The Sweet Spot

These  27- to 35-foot powerboats are just the right size for cruising and day-tripping.
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These  27- to 35-foot powerboats are just the right size for cruising and day-tripping.
Great Harbour TT35

Great Harbour TT35

Midsize power cruisers fit the bill for a wide variety of boaters. Most are easy to handle, have enough room and features for a couple and perform well without demolishing the fuel budget. Their smaller size makes routine maintenance less of a chore, too. For many, they hit the proverbial sweet spot.

These four recent offerings are well worth considering: an unconventional tug, a French builder’s new concept, one speedy Down Easter and an ultra-efficient, long-distance inshore cruiser.

Great Harbour TT35


LOA: 35 feet, 8 inches  • BEAM: 10 feet, 4 inches • WEIGHT: 6,500 pounds • DRAFT: 1 foot, 3 inches • HULL TYPE: planing • POWER: twin 60-hp Suzuki DF60AV 4-strokes • SPEED: 22-23 knots top, 7-13 knots cruise • TANKAGE: 135 gallons fuel, 50 gallons water, 30 gallons waste • PRICE: $239,500 • CONTACT: Mirage Manufacturing Co., Gainesville, Florida, (352) 377-4146.

Great Harbour’s boats are known for their individual styling, and the TT35 is one unique cruising boat. Anyone who’s owned a sailboat will find the interior familiar, in a good way. Though the boat has a relatively narrow, 10-foot, 4-inch beam, there’s room inside for the master stateroom in the bow with a queen-size island berth, desk, hanging locker and stowage. There’s a surprising amount of headroom up here because of the way the TT35’s foredeck is pushed upward from the waterline, and the head and shower are all the way aft, to port.

Abaft the master stateroom is the helm, to starboard. It has a two-person, inward- facing bench seat and an opening door to the starboard side deck. The four-person dinette sits across from it. Farther aft on the starboard side is a galley with a sink, two-burner stove and stowage. The aforementioned head/shower is across from it, as is a refrigerator/freezer.

A door accesses the cockpit, where a pair of port and starboard, inward-facing, upholstered benches reside. An extension of the cabin top supported by stainless-steel tubing protects this area from weather. The cabin top is a perfect place to stow a kayak or two, or perhaps a couple of stand-up paddleboards. The foredeck is set up for anchoring and tying up.

If you’re in a hurry, the TT35 will top out at 20 knots with the standard pair of 60-hp Suzuki 4-stroke outboards. But that’s not where you’ll find the magic. Pull back to 13 knots, and the engines burn only 3.9 gph. That’s almost 4 mpg. Have a little more time on your hands? Cruise her at just under 9 knots, and fuel consumption drops to 1.8 gph, or 5.5 mpg. Seven knots? Just under 1 gph and almost 9 mpg. You get the idea.

At 6,500 pounds, the TT35 is light for her size. Though you’ll need a hefty towing vehicle to pull her (and an over-the-road permit in some states), she’s built to go from north to south with the seasons.

Ranger Tugs R-27


LOA: 31 feet, 4 inches • BEAM: 8 feet, 6 inches • WEIGHT: 7,000 pounds (dry) • DRAFT: 2 feet, 9 inches (engine down) • HULL TYPE: modified-vee • POWER: single Yamaha F300 • SPEED: 36.8 knots top, 26.7 knots cruise • TANKAGE: 150 gallons fuel, 40 gallons water, 30 gallons waste • PRICE: $199,937 (as tested) • CONTACT: Ranger Tugs, Kent, Washington, (253) 839-5213. •

We ran the outboard-powered R-27 to fetch a tasty Chesapeake Bay lunch of crab cakes and oysters in St. Michaels, Maryland, launching from Kent Narrows (see “Coastal Adventurer,” January). That’d typically be at least an hour-and-a-half to two-hour journey for many tug-style boats, but the 300 ponies on the back of our test ride got us there in about 20 minutes.

The outboard-powered R-27 replaces the builder’s previous inboard-powered model and is new from the keel up — not just a repower. The trailerable boat has a sporty look with traditional tug lines. And like all Ranger Tugs, the R-27 makes good use of space inside the gunwales.

The saloon has seat backs at the helm, plus companion seating and a dinette that flips forward or aft to create different seating schemes, or to open up space. A berth is tucked under the dinette, the helm companion seat flips forward to add counter space at the galley, and each dinette seat serves two roles: as a helm/dinette seat, and as an aft cockpit seat. Above the helm is an atrium of sorts with glass set into the cabin top to bring in light.

The master stateroom is in the bow with an offset berth that expands with a drop-in cushion. Stowage is in multiple drawers, shelves and a hanging locker. Abaft the berth is an enclosed head/shower. LED lighting and opening ports create and bring in light below.

