If you're considering moving up to a midsize cruiser with real weekending accommodations, your choices are as varied as the colors in a rainbow. One of those choices is Maxum's 3500 SCR, a well-built, Euro-styled express boat that won't break your bank account. If fact, the 3500 SCR is so economically priced that it makes you wonder what you're getting, or more to the point, what you're not getting, with this boat.
MAXED OUT. Most important on the 3500 SCR is its solid construction and a good ride. Unlike some of its competitors with hulls and decks that are screwed together, the 3500 SCR's hull and deck is bolted. Also, some builders simply smear a layer of adhesive putty on top of the frames and stringers, then squish the cockpit and sole in place. The 3500 SCR's deck, on the other hand, is fiberglassed to the bulkheads. One benefit of this technique is that it opens up the interior. Another is that this added rigidity allows the number of cabin bulkheads to be reduced, which opens up the interior and gives the boat a more solid feel while underway.
You can appreciate the 3500 SCR's solid construction while driving it. Engage the throttles and get up to cruising speed-say, 3500 rpm or 28.3 mph when powered by the twin 310-hp MerCruiser 7.4L MPI gasoline V-drive inboards that were in our test boat. Now find some big, heavy boat that's kicking up a lot of wake. From a safe distance astern, hit the wake at an angle so that you come off the wave with a list. The idea is to land, as a belly flop, on the flat surface between the boat's chine and the heel instead of on its V. The result of such a "chine shot" is very telling. A poorly constructed boat will rack and shudder, its hull and deck flexing and stressing at almost impossibly disparate rates. Try the same maneuver on the 3500 SCR. There's virtually no flex or stress. You'll only feel a slight tremble, caused mostly by the vibrations in the bolted-on items such as the arch and windshield. It's a solid boat.
THE HIGHS: This dramatically styled, luxuriously appointed, low-priced cruiser is also quite ruggedly built. Plus, the ride is phenomenal.
THE LOWS: Accessories common to comparable boats, such as a companionway bug screen, remote fuel/water separators, and illuminated accessory switches, are missing.
THE BONES. The 3500 SCR's standard equipment list is comprehensive-even typical add-on items like a complete canvas enclosure with side curtains and an aft curtain, a bow lounge cushion, and a 16,000-Btu air-conditioning system are included. To protect against corrosion and maintain proper temperatures for efficient operation, freshwater-cooled engines are also standard. As a comparison, the Cruisers Yachts 3572 ($223,110 with twin 370-hp MerCruiser 8.1L Horizon gasoline V-drive inboards), a longer boat by virtue of it bow pulpit, also includes these features. Wellcraft's 3700 Martinique ($209,995 powered as our test boat) is also a contender. With the exception of freshwater cooling, it, too, has an extensive standard equipment list that easily rival's the Maxum's. So why are these other two boats more expensive?
Close review of the spec sheets reveals that both the Cruisers Yachts 3572 and the 3700 Martinique have larger freshwater capacities-70 gallons and 60 gallons, respectively, compared to the 3500 SCR's 42-gallon supply. More water gives you more time away from the dock hose leash. Also, the Cruisers Yachts 3572's engines are more powerful, and both it and the Wellcraft 3700 Martinique include a bug screen for the companionway, a convenience Maxum has neglected. Still, these items don't add up to anywhere near the dollar difference.
So now we look beyond the spec sheet. Go to the 3500 SCR's helm and flip on an accessory switch. Only the bilge pump and blower switches are illuminated. Our two contenders have fully backlit panels, making night operation easier. Poke around the engine room. The 3500 SCR doesn't include remote water-separating fuel filters. It relies solely on engine- mounted units, which provide basic filtration, but their lack of drain bowls makes it more difficult to check for water in the fuel system. The 3500 SCR's engine compartment is as roomy as we've seen, so there's plenty of space to add them. Check out the shower sump pump. No quick-and-easy access here. This often-clogged accessory resides beneath a hatch that requires a screwdriver to remove.
If you add up the list of all the items we'd like to improve, the cost of this boat goes up. What's important to recognize is that only you, the boat owner, can truly place a value on them. After all, it's you who will be living with-or without-the conveniences these upgrades provide.
THE WOW! FACTOR. The 3500 SCR's attractive price is sure to soothe many a nitpicker. What's more is that it lacks little in the way of luxury. Give it the once-over from the dock. The 3500 SCR has swoopy lines and lots of molded-in detail, such as the recessed cove stripe running the length of its topsides. The rubrail is stainless steel. Like a large yacht, engraved plates mark the sling spots.
Hop aboard. From the swim platform, with its three-step ladder and twin lazarette compartments protected by gaskets and operated by hefty T-handles, to the most forward reaches of the V-berth belowdecks, the 3500 SCR has recessed footlighting at every level. Switches for these lights are also positioned so you can light your way whether climbing up or down.
The self-bailing cockpit is notable for its U-lounge. Plush and deep, its cushions conceal dedicated stowage for a 54-quart cooler, including tiedowns and a drain. We were impressed by the nonglare finish at the helm, as well as by the ergonomic layout of the Premium Navigation Pack ($14,995, including a 48nm radar, autopilot, and GPS/ chartplotter). The flip-bolster helm bench is electrically adjustable through 4" of travel.
Thanks to the rigidity provided by the boat's construction, Maxum claims that the need for supporting bulkheads inside the cabin is precluded. Unlike many cruisers this size, wide open space best describes the 3500 SCR's interior accommodations. The pale wood and fabric choices, as well as the full fiberglass cabin liner, enhance the bright openness of this space.
Other nice details include a frosted-glass port and hatch in the head and a towel rack that's sturdy enough to serve as a grabrail. The galley has a trash bin and a deep, hidden flange sink.
The aft berth, with twin bunks that convert to a double with a filler, has standup, walk-in access and a big hanging locker. The forward berth, canted for added length, has reading lamps perfectly positioned and a curtain for privacy.
Sink into the U-shaped dinette abutting the V-berth. This converts to a double berth should the need arise. At 6" thick, its upholstered cushions are as plush as any you'll find. For that matter, so is the 3500 SCR's accommodation plan as a whole.
LAST WORD. Want to step up to a midsize cruiser? This boat's a no-brainer.
Displacement (lbs., approx.) .......15,870
Minimum cockpit depth.......2'6"
Max. cabin headroom....6'7"
Fuel capacity (gal.)...........240
Water capacity (gal.).......42
Price (w/standard power) ..........$177,495
Price (w/test power) ..........$177,495
STANDARD POWER: Twin 310-hp MerCruiser 7.4L MPI V-8 gasoline V-drive inboards.
OPTIONAL POWER: Twin gasoline V-drive inboards to 800 hp total; twin diesel V-drive inboards to 460 bhp total.
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 310-hp MerCruiser 7.4L MPI V-8 gasoline inboards with 454 cid, 4.25" bore x 4.00" stroke, swinging 19" x 19" four-bladed Nibral props through Borg-Warner V-drives with 2.1:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Anchor windlass; bow sunlounge; trim tabs; hourmeter; compass; VHF; AM/ FM/CD stereo w/multidisc changer, helm remote, 4 speakers; 12vdc outlet at helm and in each berth; removable cockpit table; snap-in carpet; radar arch; wetbar w/icemaker, sink, cutting board; transom shower; 54-qt. removable cooler; 16,000-Btu a/c; head w/vacuum-flush commode and shower stall; galley w/Corian countertop, dual-voltage refrigerator/ freezer, 2-burner Ceran stove; microwave; 13" dual-voltage TV/VCR with remote (salon); full canvas enclosure; water heater; battery charger.