And you thought Luhrs built just fish boats.

IN RECENT YEARS, the Luhrs name has meant sportfishing. And only sportfishing. Good, solid angling platforms at very attractive prices. But now, this builder is applying the same virtues of good value and practicality to cruising, entertaining, and living aboard. Enter the Luhrs 3400 Motor Yacht Sedan.

According to Luhrs’ Director of Sales and Marketing, Bill Halsell, the 3400 is aimed at the boatman looking to move up to his first "big" cruiser. Having tasted the fun of mid-sized packages, a boatman should find the 3400 a logical step up. After all, this is an easy-to-handle, well-mannered boat that earns its motor yacht stripes by sleeping up to six comfortably, and entertaining at least three times that many. It's all a matter of design.

 

LIVELY LUHRS – The 3400 topped out at over 30 mph with twin 454 Crusaders.

 

But even with this different focus, Luhrs hasn't strayed far from the familiar. This boat is built like other members of the family. The interior uses labor saving pre-fab modular construction, and overall it's a standardized package (i.e., the boat comes basically one-way). The hull lines of the 3400 come from the vintage Luhrs 342, a popular blue water fishing boat. A few minor cosmetic modifications (e.g., engine room vents and teardrop-shaped portlights) and the affable hull comes back to life in a cruising mode. Construction reflects the original's sensible, straightforward approach - solid glass laminate fortified with Coremat to prevent print-through and a glass-encapsulated plywood stringer system.

Topside, however, the 3400 is completely new, as you would expect of a boat that trades fishing for partying and gunkholing.

 

HEAD ROOM-Split head places shower to starboard. Flying bridge with Bimini top, sun lounge with refreshment center, and accessible cockpit are people-pleasers.

 

 

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

There was ice on the flying bridge seats when I tested the 3400 at the factory on the San Sebastian River in St. Augustine during a brutal northwester in December. Yet the cold weather didn't chill out the obvious entertaining potential of this layout.

The bridge stretches over 16' long and nearly 7' wide. The lounge to starboard measures 7'2" l x 1'8" w, has 3"-thick cushions, and is a superb place to soak up the sun or relax in the shade of the Bimini (standard, along with the radar arch). Abaft the helm seat, there's a refreshment center with a sink and lift-out bin that doubles as an ice chest.

 

INVITING – Molded steps and husky grab rails make passage easy from the flying bridge to the foredeck. Varnished teak trim complements soft colors in galley/dinette, and forward stateroom.

 

Getting to and from the party on the bridge is easy - there's a familiar teak and anodized-aluminum ladder in the cockpit leading to cutout in the bridgedeck. But even more appealing is the bridge's walkthrough front that leads down four steps to the foredeck. A solid door locks in place to close off the bridge front when underway. Or, you can slide it into the recess forward of the starboard lounge for an unobstructed pathway and a little extra breeze. It's a clever arrangement that's practical, too, because the steps are a generous 1'9" wide. And since the steps are molded into the windshield, they are unobtrusive and not readily seen when the boat is viewed from either side.

The nonslip is a foot grabber, and all bridge and safety railing is sturdy, anodized aluminum which Luhrs fabricates at the plant. There's scampered, ventilated, and night-lighted stowage space under the flying bridge lounge. The helm station, to port, is small, but is complete, and gives the operator good visibility, as well as a bench seat that's wide enough for two. Most of the dash space is taken up by the Faria instrumentation, Fireboy Halon monitor, Bennett trim-tab rocker switches, and Aqua Meter Saturn compass. But there's still ample room to add a few flush or bracket-mounted electronics. Any of the newer compact, multi-function units would be a good choice.

 

Famous for fishboats, Luhrs maintains the familiar, sensible approach with this new motor yacht.

 

The foredeck also is well executed with practical matters in mind. The aluminum bowrail and fiberglass pulpit are standard. Metal framework beneath the pulpit helps eliminate gouges in the fiberglass when the anchor is not in use. Hardware includes three sturdy 10" cleats, chocks, and a spring-loaded anchor rode deck pipe.

