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The 3100 Open proves big boat features are available in a smaller package. Style and function come together with the 3100's wood-crafted interior detailing and fully-equipped galley, berths and head. With a 12-foot long stepped cockpit, plenty of space is available for entertaining. Designed with port / starboard cockpit steps for safer boarding and the trademark diamond-patterned nonskid surface from bow to stern, the 3100 Open provides both the style owners want and the safety they need for family and friends. The one-piece molded fiberglass helm tilts back for access to all electronics and gauges. Gauges, switches and controls are clustered for ease of use. The helm features over two feet of space for additional electronics. Teleflex hydraulic steering, Morse throttles and shifters, and VDO BlueLine gauges are all standard. Down below, the starboard settee / dinette converts to seven-foot double berth. The galley is equipped with microwave, two-burner ceramic stove, refrigerator, and sink. The forward double berth has a filler cushion, three stowage bins underneath, and a hanging locker. The portside head features a stand-up shower, sink, vanity, portlight, and a one-piece molded fiberglass liner for easy maintenance.
“I must have been 14 years old,” recalls Eric Uscinski. “I had a cousin in Delaware City. I spent a few summers down there. He was older than me, and we got into crabbing. We’d go out in his 16-foot boat and be on the river at 3 a.m., back by 1 in the afternoon with our catch.”
It was a beginning, says Uscinski, “driving the boat, working the crab pots, packing the crabs and getting them ready for sale.” Uscinski’s cousin eventually made crabbing a profession, but the 58-year-old Yale University facilities manager from Clinton, Connecticut, went a different way. However, he still has a love for boats and boating, born of crabbing on the river years ago.
The first boat of his own was a 28-foot Celebrity, followed by a 24-foot Sportcraft, an inboard-powered open boat he used for fishing. Along the way, he found he’d kept his penchant for working on boats, doing the maintenance and the myriad chores that keep a boat running — a trait he passed on to his family.
“My son, Chris, bought a 19-foot Seaway, built in Maine, as a project boat,” Uscinski says. “He picked it up cheap. It needed work.” Father and son stripped the boat, removed the outboard, redid the wiring and put everything back together. A coat of flag blue paint finished the job. “I enjoy doing projects,” he says. “It’s always challenging
Uscinski’s life in boats might have ended there in 2010. An illness caused him to consider getting rid of the Sportcraft and getting out of boating. “My wife, Kathy, said, ‘It’s something you enjoy — why don’t you get something bigger, something that we can go places on?’ ” he says.
Less than a year later, they owned a 1996 Tiara 3100 Open, a family cruiser with comfortable accommodations, a 20-mph speed and wide-ranging cruising capabilities.
He’d been on his way home from New Jersey when he decided to take a closer look at a Tiara he’d noticed in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, Connecticut. Everything about the boat seemed right, he says. “My wife wanted the basic cruising comforts — an enclosed head compartment with a shower and a comfortable place to sleep,” Uscinski says. “I liked the styling, the look of the boat. It had nice, wide side decks and was easy to get around on. You didn’t have to go through the windshield to get to the foredeck.”
SPECIFICATIONS LOA: 33 feet, 10 inches BEAM: 12 feet DRAFT: 3 feet WEIGHT: 12,300 pounds HULL TYPE: modified-vee PROPULSION: twin 350-hp gas or 330-hp diesel engines TANKAGE: 246 gallons fuel, 20 gallons water BUILDER: Tiara Yachts, Holland, Michigan, (616) 392-7163. tiarayachts.com
The couple bought the boat in May 2011 for $60,000 through Southpaw Yacht Sales in Cos Cob (southpawyachtsales.com). “They were good, very helpful,” Uscinski says. “The boat was in good condition, with no serious issues.”
The couple fished and cruised for a summer, enjoying the greater range and added comforts of the 31-foot cabin boat, compared to the 24-footer. “We had more range in going places, and it was easy to stay on board a night or two,” Uscinski says.
Now the boat is a summer home for their son. “The last four summers it’s been kept in Block Island [Rhode Island],” Uscinski says. “Our son got a job at Payne’s Dock, and he needed a place to stay, so he has the boat now. And it gives us a good excuse to go visit him three or four times a season.”
