During my test of Deep Impact’s 36 Open, this linear-polyurethane-painted party packet topped 70 mph. That makes it, quite possibly, one of the fastest center consoles on the market. And speed is just one of many attributes about which the 36 Open can brag.
There’s no more versatile layout than a center console. The wide-open spaces that anglers so cherish provide a tabula rasa with which to define the boat’s mission. Aboard the 36 Open, I found dance-floor-size socializing areas and race-boat-inspired details. Transom seating is no mere bench, instead consisting of three bolsters that wrap and tuck occupants so they feel comfortable and secure at the highest speeds. Three can share space at the helm as well, and again, instead of a fishing-style leaning post, there’s a triple-wide drop-bolster. This allows a firm stance for those who choose to stand and secure seating for those who’d rather ride on their bums. We didn’t have heavy seas during our test, but the 36 Open’s steep deadrise and svelte length-to-beam ratio, plus its sheer size, assure a ride that doesn’t require using deep knee bends as shock absorption. Forward, my tester was fitted with a pair of beam-facing benches, easily seating four each. three more can sit on the seat in front of the console. All of this seating is upholstered in multitone panels of triple-stitched, heavily padded, leather-like vinyl.
To keep the party going, there’s a sink, cooler and grill in the back of the helm seat, along with a warren of stowage cubbies. Opening the lid that conceals this virtual cockpit galley, I was pleased to find luxury touches such as a through-bolted hatch finished on both sides and a faux granite work surface.
Of course, where there’s a party, there’s a need for a head, and the 36 Open accommodates, stashing the china commode inside a micro cuddy at the bow. Headroom is scant here, at 4 feet, but this compartment is fiberglasslined for easy maintenance and contains a small vanity. And because the cuddy creates a deck over the bow, I felt sheltered while in the forward cockpit, a sensation many nonangling boaters will especially appreciate, compared with a pure-fishing center console’s more-exposed spaces.
Storage is plentiful, with a large space inside the fronthinged console getting my bid for quick access to a big bag of safety gear. Naturally, the seat bases all have stowage, and it wouldn’t be a center console without a bevy of hatches in the cockpit sole, now would it? insulated, they can be used as fish boxes — however, they’ll stash boat hooks, beach chairs, folding bikes or whatever just as readily.
A feature I really liked was the platform that runs across the beam between the motors and the cockpit. This in concert with the boarding doors — you choose one door, or one each at port and starboard — is as useful for hosting dockside cocktails as it is for a gang of kids jumping in or out of the water. Of course, the merits of this walkway for removing the cowlings and servicing the engines are invaluable.
Not that the 36 Open lacks for serviceability — or quality rigging. Opening the console stowage, I admired the backside of the electrical panels, all strung with tinned-copper wire and sealed terminals and arranged in neat runs with right-angle turns. Tracing a circuit or adding an accessory is a piece of cake. Through-hull fittings for the head and washdown were installed within easy reach and fitted with double-clamped hoses. Designed by the racing legends at mystic powerboats, the “ready for anything” method with which the 36 Open is built will be appreciated most by those who perform their own service.
With so pedigreed a build, you’d expect a nice ride. You’d be right. I hammered the throttles, expecting the bow to point skyward. Instead, I was rewarded with the gratifying sensation of practically levitating onto plane before rising at once and, as a whole, rocketing off with luge-like acceleration. I cut the wheel and was pleased to find the boat didn’t balk. It remains balanced and stable, delivering a feeling of confidence during maneuvers that I’m not used to getting from boats with two steps in the bottom. Deep Impact attributes this in part to the more forward position of its steps; in fact, at cruising speeds, the forward step isn’t even in the water. And it’s wider than most boats of similar length with two steps, typically pure performance boats that lack the sociability a center console layout affords.
Other quality center consoles, such as Boston Whaler’s 15,000-pound 370 Outrage ($392,623, powered like my test boat), offer similar comforts, plus loads more standard features. But these are beamier and heavier and so can’t deliver top speeds that break 70 mph. That may make Deep Impact’s 36 Open a class of one.