The smoked-plex ventilating deck hatch was interesting on several counts. First, it's flush-mounted, which all but eliminates any chance of tripping over it. Then, a thick, pliable gasket seals out water and a molded-in gutter provides positive drainage. Two more benefits are achieved by placing the hatch fairly far forward. Not only does this allow for the foredeck to be used as another sunning pad, but when you're sleeping in the stateroom below, it also lets fresh air enter directly over your head.

Think about this for a minute. When the hatch is farther aft, the breeze cools your feet and continues aft toward the salon. For this very reason, I've often found the salon is the best place to sleep on many boats. The air flow is that much better. It also points out that the Luhrs people use these boats and work at solving many seemingly mundane - but truly important - problems.

LIFE AND THE PARTY

That forward stateroom has a hexagonal-shaped island berth with a 4”-thick mattress, plenty of stowage, a pair of cedar-lined lockers, two opening portholes with screens, reading and overhead lighting, and neutral fabric on the headliner and hull sides. You might want to add a full-length mirror to the back of the private door. As it is, the only mirror on the boat is the sliding front of one of the stowage shelves in the head.

More than half of the 3400’s interior is devoted to the salon, galley and dinette in keeping with the entertaining-good-living format. And the layout works extremely well. The salon, for example, has a convertible sofa (8’2” l by 2’1” w) to starboard and an upholstered lounge chair and full entertainment center with Panasonic color TV, VCR, and Combi-Sound Marine Stereo with tape player to port. Sliding side windows and the cockpit entrance let the daylight pour in, and are fitted with screens to provide plenty of ventilation. More natural light can shine through the split windshield.

 

Coming in at $99800, our test boat was a likeable packaging teeming with cruising and entertaining features.

 

One step down on the port side, carpeting gives way to an oak parquet sole in the galley, with its Panasonic microwave, Kenyon two-burner electric cooktop, dual stainless steel sinks, Nova Kool refrigerator-freezer, laminated countertops, and plentiful stowage in drawers and lockers with tambour-style front. Opposite, a wraparound dinette with teak fiddle rails converts to a double berth.

A split head with a molded sink and stowage lockers, GFI outlet, and Sea Land MSD is to port, while a separate shower with seat, and more stowage space is starboard. Both head areas feature ventilating ports with screens.

Throughout, there's an obvious flow of amenities and accommodations that enable the 3400 to excel at its mission of entertaining and cruising. While the boat can sleep six in three separate areas, four people could cruise in extreme comfort for extended periods of time. For a young family with two children, you couldn't ask for more.

PRACTICAL APPROACH

Even with all the interior and flying bridge space, there's still enough room for a small, functional, self-bailing cockpit. Again, there's well-designed utility - dockside freshwater inlet and saltwater washdown, a fiberglass fishwell that lifts out to expose fuel tank fittings, Mayfair bilge pump, Sea Star hydraulic steering ram, and the Bennett trim tab reservoir. A fiberglass swim platform with a built-in dunnage box and stainless-steel boarding ladder adds convenience and safety. In addition, a fixed aluminum ladder allows easy passage from the swim platform to the 2’1” deep nonslip cockpit sole. Add a few rodholders and you could even do what the other Luhrs do – fish.

But rodholders are one of a few options you’ll buy, since the 3400 leaves the factory ready to cruise. Additionally, this boat is already set up to accept such optional gear as air conditioning and generator. In this case, a 6.5kw Kohl on the centerline forward of the freshwater cooled 300-hp Crusaders.

We topped out at just a hair under 31 mph, which is more ample for cruising. Ultra-large trim tabs provided added stability, the Sea Star hydraulic steering, and Teleflex steering cables afforded predictable handling.

At $99,800 (with twin 454 Crusaders), Luhrs 3400 is a likeable package that’s easy to operate and maintain.