3600 Open — By Capt. Bill Pike —
Sense and Sensability
|Part 2: The ride was soft, dry, and speedy.|
Aspects of engineering I observed from my hard-fought vantage point were solid, although I was a bit surprised to see no soundbox for the Westerbeke genset, which was installed between the mains, under the StarBoard step. Serviceability under tight space constraints was the concern here, a Tiara rep explained by phone after the test. I liked what I could see of the twin gel-cell battery-bank system, however—two for engine start and three for house usage. Lots of battery firepower is always good. I was also pleased to see time-tested mufflers from Centek Industries— they’re popular with all sorts of boatbuilders these days—and big, 100-amp alternators.
I toured the interior while the dealership guys were winding up. With a queen-berth stateroom forward and everything else aft, including a dinette that converts to a double berth to starboard and a head and galley area opposite, the layout reminded me of other express-type cruisers I’ve tested over the years. Moreover, the fit and finish of the teak joinery throughout was precise, stowage spaces beneath the teak-and-holly sole were clean and smoothly gelcoated, and the galley was an eminently workable one, with Corian countertops and a long list of top-of-the-line mainstream standards.
Hitting the trail to Key West entailed transiting the busy Gordon River to get to the Gulf of Mexico. In some spots, I had to put the 3600 on plane to make time. In others, conditions dictated displacement speeds. While the boat ran smoothly between these modes, she evinced a problem I’ve seen in other express types with engines and fuel tanks well aft to boost interior space: Visibility forward while coming out of the hole was limited, making it occasionally difficult to keep tabs on PWCs in the channel. I noted another problem as well—our running lights were mounted on the bow pulpit. I say, put them on the radar arch, where they’ll be higher and easier to see.
Performance was excellent once we entered the Gulf, though. The ride was soft, dry, and speedy (average top hop: 39 mph) in modest, two- to three-foot seas. Sightlines were fine with the bow tabbed down, and the Teleflex steering was as silky-smooth as the engine controls. Additionally, our optional twin 380-hp Cummins diesels ran like rabbits: quiet, vibration-free, and, increasingly important these days, squeaky clean and fuel-efficient. With modern diesels evincing many of the same positive characteristics that once hallmarked only gasoline powerplants, today’s boat buyer simply has to consider them.
I completed my long-haul sea trial of Tiara’s 3600 Open with a certain symmetry. Backing into the slip at the Galleon was just as much fun—and just as easy—as backing into the slip in Naples.
“Nice-handlin’ boat,” I exclaimed at last. It’s a compliment I never use lightly.
Tiara Yachts Phone: (616) 392-7163. www.tiarayachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.