The arrangement works out well for all. “You can easily sleep on the boat, have a shower in the morning,” Uscinski says. “There’s a refrigerator, a two-burner stovetop and a microwave.”
Power comes from a pair of Crusader 454s — V-8 gasoline power plants that drive the 12,300-pound boat at a 20- to 25-mph cruising speed. “They’re reliable engines that have held up really well,” Uscinski says.
The Tiara’s modified-vee hull can take on seas when other boats won’t run, he says. “My son and I were on the way to Block one day, and it was windy when we left,” he says. “It got pretty rough. We were at the point of no return, and we decided to go on.”
Arriving at Block Island, they learned that theirs was the only boat to come in that day. “We were running 18 to 20 knots, and we were not getting hammered around,” Uscinski says.
The Tiara 31 Open has fulfilled the vision of a summer cottage on the water, even if their son lives the vision now, Uscinski says. “Everything about the boat is user-friendly, and 31 feet is a good size — big enough to go anywhere, but I can still run it myself.”
Tiara’s original 3100 Open was introduced in the late 1970s, and its popularity as a family cruising boat led to a redesign and reintroduction in the early 1990s. The new 3100 Open had added bow flare and a sharpened entry for a smoother ride. Transom deadrise was increased 4 degrees to make an 18-degree modified-vee shape, and prop pockets were used to improve engine efficiency and reduce draft. A bridge deck allowed for the installation of larger engines.
Cabin accommodations included a U-shaped dinette with a table that converts to a bunk. The galley was to port, with a two-burner stovetop, under-counter appliances and a microwave. The enclosed head came with a sink and shower. A master stateroom was forward, with a double berth, shelf space and a hanging locker.
The helm station and twin seats were set to starboard, and the bridge deck’s location afforded good visibility. A hardtop, swept-back windscreen and side curtains protected the bridge and companionway. The open cockpit (with a transom door) could be set up for fishing with a live well, in-deck fishbox and tackle center.
The redesigned Tiara 3100 Open was dubbed a “no-glitz express with top-quality systems.” The boat’s production run was from 1992 to 2004, long by industry standards, making it one of the Holland, Michigan, builder’s more popular models. Its successor is the 31 Tiara, a modern, family-oriented day-tripper with twin gas or diesel engines. Tiara offers a dozen models from 31 to 53 feet.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue.
Noted for her superior quality construction and outstanding fishability, the Tiara 3100 Open is compared, in some circles, to the iconic 31 Bertram. And, although some would disagree with this comparison, most would agree the 3100 Open's quality, versatility and practicality is what kept her a popular model in Tiara's lineup for more than 25 years. The original 3100 Open was introduced in 1979 and was updated in 1992 with some style changes to the interior and new cockpit seating arrangements. The most significant change for 1992 and beyond models was a four-degree increase in the dead rise and the addition of "prop pockets" to the bottom. Although still very popular, earlier 3100s were known for their rather wet ride in choppy conditions, which was mitigated by the added dead rise. The shallow prop pockets help to reduce draft while, at the same time, lessening the angle of the propeller shaft resulting in more efficient propulsion. Unlike some manufacturers who rename or add "Mk II" to their models if they change the color of the boot stripe, Tiara kept the 3100 Open designation for the updated model and it remained in production through 2004.
In another departure from what has become many boatbuilders' propensity for inflating a model's size with a puffed up name, Tiara has taken the opposite approach. The overall length of the 3100 Open is actually 33' 10" which includes a bow pulpit that is part of the deck mold. Add to that another two feet for the swim platform, which was a common option, and the overall length of the boat is nearly 35 feet. Beam is an even 12 feet and the "hull draft" specified by the manufacturer's brochure is two feet two inches which does not include appendages such as rudders and propellers. I suspect the actual draft would be a little over three feet.
For the sake of brevity, I am not going to spend much time discussing the quality and method of construction of the 3100 Open other than to say that it ranks near the top of production boat manufacturers. Tiara is particularly well regarded for the quality of their fit and finishes and there are seldom problems relating to flaws in construction.
