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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

The Vaneer of History

The Gulf of Maine was for a long time a haven for smugglers. As a result of its sparsely populated islands, lax border enforcement, and heavy fog, running goods across the Canadian border became a tradition that went back centuries. Barrels of flour numbering in the tens of thousands were shipped to New Brunswick during the 1808 Jefferson's embargo. Beginning around 1812 and continuing well past the Civil War, black gypsum from Nova Scotia weighed down hulls that crept over the silent night waters of Passamaquoddy Bay. In the prohibition era of the 1920's and '30s, Roque Island earned its epithet of "Rogue Island," with countless cases of rye "hooch" whisky landing on its shores and of those of nearby islands, stowed beneath the soles of runabouts that hid in backwoods anchorages hidden by pine trees and granite cliffs.

Lyman-Morse's Rumrunner 31 can find her heritage in the skiffs of those practitioners. Her unrestrained use of wood and low sheer, drafted by Dieter Empacher, are features that avow her lineage. And, just like her predecessors, this one-off has more hidden within her teak-laden hull than a glance would lead you to suspect.

My first look at Scout was on a floating dock in Thomaston, Maine. She'd been launched just two weeks before, and her brightwork was breathtaking, even though it was still about six-coats shy of completion. Lyman-Morse's reputation for fine woodwork was apparent: There was teak on her beadboard paneling, windshield mullions, and even an 18-inch Edson teak wheel.

I was alone on the dock, waiting for a few folks from Lyman-Morse's main office to give me an overview of the vessel. But being one who always likes to keep his first impressions as uncolored as possible, I hopped over the gunwale and began poking around. I lifted out one of the three deck scuttles that run across the aft section of the cockpit, buried my shoulders into the opening, and was immediately perplexed. I was face-to-steel with what appeared to be a pump connected to a jackshaft, just aft of a CV-joint. Then it came to me, "She's a jetdrive!" My voice echoed around the bilge, with a slight metallic intonation. "And with an aluminum hull!" I added, in a state of further bemusement.

It turned out that both observations were correct. In lieu of a prop, Scout has a Hamilton 292 waterjet powered by a 422-hp Volvo Penta D6-435 diesel, lying amidships beneath a glossy teak engine box that lifts on electrically driven struts. (The engine air intakes are clandestinely placed beneath the gunwales.) With the box elevated, I had plenty of room to check both oil and coolant; the duplex Racors and seawater strainer were not as accessible. The Racors were below deck level and faced inboard, so it would be a bit tricky to reach in and change them. (They also lacked sight bowls by which to observe contaminant accumulation). As for the Groco ARG-2015-S seawater strainer, it was aft, near the box's hinge, which wouldn't provide much elbowroom when it's time to pull out its strainer basket.

Something else unorthodox I found was the placement of the 31's four fuel tanks. Two 100-gallon tanks sit forward, while 76- and 48-gallon units are aft, to port and starboard respectively. (The forward tanks are different sizes to offset the weight distribution of gear aft). In designing the boat, Empacher accounted for not only the classic rumrunners' speed but their range as well. With 324 gallons of fuel, Scout should have a 485-statute-mile range at 36 mph (31.3 knots). But her setup does have a drawback: You have to fill each tank individually as there's no transfer pump or self-leveling hoses. However, there is a manifold with manual selector valves underneath the center console that allows you to select which tank to pull from. (Each tank comes with its own analog fuel-level gauge).

The story behind the aluminum hull-a most uncommon building material for a 30-footer-began with an owners' request in 2002. Jeff and Meg Pierce, who also own an aluminum-supply company called Pierce Aluminum, commissioned Lyman-Morse's first aluminum-hulled boat, a 54-footer called Comet. When the couple decided that they needed a dayboat for Florida, they again called on Lyman-Morse, who by this point had completed a handful of other aluminum builds and also had added a full metal-fabrication team and a dedicated outbuilding for it. Scout's entire hull structure, from skin to stringers, is aluminum. Woodwork is attached with Plexus epoxy, a process that the company points out takes great skill. "You have to ensure every square inch is perfectly dry and properly bonded," says Lyman-Morse president J.B. Turner.

