Perhaps nothing has changed the boatbuilding arena like Yamaha’s 350 V-8 outboard. While some scoffed at its tycoon size, boatbuilders like 35-plus-year veteran Jupiter Marine immediately recognized the value of two big boys over three or four smaller ones and quickly adopted them, Jupiter on its 38 Series, while other boatbuilders yanked out stern-drive and inboard tooling to add transom brackets and these dual V-8 outboards.
With one hand on the helm and one on the throttles, the result is joyful to lovers of power and beauty, and the simplicity of maintaining outboards can bring tears to the eyes of established techs.
On our test, though, it was wind tears that came to my eyes as the Jupiter 38 Cuddy quickly ramped up to plane. then, when we arrived in the open water of Tampa Bay, we lunged ahead to full throttle speeds better than 52 mph. the bay was flat on this cool morning, so we plowed up some epic wakes and circled back to them, hitting them first head-on and sliding over them softly enough to keep coke from squirting out of a can in the cup holders. We then quartered over them, looking for nasty habits, and found none. The 38 Cuddy’s solidly built hull is more than an inch thick at its thinnest, and bashing through the lumpiest wakes rattled nothing on board. You see many Jupiters with tow eyes on the front to tether them behind yachts for overseas voyaging, and it is this durable hull that gives voyagers their peace of mind whether fishing the gulf stream or towing it to Andros.
Yamaha’s digital throttle actuators plus power steering gave such easy control of the power and ride that the boat was as carefree to handle as a much smaller boat. Only the IPS-powered SeaVee 39 offers more control with joystick steering, but when we returned to port, the Jupiter 38 behaved so nicely with dual outboards that salty captains might scoff should you use the optional bow thruster. Also bear in mind that a new coalition between Yamaha and Volvo Penta is aimed at bringing joystick controls to the outboard boater — and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn they can be retrofit to some boats.
Surprisingly, the console station sported no windshield, as evidenced by my tears. But vice president of sales Todd Albrecht said the boat was headed for the northeast, and the couple who had ordered it wanted more protection from inclement weather than a windscreen could provide. So Jupiter installed sail track around the rim of the t-top to accept Lexan panels that would, in effect, turn the helm area into a pilothouse arrangement for toasty cruising on frosty mornings.
Dual bucket seats with flip-up bolsters completed the comfort level, as did a teak-sole step beneath the helm for balance and support. The customer requested a teak switch panel to enhance the look and, of course, got it.
Throughout the 38, passenger amenities abound. Aft of the helm seat, a dual bench seat covers a livewell, and the seat back flips down to present a rigging station. Forward of the helm, two seats, each with armrests, add more comfort. Because Jupiter’s 38 Forward Seating model is so popular, the 38 Cuddy was equipped with flip-down seats hidden in the port and starboard coamings. It’s done so subtly, I had to be told they were there. Also hidden until you want it is a transom seat.
Is more comfort necessary for you? Step into the spacious cuddy. Call it a stateroom: It’s that expansive. Teak furnishings, stainless microwave and refrigerator, and a V-berth that converts to a dinette with teak table pamper the cruisers while bare feet brush the texture of the teak sole.
In spite of all the luxury, I dare not call this a fluffy ride. Hard-core fishers will press their thighs against the full-length bolsters to take fish lured to the hook at the end of lines trolled from Taco Grand Slam outriggers. Bump troll if you prefer, with pilchards, pogies or sardines kept cool and lively in the calming blue-finished livewell. Macerator pumps clear the aft fish boxes.
For the guy with the wrench, or the guy paying the bill, access to plumbing is spacious via the aft hatch to the bilge. The Jupiter Marine battery management system regulates power to the batteries from the alternators and, in turn, regulates power flow from the batteries to the systems. Batteries are in comfortable reach inside the console, and so are selector switches. Even the backs of the dual Garmin GPS systems are in easy reach, and no one gets a crick in the neck while working on them.
Certainly outboards make life aboard a fisher easier, but there was little Jupiter left out in the hull and systems that could make life on this 38 Cuddy any more fun. After all, that’s what boats and horsepower are for. Fun.
Comparable model: SeaVee 39