Everett Pearson has been an innovator in the recreational boating market ever since he started building fiberglass powerboats and sailboats with his cousin in 1957, a time when fiberglass was still a new and relatively unknown medium. Over the intervening decades, Everett has evolved, as have the several companies he's founded. Currently, hes working with his son, Mark, as TPI Composites, building J/Boats and Alerion-Express sloops in their Warren, Rhode Island plant; and now they've reclaimed the Pearson name and launched a new line of 38-foot powerboats.
Two key features set this new day runner apart from the rest of the fleet: the plumb bow and the reverse transom. In fact, the whole aft end has lines worth waxing eloquently about. No ubiquitous swim platform here; rather, the transom consists mainly of two big doors that, when open, turn the last three feet of the cockpit into a wide platform, just inches above the water, making it a perfect entry point for swimming, diving, or launching the dinghy. In fact, you can haul the dinghy into the cockpit and launch it whenever you reach your next anchorage. The transom doors will sound an alarm if you try to open them while under way.
And the lines of the tumblehome around the aft end are pretty as well. The cockpit is spacious, the coaming is wide enough for seating while at dock, or you can furnish it with folding chairs or whatever you choose. Lockers provide plenty of storage for fenders, lines and PFD's.
Under the hard top, there's a serviceable galley station to starboard, with a stainless-steel Frigoboat refrigerator, three-burner propane stove, microwave oven, deep double stainless sink, and brushed aluminum fiddle rails to keep culinary accouterments from flying off the Corian countertops. Don't look for a lot of wood trim - you won't find it in this utilitarian, low-maintenance living space. The dinette table is topped with an attractive cork trimmed in teak. It drops down with a flick of a switch to transform the two facing bench seats into a spare double berth.
Pearson will offer the 38 True North in three versions. The 'Explorer' and the 'Heritage' models each have a single Yanmar 420 HP diesel for power, but the latter is available with a Hamilton 321 Jet Drive, and will boast a yachtier interior finish in a choice of cherry, oak, mahogany or teak. The 'Sport' model will have a 350 HP Yanmar as its standard power for a cruising speed of about 18 knots.
The Explorer has a base price of $289,000, the Sport is $240,00 and the Heritage is $340,000. 'The pricing is good when you compare it with the other boats that are out there,' says Pearson's Jono Billings, who has shepherded the new 38 from concept to launch. 'I see smaller and smaller boats getting more and more expensive, but that's not what we wanted to do. We're going just the opposite direction, making the boats more practical. We're a production builder. We designed it so we can produce it smartly. You can't be cheap with stuff, because you'll be fixing it if it breaks, and you can't make it so complicated that it becomes a custom boat. We've made it easy for us to assemble, and the boat's thought out enough that you don't need to worry about it.'
The hull and deck are built with TPI's patented 'SCRIMP' (Seemann Composites Resin Infusion Molding Process) system, which infuses the end-grain balsa core with resin. High-modulus triaxial glass and preformed stringers are infused with the core, and the hull is finished with Awlgrip. The SCRIMP construction makes for a strong, yet lightweight hull. The displacement of the 38 is only 15,000 pounds.
On the cool October morning we ran it out of Annapolis, the single 420 HP Yanmar diesel propelled the boat at a cruising speed of about 21 knots at 2900 RPM, and just a hair under 25 knots at 3200, wide open. Though it's just got a small skeg, the boat tracks remarkably well, even in a tight chop. And it's a nice and quiet ride, even when going full-throttle. A standard bow thruster provides extra maneuverability in tight spaces.
The helm has great visibility through the three large square panes of windshield - the center pane opens - and the opening side windows. The large brushed steel Edson wheel is quite responsive, and the whole console hinges back for access to the wiring. The AC/DC distribution panel is conveniently located just inside the companionway hatch, readily accessible to the pilot. A double bench seat sits to port for the co-pilot.
The electronics package is standard, with either a Furuno or Raytheon chart plotter. 'We provide the whole package - the boat is what it is,' Billings explains. 'We pick stuff that isn't going to break, because we handle our own warranty work, since we don't have dealers. There are so many options out there I think it's overwhelming for the average person.'
The cabin below on this model is finished out in cork, lining the bulkheads, door to the head, and even the sole. It's a soft, warm feeling and again, very low maintenance. Four drawers and a hanging locker provide storage, as do the lockers underneath the V-berth. Bowmar hatches provide light and air in the cabin as well as the spacious head. This, too, is utilitarian, with a molded fiberglass sink in the vanity and seat for the hand-held shower.
Wide side decks lead up to the foredeck, where a massive horseshoe-shaped pulpit protects the bow and anchor roller. The winch is operable from foot switches on deck or from a switch on the helm console if you're single-handing.
'We did a couple of things with this boat that has truly been smart,' Jono says. 'The first one was to build a full-sized mock-up in plywood. We spent a lot of money on that, but we decided early on that a mock up would allow us to try stuff and stand in the cockpit, know exactly how high the coamings were, how the bunks felt, where the lights fit; that saved us a lot of money in changing things before we did the tooling. The other smart thing we did was build this boat without an owner. I've been testing it. I've cruised over 1,000 miles in all kinds of weather, so I've figured out things that would effect subsequent boats, little changes in the hatches and things. It's an expensive thing to do, but it pays off in the end.'