Carver 35: Calling all nations.

AFTER EONS OF THROTTLE-BENDING EVERYTHING FROM HARD-chinned pot haulers to spit-it-out-your-eye wave benders, I’ve developed a marine classification system. I hear a boatbuilder’s name and it rattles around my cranium like the steel ball in a roulette wheel and then falls into a prepared slot. Donzi, Mariah, Cobalt: sleek, plush-lined go-fasts. Hatteras, Ocean, Viking: longstriding, solid comfort. Blackfin, Pursuit, Bertram: functional, go-for-it-with-style fish in’ machines. Tiara, Sea Ray, Wellcraft: jetset, sexy performance. Carver? A no-brainer. Sturdy, midwestern value; cruisers that are built with the dependability - and resemblance - of a Conestoga wagon. Sex appeal? Get real.

Then Carver hauls out the new 350 Mariner which resembles its old 32 Mariner about as much as Boris Karloff does Tom Cruise. There goes my system. Kaput. It’s like you walked into Joe’s Roadhouse for a burger and fries and there’s Elle MacPherson slinging hash in her bikini. This Euro styled, bold-lined, sweepingly-curvaceous cruiser would look at home off the casino in St. Tropez next to Octopus, which it somewhat resembles in miniature. At the town dock in Green Bay, Wisconsin? Not likely. But there it was, complete with Carver logo.

HOME GROWN.

Carver 350 Mariner Review Boating MagazineOnce I got past that Mediterranean facade, though, I saw that Carver didn’t forget who its customers are. The Mariner is aimed right at the American family. The topsides layout is all play and lounge. A foredeck bench, for instance, kicks down into a sunpad in a heartbeat. And the all-one-level belowdecks of this Eurocruiser is designed for easy living. Convenience? Throughout. It’s an easy hop from the dock to the Mariner’s 2'-wide swim platform with deep, molded-in nonslip. Then there’s a quick stride up an equally well designed non-slip staircase flanked by a stainless, bannister-like railing to the flying bridge.

Due to a serious social defect, much of my boating is performed single-handed, and the Mariner makes single or short-handling a cinch. The dash from the helm aft to work lines? Quick. And with that railing and those steps, guaranteed to be painless. Nothing sharp, no funny-bone-aimed extrusions; a proper assortment of 10" cleats an easy reach.

Rushing forward? The 12"-wide sidedecks are further supported by extra-wide gunwales. The 7/8” stainless-steel railings are waist-high and welded - except at the bow where they are pieced for easy replacement in case you share my smash ’em and mash ’em docking style.  Bottom line? You could set your hyper kids and thrice-soused brother-in-law loose and they won’t go overboard. Practical? Well designed? Yes, we’re back in the midwest, Dorothy.

More proof? The standard Maxwell 800 rope/chain windlass lives in its own concealed toe-saving foredeck well. Operate it with plastic-covered, rubber-sealed slave switches that are wired to a helm-mounted main. Good. No accidental windlass action that way. About that helm. A practical double-tiered design with Teleflex instrumentation and a centrally mounted standard Ritchie compass; plenty of room for whatever electronics turn you on.

Our test boat sported the optional ($255) rudder angle indicator. Get it. It’s poor economy not to and with this class act, it should be standard. C’mon Carver.

PULASKI’S PRIDE - Packed with features, the Mariner also sports a topsides icemalcer and a Corian–like finish in the galley and head. Top end: 28.5 mph.

DOCTOR GO.

The shield appears low and looks as if it could be an eyeball blaster at speed. But it must be that computer-assisted design. At a WOT of 28.5 mph, my hair wasn’t even ruffled when I went up on my tiptoes. Of course, I’m short. A 6-footer might get a face full. But why stand anyway? The visibility is great. Even coming out of the hole I didn’t lose the horizon.

As a matter of fact, driving the Mariner I never lost my equanimity. Yes, it was a calm day in Green Bay when I stretched it out, but by the time I finished see-sawing the wheel, I created my own maelstrom. No skid, ideal tracking. Hands off? Minimal wander. Backing down, single-engine operation? Great. Take it out in weather, you won’t get any unpleasant surprises either.

The lay-up is standard Carver. Layers of 32-oz. stitched mat are protected by a vinylester barrier coat. The hull/deck joint is bedded with polyurethane adhesive and stainless screwed every 6". Plywood stringers are wrapped with layers of 18-oz. stitched mat. Solid and traditional. The boat will stay together.

BCarver 350 Mariner Performance Specificationsut that’s a given. Will you stay together after a few days aboard? Easily. The layout below is spacious and comfortable. Plenty of stowage, great fit and finish and as for the advertised sleeping six? Sure, for a quick crash. But if you’re travelling, weekending or living aboard, two couples in the Mariner’s single-level cabin with its real-life double berth forward, sumptuous convertible dinette and sofa bed aft, like Mama Bear’s porridge, are just right. The nicest touch? A super-spacious shower stall - three burly Carver guys squeezed in there just to show me how big it was; uh, thanks fellows. It’s totally separate from the equally well-appointed head compartment. Excellent on a 35-footer and it would do justice on a much larger and more expensive boat.

IN, OUT AND ALL AROUND.

Access for people, machinery and gear is always a bugaboo. But Carver gave some thought to that, too. Most innovative? A fold-back topside hatch leading to a ladder from the flying bridge directly into the salon. It works, but the stick-on nonslip on the steps won’t for long. Entrance to the salon from aft is through a sliding door, then a step down. A handhold here would be a good idea. Carver thinks so too. The next boats off the line - our test boat was the prototype - will have it.

Our test boat was equipped with a pair of the standard 265-hp 350XL HT gas V-drive Crusaders. Get to them for maintenance through a lift-up hatch in the aft deck. More serious work? Take out a few screws and the whole deck lifts up. Yes, it’s tight in there, but there's nothing you can’t do. Wait until things cool down though to avoid scorching yourself.

The wiring is easy to get to, well loomed, color coded and water-proofed at all connections. Lift up the engine hatch to get to the three-position battery switch. This is an excellent move and forces you to peek at the mill when you come aboard. There’s also an easy-to-reach a.c./d.c. panel in the salon.

With standard power, the Mariner lists for $133,995. You can opt for diesels with a pair of Volvo Penta 139-hp TAMD 41s for $167,765. Comparison? Cruiser’s 3570 Esprit, about a foot longer and beamier (37'4" LOA, 13' beam, 16,000 lbs. disp.), but aimed at the same market as the Mariner, lists for $141,840 with its pair of standard 310-hp MerCruiser inboards.

Talk about the best of both worlds. Sleek Eurostyling with midwestern value and practicality. This Mariner has it — and there’s not a Conestoga wagon in sight.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OTHER CARVER YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Boating Magazine, November 1996 and was written by Stuart Reininger. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.boatingmag.com/subscribe-to-boating-magazine/

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