The 3800 Open is not only the midpoint of the Tiara lineup, it’s also an affirmation of what this builder does best.

You have to wonder what the Slikkers family is thinking these days. In 1984 the biggest boat they built was 36 feet. Now they’ve introduced a new 38-footer that is the midpoint in a line stretching from 29 feet all the way to 50 feet. Even by today’s standards, that’s a remarkable success story.

But the new 3800 is the heart of the Tiara line not just in terms of length. It is precisely the kind of boat that made this builder the success it is: a roomy, open, truly dual-purpose craft that is well engineered and superbly finished. Featuring styling cues found on the flagship 50-footer, it replaces the 3700 Open, which was introduced in 1995 and is bracketed by the 3500 and 4100 Opens. (At present, the 3800 is not offered in the Express Series–3500, 4000, and 5000–which with a smaller cockpit and larger cabin is oriented more toward cruising.)

The Open line, which debuted in 1979 with the ubiquitous 3100, has always been about choice. Each Open can be ordered as anything from a tournament-ready fishboat (about one of five are) to a cushy cruiser. Most are outfitted like our test boat, with enough gear to make them capable of chasing anything up to a grander while retaining the comforts and amenities that make them ideal for cruising. To facilitate this, these boats have relatively limited standard equipment lists and a maximized options menu. For instance, the 3800’s Fishing Group offers 11 options, including everything from lockable cockpit rod stowage to two in-sole cockpit fishboxes with circulating system and macerator. Two bait-prep centers with livewells are also available, but as part of the Seating Group, which just goes to show you how much of a crossover boat this is.

To accommodate anglers and cruisers alike, the 3800 has a big cockpit: 6'8" wide by 11'7" long. Rod racks line either side, and those optional locking covers for them mean you don’t have to lug valuable rigs back into the cabin every night. A standard in-sole dunnage box, which can be ordered as a livewell, sits in front of the standard starboard transom door and gate; unfortunately you cannot lift its hatch fully open unless you lift the gate. Centerline is a large hatch that provides access to the bilge and rudder quadrants. It can be outfitted with a lift-out fishbox that’s secured by convenient snap rings. In standard form it drains directly into the bilge, an adequate setup for cruisers who will use it for dry stowage or as an ice chest. Anglers will want to order the optional macerator with pump-out. A third, smaller hatch located forward on centerline opens to reveal a complete, logically arranged, well-labeled fuel manifold.

In standard trim, two-person seats occupy the forward end of the cockpit to port and starboard, but an optional bait-prep station with cutting board, deep livewell/sink, and two tackle drawers can replace the one to port. Molded-in steps to either side provide easy access to eight-inch-wide side decks serviced by handrails on the windshield frame and optional radar arch. Regardless of whether you’re fighting a fish or dropping the hook, you’ll find forward access easy and safe thanks to the sturdy bowrail that is mounted atop an inch-and-a-half-high toerail and Tiara’s famous nonskid. (Actually there are two types: an aggressive pattern for the deck and a milder version for the top of the house where people might sit or recline.) The standard chain locker is a separate molding so odors can’t get into the cabin. The pulpit and stainless steel roller are standard, but a Maxwell rope/chain or all-chain windlass is optional.

The bridge deck is elevated, as is common in fishing boats,

to enhance visibility and prevent shipped water from intruding into the control area and cabin. Regardless of their nautical predilections, all owners will love the 3800’s engine access: The entire bridge deck–seats, built-ins, and all–raises electrically to a span of 2'6". (A small day hatch is available for daily maintenance checks.) Typical of Tiara’s commitment to finish, drains for this large module are concealed inside a two-piece molding. Below, there’s two feet between each Cummins diesel engine and the hull (solid glass below the waterline, balsa-cored above), unless you order the Glendinning CableMaster, whose collector bin occupies most of the aft starboard side. The optional 8-kW hushboxed Onan sits fully aft, accessible on three sides. Notable here is the unique Tiara engine mounting system, which uses brass pins or "toggles" passing through the plywood "Tech-Lam" engine beds to secure the live engine mounts, a system the builder claims is more positive and less prone to misalignment.

