Little Harbor WhisperJet 38EC

Little Harbor WhisperJet 38EC — By Tim Clark January 2001

Retro Rocket
The jet age and an ageless design combine on Little Harbor's WhisperJet 38EC.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Little Harbor 38EC
• Part 2: Little Harbor 38EC continued
• Little Harbor 38EC Specs
• Little Harbor 38EC Deck Plan
• Little Harbor 38EC Acceleration Curve

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• Little Harbor Yachts

I should admit that I have an affinity for Little Harbor yachts. As a former commercial fisherman--weary veteran of dozens of crab and halibut seasons in the North Pacific--I recognize in their classic Downeast lines echoes of a lobster boat's ready attitude and able spirit. Combine that with speed, agility, and expertly wrought details, and you've got the embodiment of a "retired" fisherman's fantasy: A purposeful craft whose business is pure pleasure.

I tested Little Harbor's WhisperJet 38EC just off Fort Lauderdale in three- to four-foot seas that shared the same northeasterly origin as the light rain intermittently beading up the bridge windows. As I put her through her paces, she seemed sturdy and adroit, reaching speeds in excess of 37 mph at WOT. She turned smartly and smoothly, without too much of the lateral sliding to which some jet boats are prone. Living up to her name, she also kept pretty quiet. At 2750 rpm and running at a fast clip, the WhisperJet registered just 77 dB-A on my decibel meter (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation). I was hardly aware of the effort required to raise my voice above this level. During acceleration tests the 38's 350-hp Yanmars with 274 Hamilton waterjets propelled her up out of the hole quickly and with notable grace. Her motion was measured and even--absent the labored lurch I've marked on other boats.

The 38's nimble planing is due in large part to the hull, a 1970s Ray Hunt design modified by Little Harbor's engineering team. Forty degrees of deadrise at the bow moderates to a mere 16 degrees at the stern. Such modest deadrise at the transom maximizes lift and helps the boat plane quickly, and it also improves her maneuverability in close quarters. But as Mike Silverman, Little Harbor's director of sales and marketing, told me, it is a compromise. As we found during our test, the 38 tends to ride atop the chop, rather than cut through it as a conventional deep-V would. In a head sea of three to four feet, at speeds approaching 30 mph, our boat occasionally came down pretty hard as she moved from one wave to the next.

Certainly the Little Harbor 38 can take a few bumps. The Corecell A550-cored hull and deck are vacuum-bagged with a composite laminate of Kevlar and E-glass laid in a vinylester resin osmosis barrier. Further reinforced with composite stringers and FRP-laminated marine plywood bulkheads, the hull is light and strong.

This hardy structure buoys a superbly finished craft. Standard varnished teak graced many features, including the caprail, coaming, and backrests. On the bridge, use of this wood was redoubled to great effect. The laid teak deck is standard, as is the varnished teak of the bifold companionway door, the inside of the windshield frame, even the trim on the wheel. Of special richness were the optional, hand-rubbed bridge table (the focal point for an L-shape settee) just to port of the centerline and  lift-top chart table before a port-side navigator's seat.

Next page > Little Harbor 38EC continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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