One related matter worth mentioning is the 2000 U.S. Coast Guard recall of several Tiara models, including the 3100 Open, not for a construction problem but for fuel system integrity. The recall involved 473 1983-1993 models including the 3100 Open, Flybridge and Convertible models equipped with a single fuel tank option offered by the company. The concern was for seawater that could become trapped beneath the fuel tank causing corrosion and eventual fuel leakage. The recall campaign was closed by the Coast Guard in 2004, with 464 of the potential problem-boats inspected and repaired where necessary, so there is only a very slim possibility of remaining problems. Owners or potential buyers of boats with single fuel tanks should check with the manufacturer who has records of all repairs.
The deck layout and arrangement are ideally suited for fishing and ease of handling. The molded fiberglass bow pulpit allows for convenient storage of the anchor, and although an option, most models are equipped with an electric anchor windless. The cabin top has three opening deck hatches but is otherwise unobstructed.
A variety of optional cockpit seating and locker arrangements were available but generally all models have a double helm seat to starboard with guest seating and lockers to port forward with a large open cockpit aft. Beginning in 1994 a transom door was included as standard equipment, a feature desired by many anglers.
The interior arrangement remained the same for both iterations of the 3100 Open with a starboard double berth forward, a U-shaped dinette to the starboard side of the main saloon with opposing galley and a head and shower aft to port. The most notable interior difference between the two models was the manner in which the forward cabin was separated from the main saloon. The early design featured a fixed bulkhead with bi-fold doors for privacy while, on the latter, a draw curtain was used. The curtain makes for less privacy but a more open and larger looking interior. The standard power package included twin 350-hp Crusader gasoline engines with twin 230-hp Volvo, 300-hp Caterpillar, or 315-hp Cummins diesel engines offered as options. My one serious complaint with this boat is that access for maintenance of machinery is very difficult and gets even worse with the addition of an optional auxiliary generator. With the various power options, cruising speed ranges from 20 to 23 knots with a top speed in the range of 33 knots. As previously mentioned, the earlier models have tendency to pound and be wet when weather conditions worsen. Although the later models don't compare to greater dead rise hull forms such as the 31 Bertram for comfort in rough seas, they are an improvement.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Tiara 3100 Open — A Crown Jewel
Tiara's 3100 Open is sought after for its high quality and practicality.
By Matt Gurnsey September 22, 2003
It's no surprise that the Tiara 3100 keeps popping up on Sea magazine's list of most desirable brokerage boats.
The best way to find out about the inner workings of a boat is usually upside down, contorted like a soft pretzel. Upon crawling back out of the hole into which even Alice's rabbit would avoid will probably find you covered with pretzel-salt like debris.
So, when I offered to crawl into the guts of my friend Dave's Tiara, it was because as the (slightly) younger man, I might more easily survive the contortions.
It seems that the rear compartment hatch on Dave's 35 Express was refusing to rise when asked, and the motor was tucked outboard of the storage compartment. So, with the pull of two pins, the lid came up. After clearing the trunk of dock lines, fenders and cleaning supplies (lots of cleaning supplies, as Dave is fanatical about his boat's cleanliness) I crawled into the compartment.
I twisted around through an access hatch and ended on my back, looking into the inside of the Tiara's hull, in an area where no one had any right being. This is the area where many builders wouldn't worry about the finish, as no one is ever likely to see this part of the boat.
Tiaras are different. On this boat, the entire area was nicely finished, gelcoated in white and without any sign of construction debris or dust. It was almost operating-room clean — and then I understood why Dave bought his Tiara.
I was able to lie in relative comfort, set my flashlight down and trace out the wiring harness, as Dave called out what color wire I should see. In his hand was a huge three-ring binder — containing not only owner's manual information, but also a complete wiring schematic for the boat.
In my compartment, the wires were neatly bundled, wrapped and supported at regular intervals: a surveyor's dream. However, I traced the wiring back and discovered one wire that didn't appear on the schematic. Uh oh.
A quick phone call to Tiara, and Dave received an apology for the erroneous page — and the revised page was soon on its way. With a little help from the technical support team at Tiara, we traced down the problem and had Dave's boat back in business in no time.
