3800 Express — By Richard Thiel
|Thirty-six hours on a Pursuit 3800 Express, from Florida to the Bahamas and back.|
The most frustrating thing about testing boats is how little control we have over the environment in which we test them. In order to get on a new boat first, we’re often consigned to whatever weather and seas there are on the available day. That can mean snotty conditions that buckle your knees and turn your stomach, but more often it’s flat water and calm winds that reveal nothing of a boat’s character.
So it’s refreshing when we can evaluate a boat under a variety of conditions, as I did the Pursuit 3800. I didn’t just put in a day of measuring fuel burn, speeds, and sound levels and taking notes. Over 36 hours three shipmates and I ran our 3800 from Fort Pierce, Florida, to West End, Bahamas, trolled her off the Bahamas Banks from dawn to dusk, then ran her back across the Gulf Stream in the dark. In the process we encountered everything from plate-glass calm to six-footers and had wind and seas on every point. By the time I returned, I knew this boat.
But before I ever stepped aboard, I knew the Pursuit 3800 shares many features with the Tiara 3800 Open, and in fact is built in the same factory in Holland, Michigan. I quickly realized the Pursuit is considerably fishier. Her hull is identical, except for a lack of feature lines on the sides, a more purposeful squared-off transom–the Tiara’s is rounded and reversed–and more bow flare, which came in handy on our trip. Like the Tiara, the Pursuit is a fishable express cruiser that you can quickly turn into an express fishboat with the addition of a few key options. After horsing a 25-pound dolphin into her 147-square-foot cockpit, I appreciated her inwale padding, effective nonskid, transom door with tuna gate, and large and small in-sole insulated dunnage boxes with macerators, all standard. And when I wasn’t working a rod, I enjoyed watching our seven baits from the aft-facing port-side single seat.
More seating is available on an aft-facing starboard bench and optional foldaway (as in completely out of the way) transom seat. But our 3800 was rigged to fish, so although we had the transom seat, the bench had been replaced by a bait-prep center with sink, rigging board, and 50-gallon livewell with window. It also had four slide-out tackle shelves, which had an annoying habit of doing just that whenever I opened the cabinet door and we were on plane. We put the center to good use, as we did the standard under-gunwale rod and gaff stowage and raw- and freshwater washdowns.
With so much transit time, I spent a lot of time on the bridge, mostly on the comfortable L-shape settee to port. Beverages were always close at hand in the insulated drink cooler under its aft leg, and rod belts and such were equally accessible in the bin under the longer leg. One of the few fishing options not on our boat was the bait freezer under the aft-facing single seat, a space we used instead for stowage. The other major stowage locker here, under the electrically adjustable double helmsman’s seat, was reserved for safety equipment. About the only thing missing was a trash bin, so we temporarily consigned our detrius to the sink abaft the helm seat.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.