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There was one perfect day last year when Jean-Claude Harris got to live a little of his lifelong dream. Leaving his Liberty Landing marina slip on the Hudson River across from midtown Manhattan, he and his wife, Roz, headed out on their “new” 1988 Carver 36 Mariner for a day on the water.

“We took a three-hour cruise of New York Harbor, around Manhattan and Staten Island,” says Harris, 54, a medical equipment salesman from New Brunswick, N.J. “Then we went back to the dock, grilled some steaks, and hung out on the boat, watching the New York skyline across the river. That was a fun day.” The couple hope for more of them this year, after working out some mechanical bugs last season.

“It’s been my life’s dream to own a big boat,” says Harris. “And we really like this one.”

The 36 Mariner is one of Carver’s more popular models, and for the Harrises the two-stateroom, twin-engine family boat fits the bill. “We wanted a boat that we could use as a day-tripper and overnight cruiser,” says Harris. It had to have room to socialize and accommodate unexpected guests, even overnight ones, with a galley and head facilities. In short, it had to be everything you get in a summer vacation home, with some seakeeping qualities to boot.

The couple did plenty of research before they found the Carver. They started looking at various boats in the 30- to 35-foot range but found “nothing that knocked our socks off,” says Harris. Then they were shown a used Carver 33 Mariner, and his wife said, “This is it.”

The couple also prepared for ownership by chartering a 37-foot cabin boat in Florida with a captain. “We wanted to see if we liked that cruising lifestyle, and we found we did,” says Harris. “We’re first-time boaters, so we also got a lot of experience that way, learned a lot about boat handling.” The two also took a Coast Guard-approved boating course.

Though they didn’t buy the 33, they liked its roominess and Carver’s contemporary styling. “So we started looking at Carver boats, in particular,” says Harris. When they saw their first 36 Mariner it, indeed, knocked their socks off. “It was like the big brother to the 33,” says Harris. “That was the boat for us.”

They bought their Carver, It Takes Two, for around $60,000 early last year. “We use it for cruising New York Harbor with friends and family,” says Harris. “Inside, it has more room than a [motor] home, and roominess was important to us. On a bad-weather day, you can stay inside and not get claustrophobic.” The flybridge, with helm station and seating for nine, is the topside social center of the boat both at the dock and under way.

It Takes Two is powered by a pair of 350-hp Crusader gas engines coupled to

V-drives. Because of the V-drives the saloon has more headroom than might be expected in a boat this size, says Harris. “That’s one reason it feels so roomy,” he says. She cruises comfortably at 22 to 24 mph, running at around 3,200 rpm, according to Harris.


The 36 Mariner rides a modified-vee hull with just 8 degrees of deadrise at the transom, intended to provide stability under way, as well as quicker planing. It also allowed designers to make full use of the boat’s 12-foot, 6-inch beam in laying out the interior. Add in the flushdeck design and the use of V-drives, both of which created additional interior volume, and the 36 Mariner deserves its reputation as a roomy boat for its size.

The twin-stateroom layout places the master forward, with a double island berth and a convenient sink and vanity to port alongside the private entrance to the shared head with shower. There’s a hanging locker and storage, as well. Moving aft, the second stateroom is to starboard, laid out with over-under berths.

The midships galley has a double sink, two-burner stove, and refrigerator, with counter space, storage and room for a few extra appliances, such as a microwave or coffee maker. It’s also well-lit by the boat’s large side windows, another benefit of the flushdeck design. In the saloon, an L-shaped couch is to port, the dinette and U-shaped seat to starboard. Both convert to berths, allowing the 36 Mariner to sleep six or more.

The cockpit is raised to accommodate the V-drives below. A transom door leads to the integral swim platform, and a ladder accesses the flybridge, where there’s seating for nine, including the skipper. A sunpad crowns the foredeck.


Because of its relatively short, 5-year production run, the Carver 36 Mariner can be tougher to find in the used-boat market than its popularity would indicate. But they’re out there, and with a little persistence they can be found all along the East Coast, as well as in the freshwater reaches of the Midwest, where they’re built. Prices run from around $50,000 to $70,000, and the boats usually come with gas engines, standard during their production run. Many owners added to the boats over the years, and amenities such as air conditioning and generators are common. Here are a few Carver 36 Mariners found on the Internet over the last few months:

A 1988 model in Connecticut with twin 454s (350-hp) with low hours, generator, air conditioning and heat, and a full slate of electronics, including GPS/plotter and radar, listed for $69,500. A 1984 model in Maryland — a former freshwater boat and “great family cruiser” — with twin 350-hp MerCruiser gas engines for $68,500. A 1986 model in Wisconsin with twin 350-hp gas engines and many extras, including air conditioning, 6.5-kW generator, GPS and radar, for $72,000. And a 1987 model in Kentucky with generator, air conditioning, windlass and other extras for $66,500.


Looking at Carver’s current fleet of contemporary cruisers, it’s hard to imagine that the Midwest builder started out more than 50 years ago, producing small wooden runabouts for the region’s numerous lakes. Today, Carver is part of the Genmar family of boatbuilders and offers 17 models from 33 to 57 feet — family boats, express and sportboats, and motoryachts — built at its modern complex in Pulaski, Wis.

The 36 Mariner helped solidify the company’s reputation for practical cruising powerboats in the 1980s. Noteworthy for its unconventional, flushdeck profile, the 36 is known for its capacious layout. In “The Powerboat Guide” (American Marine Publishing, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), authors Ed McKnew and Mark Parker call the boat “an outstanding design from the standpoint of space engineering,” with “spacious below-decks accommodations and [a] huge flybridge … seldom matched in boats her size.” Those qualities, made possible in part by a healthy beam-to-length ratio and the boat’s flushdeck design, made the 36 Mariner a popular boat with families and cruising couples. It was a Carver staple during its production run from 1984 to 1988, sharing the same hull with another popular model, the Carver 36 Aft Cabin.


LOA: 35 feet, 7 inches

BEAM: 12 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 3 feet, 2 inches

Weight: 19,500 pounds

hull type: modified-vee

propulsion: twin gas engines, 350-hp each

TANKAGE: 274 gallons fuel, 103gallons water

BUILDER: Carver Yacht Group, Pulaski, Wis. Phone: (920) 822-1600.