Exterior deck spaces include a cockpit with flip-out seating and a drop-in teak table, and an electric grill and sink. A live well is concealed under the removable grill. Forward, on top of the cabin house, is a flip-up lounge for two that seems ideal for enjoying a cocktail in a scenic anchorage.

The Yamaha F300 outboard on the stern provides thrilling performance. Our test model hopped right up on a plane and galloped all the way to 36 knots with the throttle all the way down. Most folks will cruise the R-27 at around 23 knots or so, with a 16.5 gph fuel burn.

Jeanneau NC 33

LOA: 34 feet, 5 inches • BEAM: 10 feet, 10 inches • WEIGHT: 11,830 pounds • DRAFT: 3 feet, 2 inches • HULL TYPE: modified-vee • POWER: twin 220-hp Volvo Penta D3 sterndrives • SPEED: 30.4 knots top, 26.6 knots cruise • TANKAGE: 137 gallons fuel, 175 gallons water PRICE: $400,000 • CONTACT: Jeanneau America, Annapolis, Maryland, (410) 280-9400.

The “NC” in the Jeanneau lineup stands for “New Concept.” While that may sound like mere marketing to most people, the builder’s NC 33 brings a lot of clever convertibility to the table. If there’s a piece of furniture on board, there’s a good chance it can transform to do something altogether different from its original purpose.

Below you’ll find a two-stateroom layout with a midcabin guest stateroom and a master stateroom in the bow. Lots of light flows into the master through dual panes of hull-side glass with opening ports. There are also dual opening hatches overhead. The midcabin guest stateroom should be comfy for occasional overnight or weekend guests. A shared enclosed head/shower is between the staterooms.

Up two steps is the saloon, which designers drew with an eye toward bringing outdoor scenery and air inside. The cabin sides have large glass panels with opening windows, and a power sunroof provides a vista of the sky above. A sliding glass door is next to the helm seating for accessing the side deck or talking with folks outside. Triple-panel sliding glass doors aft slide to starboard or port, and open up the galley or the dinette to the teak-decked cockpit.

The transom section of the L-shaped cockpit lounge slides forward and aft to expand or condense seating capacity, and has a large stowage compartment beneath it. Its base flips up, and the aft seatback flips down to form a sun pad. The teak decking feels good underfoot, and access to the teak-smothered swim platform is through a transom cutout. An optional awning provides relief from the sun on summer days. On the foredeck is more convertibility: a sun pad switches to laid-back lounge seating by flipping up two seatbacks.

Twin 220-hp Volvo Penta D3 diesels are accessed via a cockpit hatch, and are paired with Duoprop sterndrives. The NC 33 can giddyap to a top end of 31 knots, and the engines are most efficient around 22 knots.

MJM 35z


LOA: 37 feet, 11 inches • BEAM: 11 feet • WEIGHT: 13,500 pounds  • DRAFT: 1 foot, 9 inches • HULL TYPE: planing • POWER: twin 300-hp Mercury Verados  • SPEED: 40 knots top, 30 knots cruise • TANKAGE: 250 gallons fuel, 58 gallons water, 15 gallons waste • PRICE: $612,500 • CONTACT: MJM Yachts, Boston, (401) 862-4367.

Loads of sweet-looking boats were at the Newport International Boat Show last year, but one created a consistent traffic jam on the docks: MJM’s nimble, outboard-powered 35z. Painted an unusual shade of blue with buff decks and tipped with a pair of 300-hp Mercury Verado 4-strokes, she drew many admirers.

There’s a lot to like about the builder’s latest model (see “Just Right,” October 2017), not the least of which is how well it performs. The 35z comes standard with the joystick-controlled Verados, which produce a top end of 40 knots and a cruising speed around 30 knots. A pair of 350-hp Verados are optional, pushing the top speed into the high 40-knot range and the cruise to the mid- to upper 30s. The MJM rides a prepreg, epoxy/e-glass/Core-Cell hull with an ISO Category B Offshore rating.

The 35z’s interior is designed for a cruising couple, or as a dayboat with guests. Accommodations include a forward V-berth that trims down with the removal of a cushion to form a seating area around a drop-in table. The galley has a stovetop, sink, microwave and refrigeration, and there is an enclosed head/shower. It’s all warmly trimmed in Down East-style wood and upholstery.

Up on the main deck is a pair of Stidd captain’s chairs abaft twin opening windshields. The helm is to starboard, and the co-pilot’s seat is to port. Abaft on both sides are outboard lounges with a foldable teak table between them that’s dying to host a happy-hour spread. It’s all protected from the elements under a cabin top and inside sliding-glass cabin-side windows. Isinglass panels at the after end of the main deck can be deployed or stowed, depending on the weather.

The aft deck can be configured with additional lounging space that has a mini bar, a forward-facing transom lounge and an aft-facing bench, or with a piscatorial layout that includes a rigging station, transom live well setup, rod holders and in-deck fishboxes. 

This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue.