What does it say about you when a boat's cruising speed becomes more important that its top end? When comfort rates higher than a sexy, low-slung profile? When, after years of wishing and hoping, you finally accept the fact that you'll never make the down payment on a new 80' superyacht and cruise the Med?
What does it mean? It means you've become a grownup. Congratulations. (It took long enough, didn't it?) Becoming a grownup, however, doesn't mean you've turned into Captain Q-tip, fussing aimlessly about the helm of some waterborne Oldsmobile. No, becoming a grownup means you want a boat designed for grownups. Case in point: the new Regal Commodore 3780.
GREAT GUNS. Our test boat was powered by twin Cummins 370B diesel inboards rated at 355-bhp each. Diesels are a better choice for the Commodore 3780 than the standard gas mills because diesel power better fulfills this boat's primary mission. How? Obviously, the increased range of diesel engines comes at the top of the list. BOATING Magazine's boat test database reveals that gas engines burn about 30 percent more fuel at cruising speed than diesel engines of comparable horsepower in boats of similar size. Combine this with the surprisingly large amount of living space aboard the Commodore 3780, and you have a boat that begs you to cruise farther and stay aboard longer.
THE HIGHS: Screams "I was built by boaters for boaters." Check out the innovative stowage and seating solutions. Wide sidedecks and bridge steps provide easy access.
THE LOWS: A galley vent in such a well-equipped boat would seem natural. Please, please, please relocate the water separators. And keep the plastic plants.
Diesel engines last longer, too, because they are equipped with standard freshwater cooling systems, which ensure proper engine temperatures and reduce internal corrosion. (For $2,800 you can equip the gas engines with FWC and negate some of the diesels' price increase in the process.) Also, to reach efficient cruising speeds, you can run diesels at lower rpm than gas engines. By operating an engine at a lower rpm, all of its moving parts - pistons, rods, crankshafts - move through fewer cycles, resulting in less wear and tear. That, and the fact that diesels are built heavier to withstand the higher compressive forces they generate, is why they last longer. Sure, if you're a dock potato who rarely cruises and wants the room and comfort of a sedan to entertain your friends, none of these statistics matter much. Choose the less-expensive, standard gasoline inboards and party on.
The Commodore 3780's primary mission becomes clear when you run it. Push the throttles forward and the boat comes on plane quickly and smoothly. There's no loss of visibility - you're operating from a flying bridge. Now dial in a comfortable, day-long cruising speed of 22.7 mph. Our test boat made that number when the tachometers read 2400. They'd have to read 3500 rpm to achieve the same speed with twin 380-hp gas engines, according to Regal's test data.