Tiara 3900

Walk softly and carry a big stick.

December 1, 2008

When we left the lee of Martha’s Vineyard and ran in the remnant swell of Tropical Storm Hanna, Tiara’s 3900 Open performed more like a 46-footer than one with an LOA of 41′ and change, including the pulpit. With waves abeam, it didn’t roll and snap. Charging into the rollers at 29 mph, it didn’t heave like a cork or pound like a mallet. Wheeling around and running before the seas, it tracked straight, and I didn’t need to goose the throttles to climb the swells. Even with waves quartering astern, always difficult, the 3900 Open made an easy beeline into Newport.

Besides its rugged agility, the 3900 Open boasts low noise levels that encourage conversation underway. It also mixes wonderful cruising amenities and great fishability with little compromise. Finished in a clean, modular style, the 3900 Open offers outstanding durability, serviceability, and luxury cabin comforts. For quick cleanups, just hose off the topsides. Sure, I’d like to see the stern cleats lowered so you don’t have to reach under the gunwale to belay a line, but the 3900 Open scores high in most other aspects.

As You Like It


The 3900 Open fishes and cruises with aplomb. On the helm deck is an L-shaped companion lounge that offers excellent visibility for up to five guests — add the removable teak table ($2,680) and they can have lunch while they’re there. Want innovation? The next time you’re fishing, check out the short leg of the “L, which swivels and slides on a pedestal so that a hard-charging skipper can have his first mate sit facing forward beside him to help spot rips, color changes, and other signs of fish. The captain’s chair is an electrically adjustable seat with a high backrest and armrests that lock up out of the way. Plus, the seat swivels sideways so you can maintain control of the boat while facing aft, such as when you’re backing down or yelling at your crew when they miss with the gaff.

In the cockpit sole are two tuna-sized stowage boxes. Macerator pumps ($680) make them fishboxes, but I’d request vacuum pumps because they can pass bait chunks better and because they can be run dry. These boxes held all our dock lines and fenders with room to spare, alleviating the need for a transom lazarette — as well as the cruiser-style tumblehome transom to house it. Instead, the 3900 Open’s squared-off transom sports the classic rugged good looks of a sportfisher. These same boxes are equipped with quick disconnects and handles so you can lift them out and haul them up to the fillet table to prepare your catch or access the propshafts. A transom livewell ($3,200) with a blue interior is optional. Anglers will appreciate the dedicated 2,000-gph pump, which provides enough pressure to change the 53 gallons of water every five minutes and is capable of running tuna tubes. A regulator valve protects fragile baits.

Between the cockpit and helm deck are more fisher/cruiser features. Most notable is the mezzanine bench to port. This three-person-wide seat faces aft, allowing anglers to watch trolled baits or cruisers to enjoy the view of the wake. Aboard a typical sportfisher, such as Cabo’s 38 Express ($626,267 powered like my test boat), one can hop atop a tacklebox or rigging station to face aft. The 3900 Open’s mezzanine is more comfortable with its cushion and footrest. Flip open that footrest to reveal draining stowage that could serve as a fishbox. Flip open the mezzanine’s backrest to find a compartment big enough to get me salivating about the prospects of a custom tacklebox, dive tanks and compressor, or an icemaker/chipper that would deliver its product to the footrest stowage directly below. Tiara offers a refrigerator/ freezer ($3,760) for this space, which would give the 3900 Open enough cold stowage for a week-long cruise.


Of course Tiara offers a tacklebox ($1,360) in the starboard side stowage compartment. Between this and the helm seat is what looks like a simple molded cube. So fine is the fit of the sink lid, so subtle is the recess for the sliding drawer refrigerator ($2,300), that unless you lift the lid or pull open the fridge, your guests aren’t likely to know the wetbar is here. It’s a nice piece of fiberglass work, made more so by the casters beneath the drawer that support the fridge door. Like all hatches aboard the 3900 Open, the lid is finished on both sides.

The hardtop on my tester was the fishing model ($25,340) with pipe supports, rocket launchers, a fixed skylight, and an opening hatch with a shade and a pair of opening vents just above the windshield. The cruising top ($25,900) features a fiberglass arch-style support and the same vents and hatches. The upholstered headliner gives the helm deck a softer feel and absorbs noise.

Open the engine hatch and you’ll see other reasons why the 3900 Open has such a quiet ride. The gasketed hatch mates perfectly to the cutout. Bulkhead penetrations are sealed tight. The engine’s mounts are oversized rubber models. Look up. You’ll see that the engine hatch is gloss-finished resin transfer molded (RTM) and foam filled. Naturally, acoustic insulation is applied all around.


Bypass valves ($2,920), which let the engines act as crash pumps, are a great feature few cruisers offer. I found excellent serviceability here, as well as in the pump access hatch in the cockpit sole. My only gripe some submerged bonding wire terminals, such as the air-conditioner intake, weren’t shrink-sealed against corrosion.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Skylights, hatches, salon and galley portholes, and the opaque companionway hatch (with screen) work with the ivory bulkhead coverings, headliner, countertops, and furniture upholstery to ensure brightness belowdecks. A teak and holly sole plus hardwood cabinets and table provide warmth and a salty feel.


This cabin has a head with separate shower stall. It sleeps five, two in the master and three at the convertible dinette. Three real beds in one dinette? How? You’ll have to demo a 3900 Open to find out. I’d advise anyone seeking a seaworthy, inherently fishable cruiser to do that.

MSRP: Standard power – $589,900 Test power – $622,000 ****

Tiara Yachts – Holland, Michigan;


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