So, it comes as no surprise to me that the Tiara 3100 keeps popping up on Sea's list of most desirable brokerage boats. These are well-constructed boats, with loads of craftsmanship throughout. And as much as that word may be overused, it truly applies to the Tiara line.
A Solid Heritage
Company founder Leon Slikkers cut his teeth in the Chris-Craft plant in Holland, Michigan. Working in the joinery shop, Slikkers crafted cabinetry for Chris-Craft in the company's heyday during the 1950s.
A few years later, Slikkers would form Slickcraft — a company building wooden, and later, fiberglass runabouts. He would gain the attention of AMF Corp. in 1969 — along with a large pile of the corporation's money for selling Slickcraft to AMF.
Not content to sit around and be "retired," Slikkers started S2 Yachts and began building sailboats. The Tiara line came later, along with Pursuit. After AMF started running out of steam in the boat business, Slikkers reacquired Slickcraft, adding it to the S2 fold.
While the Tiara line was originally more of a sportboat, it wasn't long before Tiaras became multipurpose boats — capable of daycruising, overnight cruising and fishing.
Introduced in 1979, and selling over 800 units in its first 10 years, the 3100 Open struck the right balance. Fast enough to be sporty, the 3100's modified-V hull (called a Paraplane by Tiara) provided a good ride, if a little wet.
Starting with a deep-V shape forward, the hull flattens out aft until it has only 14 degrees of deadrise at the transom. This flatter aft section, coupled with downturned chines, provides good stability and lift. Trim tabs are not needed to get this boat on plane: It rises quickly and smoothly. With twin big-block powerplants, it cruises nicely at 22 knots — with fuel economy of about 1 mile per gallon.
If this "craftsmanship coupled with performance" weren't enough, the 3100 offered a roomy cabin with a decent-size head and galley, as well as a private stateroom forward. With cabin space bigger than many other boats this size, the Tiara 3100 makes a good cruiser for a couple, and it will sleep four if you convert the large U-shaped dinette.
If this were all there were to the story, the original Tiara 3100 would still have its place in the hearts of many boaters as a solid design, crafted with pride and still be a sought-after commodity.
A Whole New Boat
In 1992, Tiara introduced a brand-new 3100 Open design. After a dozen years of production, it was time to address some of the shortcomings of the original design. So, with fresh sheets of paper before them, the design team at S2 developed the all-new 3100.
Not surprisingly, it looked almost identical to the 3100 of old (which would continue almost unchanged for four more years as the Pursuit 3100 Express Fisherman). The solid, conservative styling of the old 3100 was retained, with only minor changes.
The same broad 12-foot beam was kept, and only 3 inches was added to the hull's length. The biggest change came below the waterline. Gone was the modified-V Paraplane hull shape. It was replaced with a deep-V hull with 18 degrees of deadrise at the transom.
A broader hull forward with additional flare added to the drier ride — and with an additional 2,000 pounds of weight, this new boat cut through green water even more decisively than its predecessor.
The redesign was all about increases. Not only was the boat built to be heavier and slightly longer, but fuel capacity was increased by 50 gallons, to 246 gallons.
A new bi-level cockpit was added, raising the helm to make more room for the engines. Where 8.2-liter Detroit Diesels were the only options on the old 3100, the new boat had the room for numerous options from Volvo Penta, Caterpillar and Cummins.
More efficient diesel engines cruised faster and farther than the big-block gasoline engines of the old model. One of the few decreases in the new model was the shaft angle, thanks to small prop pockets.
Belowdecks, there was increased headroom in the cabin, and a feeling of increased size as a privacy curtain replaced the bulkhead separating the forward berth. Most couples find this an acceptable trade-off for more useable interior space.
The large head gives enough room to shower, and the forward galley allows preparation of more than just the basics. The large dinette is even larger, and the forward berth is a little higher for added room.
There was less teak in the new interior, although all joinerwork shows the Leon Slikkers heritage. Drawers feature dovetail construction, and there are no shortcuts in the building process.
If there is a downside to the Tiara 3100, it is that the quality of materials and construction comes at a price. These are not inexpensive boats. However, for boat owners who are looking for lasting value in their next boat, the Tiara 3100 warrants closer inspection.
