The polls are in. The result? This new Carver 36.
WHAT KIND OF car do you drive? Before they began work on the 36 Aft Cabin Motor Yacht, the folks at Carver Boat Corporation asked that question - and many more - of boatowners all over America. It was a special survey. The Carver design team wanted to know what their prospective customers were looking for in a medium-size cruising boat, before they started designing a new one.
When the questionnaires came back, hardcore antagonism was reserved for just one item - bath tubs. They might be mandatory in mega-circles, respondents vociferated, but not on medium-sized vessels. Real boatmen don't take baths (though they're known to shower from time to time).
With more deadrise, the new hull rides as nice as the optional hardtop looks.
They don't like small refrigerators, either. Those surveyed wanted full-sized models on their dreamboats. Respondents also agreed that a dinette, adjacent to the galley, is much better than a combo or the galley-down/ dinette-up arrangement. Cooks wanted exclusivity. But they also wanted to save steps, stove to table.
Additionally, Carver found prospective buyers hoped for more beam in their boats, to increase interior living room. And they specified island berths, especially in master staterooms. (People were tired of having to crawl over each other, when getting into and out of bed. in the middle of the night.) Moreover, they wanted helm stations with enough room to properly mount a VHF radio, a radar, and a loran.
Takea look at the pictures and accommodation plan accompanying this article. You' ll see that everything - from full-size reefer to island berth - has been worked into the design of the new 36.
NOW YOU SEE IT - Now you don't. The gauges (and compass) at the optional lower helm station are under a flush-fitted hatch in the bar.
LEAVE IT TO CARVER
"The guy who buys one of these boats is a sensible guy... If Ward Cleaver had been a boatman, he'd have owned a Carver"
But what about the car question? Carver discovered that Sea Ray owners tend to drive down to the sea in Saabs. Or BMWs. And your basic Bayliner boatmen, when ashore, seemed to prefer imported rockets like the Nissan Pulsar. The Mercury Cougar might be found in the garages of Trojan owners.
And Carver? According lo the survey, the typical Carver owner (inboard) drives an American luxury car, like a Cadillac. This came as no shock to Dick Nocenti, Marketing Manager for Carver. ln fact, he maintains that it helps explain the company's design philosophy. After all, Cadillacs are conservatively and solidly built for luxurious comfort and travel.
"The guy who buys one of these boats," says Nocenti, "is a white-collar professional. College-educated. Probably a businessman. He's a sensible guy. He wants to own solid, sensible things. I hate to bring up old TV programs. But if Ward Cleaver had been a boatman, he 'd have owned a Carver."
13'10" beam means an expansive salon, a master stateroom that's huge and a galley and dinette which are adjacent but separate.
Sensible. Certainly. But not stodgy or plodding.
When we took the 36 into the Atlantic off South Florida (with the help of Capt. Ramsey M. Mills and the other nice folks at Carver dealer Allmar Marine in Dania), we ran close to 30 mph. The Carver handled the 4' to 6' seas well, with a dry, comfortable ride, and good stability in turns. (For a sedate pace of 16 mph, throttle back to 3000, and get more than 150 miles range.)
Around the dock, she handled well, and visibility while docking was good. A couple could handle her easily, and even a singlehander could do it.
One of the most impressive things about the new Carver is the way it's put together. Durability and strength get a head start in a heavy-duty lay-up schedule. After the inside of the mold is sprayed with gel coat (and it dries), a random layer of chop is shot and then rolled down. Actually, this is done not to strengthen, but to prevent "print-through," which can occur when a patterned layer underlies gel coat. Besides being smooth, the gel coat on a finished hull is thick and should withstand any ordinary lapse in boat-handling technique. Below the waterline, the stuff is 28 mils thick. Above, it's 22.
The hull is a modified-V, made up of four layers of 24-oz. woven roving, overlapped at the chines and transom for extra strength. Deadrise at the transom is 19 degrees - considerably more than the eight- to 10-degree deadrise on earlier Carvers. The reason for the increase is simple. Carver wants to soften the ride underway. Flat after sections produce plenty of "floating cottage" stability at the dock. But they also make for a hard-pounding ride. The change in deadrise is an attempt to approximate a happy medium.
There are two running strakes on the bottom, placed well outboard. When the boat is on plane, they serve more to deflect water to the side than to provide lift. The strakes are solid - filled from the inside with micro-balloon paste. Stringers are hollow (to save weight), and there are four of them strengthening the hull. The two central ones are almost 6" wide at the top and, in the machinery spaces (amidships), are close to 30" deep. The stringers are glassed into the bottom, and thus integral with it . End-grain balsa (1/4" ) is used to core the sides of the boat. The same material, but thicker (3/ 4") , is used to core most of the deck. In way of hatches and other high-stress areas, plywood is used.
Thick aluminum backing plates are laminated into the deck beneath stanchions, cleats, etc. To anchor hardware to the deck, holes are drilled in the plates and tapped for bolts. If the accessibility is there, throughbolts are installed and secured with locknuts. Incidentally, the stainless steel stanchions are welded to the stanchion bases, from the top and from underneath. A detail you might not really notice.
Belowdecks, I took up a comfortable vantage point on the U-shaped lounge in the dinette (to port), and surveyed the galley (to starboard). The sink, located next to the Seaward Princess stove, was almost as big around as a barrel and close to a foot deep. Beautiful!
The countertops were covered with high-pressure laminate, with teak searails. Nice, but cutting reliefs into the rails would make cleaning up easier.
The feeling I got from sitting there in the galley/dinette area was one of openess. The windshield (standard) above was like a skylight. There was plenty of cross-ventillation. Side windows open and are screened. And you can open forward and after hatches. Stowage area was ample, with a host of cabinets and drawers.
