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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Pursuit 3370 Offshore

What a day it was. Sun beaming down. Gulf Stream so inky blue it was almost purple. Kenny Chesney on the Clarion drawlin’, “No shoes, no shirt, no problem.” And me kicked back at the helm of Pursuit’s 3370 Offshore, with the three-way adjustable Teleflex SeaStar steering wheel set up just right, the bow pulpit pointed due east toward the Bahamas, and the Raymarine RL70C digital readout showing a sweet cruise speed of 43 mph.

Not a bad ride, either. The boat was making mincemeat of the swells, which were coming at us sideways, from the north mostly, with long, smooth stretches between six-foot crests. She tracked like a bullet, too, needing little more than an occasional fingertip-type tweak from yours truly. But then, Pursuit typically puts a sea-chompin’ running surface under its fishing platforms, with lots of wave-slicing V forward (deadrise amidships is well over 40 degrees) and rounded, almost barrel-shape sections aft—a feature that tends to boost both lift and top speed, as well as promote transverse stability dockside or while trolling offshore.

For grins I switched on the optional Raymarine 6001+ autopilot for a bit and played with the electric Lenco tabs to see how they might compare with the hydraulic units I have on my boat. The pilot held a fairly steady course despite our sideways orientation to the seastate, and the tabs functioned superbly on two fronts. First, their response was rapid; just a tap or two produced an instantaneous result. And second, they were especially easy to keep track of; a fast glance at the row of indicator lights on the switchpads was all I needed.

We were 17 miles east of Florida’s Fort Pierce Inlet when I “pulled ‘em back.” Pursuit marketing director David Glenn, having dispensed with shoes and shirt long before Chesney had begun intoning the praises of doing so, I went aft to rig ballyhoo in the cockpit as the boat rolled in her own wash and then smoothed out. Startled, hundreds of flyingfish skittered off like silver flashes—a good sign. I went back to help Glenn wind monel around bills and leaders, and soon enough we were fishing.

Things went slowly at first. But having some downtime wasn’t all bad, since it allowed me to sit on one of the fold-up benchseats in the cockpit, watch our baits, and consider what I’d learned about the test boat so far. Glenn and I had checked her out pretty well before leaving Fort Pierce’s Harbortown Marina, and what we hadn’t been able to see there, we’d addressed later, at the nearby Pursuit plant.

Construction came to mind first. Our test boat possessed an experimental epoxy-infused hull entirely cored with perforated Baltek balsa, which the folks at Pursuit said was too “cosmetically problematic” to put on the market in the near term. Would there be a whopping difference in performance and seakeeping between such a light, rigid, ultra-strong hull and the more conventional production version Pursuit would eventually offer, with its solid-glass bottom (comprised of knitted fabrics and various AME vinylester resins) and Contourcore-cored hull sides? It seemed unlikely given the rock-solid, performance-enhancing rigidity the highly engineered, one-piece molded stringer grid would likely impart.

I’d had a chance to examine the thing at the plant. It was a good half-inch thick and about as structurally complex as the underbody of a modern automobile. Not only does it solidify the bow, running surface, and hull sides, it buttresses the marine-ply-cored transom with four huge, knee-like gussets, each seemingly capable of handling the thrust of two 300-hp Yamaha outboards all by its lonesome. Create such a grid with the same epoxy-infusion techniques used to build our test boat’s hull, bond it in place with Plexus methacrylate adhesive as well as a raft of sophisticated bonding techniques, and in my opinion you’ve got yourself one of the gutsiest 30-footers ever to blast a wave.

Of course, most prototypes have an issue or two, and our test boat was no exception. For starters, while maneuvering in the marina, an exercise I typically do while standing, I noticed the helm seat (which adjusts horizontally but not vertically) was too low to serve as a leaning post—I’m 5'11", and the bottom of the back pockets of my blue jeans was the highest point the seat would reach. Moreover, because the bolsterless leading edge of the seat cushion is slightly shorter than the StarBoard polymer bottom, trying to go the leaning-post route, while not precisely a pain in the butt, turned out to be a pain in the thighs.

The installation of the fuel-water separators constituted the next glitch: They were mounted behind a little hatch at the rear of the cockpit on the port side and so obfuscated by inlet and outlet hoses that screwing them on/off is going to be difficult and spill-prone. Pursuit should enlarge the hatch or create a user-friendlier configuration for the hoses.

The optional genset was the final issue. While mounting it well aft in a cramped interior space roughly below the livewell makes servicing and inspection through access hatches dicey, I noted a more glaring fault: There is no way to remove it other than to break out a reciprocating saw and have at it. The fix? How about installing a “soft patch” or, better yet, toss the genset entirely—below decks, carbon-monoxide-emitting gensets on small boats with cabins are worrisome from the safety angle, anyway&mdasah;and go with a beefed-up battery bank and inverter?

I was pondering this point when Glenn yelled, “Hey, Bill.” A splash enlivened the water behind a ballyhoo. Then the Shimano TLD20 emitted a short screech. Glenn beat me to the rod by a nautical mile, levered the drag, yanked back to set the hook, and handed it off. I proceeded to lift and wind with enthusiasm. “Tip up,” shouted Glenn as the dolphin shot across our wake.

I could go on to extol the fishy virtues of our test boat that promptly surfaced—stuff like the wraparound coaming pads that make working a fish easy on your legs, or the cutting board at the rigging station that facilitates filleting, or the easy-to-get-hold-of cockpit washdown that makes cleanup easy and immediate—but I want to avoid undue piscatorial emphasis.

The Pursuit 3370 Offshore is a performance fishboat. And truth to tell, I’m not sure which was the most fun: nailing a couple of nice, eminently grillable slabs of fresh dolphin or making the run back to Fort Pierce at a scalding top speed of 48.9 mph.

Pursuit Boats
(561) 465-6006

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.