3275 Express — By Capt. Bill Pike
— February 2002
|This progressively built midranger is stylish topside and large and livable below.|
It's tough to say exactly how many express boats I've wrung out over the years, considering my long-term memory these days is as bad as my--Ahhhh! Just a second now. Lost my train of thought. Oh yeah!--short-term memory. But certainly, I've examined my fair share. And, of course, I've also examined quite a few midcabins, those odd, inefficacious accommodation spaces that are typically found beneath the raised helm areas of express boats.
I use the word inefficacious advisedly. Not all midcabins are impractical and/or inadequate. In fact, on vessels in the 40-foot-plus range, I've seen many that were easily accessible and quite comfortable. But concerning the smaller boats that comprise the lion's share of the express market, my midcabin reviews have been generally mixed at best. Most of these spaces were cramped, gloomy, and airless--more like fiberglass dog kennels than full-fledged, or even half-fledged, staterooms. Some seemed so blatantly inhabitable it was hard to imagine a purpose for them at all, other than as giant, inconvenient, and undifferentiated stowage maws.
All this lends perspective to my test of the Cruisers 3275 Express, which boasts one of the roomiest, most practical midcabins I've ever encountered on a 30-some-footer. Thanks to Cruisers dealer Hideaway Marine of Pompano Beach, I had a chance to examine a prototypical Express a few weeks ago, prior to a sea trial on nearby waters, and spent as much time marveling at how Cruisers achieved this design coup as I did admiring the coup itself.
Headroom's the key. What designers essentially wanted to do with the layout of the Express was create a unique and versatile midcabin that would both offer the feel of a separate compartment and blend its comforts seamlessly into the rest of the interior. This meant headroom had to equal, or at least come close to, the standing headroom at the rear of the saloon/head/galley/dinette area, a radical objective considering the scant headroom found in most midrange midcabins today. How did Cruisers accomplish the task? First, it lowered a portion of the boat's "liner/stringer combo," a futuristic undergirding element I'll get into shortly. This in turn lowered the midcabin sole by four inches and created the separate-compartment effect just mentioned. Second, they added eight or nine inches to the height of the deck molding over the midcabin area, doing it with such subtlety that the boat's profile remained pleasing to the eye. And third, they imparted just the right slope to the footrest at the helm, so its underside--which doubles as the slanting overhead for the midcabin's entryway--does not knock heads. The result? A remarkably lofty space (much of it with standing headroom) that's comfortable and, thanks to a hanging locker to port and a Flexsteel sofa/bed at the rear, eminently practical.
Now about that liner/stringer combo. One of the most significant trends in boatbuilding these days is the move toward all-glass vessels, with a critical component--the all-glass stringer grid--usually molded separate from the hull and tabbed in afterwards. While tabbing in an all-glass grid instead of an old-fashioned wooden stringer system undeniably cuts weight and adds strength and longevity, Cruisers nevertheless dials the scenario up a notch by removing the weakest link--the tabbing. The company does this via an entirely new kind of separately molded part, a giant, full-size liner (with stringers, athwartships members, chine shelves, and "lands" or raised positioning guides for head, galley, and other modules molded into its sides and bottom) that replaces the grid. Virtually a hull in its own right, but with gelcoat inside rather than outside, this liner/stringer combo is secured in the hull, like one soup bowl inside another, with IPS WELD-ON methacrylate adhesive, a chemical bonder that is stronger than tabbing and, in fact, stronger than fiberglass itself.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.