Regal 3780: Social Skills

You're not a kid anymore.

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.

Top end? Who cares? We liked the combination of speed and responsiveness the Commodore 3780 displayed at 26 mph. We were able to keep it on plane and maneuverable at a ride-softening 19 mph. Its no-wake speed was 5.7 mph - a bit slower than most boats of this type we've tested. So if you're rushing to make a bridge opening, don't.

All right, already. The top end was 34 mph: one mile per hour faster than Regal claims the Commodore 3780 goes when powered by the standard gas engines. Again, unless you're a true dock spud, diesel engines are the power of choice in this boat.

CHOICE COMPETITION. Why would you choose the Commodore 3780 instead of a competitor? Carver, Maxum, Silverton, and Sea Ray all produce flying bridge cruisers measuring at, or just over, 40' on the centerline. Maxum's 4100 SCB ($343,189 powered by the same Cummins diesel inboards as our test boat) is probably the closest match, but the Commodore 3780's 36'7" centerline length - 39'10" LOA - makes it hard to do a legitimate comparison based solely on overall length.

Consider this: The Commodore 3780's curtailed dimensions are actually an asset. It's the sedan that will fit in that last, odd-shaped, unsold corner slip at the marina with the long waiting list. It's the boat that you can spin around in a narrow canal. It's the boat that'll cost less to paint, wax, and store. Step aboard and see for yourself. The Commodore 3780 is well finished, bursting with stowage, and encourages long weekends afloat. For an indication of this craft's workmanship, check out any caulked seam. Each bead is consistent in height, width, and butter-like smoothness.

Stowage? The underside of the flying bridge overhang is impressive. Stand in the cockpit, reach up, and undo the latches. A huge swing-down hatch opens to reveal stowage for eight life jackets. Equally nice is the foldout transom bench. Taking space that normally goes unused and converting it to stowage is the mark of a boat designed by boaters for boaters.

Accommodations? Step through the companionway door. The Commodore 3780's high sidedecks allow for a wider interior and large, fixed windows. Plop into one of two swiveling-barrel leather chairs or lounge in the raised convertible dinette. There's no feeling of enclosure.

Galley highlights include a faux-granite counter, sturdy solid-bottomed wood drawers, and Regal's proprietary stove cover. It cuts the juice when you cover the burners. Table service for four is standard, but keep the plastic plant decorations. Why do builders feel they have to include this stuff, anyway?

Forward, the master stateroom features an innerspring mattress, not a pad, and private access to the head. A pocket door provides privacy. Also, with my back against the mirrored anchor locker bulkhead, I could sit up straight and read. The forward headroom aboard many boats under 40' lets you merely lie down and prop up your head. Another advantage of the Commodore 3780's raised decks.

The guest stateroom is convertible. Choose two single berths or add the filler and make it a queen. A skylight and an opening port provide natural light. Press a button and a TV pops down from the headliner. Very jet set.

NO CHOICE. Save for the lack of a galley vent, our only complaint with the Commodore 3780 was the poor placement of the water-separating fuel filters in the engine compartment. Located in the aft outboard corners of the space, they're hemmed in by the genset and motors and are positioned outside the perimeter of the deck cutouts. When you need to change the filters, hire a short, skinny, ambidextrous contortionist for the job. These filters could be relocated to the centerline of the compartment for easier service. Through-hulls, batteries, dipsticks, and other service points were easily accessed.

Regal's Commodore 3780 may not be the biggest sedan on the dock, but it's surely one of the best.

LAST WORD. Fiesty, comfortable, and well finished.

LOA............39'10" ** **

Beam..........13'0"

Draft..........3'3" ** **

Displacement (lbs., approx.).......18,360 ** **

Transom deadrise...18° ** **

Bridge clearance...15'3" ** **

Minimum cockpit depth...2'6" ** **

Max. cabin headroom.......6'9"

Fuel capacity (gal.)............252 ** **

Water capacity (gal.)............80

Price (w/standard power) ................$273,555

Price (w/test power) ................$340,678 ** **

STANDARD POWER: Twin 320-hp MerCruiser MX 6.2 MPI V-8 gasoline inboards.

OPTIONAL POWER: Twin MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline inboards to 760 hp total; twin Cummins or Volvo Penta diesel inboards to 710 bhp total.****

TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 355-bhp Cummins 370B in-line-6 diesel inboards with 359 cid, 4.02" bore x 4.74" stroke, swinging 22" x 22" four-bladed bronze props through 1.6:1 reductions. ****

STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Molded flying bridge steps; anchor washdown; bow fender locker; foldout cockpit seat; fire extinguishers; transom shower; radar arch; head w/shower stall, exhaust fan, and tile floor; 2 AM/FM/CD stereos; 2 TV/ VCRs; cherry dinette table; 4 CO detectors; 2-burner 120vac stove; microwave; 7.5-cu.-ft. refrigerator/freezer; compass; GPS; VHF radio; depthsounder; canvas bridge enclosure, Bimini top, windshield cover, and sunpad covers; battery charger; 2-zone, 32,000-Btu a/c; water heater; 30-amp shorepower w/cord.