Commodore 3560 — By Capt. Bill Pike —
|This 36-foot express cruiser is easy to enjoy—and even easier to operate.|
With a vague foreboding, I stepped aboard Regal’s Commodore 3560, which was docked in the little marina across the street from the Renaissance-Vinoy hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Even from a cursory look around, the boat seemed handsome and highly styled, with an aquiline bow, a radically raked stem, and a swept-back aluminum radar arch. Moreover, the detailing in the cockpit looked crisp. From the cushy, sculpted appearance of the vinyl-upholstered seating to the expertly joined pieces of Corian comprising the wet bar countertop, I liked what I saw.
So why the foreboding? Well, while boning up on the 3560 prior to flying to St. Pete, I’d discovered that although Regal makes stern-drive versions of this boat, I’d be testing an inboard model, with a set of V-drive-configured, 420-hp MerCruiser 8.1S High Output V-8s. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve got nothing against V-drives or gasoline engines. But over the years I’ve formed a rather strong prejudice against what results when you combine the two in a midsize express cruiser—a boat that may perform well offshore but which presents handling challenges dockside, primarily due to the comparative absence of low-end maneuvering torque in gasoline as opposed to diesel powerplants.
I noted one more dark spot on the horizon—a set of dual-lever Teleflex engine controls, throttles to the right of the steering wheel, shifts to the left. During most boat tests, I both undock and dock the test boat. Dual-lever controls typically give me fits during these sessions, at least when they’re teamed up with wishy-washy inboard power. Having to rapidly manipulate shifts and simultaneously goose the throttles to get a boat to behave during a docking maneuver is tantamount to having to walk and chew gum at the same time: not my strong suit.
I asked Regal rep Don Cobb to lift the engine-room hatch so I could install a MerCruiser Scan Tool for recording fuel flow. Cobb pressed a rocker switch at the helm, and up went the hatch, swinging on electro-hydraulic actuators from a forward hinge point instead of an aft one. The arrangement afforded me plenty of elbowroom (as well as unlimited headroom) once I’d entered from the stern.
The machinery spaces impressed me. There is a convenient, aluminum-diamond-plate walkway between the mains, with steps on the aft end. Up forward, on either side of the inboard engine bearers, Group 27 cranking batteries are secured in hold-down trays atop a surface of neat, white-painted floor panels, and the house battery, a big 8D, is contained inside a giant, plastic battery box on the port hand, with an easy-to-remove lid. To offset the weight of the 8D, the optional genset, a 7.3-kW Kohler, was installed to starboard, inside a thick soundbox. I also noted a 60-amp Charles Industries battery charger on the forward firewall and a thorough job of glass-encapsulating the stringers and transversals that strengthen the 3560’s vinylester-resin-permeated hull.
This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.