Boat Review – by Pat Carson
2021 TIARA 38LX and CRUISERS YACHTS 38GLS
A Pair Of 38’s
While wandering the docks at Silver Seas Yachts, Sausalito, I noted a pair of 38-foot outboard powered day yachts and thought, on this sunny and wind free day I should take one of them out and do a boat review. I had visions of doing hard over-turns tighter than a necktie in a board meeting, but unfortunately Rob Newman would not let me have the keys as neither of the boats were fully prepped yet and they were not quite ready for prime time. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I hear that the boats are prepped and that we can schedule a boat test and review on them both. What a great idea. Two brand new 2021 luxury day yachts from different manufacturers to tempt and tease me. The Tiara 38LX which was introduced in 2017, is slotted in the mid part of the line up between the smaller 34 and big sisters measuring in at 43- and 48-feet. The Cruisers 38GLS is the smaller sibling of the outboard powered boats that Cruisers offers, and is also available in an I/O version, as is her big sister the 42GLS. I hear that the family will have a new offspring in July, the 34GLS. Newman did a great job coordinating the event and arranging a third boat to serve as our photo platform – the 38 GLS I/O, another boat driver Sean Conner, a still photographer, and of course the drone operator. There were a lot of moving parts to get coordinated and everything worked out, except the weather. It was an overcast morning in Sausalito at 0630 as the team got together over coffee and croissants to review the plans for the day of aggressive boat driving and picture taking.
With the two 38’s nestled in at the sales dock stern-to-stern, I decided to take the Tiara LS first. Something about those triple 400 horsepower Verado 2.6-liter supercharged L6 outboards was just calling me. Boarding the yacht from the swimstep, you slip past the formidable Merc 400’s and enter the entertainment cockpit from center and step past the teak dining table surrounded by a U-shaped settee to starboard and the outdoor galley to port. Keep moving forward and you find the well-appointed helm station with a double-wide helm seat and fold up bolsters to starboard and cabin access to port. Continue forward past the recessed spray door and into one of the coolest bow entertainment centers I have seen. The seating wraps around and has folding armrests and tons of storage under the cushions. The windless and ground tackle are hidden beneath a bow hatch for that clean look, yet easy to access when needed.
The efficiency cabin is accessed by pulling the gull wing hatch located in front of the port side companion seat and then down a teak step. With nearly five and a half feet of clearance, access to a Vacuflush head and water toy storage is easy. We also find a wash basin in this fully heated and air-conditioned area.
At the helm, the Tiara designers did a good job shielding the dual Garmin 16-inch multi-function displays from the light entering via the large forward windscreen. That windscreen provides great visibility, but could easily wash out the displays with a lesser helm design. I find that the dual height footrests easily provide a comfortable position whether standing or sitting. Throttle controls are to the right and the joystick is to the left.
Ready to pull away from the dock, I engage the Mercruiser joystick and effortlessly slide the boat to the right with just a few feet of clearance at the stern and less than that at the bow. While operating the joystick control, I look back and stare with amazement at the three outboards, each articulating independently of each other and shifting in and out of forward and reverse as I manipulate the stick. This is my first time using the Merc joystick with outboard engines, and my impression is that the computer guys really have this thing dialed in, allowing even the most novice skipper to look like a seasoned pro. Close quarter maneuvering is effortless and stress-free, even with the south wind on my bow above 10 knots. After gliding out of Clipper Yacht Harbor and into Richardson Bay I get the opportunity to check out the Garmin navigation system and configure it to my liking. Our test boat is equipped with the Mercruiser auto trim system that claims to eliminate the need to manually adjust the drive trim. I have it set to the recommended level “two,” and cannot wait to see if it really works as advertised.
Just past Richardson Bay Light number 2 and with the other two boats in the distance, I bring my stallion, or feisty filly rather, up on plane in just a few seconds then back off the throttles to a comfortable cruise of 25 knots. The giant 400’s are fairly quiet at 4,000 RPM, and yes the auto trim is doing its job keeping the trim just about spot on. I cannot resist the temptation to play with the trim manually to see if I can improve the performance, but unfortunately I hate to admit that I cannot. After some spirited S-turns and some wide-open runs down Raccoon Strait, the other boats have caught up and the radio chatter indicates that we are now racing as we pass Ayala Cove to our chosen photo spot on the north side of Angel Island. My Tiara 38 with her 1200 horses proved to be too much for the other boats as I accelerated past 48 knots in choppy seas and put some distance from the other boats. It was decided that I would have to do that again, and again, and again so that the photographers would have the chance to capture a few photos. I “reluctantly” agreed!
