Island Pilot 395 — By Richard Thiel
— December 2005
Part 2: By now, those of you not entirely closed-minded must wonder how this boat drives. The answer is about like a 32-foot runabout.
Because the engines require more vertical space, it’s a foot down into the saloon, which, like the rest of the interior, has a teak and holly sole. Beneath, in what would normally be the engine room, are the holding tank, watermaker, A/C plumbing, and inverter batteries, and there’s still room for lots of bulky gear like nonfolding bikes. Despite the starboard lower helm station forward, the saloon is plenty roomy for two and has a convertible sofa for visitors. It’s also bright, with nonopening windows everywhere, including a three-pane windshield. Two opening ports above the windshield provide some ventilation when you don’t want to run the standard air conditioning. They have screens, but there are none for the three doors.
The lower helm is high enough to provide good sightlines over the foredeck; views to the sides and aft are about as good as it gets from a lower station. For maximum visibility, use the upper station, accessible via the cockpit ladder. Four steps down, the head, with separate shower and VacuFlush MSD, is to port, just past the 14.6-cubic-foot Toshiba refrigerator. The galley and dinette are to starboard; no bulkhead separates them from the helm, so cookers and eaters can commune with the helmsman, another boon for couples. The master, with queen-size island berth and port and starboard hanging lockers, is forward. It houses the breaker for the Maxwell windlass, which should be relocated to the helm.
By now, those of you not entirely closed-minded must wonder how this boat drives. The answer is about like a 32-foot runabout. Since stern drives direct prop thrust instead of deflecting it off rudders, helm response is quicker and turning radius tighter—about two boat lengths at cruising speed. Being able to trim the drives down means quick planing and the ability to hold the boat on plane down to 1400 rpm. I did note the odor of diesel exhaust in the cockpit at cruising speed and couldn’t work the props against each other as well as I can with inboards, but the bow thruster renders that difference moot.
A lot of you are probably asking, what if you hit something? The drives are designed to kick up on impact, so you could actually end up with less damage than with inboards. Corrosion is a concern, requiring regular attention to zincs, as with inboards, plus you’ll need to monitor the drives for damage to their protective paint. And stern drives typically attract more marine growth than inboards, although that can be ameliorated with special antifouling paint.
Whether all this intrigues you enough to actually check out an Island Pilot probably depends on your opinion of stern drives. And while a ride aboard her might not change your mind, I guarantee that unless you’re blind, it’ll open your eyes.
Island Pilot ( (888) 443-2965. www.islandpilot.com.
This article originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.