THE ENORMOUS ROOM
After all, Cadillacs are conservatively and solidly built for luxurious comfort and travel. So's the 36 Aft Cabin.
"This is one of the reasons we call her a motor yacht," Nocenti says, standing by the big hanging locker in the aft cabin. He points out that the door of the locker looks like a single piece of teak, almost three-feet wide. Carver manages to produce this appearance, in this door and in the one on the hanging locker in the forward stateroom, by using veneer, on front and back, and solid teak around the edges.
There are other reasons for calling the 36 a motor yacht. Probably the biggest is the aft cabin (master stateroom). It's huge, taking up about one-third of the boat's waterline length and stretching the full width of her ample 13'10" beam. The island berth fits in with the voluminous theme and is also comfortable (I tried it). Sliding side windows (with screens) and a sealed aft window (which can be "popped out" in an emergency) make the cabin bright.
Another motor-yacht-caliber feature can be found in the head - a separate stall shower. The stall is big enough for an adult, has a molded-in bench, and a thick, clear-acrylic door. The other head, forward, adjoining the guest stateroom is smaller and does not have a separate shower stall. There's a telephone-type fixture which doubles as a sink faucet.
WHERE THE SEEING IS EASY
Our test boat was equipped with an optional, lower helm station ($2,998) in the salon. This obviously will extend the boating season for those who choose it. Visibility (for the helmsman or anyone else) is good, with side windows, windshield, even an aft window portside. The aluminum frames around the windshield, particularly at the outboard edges, are not so thick that they obstruct vision.
Throttles and shifts are Morse mechanicals. Topside, the engine controls are Teleflex, also mechanicals. Why the difference? Carver thinks the former are smoother, the latter more weather-resistant.
An interesting feature of the lower helm station is the way the engine gauges are mounted. As you can see from the pictures, the station is installed in one of two bars that divide the salon from the galley/dinette area. The gauges are mounted under a flush-fitting hatch in the surface of the starboard-side bar.
With the door down, you can stack books, magazines, whatever, on the bar. Should you decide to operate the boat from the salon, just flip the door up (it swings on an aluminum piano hinge). There are the gauges.
The settee in the salon converts for sleeping. The glass and bottle stowage under the portside bar is standard but the U-Line ice maker to starboard is optional ($996). The one-piece handrail leading down into the salon from the aft deck is made of eight thin layers of teak, bent to the desired shape. Pretty.
With a pneumatic assist, the engine-room hatch in the salon sole lifts effortlessly. The hatch is an impressive fabrication of plywood backed by a frame of hollow, aluminum box beams, welded together. In fact, the whole salon sole is supported by a grid of such beams. Not a piece of pine or spruce to be found under the decking. Besides strength, this has other advantages.
For instance, if you're forced to pull an engine, the grid can be unbolted, and the carpet and decking lifted out. The side windows of the boat are built so that, if the top edges are jacked up, the glass can be removed. With the boat dock-side, a fork lift can then be run through the window and the engine stripped down and extracted like a bad tooth.
The bilges in the machinery spaces are gel-coated. Fuel tanks are of welded aluminum, outboard of the engines, port and starboard. There's an optional cross-over system ($165), with three clearly-labeled valve/ switches (starboard engine, port engine, generator). All you need to do is decide which tank(s) you want to pull fuel from and read. No fooling around with a complicated manifold.
There are two sets of electric lights (110v and 12v) in the engine spaces, with protective lenses and guards. Carver is apparently aware that most engine problems occur at midnight, a couple of hours after Junior dropped the flashlight in the drink. Limberholes, which allow for drainage through the stringers to the bilge sump, are lined with PVC and are big enough not to clog. Through-hulls are bronze. Hoses are all double-clamped. Three marine batteries - the third one was for the optional 6.5kw Kohler generator ($7,984) on our test boat - are positioned between the engines, high enough off the bottom of the hull so you don't have to go pearl diving to check them.
And the engine mounts! They are 3/8" welded aluminum brackets, secured to the sides of the supporting stringers with bolts. Backing plates and lock-nuts, inside each stringer, are accessible through Beckson-type inspection ports. Self-centering tapered-shaft couplings are used to secure the twin, counter-rotating prop shafts to the transmissions on the 454s.
A CADILLAC FROM PULASKI
The gel coat on the finished hull is thick and should withstand any ordinary lapse in boat-handling technique.
For a short time, Nocenti and I sat on the aft deck of the 36, under the optional hardtop ($6,074 with radar arch and enclosure), watching the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show throng pass by. It was pleasant but unsettling ... all those boat-happy shoppers, nostrils flared with the scent of fresh fiberglass. I suggested we repair to the comparative calm of the bridge (just a couple of steps up from the aft deck) where a question about the Seawolf electric windlass ($2,053) and Jabsco spotlight ($972) on the bow prompted a long response.
"Both of them are optional," Nocenti said. "If you want to install your own we'll run the wires for you. Where a lot of other companies are going to package boats, we're trying to stay flexible."
"Look at the base price of this boat," he continued. " It's $139,995 with the Crusaders. With the hardtop, air conditioning ($8,995), generator ($7,984), electronics, and all the rest, we're talking close to $190,000. A guy who's willing to spend that kind of money wants to be able to choose. Our survey tells us that picking your options, laying out the electronics - that sort of thing - is half the fun of buying a boat."
The survey again. I looked at the console. Plenty of room to mount a VHF radio, a radar, and a loran. Even a cabinet to stow your binoculars. There were status lights for each of the three bilge pumps; remote switches for the spotlight, with focus and flood. The rocker switches for the Bennett trim tabs were easy to get at. The upholstery was slick.
"She's a Cadillac alright," I said, tapping the dashboard. "By the way, Dick. What kind of car do you drive?" "Not a Cadillac," Nocenti grinned. "Yet."