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Twin Outboards for Twin Hulls: Calcutta 323 with Honda BF350s

Here's an on-the-water review of the new outboards on the popular Fla. offshore boat.

Twin Outboards for Twin Hulls: Calcutta 323 with Honda BF350s

The Calcutta 323 catamaran with twin Honda BF350 outboards.

This was really a two-for-the-price of one experience in many ways! Not only did I get to test the brand new Honda BF350, I got to do so on the latest model from a Florida builder I’ve long admired—the Calcutta 323.

Two-for-one, also, inasmuch as this boat is a catamaran—twin hulls!

With only a day of rigging and propping the new Hondas (which were air-freighted to Florida right before the Miami International Boat Show!), they’re getting 2 mpg cruise at 34 mph and—and I think this is real significant—planing that boat on one engine, which you might need to do in a get-home situation.

boat on the water
The Honda BF350 is a four-stroke 5-liter V8 that features Honda’s Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control (VTEC).

Although with Honda’s legendary reliability, odds of that needing to happen are pretty low! Of course never can tell when you might strike something in the water and have to shut one down for the ride home. We didn’t have ideal conditions for top-speed confirmation, but the guys were saying with a four-blade prop she should top 62 mph.

I’m told this boat was cruising 1.4 mpg at 40 mph with twin 400s from another maker. Getting more than a half-gallon per mile improvement with the Hondas is pretty significant, when you’re planning long trips to places like the Dry Tortugas or Bahamas Out Islands—places totally within range for this awesome rig.

Calcutta 323 Specs

  • Length: 32’ 3”
  • Width: 11’ 3”
  • Draft: 15-18”
  • Height with trailer and radar: 13'6”
  • Dry Weight: 8,600 lbs.
  • Wet Weight: 10,800 lbs.
  • Trailer Length: 43’ 6” tongue to back of motors

Speed isn’t everything—and to that point, the Calcutta 323 does some magic work in the sweet spot for high-speed trolling: She glides along level and efficient down in the 14-15 knot range. Robert Helmick of Calcutta pointed that out to me—he’s done a ton of fishing in The Bahamas over the years and knows all about the trolling gig.

For those big wahoos, tunas or reef fish, the Calcutta has massive fish boxes port and starboard, 80 inches and 700 quarts or more, with macerator pumps. They have dividers so you can store all the fresh ice you’ll need to add to your catches for a long trip.

The torque curve of the BF350 is impressive—cats are always pretty nimble to plane, but this rig was on another level—literally and figuratively!

Honda celebrates its 60th year of production this year, and that BF350 is, we’re told, the start of a coming series of six new engines by 2030. The BF350 is a four-stroke 5-liter V8 that features Honda’s Variable Valve Timing & Lift Electronic Control (VTEC). In short, it automatically adjusts the cam profile for a broader, flatter torque curve.

Honda BF350 Specs

  • Type: 4-Stroke SOHC, 60 deg. V8, 32 Valve
  • Displacement: 4952cc (302 cubic inches)
  • Full Throttle Range: 5000-6000 rpm
  • Trolling Mode Range: 650-1000 rpm
  • Cruise Control Range: 650-6000 rpm in 50 rpm increments
  • Fuel Delivery: Programmed Fuel Injection
  • Fuel Type: 86 Octane
  • Battery Charging Power: 70 amps
  • Gear Ratio: 1.79:1
  • Transom Height: 25”/30”
  • Dry Weight: 765/776 lbs.

Hole shot benefits from what Honda terms the Boosted Low Speed Torque System, or BLAST, which advances the ignition timing, creating a “more potent air/fuel mixture” when you put the throttle down.

Recommended


Honda works a lot of unseen but really important technology into its production—proprietary methods for honing cylinder bores and plating piston rings, stuff that contributes to longevity. And stuff you can feel, or rather don’t feel, like a fully balanced, 60-degree offset crankshaft spawned out of Acura NSX engineering that contributes to smooth operation. Externally, they’ve included anti-rust painting and coating, plus a new cover design that’s easy to lift off but sealed to the max.

Other things you see are a newly designed top-mount controller with buttons to implement automatic trim, cruise control and other features, like one-switch trim control of multiple engines. Multi-engine installations are compatible with the Optimus 360 by Dometic joystick system.

Fuel efficiency is a hallmark of Honda technology, and it’ll be interesting to see performance comparisons as the BF350 works it is way into the U.S. recreational fishing boat repower and new boat markets—which, based on the buzz at the Miami Boat Show, it’s undoubtably doing this summer.

Suggested price of the Calcutta 323, moderately equipped, is in the $450 to $500K range.




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