Should there be any doubt that this sporty day cruiser was built with entertainment as well as performance in mind, I counted 18 cup holders strategically placed around the boat. Add comfort and entertainment to her sporty, stable seaworthy ride, along with the convertible seating suitable for lounging, entertaining or sun worshipping, Tiara certainly has the right combination for everyone in the family.
My most economical cruising speed has the Merc’s spinning at 4,500 RPM, burning 40 gallons per hour and providing 34 knots of cruising fun. That pencils out to a respectable 0.85 nautical miles per gallon. On my (several) high speed test runs I had the LX north of 49 knots, but I did not have the opportunity to look at the fuel consumption at that speed. However, I did glance at the tachs and saw a heart throbbing 6800 RPM on all three of those Verados. According to Mercury, the fuel rate at 6800 RPM is 43 gallons per hour per engine. That calculates out to an economy of 0.4 nautical miles per gallon at wide open throttle.
After a few hours of fun, my time on the Tiara was up and I was ready to transfer to the Cruisers for some more morning speed runs. Sean, having the sky hook set on the GLS and the very cool entertainment platform lowered made transferring drivers between boats safe and easy.
Stepping aboard the foldout beach door, I like this water level transom platform replacement. Once aboard, I activate the switch and the platform folds back up and seamlessly becomes part of the coaming.
As you head forward, the large stern lounge seating wraps to port and is opposite another L-shaped settee on the starboard side that extends all the way forward to the back of the helm seating. The two small high gloss teak tables provide dual dinettes that work much better than one large one. Cruisers is well-known for fitting storage areas in every nook and cranny possible, and our GLS is no exception. The teak tables stow under the seating area and there is space for water toys and other necessary boat accoutrements.
My test boat has the optional aft shade that extends over most of the seating area to keep the direct sun off the guests. It was pointed out to me later that the aft seating swivels and faces to the right, which provides a view of the water activity on the beach platform.
Forward and to port is the fully equipped cockpit galley, complete with a sink, electric grill, refrigerator and even provisions for a flat screen TV. In case you are wondering where the icemaker is, Cruisers located that under the helm seat to starboard. The galley setup is complete with two bar stools on the forward side of the galley countertop.
The access to the bow entertainment center is forward of the bar stools. If you walk past the cabin door, open the folding windshield panel and go up to the bow, you find a great entertaining space with a large U-shaped settee and high gloss teak cocktail table.
Cabin access is via a large sliding door set near the centerline. My first thought as I step into the cabin is that I can see where the extra weight of the GLS comes from. This boat is more than an outboard powered day boat. She has a real cabin with six and a half feet of headroom, a near queen berth in a private stateroom aft and an enclosed wet head with hot and cold water. The forward U-shaped settee is set up for climate-controlled dining, or by lowering the teak table it will convert into a double berth for overnight accommodations. There is even a mini galley with a combination microwave/convection oven, a refrigerator and even provisions for a flat screen TV.
The helm of our GLS is starboard of the cockpit galley and has a large double seat with a folding bolster that slides fore and aft and fold down armrests. Our test boat has the dual 12-inch Simrad multifunction displays with RADAR, and Mercury engine data is available on either display. Set on the right side are the engine controls, joystick and trim tabs. We are equipped with the Mercury auto trim feature that I am now convinced works better than my manual control. Mounted on the panel just under the engine controls is the VHF radio and the fire suppression system manual control. Sitting at the helm, all the controls are just where you would expect them and are easily accessible.
Now that I am finished orienting myself with the vessel, it is time to see how the performance compares to the Tiara. My expectation is for a different level of performance as we have 300 less total horsepower and a boat that is 6,000 pounds heavier. I would, however, expect more torque from the 4.6-liter V8’s. The winds have continued to freshen, and are now around 15 knots with the resulting chop in the straits. I start out with a full throttle launch and back off the power when I hit a brisk cruising speed of 30 knots and 4500 RPM. At this speed, the boat feels and handles like any well-designed day boat sport cruiser. After carving some tight S-turns around the camera boat intending to wet the photographers with my spray, I find the handling nearly on par with my companion boat.