The only problem may be finding a broker with one that's available, as these boats remain in demand, and are highly sought after. There must be a lot of buyers out there who know a good boat when they see it.
Tiara 3100 Open Specifications Length 33'10" (with pulpit) Beam 12' Draft 2'9" Weight 12,300 pounds Fuel capacity 196 gallons (older version) and 246 gallons (newer version) Water capacity 36 or 38 gallons Standard power 300-hp twin 454 c.i.d. gasoline inboards Typical used-boat prices range $35,000 to $225,000
Years of production Original 3100 Open 1979-1991 Updated 3100 Open 1992-present
For More Information
725 E. 40th St.
Holland, MI 49423
by David Pascoe
LOA 31-6 Fuel 246 gallons Beam 12-0 Engines 220 hp Volvo Draft 2-2 Options Crusader, Cummins, Cat Weight 11,500 WOT 24.8 knots Deadrise 20 deg Cruise 21 knots
Tiara has produced a line of open boats that has been enormously successful over the years. Starting out it was a high end boat, and over the years has only gotten more so. The initiation fee to this level of quality for a new boat is stiff, to say the least. But the good news for used boat buyers is that one can easily gain entry for half-price or better, depending on how old you care to go.
Notice that they call this boat an "open," not "express". While we have no official explanation, we'd guess that the reason is that this is intended as a multipurpose boat. It is definitely that.
The 3100 has long been one of my favorites in terms of both good styling, layout, quality and reasonable seaworthiness. It's particularly popular in the southeast, Gulf coast or anywhere the summers are more than three or four months long. In part this is due to a large cockpit design that is ideal for soft enclosures that can be put up or taken down. Just about everyone hates the hassle and expense of zippered enclosures, but on the other hand, we can't live without them. In the warmer climates, one has to be able to open up to get some breeze.
In addition, the 3100 has an electrically opened center section. This may not seem very important, but believe me opening this little window section brings in a huge amount of air while underway. This is a feature all boats should
The combination of radar arch and windshield height give plenty of head room under the Bimini. And when you close her up, there is little sense of being seriously closed in because of exceptionally good visibility and spaciousness.
Can't complain about enough cockpit space here. Great for all water sports. Even two folding chairs hardly get in the way. Notice the foot cove under the gunwale. Leaning over the side is no problem, and the height is right, too.
You won't find many helm designs better than this one. Notice the removable clear plastic covering to keep salt spray off and everything free of corrosion and looking nice. A great idea!
You don't have to bend down to see through the windshield as you do on so many boats this size. That's the result of a very high profile windshield. You can stand or sit normally at the helm with no restrictions at all. This is one of the little "big" details that more experienced boaters understand and know to look out for when buying that second or third boat.
This is also a wonderful boat if you're the sort that hates lots of ups and downs or being cramped. Except for that bottleneck between the seat modules, it permits a great deal of freedom of movement. There is no built-in seating in the aft cockpit. I don't like seats against the transom because they are too inhibiting to other activities. Personally, I prefer the option of adding folding chairs, as you see above, rather than having space filled with something I can't move. You'll find that some of the later models do have the fixed seating, in which case you really loose the freedom of movement.
The cockpits of earlier models are even more open than our 1996 model, which has the full size seating modules that give it more of a look of a cocktail cruiser than a multipurpose boat. With a large L-shaped settee to port, no one is going to mistake this one for a sport fish, though you'll find many of them decked out with outriggers, bait wells and such. Personally, I could do without the large L-lounge because it takes up too much space. I'd cut the base of the L off and leave it at that.
Our test boat had a pair of TAMD40, 220 hp diesels. The first word to come to my mind when hearing about these engines was "slow." Happily, I was wrong, For while she's no speed demon with these engines, she topped out at 24.8 upwind into a 2 ft head sea but gave the impression of going quite a bit faster. Actually, 24.8 knots is slow for a boat this size, but when you choose diesels like this, it's fuel range a buyer is thinking of, not speed.For diesel engine options you'll find them available with the 3126 Caterpillars or Cummins 6BTA at 335 hp. We'd recommend Cummins as the better engine.
