You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. The guy in the passenger bolster told me to trim the drives all the way down and crank the wheel hardover. We were running 50 mph in the PowerQuest 38 Poker Run Edition, a stepped-hull go-fast for offshore use. Executing such a maneuver might well execute us both instead.
But as I became more familiar with the 38 Poker Run, I reconsidered. After all, trimming the drives all the way down on a boat such as this and cranking it hard through a turn is essentially an evasive maneuver – something the boat should be designed to handle. And it is. The 38 Poker Run tracked through the corner like a guided missile. I cranked the helm hardover in the opposite direction and got the same result.
Leaving the boat trimmed along more conventional lines was more fun, however. The 38 Poker Run smoothly worked its way through slalom and circle turns at speeds up to 60 mph, inspiring confidence with each maneuver. Full hydraulic Latham steering added to the positive feelings. In “The Edge of Flight” (July), I told you to never lower the trim all the way when turning a stepped-hull boat. But PowerQuest knows that old habits die hard and so it designed a boat that would accommodate your instinctive driving style.
Another similarity the 38 Poker Run shares with conventional V-bottom boats is that it begs for positive trim. Anyone with some driving experience will feel comfortable running at wide open throttle with the drives trimmed at about four or five (out of eight) on the indicator. Trimming the drives to seven made the boat feel lighter, but still under control, as it sought its top speed.
Even in the ocean, the 38 Poker Run ran best with the drives trimmed out to seven and the tabs trimmed even with the boat’s bottom at about three. We flew across three-foot waves with confidence.
The 38 Poker Run’s two steps curve only slightly aft from the chine to the keel. They measure about 1″ tall at the chine and get a little deeper at the keel. This lets in enough air to break adhesion with the surface but not so much that the boat feels as if it’s running loose at top speed. Inner strakes end at the first step, and the outer strakes run about 2′ forward of the transom. The shorter outside strakes let the boat rock back a little more on the stern, helping carry the bow out of the water. Full-length strakes would lift the tail and force down the bow. As you can see from our run-angle readings, this boat rides flat enough.
Checking out the competition, there’s a slew of 38′ twin-stepped go-fasts, but Cigarette’s 38 Top Gun and Formula’s 382 FAS3Tech match up best with the full-figured PowerQuest. With the HP575SCi engines, the Cigarette retails for $372,000 and pushes the 90-mph mark. Powered like our test boat, the Formula is closer in price at $306,120 and runs in the low 80s.
POLISHED APPEARANCE. The 38 Poker Run matches up well with the more custom Cigarette when it comes to mold work. The wide deck and tall hullsides stand straight and all the graphics are applied flawlessly with crisp lines and separations.
THE HIGHS: Maneuverability and wave-flattening performance inspire confidence. Fully molded head with triple-latched door is excellent, and best of all, no carpet. Hallelujah.****
THE LOWS: Engine-mount L-angles should be installed with backing plates not washers. Engine hatch should open higher. Too much glare on the all-white dash panel in direct sunlight.
Behind the gel coat, the manufacturer lays up the boat with AME 1000 resin and knitted fiberglass fabrics around balsa coring that is 3/4″ thick in the deck and bottom and 1/2″ thick in the hullsides. Stringers, bulkheads, and transverse supports are formed out of fiberglass-encapsulated plywood. The hull and deck attach in a shoebox lid-style joint that is sealed with Plexus adhesive and through-bolted.
I wish the 38 Poker Run’s engine hatch raised higher. PowerQuest explained that the power lift on our test boat had to be moved forward on the hatch because the center section of its underside needed to be hollowed out to accommodate the superchargers. The engines were mounted on aluminum L-angles bolted through the stringers with backing washers. I’d like to see more substance here, with aluminum backing plates instead of the washers.
