WATER CRUSH. Sure, all these design, styling, and construction changes sound neat. But when the pointy end of the boat smacks into a mound of salt water, what do they add up to? Comfort, security, and confidence all popped into my head as I opened up the throttles and punched through the waves. There was minimal movement whether in a head or trailing sea, and the thoroughly muted impacts were similar to those you'd feel on older, heavier, slower boats, such as 1970s vintage Bertrams. Don't forget, though, that we were traveling much faster, nipping at the heels of 40 mph. Those old Bertrams ran at half that speed. We're talking twice as fast, with similar comfort levels. One thing I didn't like about the Phoenix 35's performance at high speed: Tiny drops of airborne water have a tendency to roll back around the sides of the salon and flying bridge, keeping the cockpit moist. I'm not talking about spray here. It's more of a mist, and on a hot July day you might actually like it. But northerners who make canyon runs in November definitely won't.
There are a couple other features worth noting on the Phoenix 35. With its relatively low profile and low center of gravity, this boat is stable when waves hit on the beam. Your mate won't have to do the side-to-side cockpit dance as you try to get the spread out, even if you decide to putt through the troughs. Backing this boat is also a pleasure. There are no vibrations, and chasing down a fish is as easy as it gets.
WEAPONS CHECK. And chase fish you will, after surveying this cockpit: Coaming bolsters, fresh- and raw-water washdowns, a 35-gallon circular livewell, insulated fishboxes, five rodholders, and two under-gunwale rodracks per side are all standard. More about that livewell: It's located in the cockpit sole, which is advantageous because that means it doesn't eat into cockpit room. However, it does mean you'll have to bend over every time you need to scoop out another goggle-eye.
What's not to like? There's no integrated, standup rigging station, since its usual location forward in the cockpit is taken by the engine boxes.
What I like most about this cockpit is its wide open attitude. As stated, the engine boxes are the only thing above deck level, and they make nice bait-watching seats. While you rest your butt, look up and to either side. Over each engine box sits a three-drawer tacklebox. Of course, the lack of a real rigging station means you'll have to pre-rig, or carry the old standby five-gallon bucket and a cutting board. Sure, that's one more thing you need to carry around, but since it means more cockpit acreage, that's a trade I'd make any day. And since the livewell and fishboxes are in the cockpit sole, the transom is only a few inches wide - the best situation for a fight on standup gear. Gaffing, tagging, and billing will also be easier, thanks to the thin transom.
LAST WORD. Any way you look at it, the Phoenix 35 has a new and improved attitude.
Displacement (lbs., approx.).....23,890
Minimum cockpit depth......2'6"
Max. cabin headroom.......6'4"
Fuel capacity (gal.) .......400
Water capacity (gal.) ......100
Price (w/standard power) ..........$329,500
Price (w/test power) ..........$329,500
STANDARD POWER: Twin 420-bhp in-line-6 diesel inboards.
OPTIONAL POWER: Twin diesel inboards to 900 bhp total.
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 420-bhp Yanmar 3126 in-line-6 diesel inboards with 355 cid, 3.94" bore x 4.33" stroke, swinging 21" x 22" four-bladed Nibral props through 2.1:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Auto. fire extinguisher system; water heater; hydraulic steering; hydraulic trim tabs; crash pumps; 40-amp converter; 30-amp shorepower w/cord; coaming bolsters; compass; cockpit lighting; fresh/raw-water washdowns; livewell; insulated fishboxes; 5 rodholders; under-gunwale rodracks; entertainment center w/TV, VCR, CD player; 2-burner electric cooktop; microwave/convection oven; refrigerator/freezer; water level gauge; integrated bow pulpit w/roller and chock.