When it came time to take the rumrunner out on the St. George River, Scout proved that she had even more surprises in store. First was speed. At WOT, she made 36.6 mph (31.8 knots) within 15 seconds. Controlling the jet was simple and intuitive. A port-side rocker switch for the transmission can be set in either forward, neutral, or reverse (reverse is used only to clear the pump). The stainless steel controls have two levers: the one on the left moves the buckets up or down (making the boat go forward or aft) and the one on the right is the throttle. There were, however, two glitches that Lyman-Morse made me aware of and planned to correct. The first was a two-second delay between opening the throttles and the engine's response, and the second was a loss of power between 1300 and 1500 rpm, apparently a glitch in the engine electronics. Admittedly, a boat that's freshly launched and barely seatrialed often displays such quirks; indeed, items such as tracking skegs and trim tabs hadn't even been installed on this boat yet, which explained her tendency to wander at slow speeds.

Pre-delivery issues aside, the 31's performance was outstanding. With the wheel rotated only one turn (full range is 21/2-turns lockto-lock), Scout pirouetted not only in her own length but literally around her bow section, as if there were a post going straight down from her stem to the seabed. A lobster pot off our stern remained equidistance throughout our five spins.

With this kind of slow-speed maneuverability, I wondered how she'd handle on the top end. At roughly 35 mph, I banked a hard turn to port, and as she leaned in beautifully she carved a 180 within two boat lengths without losing more than a few mph. But company representative Justin Wiegleb, who was along for the ride, insisted she could have done even better had I really cranked over the wheel over. So I again opened her up, and this time, with a quicker twist of the wheel, Scout pivoted on her plumb bow, spraying a wall of water out from her the side as we skirted off in the opposite direction. A perfect, one-boat-length, high-speed U-turn.

I'd like to think we provided quite a sight for the locals watching from the shore. Here was a classic-style, teak-trimmed dayboat, a vessel one would generally associate with kindly leaf-peeping putts up river, performing high-speed turns and sending plumes of water into the air. But then again, I suppose the one thing a Maine native is used to by now is a boat's hidden features. As with those old rumrunners, understatement is part of the pedigree.

BY THE NUMBERS

rpm mph (knots) gph mpg (nmpg) sm range nm range decibels trim (degrees)
1000 5.0 (4.3) 0.7 7.07 (6.15) 2,062 1,793 71 0.0
1500 7.5 (6.5) 1.5 4.97 (4.32) 1,448 1,259 77 0.5
2000 9.6 (8.3) 4.4 2.17(1.89) 633 550 78 2.0
2500 13.1 (11.4) 7.5 1.75 (1.52) 509 443 85 4.5
3000 25.2 (21.9) 13.0 1.94 (1.69) 565 492 89 6.0
3500 36.3 (31.6) 22.0 1.65 (1.43) 481 418 96 4.0
3600 36.6 (31.8) 22.0 1.66 (1.45) 485 422 96 4.0

PROPULSION: 1/422-hp Volvo Penta D6-435 diesel inboard, ZF Marine gear w/ 1.4:1 ratio; Hamilton 292 waterjet

CONDITIONS: temperature: 73?F; humidity: 55%; wind: 0-5 mph; seas: calm; load: 420 gal. fuel, no gal. water, 3 persons, 50 lbs. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured w/Stalker radar gun. GPH measured with Volvo Penta electronic fuel-monitoring system. Range: 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Decibels measured on A scale. 65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation.

Noteworthy

Aluminium Boatbuilding
Aluminum is not a common construction material for boats in the 30-foot range, but that didn't stop owners, (who, conveniently enough, own an aluminum-supply company), from choosing to have this boat made from the element.

Aluminum underlies almost every load-bearing structure on this vessel. One of the best places to see Lyman-Morse's expertise with this material is in the anchor locker where the side stringers that support the hull plating are exposed. Four to six inches are all that separate each stringer, which are spotwelded to ribs creating a stalwart and stiff framework.

Another example of skilled metallurgy is the 3" diameter aluminum support for the hardtop that not only keeps the top from racking but also provides a place four the four owner-requested rocket launchers.
-G.R

The Vitals

STANDARD EQUIPMENT:
1/422-hp Volvo Penta D6-435 diesel inboard; SeaStar hydraulic steering; Hamilton 292 waterjet; Groco ARG 2015-S strainer; Racor fuel-water separators; Soundown muffler and 2" acoustical insulation under sole; Ritchie compass and s/s binnacle; Icom IC-M304 VHF; trim tabs; Southco latches; Raymarine C120 display; Livorsi analog fuel gauges; Fireboy auto. fire extinguisher; 3/Whale Gulper bilge pumps w/ dash controls; Imtra windshield wipers; Awlgripped hardtop; Reverso oil-change unit; 2/Optima spiral-wrapped batteries; 4/rod holders on cabin top.

OPTIONAL POWER: None

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT ON TEST BOAT: None

PRICE AS TESTED: Not Available

Below: The author aims his radar gun from the teak-enclosed helm.

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.