Jet Coupe 38 — By Capt. Bill Pike — October 2001
Diamond in the Rough
|Part 2: Rivolta Jet Coupe 38 continued|
Driving the 38 in open water was a jet-propelled blast. You’ll notice from the steepness of the acceleration curve shown on this page that the boat gets on plane both smoothly and aggressively. Bow rise, however, never interfered with visibility from the helm seat, a Todd Enterprises model on our test boat. (Pricier Stidd and Recaro seats are available.) The average top hop I recorded was 38 mph, a sporty velocity considering the weight of the boat. Total fuel burn at WOT was roughly four gph higher than what I typically see on Yanmar-350-powered vessels of the 38’s type, a state of affairs that may be due to any number of factors, from over-revving (Yanmar 350s are supposed to turn 3300 rpm tops, but our test engines turned 3500) to differences in propulsor parameters. At any rate, handling was quick, thanks to Sea Star hydraulic steering and an extra-short travel on the wheel, just one turn, lock to lock.
Although the driving experience the 38 handed me was a hoot, I had a couple of complaints about the helm area. First, despite two opening hatches in the hardtop, there was insufficient ventilation here, a situation Rivolta says he’ll address with opening side windows on future models as well as extra ducts for the optional Marine Air air-conditioning system. He also says he’s considering making one or both of the windshield panels open out, either mechanically or manually. Second, the windshield mullions were pretty thick. While easing along the Intracoastal Waterway during our test, I had to shift my head back and forth to keep track of oncoming traffic and aids to navigation. And third, the 38 was a bit noisy, a point that deserves further explanation.
When Rivolta and I first tested the 38, the maximum sound-meter reading at the helm was 86 dB-A (normal conversation is 65), a figure directly attributable to the presence of engine-noise-conducting air-intake vents inside the boat, not all that far from the helm. A few weeks later Rivolta called to see if I was available to check out some new sound-attenuation measures from Massachusetts-based Soundown. I returned to Cortez shortly thereafter, sound meter in hand, to examine a more thoroughly gasketed and insulated engine hatch and new air-vent boxes and ductwork designed to deflect engine noise away from the helm area and back into the engine room. The sound levels I subsequently recorded were generally 3 dB-As lower than the ones I’d recorded a few weeks earlier.
Not as comfortable with jets as I am with twin-screw inboards, I was pretty darn clumsy at docking the 38 after our sea trial. Rivolta was adept at it, however, quickly "twisting" the boat within her own length and walking her sideways by rocking the wheel alternately left and right of center, with the dockside jet going astern and the outboard jet going ahead. Based on my experiences and my observations of Rivolta’s nifty maneuverings, I’d say the 38’s pretty easy to handle with a little practice, even without the optional bow thruster.
The boat itself is a cosmetic thing of beauty, of course. The exterior lines are traditional, almost poetic. The cherry interior is simple and roomy with an athwartship midcabin berth that’s ample, a large master cabin forward, and living space divided between an upper saloon–with a teak-trimmed helm area, wetbar, and lounge–and a main cabin below decks, with a head to port and a U-shape galley to starboard. The engine room feature that impressed me most was the top-shelf electrical system, with a Heart Interface modular-type distribution panel, four state-of-the-art absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, Xantrex Pathmaker battery combiner/isolator, and heavy-duty bonding system with Dynaplate.
When Rivolta and I finished up, we stood talking at the stern of the 38 for a while amid long shadows, palm and banana trees, old tin-roofed buildings, and a fleet of fishing boats. If anything, the rough-hewn nature of the scene enhanced the beauty of the highly styled, sweetly built watercraft before us. A diamond in the rough? No doubt about it.
Rivolta Marine Phone: (941) 729-6927. Fax: (941) 729-7384. www.rivolta.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.