3600 Open — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Sense and Sensability
|Tiara unveils a solid, mainstream cruiser with impressive boat-handling manners.|
Not long after I’d topped off our 400-gallon composite fuel tank, I noticed the slip where I was supposed to dock our Tiara 3600 Open stern-to was configured a little differently. Instead of being perpendicular to the concrete bulkhead that constituted its inner end, the thing was angled toward the mouth of the fairway and the river beyond. If you’re old enough to remember diagonal, side-by-side parking for cars, you get the idea.
Anyway, I made my approach with a vague sense of uneasiness, mostly because I was going into what seemed like an oddball lash-up with an unfamiliar boat under conditions that weren’t ideal. While the breeze was light, the current was serious—I could see it stacking up against the outboard edges of some nearby pilings and setting quite sportily across the mouth of the slip. A salty-looking sales guy from Allied Richard Bertram Marine Group of Naples, Florida, the Tiara dealer that had made the 3600 available for a couple of days, strolled over to sit on a nearby dock box. He yawned, evincing the maddening composure of linehandlers the world over.
I gave him a smile. Then, to get a feel for the 3600’s maneuvering characteristics prior to actually maneuvering her, I stopped the boat short of my destination by pulling her big, silky Teleflex mechanical gear-shift levers into reverse, then returning them to neutral. The effect was smooth and satisfying: The boat simply paused politely, leaving me to wonder exactly what parameters might be at the bottom of such endearing behavior. Sweet balance? Big wheels? A deep gear ratio? Or some combination of all three? As the current pushed the boat ahead, I quickly discovered I could both restrain and play with the 3600 by simply bumping her clutches into and out of gear—a delightful and educational process, like dancing with a gifted partner.
“What a sweetheart!” I told myself, having rapidly achieved the confidence to cooly move on. Doing the necessary twin-screw pirouette at the mouth of the slip was pure, heart-gladdening fun, mostly thanks to the ergonomically savvy setup of the helm station, which let me face aft comfortably while working the dual-lever sticks. The 3600 slid into the slip with a precision that was as gratifying as it was impressive. “Ya’ make it look easy,” grinned the sales guy as he tossed a line into the cockpit.
I shut the mains down soon after—my dockside-examination time was limited. Once the dealership folks had finished stocking the 3600 with soda, ice, Willie Nelson CDs, and other traveling necessities, we were headed south for a slip at the Galleon Marina in Key West. I was anxious to sea trial the boat in open water, but I was also antsy to take a look at her engine room and interior.
I commenced with the engine room, accessed via a day hatch in the bridge deck between the helm and companion seats or by activating a set of electric rams that elevate the entire bridge deck on hinges. I chose the latter arrangement, but found it a bit tight. To squeeze my 170-pound, 5'11" frame into the test boat’s machinery spaces, I had to first crawl in on all fours, rotate with care on a StarBoard entry step, and then, while keeping my head low, drop down between the engines while facing aft. “You can pull the pins on the actuators,” explained the sales guy, “which lets you swing the bridge deck farther back for more head room.”
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.