Rinker 342 Fiesta Vee
By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Rinker Boat Company, one of the oldest names in the marine industry, introduced their "Fiesta Vee" line of sport cruisers over 20 years ago in 1986 with the Fiesta Vee 250. The Fiesta Vee 342 continued the company's tradition of offering affordable boats with spacious interiors and an impressive array of standard equipment. Add to that runabout-like top speed and it's no wonder this has been one of Rinker's most popular models. Packaging all these features and systems into a relatively small unit inevitably results in some compromises, however, and the very limited access to engines and machinery for routine maintenance and repair is one of them.
This model was introduced in 1998 as the 330 Fiesta Vee. Slight changes to interior arrangements resulted in a name change, to the 340 Fiesta Vee for the 2000 and 2001 model years. After retooling the deck mold, she became the Fiesta Vee 342 from 2002-2005. In 2006 Rinker dropped their signature "Fiesta Vee" from all their models and she became simply the 342 EC - EC indicating express cruiser. The model was discontinued at the end of the 2006 model year.
In 1998, the 330 Fiesta Vee was the queen of Rinker's fleet and featured a standard equipment list that included a 4.5-KW auxiliary generator, 16,000-BTU reverse cycle heat and air conditioning, anchor windlass, and central vacuum, just to name a few.
The overall length of the model is just over 36 feet and includes the transom-mounted swim platform, while the on deck length is closer to 33 feet, likely accounting for the model's original name. The freeboard and cabin are necessarily quite high in order to allow well over six feet of standing headroom in the cabin although the designers have nicely disguised the height with a combination of feature lines and stripes for an attractive, contemporary look.
The hull of the 342 Fiesta Vee is constructed of a combination of chopped strand fibers, hand-laid woven roving fiberglass cloth and polyester resin. Structural member are fiberglass encapsulated wood. For interior components, Rinker uses a single piece fiberglass cabin liner which is set into the hull and secured using adhesive sealants. The decks are fiberglass composites with balsa core and the hull and deck are joined in a shoebox fashion with adhesive sealants and stainless steel screws.
The method and quality of construction are typical of other manufacturers of production boats in this size and price range and the 342 Fiesta Vee can be expected to stand up well to normal service. That said, she may not fare as well as more robustly built boats in extreme use or abuse. Available power options allow the 342 Fiesta Vee to reach speeds in excess of 40 mph but the prudent owner will back off on the throttles when operating in less than ideal conditions.
The arrangement of the deck and cockpit provide a good combination of small and large boat features such as a walk-through windshield commonly found on smaller models and a cockpit wet bar usually found on larger boats. There is an anchor locker on the foredeck with electric anchor windless and three deck hatches in the cabin top. In the cockpit, there is a double helm seat to starboard and settee to port and a bench seat at the transom. The welded stainless steel rail around the forward and side decks is 1 1/8' diameter rather than the 1' typical found on boats in this class.
The 12-foot beam allows for a spacious and open interior with a few twists on more traditional arrangements. The forward berth is large enough for two adults to sleep in comfort and can be separated from the main cabin by a privacy curtain. The galley along the port side of the main saloon includes, as standard equipment, a two-burner electric countertop stove as well as a built-in microwave oven and coffee maker. To make room for storage below the galley counter, the refrigerator normally found there has been moved beneath the forward berth. There is a small dinette opposite the galley that seats three comfortably and four in a pinch. The head is aft to port and includes a separate stall shower not commonly found on boats in this size range. Aft there is a mid-cabin U-shaped settee tucked beneath the bridgedeck which is a bit claustrophobic for sitting about but does convert to a second double berth.
The standard power package included twin 250-hp MerCruiser engines coupled to Bravo 2 outdrives which provides cruise speed of 20-22 MPH and top speed of 28-30 MPH. Several optional power packages were offered, the most powerful of which included twin 300-hp MerCruiser engines coupled to Bravo 3 outdrives. It cruises the 342 Fiesta Vee at 28 mph and reaches a top speed of more than 40 mph. Fuel capacity on early models was 200 gallons and later increased to 235 gallons, either of which provides suitable cruising range for this type of boat.
The dual prop, counter-rotating Bravo 3 outdrives do offer some significant performance advantages over the single prop, Bravo 2 models, however these drives require a very attentive maintenance schedule to prevent corrosion damage. Maintenance of Bravo 3 drives should include regular removal of the propellers in order to inspect sacrificial zinc anodes that are not otherwise visible.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.