We Say: Let’s immediately bust up two misconceptions I had before testing the Chase 31. It has a 12-inch foam collar instead of a rub rail, but is otherwise all fiberglass and not a rigid inflatable. Yacht owners see the 31 as a tender, but the qualities that make it so popular for dining off-yacht also make it a seaworthy, and luxurious, primary boat.
The sport-fisher-like deep-V (for truer towing behind a yacht) came into play when our test waters churned up and sent shallower-draft boats back to the marina while we stayed on the throttle. We also found the freeboard high enough to ensconce passengers, protecting them from the day’s chilly sea breezes. And while the collar keeps Thurston’s yacht from being nicked, it can also be an asset when using a piling as a pivot point in a stiff current.
Cruising is the 31’s forte — the aft cockpit had facing loveseats and the helm split recliners on our test boat. The entire front panel on the console is an acrylic hatch that lifts upward — the epitome of easy head access. The engine hatch lifts on two pipe-size gas assists, with the motor high enough to check fluids without crawling.
Our test boat ran on a single Volvo Penta 370 hp D6 — twin 300s in diesels or outboards are available. It burned only 9 gph at 27.4 mph, a big reason the boat has strong interest among fuel conscious Europeans. But don't peg the Chase 31 as a Euro boat; that would be the worst misconception of all.
Who’d Want One: Boaters who like fore and aft luxury with the deep-water ability of a big center console.
Another Choice: Intrepid’s 300 CC is made for fishing, so it isn’t as luxurious, but it can be ordered with forward and aft seating, hardtop and a sliding entrance to the head with electric toilet for $141,044 (with twin 250 Verado outboards, more power than our Chase test boat). It isn’t available in diesels.
Bottom Line: $245,000; espritnautics.com