If you can imagine merging a trawler deckhouse with the hull of a classic 1930s flush-deck cruiser, you'll come up with an idea of what the Great Harbour N37 is all about. The result is a versatile cruiser with a stable hull and a lot of liveaboard space, which, combined with its shallow draft and long range, makes for intriguing possibilities.
Hull number one, launched in 2001, cruised from the factory in Gainesville, Florida, to Rhode Island with a pit stop in Bermuda. Hull number three went through the Panama Canal and on to Hawaii on its own bottom, the smallest twin-engine powerboat ever to make that crossing. I had a chance to go for a ride on hull number four, the first flybridge version of this accommodating cruiser, during one of those crystalline October days after the Annapolis boat shows.
A single-stanchion ladder leads up to the spacious flybridge. Up there, the helm is centered and flanked by companion seats with broad settees running aft on either side. The benches have plenty of storage underneath. The bridgedeck extends back to shade the afterdeck, which, of course, obscures the view of the stern from the helm, though it does provide space to securely stow a 10-foot inflatable.
The broad, flat foredeck has enough room for dancing around the Bomar hatches on an area that's more than 14 feet across and another 14 feet from the reverse-raked windshield to the molded bow pulpit, with its dual stainless anchor rollers. This area is protected by a massive three-foot tall railing built of two-inch diameter stainless steel. Generous, two-foot wide side decks, recessed behind a full foot-tall bulwark and protected by overhangs, lead back past the starboard side door to the afterdeck.
This space is nearly five feet long and a break in the bulwark leads down to the three-foot-wide integral swim platform. A sturdy folding boarding ladder lies centered here.
You enter the deckhouse through a sturdy, gasketed door from the afterdeck. This is an all mahogany interior, the paneling, cabinets, and trim on the headliner. It all goes nicely with the teak-and-holly sole and the rich burgundy faux-leather upholstery on the port side L-shaped settee. The settee and the folding mahogany table convert to a double berth for occasional extra guests. The sole underneath this dining area is raised up about a foot to provide a better view through the large side windows. There's a beautifully finished mahogany entertainment center on the starboard side. The center panel on the countertop lifts up to reveal a Samsung LCD flat-screen TV.
The helm station to starboard features a mahogany dash with a good amount of space for electronics. The wheel is more like something you'd find on a sportfisherman, a brushed-aluminum wheel with a 'suicide' knob.
A broad companion bench lies to port with a large chart table in front of that. The center and smaller of the three windshield panes open for ventilation. A hatch in the sole reveals an immense lazarette, with three molded steps leading down to this area, measuring four feet deep, five feet long and the full beam across.
The companionway leads down four steps to the accommodations deck, which takes up all the space beneath the foredeck, and a lot of space there is. The galley is a real marvel, with a full-size 23-cubic-foot refrigerator with side-by-side freezer. There's seemingly acres of Corian countertop, a four-burner flush-top electric stove and a microwave oven built into the cupboard above. The twin-bowl stainless steel sink is kitchen-size as well, and there's loads of storage behind the beautifully finished mahogany cabinets and cupboard. Part of the countertop is cantilevered to accommodate bar stools. Overall, this seems like it would be both a delightful and efficient space in which to work. There's even an optional washer/dryer unit,not tucked away underneath a staircase somewhere, but right under the galley countertop, where you're apt to use it without having to visit the chiropractor afterwards.
A door to port leads into the guest stateroom, which in this model is designed for use as an efficient office with a single berth. A smaller door leads aft into the cavernous engine room, where the Yanmar 56hp diesels sit well apart and readily accessible from every angle. There's even a workbench back there. This lies directly beneath the raised settee in the deckhouse, so there's not quite stand-up headroom for this six-foot-two boater. You can see how the aft section of the hull rises up to the transom, providing a very low driveshaft angle.
A door farther forward in the galley opens into the head, with its large separate shower stall, Vacuflush toilet, and Corian vanity top. The mahogany cabinetry looks great contrasted against the white fiberglass bulkheads scored to look like bead board wainscoting.
The forward stateroom features a queen-size centerline island berth flanked by deep hanging lockers, drawers and mahogany ceiling boards. There's storage underneath the mattress and four deep drawers at the foot. A Bowmar hatch overhead and two round opening portlights provide plenty of light and air. The headroom throughout this deck is a full six feet four inches.
After this thorough tour we took off from Back Creek and out onto the placid Severn River, where the wakes of other boats leaving the boat show created the only wave action. Still, the boat ran well and seemed quite stable taking the biggest wakes broadside at rest with very little rolling motion. Turns were tight and smooth, and since the twin screws are so far apart, the boat was readily maneuverable using the electronic controls alone. Top speed at 3600 rpm was about 8.3 knots, and we found a good cruising speed at 2700 rpm, which gave us a GPS reading of 7.1 knots. The Mirage Manufacturer's data shows a fuel burn rate of 3 gallons per hour at 7.7 knots for a cruising range of about 1,150 nautical miles.