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The Comeback of True North begins.

It was well into the fall boating season when I caught a ride on the new True North 34 Outboard Express with Anthony Tumas of Riverside Marina and Yacht Sales in Riverside, New Jersey. We ripped up the Severn River north of Annapolis, Maryland, on a flat, perfect day, doing about 34 knots at 4900 rpm. Twin 300-hp outboards mounted on an innovative Porta Hydraulic Transom Bracket growled mutely. It was a smooth ride, but I found myself wishing for three-footers on the nose, or the conditions we received back in 2003 when I took the inboard version of this boat, the TN 33, for a rough weather ride on the Chesapeake Bay. And a great ride it was, leaving me with the confidence to take family and friends boating in less than perfect weather.

True North 34 Outboard Express

True North 34 Outboard Express

Everett Pearson first introduced the True North line with the TN 38 in 2001, and then followed with the TN 33 in 2003, building both using resin-infusion technologies in the TPI Composites production facilities in Warren, Rhode Island. From the beginning, the two True North models were unique boats that drew plenty of attention on the docks, but they were basic and didn’t come with a lot of options. Inspired by the lines and concepts of some working Down East designs, the True North boats were more distinctive than other lobster yacht designs but marketed as similarly practical. The plumb bows, snug helm decks under modern hardtops and sculptural reverse transoms (that opened like clamshells to provide easy access to the water from a spacious flush deck in the cockpit) were easily more unique than the rest of the coastal cruiser market.

Fast forward to 2014, and the next iteration of the TN 33, a twin outboard version with a modified transom that eliminated the clam-shell panels, debuted as the True North 34 by US Watercraft. Like its slightly smaller predecessor, it featured a helm deck open to the aft cockpit, a large dinette to port, small galley to starboard, and forward facing seating behind a three-panel forward windscreen. Below, the single stateroom had a hanging locker, a head with a shower and V-berths.

In 2019, Catalina Yachts purchased True North Powerboats and began to make some needed changes. But the company didn’t tamper with the timeless Down East good looks, or the comfortable layout for a couple and a few friends or grandkids.

“We think our craftsmanship improved the boat in many ways,” said Patrick Turner, Catalina’s COO. “There’s improved seating and living comfort for the owners and their guests, more teak and the warmth that teak brings, as well as new windows for improved ventilation and better views all around. On the transom, the Porta Bracket improves the performance of the boat and also adds better shallow water usability. Our proven system using a hull liner and a deck liner simply makes the boat easier to build.”

Jonathan Ames, chief engineer at Catalina Yachts, took the level of improvements down to the basics. “I’ve been driving my tooling department nuts with changes, first adding a new forward hull liner that incorporates a queen island berth,” he said. “Next up, new tooling for the main structural grid to support a Seakeeper. We’re also adding new trim tabs, support for a genset, changes to the seating that include modular, folding seats for the cockpit, even an outdoor galley. And coming is an automated SureShade bimini system for the cockpit.”

Catalina has eschewed building the hull using resin transfer, opting instead for a cored composite above the waterline, using a variety of coring products depending on the stresses involved in specifically engineered areas, such as the use of Coosa in the transom. Six inches above the waterline and all across the bottom, the hull is solid fiberglass laminate. “This system follows the way we build our Catalina Yachts sailboats, which has proven itself to the extent that we feel that it’s the best way to build the True North line,” Turner said.

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“The TN 33 inboard version had a partial keel, a tunnel and running gear aft,” Ames said. “This required a third mold inserted into the three-piece hull mold, which we eliminated. Now the bottom aft is a typical modified-V hull, with a deadrise at the transom of around 18 degrees. The buoyancy that we gained by getting rid of the tunnel and reconfiguring to a standard running surface offsets the weight of the standard twin 300-hp outboards.”

True North by Catalina doesn’t fail to impress. Beautifully crafted and finished, and more importantly, well-engineered and precisely manufactured by a builder with over 50 years of experience, the TN 34 OE is only the beginning. Progress is being made on larger and smaller designs.

True North 34 OE Specifications:

LOA: 39’
Beam: 12’2”
Draft: 2’10”
Displ.: 14,000 lbs.
Fuel: 250 gal.
Water: 75 gal.
Power: 2/300-hp outboards

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