If you're wondering how she does with a pair of Crusader 454's, rest assured that she's plenty fast. While we haven't tested one lately, figure at least 32 knots. She's light enough that she won't be hard on gas engines. If you are not going to be putting a lot of hours on your boat, we'd definitely recommend gas power. Diesels are a waste of money on boats that spend most of their time just sitting and you'll gain no benefit from the extra cost.
In a fairly steep chop, she did not pound. Actually, I was surprised at how comfortable the ride was since Tiara does not compete with Bertram, Blackfin or some other specialty boats for rough water performance. Deadrise aft is 20 degrees and forward around 32 degrees about 5 feet aft of forward waterline. This looked to be a bit steeper than earlier models, so perhaps the better ride shouldn't have been a surprise. Propeller pockets didn't help her speed much but then she draws only 2'2" of water. Or so Tiara says. I didn't measure it. Looking at the stern view photo below, that number seems to strain credibility.
We're not used to seeing Tiaras with this much dead rise. It definitely shows up in the ride.
The rudders are decidedly small, and with the props set somewhat close together, a bit of slow speed handling is lost. This is done so the deck level isn't too high and keeps the boat profile from being out of proportion.
The engines are quite close together, the rudders are smallish, so that slow speed steering and maneuvering into dock comes nowhere near to what you'd get with a Blackfin or Bertram.
The helm layout is one of the best I've seen. That is so obvious from the above photo I won't bother to describe it. The large, 20" destroyer wheel -- well, I can't understand how anyone could tolerate those puny little 12" wheels they're putting on boats these days. Placed vertically, manning the helm was a real pleasure for me, standing up or sitting down. Sitting back I like to drive with my feet, and that's nearly effortless here.
I loved most everything about this boat but one really bad thing: the engine compartment. I'll engage in some low class language here and just say that it positively sucks. I mean, they couldn't have done it any worse. Not even Sea Ray has managed to create an accessibility nightmare like this one.
It has a single large hatch, on which the heavy seating modules are permanently mounted. It is then opened by an electric-mechanical opener that dims the lights when you operate it, lifting up the aft end. It then opens about two feet. Uh huh, two feet. There is barely enough room for my two legs to fit between the engines. I had to stand slightly sideways. That, from the little hatch that accesses within the larger hatch. A hatch that is all but useless because the space is so small that all you can do is just stand there. Try bending over and something unpleasant tickles your backside, especially if the engines are hot.
But just try crawling through that two foot hatch opening. Have you ever tried to crawl across the top of a diesel engine on your hands and knees? When it's hot? Well, that's what you have to do. Folks, if you are any kind of do it yourselfer, I'd counsel you to consider this aspect carefully. Working on anything in that engine compartment is very difficult. If you're going to pay someone else to kill themselves fixing things, then no problem. Even something so simple as an oil change is not easy. The Westerbeke 4Kw generator is easy enough to service because it is at the aft end of the space. You only have to lay on your stomach to do so.
Myself, there's no way I could live with this. Okay, that unpleasantness aside, let's move on, assuming I haven't already turned you off. The rest of the boat is a pure delight.
Back to the helm, it's probably one of the best designs I've ever seen, and it looks great too without looking like something out of Buck Rogers. If you like Buck Rogers, then I've just insulted your taste. Sorry 'bout that. Modernism is fine, but boats that look like fantasy space ships are not my cup of tea. Plus, they're usually impractical as hell. But this one's got a touch of heaven.
There's a large center-line sliding door into cabin. Again, one of the nicest. You can rush down into the cabin without getting bruised every time you enter. Not at all like the contortionist arrangements Sea Ray and others love to create for us. Cabin layout has offset double berth forward that's sort of L-shaped. Not pretty, but very large. Fairly good vertical depth (headroom) here does not give the sense that you are sandwiched in between the deck and berth like a sardine. You won't bash your head when you suddenly sit up from a reclining position.
Here's a settee layout that really works! And notice the huge electric panel set at eye level. This is one of the things that distinguishes Tiara from the lesser breeds. TV is also viewable from forward berth.
The galley. Yawn. It does have a nice hatch over the stove though. Sink is hopelessly small. You can almost see it. A lot of area is lost for the 3/4 size frig.