All mechanical accessories, including batteries in Gil Marine boxes and Livorsi sea strainers, are located forward in the engine compartment, facilitating access, but the rigging of the hoses and wiring could have been neater. After all, when you pull up to the docks, people want to see under the hatch. ****
CLASS OF THE HEADS. On top of the hatch is a sunlounge with grab handles along each side. The aft swim platform sports a ladder in its own locker and the grab handle on the transom is in a good spot to help swimmers finish the climb. I also like that there is a choice of cockpit grab handles. If passengers want to ride sitting on the bench seat, there is an aluminum rail within reach on the gunwale. Should they prefer to ride standing, they can hang onto the rails that tie the bolsters into the gunwales.
Plentiful cockpit stowage includes a large locker in the bench seat base and inside trays formed by tall 8″ retainers. I’d lose the carpet in the bench seat locker because it could get damp and mildew. Rubber flooring might be a better choice to soften the ride.
Displacement (lbs., approx.) ……….8,500 ****
Bridge clearance..4’9″ ****
Minimum cockpit depth…3’3″
Max. cabin headroom..6’2″ ****
Fuel capacity (gal.)..169
Water capacity (gal.)..26 ****
Price (w/standard power) ……….$245,275 ****
Price (w/test power) ……….$286,005 ****
STANDARD POWER: Twin 470-hp Mercury Racing HP500EFI V-8 gasoline stern drives.
OPTIONAL POWER: Twin V-8 stern drives to 1,100 hp total. ****
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 550-hp Mercury Racing HP575SCi gasoline Bravo One V-8 stern drives with 502 cid, 4.47″ bore x 4.00″ stroke, swinging 15 1/4″ x 33″ Mercury Racing lab-finished four-bladed ss props through 1.5:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Full hydraulic steering; Gaffrig Redline instrumentation, including boost, oil temperature, and water pressure gauges, and 100-mph liquid-filled speedo; Ritchie compass; Gaffrig mechanical trim indicators; Corsa Quick & Quiet exhaust cutouts; McLeod bolsters; ss rubrail insert; lay-in cockpit carpet; Livorsi sea strainers; 12v lighting; shorepower w/cord; AC/DC refrigerator; 110v microwave; pressure water system; portable head w/pumpout; 2 gloveboxes; Momo performance steering wheel; AM/FM CD stereo w/10-disc changer, 2 amplifiers, and 6 speakers; windshield or windscreen; 3-step ladder; twin batteries in Gil Marine brackets; battery switch; twin bilge pumps; external tiebar; through-hull exhaust w/mufflers; fire extinguisher.
Twin McLeod bolsters keep the captain and copilot secure. Ahead of the latter are two gloveboxes, one of which can be converted to a cooler with an overboard drain. The helm is laid out with the Gaffrig gauges that come with naturally aspirated motors in the top section. On each side of the twin tachometers and speedometer are instruments for oil temperature, water pressure, and fuel gauge. Gauges for monitoring the supercharged high-output engines’ water pressure, oil temperature, and blower boost are in a panel alongside the wheel. Gaffrig controls have trim on the throttle, and ahead are the separate buttons for drives and tabs, plus the stereo remote. To reduce glare on the dash in harsh sunlight, I’d follow Formula’s lead and finish the dash between the gauge panel and the faring in flat gray or black. PowerQuest says it does this on boats ordered with windshields. Belowdecks, the 38 Poker Run has the best head I’ve seen in an offshore boat. The door closes with three latches into a heavy-duty rubber gasket that keeps it from rattling. The inside is all molded fiberglass, no carpet. Finally.
Aft to port is a narrow hanging locker with at least 5′ of depth. Just ahead, the galley includes a microwave, stainless-steel sink, and Norcold refrigerator. The countertop should be fiddled to contain spills, and for the same reason as in the bench seat, I’d lose the carpet in the base of the sink cabinet. A wraparound cabin lounge has seating for at least six passengers and offers stowage in the base. Forward, the V-berth offers plenty of sleeping and stowage space, but there should be a privacy curtain between it and the lounge.
LAST WORD. Here’s a stepped-hull offshore go-fast that will earn a high public approval rating.