The crewmen kept glancing from the gauges to the megayacht to me as I piloted our new Egg Harbor 37 test boat through the tight channel. The closer the yacht got, the faster the glances came. I suppose he was waiting for me to pull back on the throttles. After all, I did have them open to cruising speed, and the megayacht was throwing up a killer wake. But what the heck - I'm supposed to find out as much as I can about every boat I test, and these were the first serious waves we'd seen all day. Besides, that's what insurance is for, right?
We coasted up the hump of the first wave, hovered for a moment between crests - omigodIshouldasloweddown - and met the next wave head on. No harsh impact, nothing broken, and barely any detectable movement. The most significant result was a minor but sudden slowdown. And in my book, that's a hallmark of a well-built sportfisherman. Physics prevents you from eliminating the slowdown, but where does that impact land? Does it reverberate throughout the boat, up the bridge and into the helm, and right up your spine? Or is it the wave that gets battered and bruised? In this case, the wave lost.
INSIDE EDITION. What does it take to make a relatively small sportfish into a wave buster? Start by looking where you'll spend the least amount of time: the engine room. Those stringers you see are fully encapsulated, XL-10, lifetime-guaranteed, rot-free marine plywood, beefed up with stainless-steel plates in the engine beds. Now look up. Between that overhead and the salon sole is honeycomb coring, providing maximum strength with minimum weight. Same goes for the hullsides, which are cored with end-grain balsa from the chine up. The countertops are Corian. The fuel tank is epoxy-coated welded aluminum. Shaft seals are dripless. Is everything in sight made from top-shelf construction materials? You bet, though I did spot one item that should be improved. The stateroom has spring struts on two stowage compartment hatches, and in my experience they break within the first 50 hours of a boat's on-the-water use. Egg Harbor assures me gas-assist struts will be put on future hatches.
THE HIGHS: Custom-class interior woodwork with bookmatched grain cabinetry. Breaks waves without vibrations or harsh impact. Construction materials and techniques are top shelf.
THE LOWS: Spring struts on the stateroom hatch will last as long as your first tank of fuel. Nonslip on the sidedecks and bow needs to be more aggressive. A plumbed livewell is an extra grand.
If you're a boater who spends some time in the engine room, you'll like the 37's cockpit entry. No shuffling tables, no seats to remove, no greasy footprints across the salon carpet, as is usually the case on a sportfish this size. There's enough headroom below to sit up straight while you work on the iron horses, and such amenities as an engine room washdown, an oil exchange system, and primary and secondary fuel filters are all present and accounted for. Better yet, every plumbing and electric line and every seacock is well marked and clearly labeled so you can perform on-the-water repairs without causing more on-the-water problems.