With the 3800’s bridge deck down, there’s room for a crew of anglers or a family of cruisers. To port is a five-person, L-shape settee, which with the insertion of a forward filler becomes a comfortable lounge. Four shallow drink holders and a large Plexiglas chart compartment occupy the forward bulkhead. To starboard the helm seat, with standard electric fore/aft adjustment, offers room for the captain and at least one mate. Abaft this seat is a stowage cabinet that can be ordered with an icemaker. Thanks to the deck’s elevation, visibility while either standing or seated is excellent, enhanced by a distortion-free, curved glass windshield that is contained in a unique composite frame designed and constructed by Tiara. Mirroring the engine hatch design, the entire instrument console tips forward for easy electronics installation.

The 3800’s owner has almost as much opportunity to express him- or herself inside as outside. While only one layout is offered–big V-berth stateroom forward, head with separate shower, compact galley to port, and large U-shape settee to starboard–there are plenty of choices, and they won’t all be decided according to whether you fish or cruise. Carpet is standard, but most boats will no doubt have the teak and holly sole found on our test boat, a feature that’s become something of a Tiara trademark. (Solid teak is also available.) The standard interior woodwork is traditional teak, but our boat had the optional honey ash veneer interior, which I preferred. Other options include two AM/FM stereo/CD units and a TV that mounts on an innovative turntable so it can be viewed from either the saloon or the stateroom.

Of course, anglers and cruisers alike are attracted by performance, and here there are only two choices: 450-hp Cummins or 435-hp Caterpillars. While the minor difference in horsepower is unlikely to substantially affect your performance results, note that the Caterpillars are V-8s while the Cummins are in-line sixes, so there will be some difference in engine room space. Either way, expect good seakeeping from the modified-V hull form, which on test day provided a dry, smooth ride in small to moderate seas. More impressive to me was the solidity of the ride, testament to Tiara’s tab-and-slot method of affixing virtually every major interior component, far superior to simple glues or screws.

With a brand-new hull with prop pockets, cambered and curved transom, shapely engine air intakes, and composite windshield, the 3800 represents the latest evolutionary step at Tiara–what some in the company informally call the third generation. But in terms of design flexibility, quality, and superior fit and finish, this Tiara is completely conventional. Indeed, she represents not only the heart of the lineup but also in many ways the soul of her builder.

Base price: $339,500 with 2/450-hp Cummins 6CTA8.3 diesel inboards
Optional power: 2/435-hp Caterpillar 3208 DITA diesel inboards
Standard equipment: molded-in pulpit w/ s/s roller and windlass prewiring; 2/bronze aft corner hawsepipes; transom door and gate; fighting chair reinforcement; teak interior; Corian countertops; microwave oven; VacuFlush MSDs; Ritchie compass; Racor fuel/water separators; 3 bilge pumps; dockside water; CO detector

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 40'9" w/pulpit
Beam: 14'2"
Draft: 3'6"
Weight: 22,500 lbs. (dry)
Fuel capacity: 411 gal.
Water capacity: 110 gal.
Test engines: 2/450-hp Cummins 6CTA8.3 diesel inboards
Transmissions: ZF
Ratio: 1.71:1
Props: 24x28 3-blade Nibral
Steering: Teleflex hydraulic
Controls: Teleflex
Optional equipment on test boat: cockpit icemaker; port-side curved companion seat; Onan 8-kW diesel genset; windlass; Glendinning CableMaster and engine synchronizer; oil change system; A/C with helm outlet; radar arch; AM/FM stereo w/6-CD changer

CLICK HERE TO SEE TIARA YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Power & Motoryacht Magazine, June 2000 and is written by Richard Thiel. For more great powerboat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/uncategorized/subscribe-power-motoryacht

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