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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Jarrett Bay 32

A shift has taken place. Perhaps it's due to saturation of the big-convertible market, or maybe there's a growing need for midsize sportfishermen, but a lot of builders have taken to constructing mid-30-footers aimed at getting you to blue water and big fish. Take the Cabo 32, Albermarle 36, and Bertram 36, all production boats. Now a custom builder has entered this market with a semicustom vessel that offers the performance, fishability, and traditional styling of her custom siblings. Say hello to the Jarrett Bay 32.

A test at the Miami International Boat Show in February gave me a chance to see if this minibattlewagon truly possessed the family traits of her big sisters. Jarrett Bay's Peter DuBose fired up the standard twin 275-hp Mercury Verado outboards, and I had to check twice that they were running. My decibel meter displayed 65 dB-A with them in forward idle, which is the level of normal conversation. Gus Wade, a New Yorker who was interested in purchasing my test boat, came along for the ride and couldn't help but stare at the engines as they propelled the boat out of the slip as if she were gliding. Wade, who currently owns a gasoline-inboard-powered Tiara, was mesmerized by the silence. As a matter of fact, even while testing the 32 on Biscayne Bay at nearly 50 mph and without a hardtop or enclosure, I never saw my decibel meter display read above 86 dB-A, which I consider admirable with a 20-mph breeze blowing and no helm enclosure.

Her quiet nature was rivaled only by a raucous turn of speed. The 32 made a smooth and comfortable cruise of 33 mph at 4000 rpm across the bay's chop. The kicker? A miserly fuel burn of 20.6 gph. And you'll be grateful for that fuel economy, as the Verados are best run on 93-octane gasoline, which isn't getting cheaper. Without tabs, the 32 topped out at an average speed of 47.5 mph. When we played with her tabs and engine trim, she made the builder's predicted 50 mph. During my wheel time at the starboard-side station (a benchseat on centerline just abaft the helm seats two), she showed little bowrise coming out of the hole and had a maximum trim angle of six degrees at 3500 rpm, sans tabs. Her acceleration to WOT was, in a word, exhilarating. The 32's Mercury SmartCraft controls were smooth, as was her power-assisted steering and ability to turn within her own length at speed with almost no drop in rpm.

But it's not only horsepower that gives the 32 her performance and efficiency. It's also the Gary Davis hull design. In an interview after the test, Davis explained that it's a combination of ideas borrowed from her cold-molded siblings as well as some new ones specifically for the 32 that make her run so well. "It was not as simple as taking our 64 [footer] plans and making everything half size, although in principle, the boats appear to be exact copies of each other," says Davis. The 32 does have the same basic hull shape and Carolina flare as her cold-molded counterparts; however, her weight distribution and stringer placement is different to optimize the way the boat sits in the water and runs with outboards.

One of the more notable changes is additional transom deadrise. Davis explains that there is about five more degrees at the transom of the 32 than on the builder's custom boats. To get the deadrise the builder dropped the keel line, which also added volume and an additional 60 pounds of flotation per foot throughout the length of the hull. This helps offset the weight of the big motors sitting on the bracket. There are also two running strakes per side and an aft centerline pad, which creates lift, enabling the boat to get up and go in a hurry (see specifications for one impressive acceleration curve).

Another change from traditional Jarrett Bay boats is that this one's fiberglass. No cold-molded Okoume plywood here. In fact, her hull is solid fiberglass with composite stringers. Davis explains that there is some coring and Kevlar but wouldn't get specific. Core-Mat is added to help eliminate print-through, and biaxial fabric is added to further beef up the structure. This light heavyweight of a vessel comes in at about 8,500 pounds (half load); all totaled, she should be around 9,000 to 9,200 pounds with a tuna tower and rigged to fish, according to the builder.

With regards to her fishability, I really liked her deck-to-gunwale height of 27 inches, which will make it easy to release billfish and gaff big tuna that you can then drop into one of the two gasketed 63"x14"x15" in-deck cockpit fishboxes. Two more fishboxes are to port and starboard of the bridge deck, which is a seven-inch step up from the cockpit. If you need to work a fish forward, the deck-to-gunwale height transitions to 34 inches, and with the addition of some coaming padding, this area should be a great place to do some standup work on big fish. While my test boat was bare (she had just arrived from the factory), by adding a few options like a tuna tower, outriggers, and a cockpit bolster for holding pitch-bait rods, the 32 could be quite the tournament contender, or go-fast bluewater day boat when you want to leave her big sister home.

Her heavy build, big power, and fishability are in counterpoint to her admittedly light accommodations. A V-berth, which measures 72"x 69", could be used on an overnight here and there, but when Wade tried it out his feet hung over the berth. If you're at least six feet tall, your feet will hang, too. The stand-up head with Raritan MSD and shower is adequate for washing the salt off after a day offshore. After all, she's a day boat built to fish.

As we arrived back at the marina, Wade jumped out of the boat and ran over to take profile pictures of the 32 from the shoreline to show his wife. He returned excitedly and said that he had to make sure it was okay with his better half from the accommodations standpoint, but after looking at our test results and experiencing her ride, I could see the wheels turning in his head—he thought that this was the boat to get. I have to agree with him. After my time onboard, I'd say that if you're looking for a lean and mean offshore day boat or a mini version of your battlewagon, the Jarrett Bay 32 might fit your bill. She's proof that larger size doesn't always equate to ability and that style, quality, and performance always make a difference.

Jarrett Bay Boatworks
(252) 728-2690

This article originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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