Nice size convertible lounge to starboard, of the sort that you can get some use out of. One strange thing here is that this one was not designed to convert to a berth. The table is fixed and does not move without unbolting it. Odd.
The galley won't measure up even to a 30 Bertram. It's almost completely devoid of useable counter space as they've opted for a half-height reefer. For any kind of food prep, you have to use the table.
Plushy without going overboard, the interior scheme is heavy on contrast between a lot of white and the few pieces of teak like partial bulkhead and standing locker. The available stowage space is substantial. There's much more than average deck space and ease of movement is nice.
Another nice feature is that there are three deck hatches. Now a days builders are big on making boats with no ventilation. You're supposed to rely on air conditioning all the time. That is a decidedly dumb thing to do when you consider that around half the boats we survey the A/C does not work. And guess what? Nope, it didn't work on this one either. Opening three hatches solved that problem.
The head has no stall shower. Would I give up a shower stall for all this extra interior room? Yes, I think it's worth it. Wouldn't be the first time I've showered on deck, nor the last. Standard is the loud but very effective PAR electric head. Interior space here is adequate.
Detailing is above average but certainly not superb. For the money (new) I think it should be better. The teak didn't have much finish on it and detracted. You'll see a world of difference between this and a 1999 model where the finish is superior. If you want to see what a really nice interior looks like, take a look at the new Tiaras.
The major part of the quality in this boat is in the fiberglass moldings which are first rate. You won't find gel coat cracks all over this boat. In fact, there weren't any. The hull is screwed to the deck with a wood backing strip on the inside. It has the plastic rub rail with stainless molding inset. No problems here.
Although the side decks aft are a tad narrow, this boat is pretty easy to get around on. You certainly won't slip on that deep diamond non-skid decking. The small molded-in step on the sides of the cockpit is misplaced and hard to locate when boarding, but other than this the ergonomics are pretty darn good. There's a six inch step up to forward end of cockpit, giving a bit better visibility. I'm 6-0 and there was close to a foot over my head under the Bimini. The top of your head doesn't get fried under the Bimini on this one.
The windshield is quite tall without managing to look awkward, which is what affords such good visibility. A very strong design feature here. It's painted aluminum -- not done right, no zinc chromate primer and is starting to corrode, though not real badly. The aluminum radar arch: same story, mostly around stainless snap fasteners. But hey, at least it won't sag and distort like so many 'glass ones do. In another five years, both these items will be real mess.
There's a large removable storage tub athwartships in the aft deck that I managed to remove single handedly; it's light enough to do that without getting a hernia. Below is good access to steering gear, etc. Twin 123 gallon aluminum fuel tanks are properly designed and installed. They'll be no problem with corroded tanks here.
There are a few other carping points I could bellyache about, like all those plastic access ports in deck with handle that break off. And the crappy plastic ports in the sides of the cockpit liner that are actually crumbling under the Florida sun. And the plastic through hulls above the water line. None of these items belong on a boat at this price. Nor do the plastic hinges on seating module storage doors that are now cracking and breaking. Tiara saves two bucks at the risk of their reputation with garbage like this. I can smell the perfumed bean counters from here. They're in need of a good salt water dunking. God, save us from plastic hardware. Surely no one else will.
Overall, this is a big little boat that is very roomy for its size. Ergonomically it's near perfect. It makes a nifty cruiser or fishing boat or both. Overall, the quality level is satisfying and means that these boats are going to be around for a long time to come. We'd give this one 4-1/2 stars but for that engine compartment.
Foot note: A possible solution for the engine access problem might be to attach very large teflon runners to the under side of the seating modules. Then install some very large thumb screws for hold downs (dinky ones won't work), and add a couple of alignment guides on the deck. In this way, a single person could slide the cockpit modules all the way aft, fully off the hatch, and then lift the hatch more fully open for better access. With a little forethought, this might make an intolerable situation tolerable. The purpose of the teflon runners is so that you can easily slide the modules without lifting or damaging the deck. The alignment guides are needed so you can get the hold down screws lined up right.
Posted April, 4, 2000HOME > BOAT REVIEWS>
David Pascoe - Biography
David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.
Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.
Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:
In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from over 70 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.
In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.
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