Rinker 390 Express Cruiser: Sea Trial

Rinker 390 Express Cruiser: Uncommon features mean she's not just another cruiser.

14th March 2006.
By Tom Thompson

The high hull sides that give the 390 Express Cruiser a brawny stance aren't done for looks alone but to increase the interior volume.

The high hull sides that give the 390 Express Cruiser a brawny stance aren’t done for looks alone but to increase the interior volume.

The Rinker 390 Express Cruiser I sea trialed recently boasted a number of “firsts.” It was no wonder that company people were saying it was a different way of thinking about big boats. From her outward look to her interior volume, plus a few features not readily apparent, the 390 displays an innovative direction in express cruiser design. What’s more, Rinker is known for filling its boats with a long list of standard features, making the 390 an exceptional value compared with others in her class.

The Bold and the Beautiful

One of the first things you notice when approaching the 390 Express Cruiser is how bright she looks compared with others along the dock. For the 2006 model year, Rinker is using what it calls “Pure White” gelcoat. The process really makes the graphics pop. Our test boat was fitted with a Bimini top, but the 390 is also available with an optional hardtop. I was impressed by how easy it was to use the bungee cord fasteners that took the place of snaps to hold the canvas in place.

The boat has a two-level cockpit. On the upper level, the helm, with its doublewide seat, is placed to starboard and the C-shaped seating is to port. There’s walk-through windshield access to the foredeck. Instruments and controls on the helm console are placed on an attractive simulated burl wood background. A large space at the center of the panel is allocated for an electronics screen. Our test boat had a Raymarine C-Series display there. It makes sense to put navigation information at the center of the action so you can quickly reference it at a glance. Those four stainless steel cupholders at the helm might seem like overkill, but think about it. Cupholders hold more than cups — for example, sunglasses, a hand-held VHF radio or sunscreen. You’ll likely find something to fill them all.

The lower level of the cockpit features a galley equipped with a refrigerator and an ice-maker, along with a sink and a built-in blender. An electrical panel here controls the electric engine hatch and stern locker hatch, cockpit lights and an underwater swim light. The rear cockpit has seating for seven around a removable table that stows in the stern locker.

Open, Quiet

The high hull sides that give the 390 Express Cruiser a brawny stance aren’t done for looks alone but to increase the interior volume. One step inside the cabin and you’ll see why. There’s up to 6 feet, 10 inches of headroom throughout. A two-stateroom layout — instead of the usual three on a boat of this type — gives both sleeping quarters a very open feel. The forward master suite has a queen-size berth set against one side of the hull V. A flat-screen TV is standard for the compartment and includes a built-in DVD player. The head, accessible from either the master suite or the salon, features a separate shower stall.

The 390 Express Cruiser’s aft cabin is exceptionally roomy because the boat uses stern drive instead of inboard propulsion. The standup headroom at the foot of the twin berths measures 7 feet. There’s a standard flat-screen TV with a DVD player here, too. The cabin has a built-in vanity with a sink.

The main salon on the 390 features Rinker’s new satin-finish cherry veneer cabinetry with brushed-nickel hardware. All countertops are Corian and have a fiddle edge. The galley has a recessed two-burner stove, a refrigerator, a microwave/coffeemaker combo and a stainless steel sink. Our test boat had optional teak flooring that matches the top of a hydraulically operated dining table. Standard flooring is carpet and the manually adjustable table has a cherry wood top.

New System

The 390 Express Cruiser I was on had a notable “first” in the form of a technical innovation. It was the first production boat ever to be equipped with MerCruiser’s new SeaCore system. Mercury claims it is the most corrosion-resistant system in the industry. SeaCore is engineered to provide three stages of protection from saltwater damage. All components are anodized with a case-hardening process that seals the surface. Then they are coated with a layer of electrically deposited epoxy, followed by an acrylic topcoat that provides shielding from ultraviolet rays. Mercury confidently warrants the drive against corrosion for five years.

Turning Results

The boat I was on was brand new. The twin MerCruiser 496 Magnum engines only had six hours on them when I ran her — hardly enough time for a break-in period — but she put on an impressive show. Rinker claimed a top speed of 45 mph in its press release; we hit 44.5 with six people on board, and acceleration was strong throughout the rpm range. There was little bow rise coming on plane when half trim tabs were applied. With full tabs, the hull stayed on plane down to 17 mph. The 390′s tall stance provides excellent visibility from the helm, and steering was nimble — I took a turn at 25 mph in fewer than two boat lengths and there was no prop cavitation. Slow speed maneuvering is made easier with the optional bow thruster.

Editor’s note: To subscribe to Sea magazine for the latest boat test and product reviews, visit Sea online.

Manufacturer Contact Information

Rinker Boat Co.
(574) 457-5731
www.rinkerboats.com


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