|LOA||35 ft., 6 in.|
|Draft||3 ft., 6 in.|
|Engines||Twin MerCruiser 5.7L, 300 hp|
|Base Price||As tested - $440,000|
|The hull is hand-laid fiberglass with glass-encapsulated foam stringers and a liner. No wood is used below the waterline. Integral aluminum truss reinforcement is in the cabintop structure.|
|Twin Mercury 5.7 L 300 hp gas engines w/coupled V-drives, trim tabs, electric freshwater head, 24-in. LCD flat-screen w/DVD, stereo, microwave, 2-burner electric cooktop, refrigerator, adjustable helm chair and more.|
|Navigation and communications electronics, twin Volvo Penta D4 300 hp diesels, lower helm station, genset (5 to 9 kw), custom hull colors, fresh- and saltwater washdown, electric anchor windlass, Bimini enclosure, reverse-cycle AC/heat, ice-maker, master stateroom TV/DVD and more.|
|Carver Yachts; Pulaski, Wis.; (920) 822-3214; carveryachts.com|
|West Coast Dealer|
|Silver Seas Yachts; San Diego, Newport Beach, Sausalito, Calif., Phoenix;
(877) 349-6582; silverseasyachts.com
Breakwater Marine, Wash. and B.C.;
Posted: June 1, 2013 | Boat Type: Motoryacht
A brand refresh creates a compact, amenities-laden boat complete with a flybridgeAs I stood on the dock, I noticed how the new Carver 34 Fly didn’t look at all its size. With a wide bow and a long flybridge, it seemed bigger, somehow more substantial than its length suggested. I didn’t know it yet, but I was also about to be surprised by the big impression this boat makes once you’re aboard. With loads of amenities and a great layout, this little flybridge uses every inch of available space. The C34 is the first in a new series from Carver. Starting a whole new concept with the smallest boat in the line is always tough, because the designers must be more innovative given the size restrictions. Carver chose a swoopy retro design with round portlights, a sheer line that evokes boats of yesteryear and a broad not-exactly plumb bow — let’s say plumb-ish. It’s clearly different from other Carvers, which I assume was done on purpose to signal something new in the company’s design philosophy.
I tested hull #4 with gas engines and a single helm on the flybridge. It’s the standard edition and one that is expected to bring lots of value to boat buyers. Rick Young of Silver Seas Yachts describes the appeal of the new model like this: “It was time for a change, and this design freshens the brand. This model is for a younger boater, one that likes the European interior styling and the retro exterior lines, and for families moving up from express boats.”
Young expects the C34 will appeal to two types of buyers: the boater looking for the extra room of a flybridge on a small boat, and the value buyer who up until now may have been considering a boat 5 or 6 years old. “They’re surprised that they can get a new boat with so many features for the price of a used one,” he said.
I stepped aboard onto the swim platform, which also provides access to two good-sized storage compartments built into the transom. In the cockpit, there is a U-shaped transom settee that is interrupted only by the gate. A small table is optional.
I continued all the way to the flybridge, which is up a set of seven well-spaced, comfortable and safe steps. Here, there is a U-shaped settee to port and a double sunpad aft. The helm to starboard is well situated with space for multifunction displays, a VHF, an engine display, an autopilot interface and gear shifts. Everything is within reach, and the visibility is excellent all around with the exception of the aft port corner, which is obscured by the sunpad. The single bucket helm seat swivels to face the companion seating, which lacks a table at the moment, but a solution will likely surface soon. Six or more people would be comfortable here for sun-downer cocktails, with a terrific view of the anchorage or marina.
This is a good-sized flybridge on a 34-foot boat. It’s high enough to afford good visibility but doesn’t feel far removed from the bow, so communication is easy with whoever is picking up a mooring or working with the windlass. The wide bow affords lots of room, and the anchor locker opens to reveal the entire rode, in case there are any snags or problems. To get to the bow, I went up the sidedecks, which are about a foot wide and have good handholds all the way.
The interior is a study in excellent use of space. The salon has a U-shaped dinette to port that is larger and better designed than on some larger yachts. It will easily seat four and has a table big enough for adults to sit and eat a full dinner comfortably, without dueling elbows.
The U-shaped galley to starboard is ergonomic and truly spacious. It includes a sink, a microwave oven, a two-burner cooktop, a refrigerator, lots of countertop space and a flat-screen TV that faces the dinette. This is a well-laid-out galley, and its placement keeps the cook in the social action between the salon and the cockpit, because it’s next to the aft door. Speaking of which, the double glass doors are another great feature. They both swing open to create an uninterrupted flow of air, light and traffic between the outside and the inside, which is how people use their backyard and house, so they expect the same ease on a boat.
Three steps lead down to the two-cabin, single-head accommodations. The master stateroom is forward with an island bed that sits well forward, allowing for a voluminous cabin thanks to the broad bow. An opening hatch is overhead, and the round fixed ports bring in light along the hull. The second cabin has twin beds that can be converted into one with an insert. There is standing headroom at the door, and like the master, it has a solid door for privacy. The head, which the two cabins share, is larger than expected on a boat this size. It includes a stylish square sink, good storage, a standard electric toilet and an ample shower stall.
Due to the C34’s 13-foot beam and large surrounding windows, the main deck feels open and airy and not at all cramped. Our test boat does not have the optional interior helm, which would cut into both the excellent galley countertop space and the headroom in the second cabin below. I couldn’t tell if its addition would make it feel shoehorned into an otherwise pleasant layout.
We headed out onto San Diego Bay after exiting a ridiculously tight side-tie between a large boat aft and nothing but dirt ahead. The bow thruster got us out safely, and we pushed out into a 15-knot breeze and flat water.
Our test boat is equipped with the standard MerCruiser 5.7L 300 hp engines with direct coupled V-drives and underwater exhaust. The gas engines are considered to be a value package — Volvo Penta D4 300 hp diesels are also available, though it seems that no C34 has been built with them as of yet.
Joystick control is an option, but pod drives are not. With the joystick, optional bow and stern thrusters are integrated with the engines to provide more maneuverability in tight docking situations, thereby simulating a pod-drive experience. It’s a $20,000 option, but one that may build confidence in new skippers.
Our top speed was 32 mph running with the wind, where we burned 47 gph at WOT. When I backed off to 22 mph, the fuel burn came down to 23 gph, or roughly 1 mpg. With 250 gallons of gas in two aluminum tanks, the range should be roughly 200 miles at cruising speed, around 20 mph, plus maneuvering time.
At slower speeds, the boat was very responsive and took the chop well even if it did wallow a bit in long rollers. At higher speeds, the steering became heavy, like on a car with no power assist. Of course, top speed is meant for running straight, so it’s doubtful anyone will be out there whipping up wakes and scaring the sea lions like I was.
The C34 has a base price of $325,000, and our test boat is around $440,000. Young hints that boat-show pricing could cut the price by a quarter. The functional upgrades include a genset, thrusters, a Bimini top and more. For anyone looking to step up to a flybridge model from perhaps an express boat, the C34 Fly is a tremendous value and one that you can still park in a 35-foot slip, which on the West Coast is even more valuable.
The C34 Fly is the first in a new line that is expected to launch 40- and 45-footers in the near future. It will then be the smallest of the new designs but in no way diminished. The space and amenities this intriguing little flybridge model offers make it a great value in a compact and stylish package that looks so much larger that you may want to tell everyone (except the marina owner) that it’s a 40.