— By Capt. Bill Pike
— September 2003
|This new Tiara’s as fun to handle as she is beautiful.|
It was an alluring sight—Tiara’s Sovran 3600 express cruiser, parked in the shade of Walstrom Marine’s vast boathouse in Harbor Springs, Michigan. I talked briefly with a couple of guys in the front office, then hurried down some steps, past The Boater’s Lounge (which offers transients everything from showers to bookcases full of mysteries) and headed toward the test boat. The scene through the open end of the boathouse was postcard picturesque. Gorgeous, white-hulled sailing vessels bobbed in a jade-green anchorage off to the right. A guy in a red dinghy languidly rowed toward one of the little sloops, undoubtedly relishing his solitude as a couple of gulls cruised about.
I stopped at the stern of the 3600, the first of a series of freshly designed express cruisers Tiara will debut over the coming months. She was a pure, heartthrob beauty for three obvious reasons. First, her gelcoated exterior had a lustrous, flawlessly smooth appearance. Then there was the gutsy windshield-hardtop fusion, melding simplicity, composite-fiberglass brawniness, and the latest in automotive-style, flush-fit window technology into one dramatic, eye-catching statement. And finally, the swept-back, elliptical bowrails looked radiant even in the boathouse gloom—my eyes were repeatedly drawn to their sweep.
I stepped aboard via the swim platform, a huge affair (4'x13') with four padeyes for securing a dinghy. I scuffed the platform’s surface with one of my Sperry deckshoes, the soles of which are wearing pretty smooth these days. Thunk! Tiara’s diamond-pattern nonskid put the breaks on the ol’ Sperrys like they’d just hit a glob of 3M 5200. “That you, Bill?” yelled Tiara rep Rob Everse from somewhere below decks.
We hit the trail soon enough, although halfway down the fairway I had to turn around and go back—I was using an extra laptop for the sea trial (see “Keeping an Eye on Your Engine,” this story) and I’d left it in my car. Later while coasting toward the mouth of the boathouse slip we’d just departed, preparatory to backing down, I cut a sly glance toward Everse, wondering if he was up for a little early-morning terror while I attempted to deal with a situation that often frustrates me: an inboard test boat equipped with gasoline powerplants and “split” engine controls (throttles on one side of the wheel and shifters on the other). If there’s a good reason to install four sticks on a boat when the average Joe’s got just two hands, I wanna know—especially when the engines lack sufficient low-end torque to facilitate maneuvering with the shifts alone.
Surprise! Thanks primarily to a set of big, three-bladed wheels and a comparatively deep V-drive gear ratio (2.5:1), the 36 made my day (and Everse’s, too, I suppose), swinging a sweet little arc in front of the slip and backing down with aplomb. All I had to do was center the wheel, mostly maneuver with the shifters, and tweak occasionally with the throttles. Was the gasoline inboard/split controls thing really that bad? Made me wonder.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.