When Stephen Dougherty designed his new Solace 345, he thought outside of the box. Taking full advantage of digital steering, Dougherty moved the Solace’s motors outboard and added a 4-foot-long cockpit extension between them. Called the Fish-Thru transom, it reclaims space that’s usually stolen by the outboards, adding cockpit area for fishing, and, with a hydraulic platform extending from under the transom, a safe, easy-access platform for swimmers that’s well clear of the props. It’s an idea that makes you ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
The 345 is built with a combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass, with a foam core bottom: This saves weight in the structure without compromising strength. There is carbon-fiber reinforcement throughout the boat, in crucial areas of the deck, console and T-top; all support structures are carbon fiber, too. There’s very little metal—rod holders, hinge assemblies and so forth— protected with Cerakote, a ceramic-based finish that’s scratch-, dent- and ding-resistant.
The vessel has a sharper than typical entry for a more comfortable ride, but otherwise there’s nothing strange in the bottom design, said Marketing Manager John Moe. It’s a traditional V-hull, 22 degrees of deadrise aft with some proprietary design elements in the bottom. Moe assured me that every line in the bottom was combed over again and again to ensure it will provide the ultimate ride.
Dougherty left open space low in the hull for mounting a standard Seakeeper. The 12-volt Seakeeper 2 obviates a need for a genset, saving initial cost, weight and maintenance. The standard twin Yamaha 425 outboards (buyers can also choose Mercs) have plenty of alternator capacity, and there are hefty battery banks. Moe predicted a top speed between 48 and 52 knots.
Mounting the engines on either side of the Fish-Thru transom, where the hull is shallower, means the props get clear water even though they’re not immersed as far as is typical on a twin-engine outboard. Consequently, the deepest point on the Solace’s bottom is the tough carbon-fiber keel. The keel will touch bottom before the expensive stainless steel props do. The widely set motors should improve maneuvering, while the transom extension protects the motors should things go wrong.
The Solace 345 comes with an array of standard equipment, including triple Shockwave helm seats/bolsters, twin lounge seats ahead of the console, Garmin electronics, a FLIR camera, spotlight, twin rigging stations, a multipurpose workstation aft of the console with refrigerator and grill, an anchor windlass and a pair of sea chests. The cabin in the console has a convertible settee, enclosed head and rod storage, all with roughly 6 feet, 4 inches of headroom.
The options list is short. The major item is a second station, with twin helm seats, that replaces the standard T-top. It’s fully equipped and protected overhead by what the Solace folks call a “buggy top,” a hardtop hinged aft so it can be folded back into the cockpit to reduce vertical clearance when trailering.
Estimated cost of a standard Solace 345 is a little more than $500,000. The builder is currently establishing a dealer network. —Mike Smith
Fuel: 325 gal.
Water: 40 gal.
Standard Power: 2/425-hp Yamaha 425XTO outboards
Base Price: $650,000
Cruise Speed: 30 knots
Top Speed: 52 knots
Standard Horsepower: 850