'Can I drive?" I asked the future owner of the 3470 Ocean Runner as we were off the coast of Cape Ann, heading north. "Sure," he said,"but there's not that much to it." And as I sat in that wide, adjustable helm seat, I realized it was true. We were all alone, the six of us on this 34-foot power catamaran, on a flat calm ocean, not another boat in sight and only two fishing trawlers and a whale watch boat to be seen all afternoon.
The Simrad chartplotter was working in conjunction with the Simrad autopilot, keeping the twin displacement hulls plowing parallel lines through the green water, heading 10 degrees north at a steady rate of 18.1 knots. There wasn't that much to do except keep an eye out for whales and marvel at the 360 degree expanse of empty sea. And it was enthralling.
I had caught the tail end of the "Grand Americas Tour," during which Glacier Bay president and founder Larry Graf and his crew ran the new 3470 Ocean Runner catamaran 8,000 miles from the Everett, Washington, plant near Seattle, trucking it from Cabo San Lucas over to Galveston, Texas, then on to Nantucket where I caught up with them. At any given point along the cruise, Larry's crew consisted of his 12-year-old son, Steven, or his 18-year-old daughter, Chrissy, and his wife, Cathy. Onboard, I met the venerable fishing writer Roger Jarvis, who would be taking delivery of the boat once the tour had ended.
Roger's planning a cruise of his own with his new bride. They'll be heading up the Hudson, across New York State on the Barge Canal, and across to Erie, Pennsylvania, truck the boat down I-79 to Pittsburgh, drop it in the Ohio River and run it down to the Mississippi, around the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic seaboard and back home to Massachusetts, all the while catching whatever local legendary fish he can find.
After topping off the tanks at the gas dock, we headed out the mouth of the harbor, past the Brant Point Light, and back across the sound, passing close to Monomoy Island off of Chatham and running through the rip close to the dunes of the island. After turning the corner of the "elbow" of Cape Cod, we ran up the cape, about a mile off the beach, dodging lobster pot buoys a good part of the way.
While Roger conned the helm, Larry showed me some of the design details of the boat. The galley is in the starboard hull, three steps down from the helm deck. The teak-and-holly panels in the sole are actually covers for nine-inch deep storage compartments for provisions and bulky gear. Though it's compact, the galley has adequate counter space and storage in cabinets underneath and cupboards above. A microwave oven is built in above the double-bowl stainless steel sink and the two-burner flush-mounted electric stove. Side-by side refrigerators are situated under one counter.
Aft of the galley lies the guest stateroom, with a double berth that works almost like a mini V-berth, as the nearest two cushions lift up to provide space for a small desk and a fold-away stool. The mattress of the berth is 43 inches high, but there's adequate "sitting up" head room and there's a fold-up step to help get up there. A Bomar hatch and portlights allow plenty of ventilation.
The master stateroom is in the forward section of the port hull, with a high full-sized berth with plenty of storage underneath, a hanging locker, Bomar hatch and portlights. Aft of this lies the head, with a Corian counter on the vanity, and a separate shower stall with a sliding Plexiglas door.
The cockpit is a full eleven feet by five feet, and large hatches in the sole open to reveal cavernous lazarettes. The gas-powered Kohler generator is underneath the port side. Big two-inch scuppers drain the cockpit area. There's storage for six rods under the bosltered gunwales, with rod tips protected. The bait prep station is contained in a large console on the port side. Lift up the lid and articulated tackle boxes open up. There's a sink with a cutting board and a deep baitwell.
One innovative feature is the four foot by six foot swim platform off the transom, big enough to stow an eight-foot inflatable tender between the two Honda outboards. A fold-down rail with a Plexiglas filler panel allows for the extra length of the tender.
The helm deck has an L-shaped settee around a dining table and a refrigerator and counter on the other side. The helm station is lightly off center, favoring the starboard side, with the oversized dash and all that room for the Honda analog gauges and the Simrad display panels. This area is protected by a curved brushed aluminum windshield with a stainless-steel cap rail. All three of the forward panes have windsheild wipers and extra voluminous windshield washer fluid reservoirs. An optional aluminum radar arch supports the Bimini top. A hard-top version is in the works.
After the far end of Cape Cod curled away to the east, we headed due north on a rhumb line to Portland. The calm allowed for great for whale watching. We spotted humpbacks, smaller finbacks, and these huge black dolphins, much to the thrill of all aboard.
About five o'clock, the blue-humped mountains of Maine began to appear on the horizon under a haze of gathering clouds. The wind and water picked up only slightly as Portland Head Light came in sight, and we rounded the rocky corner into Casco Bay with only a little tinge of regret that we never encountered much in the way of topography on the seas to put the twin displacement hulls to a real test. As we approached the wharves of Portland, we were met by a welcoming committee headed by Bill Scherr of Gowen Marine, the local Glacier Bay dealer. With just a small celebration at the floating dock, Larry Graf's epic voyage was done.
We never got up to the boat's predicted top speed of 30 knots, but Larry explained that this particular boat was somewhat overbuilt, knowing that it would be put to unusually rigorous use, both in the initial run and by the future owner. The hull being built now is about 2,000 pounds lighter. And there's all of 8,000 miles worth of cruising gear on board as well.