John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
Midnight Express 37
MAY 2007
 
   
Length overall  37'2"
Beam  11'6"
Draft(Hull only) 20"
Dry Weight (Approx)  15,000 lb
Max HP  1,200 hp
Fuel Capacity  365 gal
Water Capacity  70gal
Base Price  $293,100


The sight of three 275-hp Mercury Verado outboards sitting on the back of the Midnight Express 37 Cabin was the first hint that this was going to be a fun test ride. Midnight Express is a family-owned and operated company that introduced its first model (the 39) in 1999. With its sturdy construction and ability to handle rough water at high speed, it was snapped up by the military and law enforcement community for use as an interceptor boat. Some thirty boats have been delivered to the U.S. Customs Department alone. The company builds two hulls-a 37 and a 39 (the 39 carries four outboards). Both come in a center-console or cabin version, and both will be able to handle the new 300-hp Mercury four-stroke outboards when they are available. Hull construction is hand-laid fiberglass with a Nida-Core polypropylene honeycomb core, which gives the boat a stiff strong hull without a lot of weight. Brian Quinn, the company service manager and my test-ride host, estimated our test model to be about 17,000 pounds.
 
I was impressed with how this company can produce a boat that meets rugged military specs and still carries an aura of stylish luxury. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bright yellow console sporting a 15-inch North Star 6000i and another blank panel for an additional display. With only trim indicators and the three electronic gauges for the outboards, the console looked uncluttered and squared away. The boat has an L-shaped bench that lines the transom and leads up the starboard side. Forward of the bench is a counter with a built-in ice maker. The helm comfortably accommodates two standing or sitting (an electrically adjustable seat is optional). Across from the helm and to port is another lounge-style seat. Overhead, our test boat had an optional laceless soft top with powder-coated supports.

The boat's interior was more than I expected. With 6 feet of headroom plus a full head with shower, it was far more than the cuddy cabin one usually sees on boats this size. To port is a leather settee and a varnished cocktail table. The galley, to starboard, is equipped with a refrigerator, microwave and electric stove top. Forward is a V-shaped double bunk and a flat screen TV mounted on the forward bulkhead. A 10,000-Btu marine air-conditioner is standard.

Underway, the deep-V hull handled the one- to two-foot chop smoothly. The Mercury Verados were predictably quiet, allowing for normal conversation. Quinn pushed the throttles forward and we took off. Glancing down at my GPS, I noticed we were making about 30 knots at 3800 rpm with 5 people aboard. Wide open she skipped along at just a few ticks under 50 knots. I braced myself as we caught one sharp wave and hit the air, but the hard landing never came. The Midnight Express sliced back into the water, hardly missing a beat.

When it was my turn to drive, I ran at cruising speed on several courses and into several tight turns. She held all the turns well and was comfortable and smooth in differing wave directions. Running over my own wake in a steep banking turn, I managed to soak some of my colleagues, but at slow speed I was able to twist the boat inside her own length with little effort. If I'd wanted push-button maneuverability, I could have used the boat's optional bow thruster. This stylish rocket may have been built for catching bad guys, but it's even better for catching some great time on the water.