Setting up for a few high-speed passes, I leave plenty of room for acceleration by starting out near Point Simpton and nailing the throttles. This heavy girl jumps out of the water, and I glance down to see the speed climbing past 40 knots in less than 15 seconds. I hit 44.9 knots as I fly past the camera boat and bank hard to the right. Unfortunately, I will have to do that again as I failed to land any spray on the photographers.
On the way back to Clipper, I seize the opportunity to run at various speeds while capturing performance data, and find that the fuel economy is nearly linear from 4,000 RPM all the way to 5,500 RPM with a nautical mile per gallon at 0.8 cruising anywhere from 32 to 41 knots. By backing off the throttles just a bit and fiddling with the trim, I can almost get to the 1.0 miles per gallon at 31 knots. In calmer seas, I am sure that I could improve those numbers further.
2021 Tiara 38LX Specification:
- LOA – 38’- 01” with integrated platform
- Fuel – 331 gallons gas + 30 gallons diesel
- Beam – 12’- 06”
- Potable water – 50 gallons
- Draft – 3’- 06”
- Black water – 27 gallons
- Air Clearance – 8’- 08” waterline to hardtop
- Power – Triple Mercury 400 Verado JPO
- Displacement – approx. 18,000 lbs
- Maximum measured speed – 49+ kts
- Base price $595,900.00
Major options on my Tiara 38LX test boat include a Seakeeper 3 gyro stabilizer, the high gloss teak bow table and that beautiful blue hull paint. The lines of the Tiara are classic sport boat, and the 38LX has plenty of sport. Plus, she makes a very nice day boat with plenty of room to entertain a large crowd.
2021 Cruisers 38GLSOB Specification:
- LOA – 38’-00” with integrated platform
- Fuel – 335 gallons gas + 20 gallons diesel
- Beam – 12’- 06”
- Potable water – 50 gallons
- Draft – 3’- 08”
- Black water – 31 gallons
- Air Clearance – 12’- 09” waterline to hardtop Power – Triple Mercury 300 Verado JPO
- Displacement – approx. 24,000 lbs
- Maximum measured speed – 43+ kts
- Base price $537,950.00
Major options on my test 38GLS-OB include the black hardtop and color matched aft sunshade, a 5KW diesel generator, premium electronics and gray SeaDek cockpit decking. This boat is hard to peg into a single category, as she is well optioned for a comfortable weekender, well powered for a sporty day boat and a perfect entertainer bow rider. Oh, and do not forget that beach door. Given her extra weight I would have thought that she might be slightly underpowered with the triple 300’s, but I am wrong. She is just a bit slower on the launch, but with a top speed at wide open throttle of nearly 45 knots, she is a speedster.
I have been asked which boat is my favorite. That is a difficult question as each of these has its own target owner. The Tiara is mostly sport with plenty of room to entertain. The Cruisers has slightly less sport but better fuel economy and accommodations for overnighting, yet it can entertain the same crowd as the Tiara.
Both the Tiara and the Cruisers are built in the United States at factories in the Midwest. Tiara Yachts is owned by S2 Yachts, one of the oldest privately held boat manufacturers in the U.S. It is based in Holland, Michigan and manufactures models that include both fishing and cruising yachts ranging from 34- to 53-feet. In early 2021, S2 Yachts consolidated the Tiara Yachts products and the Tiara Sports products under the Tiara Yachts banner. Cruisers Yachts has been manufacturing boats in Wisconsin since 1904 and started building boats from fiberglass in 1965. Cruiser Inc. was purchased by KCS International in 1993 and changed the name to Cruisers Yachts. The company manufactures boats from 34- to 60-feet in Oconto, Wisconsin.
Wish to have a closer look at the Tiara or Cruisers line up or experience these high-performance outboard powered yachts? Stop by Silver Seas Yachts at 300 Harbor Drive in Sausalito, or give them a call at 415-287-9832. You can view the company inventory at https://www.silverseayachts.com/inventory
I appreciate Silver Seas providing the pair of 38’s for some spirited cruising around San Francisco Bay. After another grueling day at the office, it is time for me to sit back with a fine cigar and glass of port while I dream about thrashing around San Francisco Bay with another new yacht attempting to spray the photographers. Until next month, please keep those letters coming.
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