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.
Minor 31
Beam 10'6"
Draft 3'
Displacement 5.5 tons
Fuel Capacity 105 gals.
Base Price $235,000
Price as Tested $295,000

I'm a big proponent of pilothouse boats and have never really understood why there are relatively few production models in the recreational boating market. Perhaps I've spent too much time at sea in uncomfortable weather conditions, but I firmly believe that protection from the elements can really enhance your boating experience—even on nice days. A pilothouse can also extend your boating season and add flexibility to your schedule. We've all had bad weather days when we didn't want to leave the dock in an open boat.

It was just such a day when I stepped aboard the Minor 31, a new arrival from Finland at the 2009 U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis. It was cold, windy and rainy. Normally I would hesitate to head out on the water in such conditions, but the test boat was equipped with a diesel heater and standing in the cozy pilothouse was a pleasure.

Finnish-built boats have a reputation for rugged seaworthiness and elegant simplicity. The Minor 31 is no exception. The deck layout spares nothing in the way of passenger safety. Wide side decks with high bulwarks topped by stainless steel handrails reach all the way around the boat. All of the deck hardware is heavy duty and polished.

This compact cruiser has a head with shower, two sleeping cabins separated by the pilothouse, plus a dinette and galley area. The pilothouse itself has sliding doors port and starboard and a large manually operated sunroof. On sunny warm days, you can literally raise the roof and feel like you're outside.  The helm area has seating/standing room for two. The stow-away galley (to port) hides beneath a teak counter when not in use. A centerline companionway forward leads below to the master cabin and head compartment.

An L-shaped dinette is aft of the steering station. Flipping up the seat to port reveals steps that lead down to the aft cabin. This arrangement puts the pilothouse between the two different cabins, offering excellent privacy for a small cruiser.

The Minor is powered by a Volvo Penta Diesel engine in an inboard-outboard arrangement that offers 30-knot performance. The swim platform has a flip-up hatch that provides access to the stern drive for inspection.

Carl Skarne, owner of Skarne Marine, the U.S. importer for Minor boats, was there when I climbed on board. He was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his wife and two young children who would be joining him for a family cruise back to their home port of Milford, Connecticut. When the boat show closed and it was time to head-out, I went for a little jaunt out in the Bay. The ride was smooth, comfortable and notably quiet. Although my test ride was limited, I later got a really good sense of the boat from Carl's blog about the family's trip home at

All in all the Minor 31 impressed me in many ways.  Her design and construction are first rate. As a compact cruiser, the boat offers a seaworthy and speedy alternative to more traditional trawler designs. She's not a liveaboard, but her pilothouse and overnight accommodations make her well suited for family cruising or cruising with friends.