Pearson True North 38 Explorer

PMY Boat Test: Pearson True North 38 Explorer
Pearson True North 38 Explorer — By Capt. Bill Pike — August 2002

Tough Stuff
Looking for the marine equivalent of an SUV? One with some New England tradition? Look no more.
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• Part 1: Pearson 38
• Part 2: Pearson 38 continued
• Pearson 38 Specs
• Pearson 38 Deck Plan
• Pearson 38 Acceleration Curve
• Pearson 38 Photo Gallery

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The test of Pearson's True North 38 Explorer was just a tad unusual for a couple of reasons. First, I'd already spent a fair amount of time aboard the boat earlier this year while doing a feature article for PMY's sister publication Voyaging. The three-day excursion that inspired the feature was a kick and a half--gunkholing the Ten Thousand Islands area of Florida, a vast, skinny-water mangrove wilderness near Everglades City, with a cockpitful of camping gear, a wild-and-crazy bunch of friends, and a roof rack stacked with kayaks. Second, flying the friendly skies hadn't been necessary. Now, more than 6,000 nautical miles into a promotional cruise of the eastern United States, the test boat was docked in Carrabelle, Florida, at The Moorings, a fine, full-service marina just a short drive from my home.

I didn't spend a lot of time running the 38 offshore once Pearson sales manager Jono Billings and I departed The Moorings--there wasn't much point really, given the familiarity I already had with the boat's capabilities. I simply confirmed my impressions briefly using the open-water conditions that prevailed locally at the time, a hodge-podge of three- to four-footers roughhousing St. George Sound, between Dog Island and the coast. Thanks to the shallowness of the area, these babies were especially short and steep.

The 38 performed as admirably as she had on the Ten Thousand Islands trip, offering a smooth, rocking-chair ride at a 2500-rpm cruise speed of 19 mph, with virtually no engine rumble thanks to a solidly installed Aquadrive anti-vibration system. No pounding, either. No spray on the big windshield or for that matter on any of the large side windows, and not much of a wake.

"She runs like a lobsterboat," I said to Billings, spinning the Edson wheel via an automotive-style "suicide knob," an excellent addendum, by the way. As the 38's bow swung `round with imperial ease and I leaned back in the comfy Bristol Cushions helm chair, Billings responded with an explanation that was virtually identical to the one I'd already heard from Pearson's chief designer Clive Dent. The 38 indeed owes lots to the seafaring traditions of New England.

Let me synopsize. As you'll notice in the photos here, the profile of the boat is rather retro, most noticeably because of a reverse or "drake-tail" transom and an old-fashioned plumb bow. The motive behind these features is not wholly aesthetic. They also increase waterline length so midsection buoyancy can be shifted forward without engendering a bluff, confrontational bow. A step or "notch" in the running surface, just abaft the rudder post, fosters the same theme. Coupling this buoyancy-forward emphasis with the fine, soft-riding entry of a Maine lobsterboat, a stable, wide-beam footprint, and a fair amount of bow flare makes for a dry, seakindly running attitude of about four degrees at speed, up-sea, down-sea, and side-sea--without tabs.

"Mind if I dock her?" I asked Billings while idling through Carrabelle Harbor. We were headed back to The Moorings, having just finished with fuel-flow and other measurements out in the channel. "Nah," he replied, "Can't hurt this thing if ya try."

No truer words were ever spoken. Down in the Ten Thousand Islands, where skinny water's about as common as mosquitoes and `gators, we'd run the boat aground numerous times with the impassive curiosity of research scientists, and once even backed her straight into a sandy beach to offload coolers and camping gear. The only repercussions for such abuse? Having to extract mud and stones from the bow thruster a few times, which Billings did by beaching the boat bow-first and simply pulling the debris out by hand. In part, such soundness and durability results from robust, sophisticated construction techniques, which I'll touch on shortly. Another major factor is the massive, cast-manganese-bronze skeg that protects the prop with a sailboat-style aperture.

Next page > Pearson 38 continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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

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