool air evenly throughout the space. When you're not using the A/C, you can open windows on either side of the salon, plus the aft screen door, to let the outside breezes flow through.
A companionway off the galley leads you to the lower deck. The master suite is forward and it has a queen-size berth with a pillow-top innerspring mattress. There's a second air-conditioning unit located under the berth, but it's sound-buffered by a large storage compartment between it and the mattress. There are cedar-lined hanging lockers on each side of the stateroom.
The second stateroom is on the starboard side. The queen berth is beneath the raised dinette area, and there is standing headroom in the forward part, along with another cedar-lined hanging locker. A nice touch here is the skylight that allows natural light from the boat's windshield to flood the compartment. A storage compartment, accessible from the second stateroom, can swallow bulky items (such as all of the boat's canvas side curtains when they're not in use).
The 391 has a split head configuration. The shower compartment is to port and the toilet to starboard. Although this arrangement is found on many motoryachts, Meridian goes one step better by putting a vanity sink in both places — a perfect his-and-hers arrangement. Both compartments are directly accessible from the master suite as well as the companionway.
Unlike many other boats in her class, the Meridian 391 Sedan Bridge combines amenities with performance. Our test boat had a pair of Cummins 380-QSB diesels that took us to a top speed of 28 knots. The hull tracked tightly and smoothly in turns, ignoring the slight chop on the water. She stayed on plane down to 10 knots.
The boat had a very solid feel, and the engines had strong acceleration throughout the power curve. From a standing start, there was no significant bow rise, and throughout the sea trial, I found no need to use the trim tabs. Because of her large props and rudders, the 391 is easy to handle around the dock.
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