"Mid Size Power Boats": A Guide for Discreminating Buyers - by David Pascoe


Luhrs Tournament 360

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Sorry, no pix on this one because the door on my carmera broke off with the film in it. Wish somebody made heavy duty cameras for surveyors. All we got are the above pix we stole from the Luhrs catalogue. Since we're going to say some nice things about their boat, we didn't think they'd mind.

The last Luhrs we reviewed was a 1993 Tournament 350, purchased by a friend, and a very similar looking boat to the 360. So when we got a chance to look at the new 360 we were quite interested to see how Luhrs was doing these days.  You may be interested know that our friend purchased a Buddy Davis after he sold his 350, the significance of which you may recognize in a moment.  Back in '93, we were quite surprised to see that Luhrs had changed its tune and started making some decent boats. We've never been impressed with their previous offerings. Floating campers, really.

The first thing we noticed about the 350 was that someone was paying attention to something other than the upholstery and all the other prettiness, the shine of which might be good for a year. The first thing we did was to pop down in the engine room to see how things are done in the places where people don't often look. Low and hehold, it was about as good as we would have done had we been asked to do the design on the same budget. The engine room was spacious, uncluttered and neat as could be. In fact, neater than anything else we've seen in a long time. Every piece of equipment was thoughtfully placed, every hose and wire routed and secured the way it should be. No one piece of equipment blocked access to another piece, and so on.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was that the glass work was neat. Now you gotta know that, when they make the inside of the hull nice and smooth and clean, without any barbed fishhooks of glass to rip parts of you body open when you accidentally brush against them, that somebody has their thinking cap on. And that the Chief Financial Officer wasn't standing over the shoulder of the designers and   production manager. Never mind that it doesn't cost but a little bit more to do it right than to do it shoddy. Somebody around Luhrs apparently knows that God (and

Sure, we found things to criticize in the 350, and we did in the 360 too, but most of these were in the trade offs you have to make with any boat. Basically you got good value for your money, though we felt it was kind of pricey for what was a gas powered boat. Nor were we thrilled with the Marine Power gas engines, one of which bang in the first 30 hours use in our friend's boat, and which continue to manifest too many problems, too early in their life. Though we've never seen one torn down, we have to wonder if these are the same 502 blocks that Mercruiser uses with the unstabilized main bearing caps. These we know about. We'll still take Crusader any day. But this boat is a bit too big and too heavy to consider gas power anyway. The 350 did fine with gas engines, but we think it would be a mistake to order this boat without diesels. The difference in weight is 3,000 lbs out of the box, but its going to be considerably more with extras because its an overall bigger boat.

Luhrs is still offering Marine Power as their only gas option and here's the deal: MP is jacking up the CID and horsepower of the basic 454 to 502 CID and 425 hp respectively. That's just too darn much power out of that block. There is a principle about marine engines we'd be happy to offer: Whenever one marinizer dares to squeeze more power out of a block than the others will, beware. Mr. Goodwrench don't come cheap.

Okay, so on to the Tournament 360.  First we were pleased to note that the deadrise at the transom has been increased considerably. Our only serious complaint about the 350 was that her bottom was too much for speed and too little for waves.  In other words, too flat. We wrote at the time that Luhrs wasn't going to be able successfully compete with the other fishfreaks with a bottom like that. You want your boat to get attention at Walkers Cay or any other big name tournament, you are going to have to put some vee in it and say to hell with engine and fuel costs. Compromises like that just don't cut it with the fishinfanatics.

Guess they wised up because there's plenty of vee on this boat, as well as the rest of their new line. As usual, when we want to try out a boat, the Gulfstream wasn't cooperating. The winds were offshore from the west at 20 so we had to head out a ways where the best we could do was a short chop with a bit of swell. Even so, the CAT 3126's at WOT pushed her along at speeds that said this hull is going to make a lot of folks happy. It sliced through the chop and nosed through the swell just as nice as can be. She's balanced with the weights way aft and her attack angle is pretty steep, especially up wind with a pipeframe top providing plenty of windage and the heavily flared bow scooping up a lot of wind too. Lots of lift there. You interested in fuel efficiency? Go by a Volkswagen and save your pennies there because this boat needs some gas. But, you can't have everything; she's rides real fine but you pay the price in horsepower and lower engine life. Speed always means liberal doses of dollars. That bothers you, get a trawler.

And praise the Gods of boat design, the era of boats with drooping noses is finally over. We never understood why anyone would want blue water coming over the bow. Even Bertrams can be irksom in this regard.  High freeboard and bow flare forward is making a comeback. The 360 has got it in spades, a la Buddy Davis. In fact, you can't mistake what they were looking at when they designed this one. Only the vee-sided sections aft will throw you off.

Once again, the shortish deck house sacrifices quite a bit of interior space, and for a serious fisherman, I cannot understand why the cockpit is so small. Our test model did not have a chair installed, but its pretty clear that its a very tight fit. Especially with the molded in bridge staircase which we think is a mistake. So too, is the large cut out in the bridge deck to accommodate those stairs. At least they got a large railing in there to keep you from accidentally stepping through that gaping hole like happens on quite a few other boats. At least somebody was thinking about safety. Maybe next year they'll go back to a plain old ladder. This trade off is just too much.

The hallmark of good design is that years later it still looks good. The current line up of Luhrs boats certainly has that. Reminiscent of Rybovich and Merritt, twenty years from now people will still think they're good looking, and that's one of the things that makes for good resale. All that long length of bow and shorter house is what makes it, but they have paid a heavy price with a small cockpit. They guy who wants to drop a full chair in there is going to look elsewhere, although one of the smaller chairs will do okay. Barely. The other point is the full 24" of house overhang that's likely to snag a few rod tips. That was done to help make up for the big bite that the staircase took out of the bridge area.

But the bow deck? Well, heck,  Haven't had that feeling since the last time I was on a Buddy or a Merritt, blasting across the stream at 30 knots. Smooth, clean, expansive and just plain nice. Maybe its worth the cramped cockpit, I don't know. But it sure is a nice old deck, yes sir. Gotta be a real boat nut to fall in love with a deck, but looking down on it from the bridge can give a traditionalist goosebumps. The kind of decks folks like to take the railings off of,  just like as kids we took the front bumpers off our cars for God only knows what reason. Maybe cuz we just thought it looked cool that way. Just love that huge amount of flair. Helps keep her dry, too.  But that pulpit! Anybody got a saw? What is that durn thing anyway, a dolphin spear? Or just something to keep the boat yards busy everytime you get caught by a crosswise current while docking? Something else the fishinatics don't want.

Ergonomically, this is a considerably bigger boat than the 350, with another 11" of beam, although the big bow flare means that the extra foot in length is pretty much lost, the beam more than makes up for it. We thought the 350 just plain cramped, but with a nearly identical layout, this design is just fine. Clearly Luhrs isn't making the same mistake that Bertram did by not thinking of the ladies. While the interior is very conservatively appointed, you'd have to have garish tastes to be disappointed.  If you like lots of teak veneers -- and nearly everyone does -- this boat is loaded with it. Remember, teak is good on the inside, not the outside. Holds up well and is easily refinished if you screw it up. The woodwork is not fine art, but what they did, they did well. It won't match up with what Viking does.  Its comfy, hushed with the motors roaring, and once again there's that unhindered traffic pattern from bow to stern, so if you got to move in hurry, you don't fall over the table or gouge your hips on an obstacle course. Did you know that it costs a lot more money to make things rounded than to make them square? Everything that needs to be rounded in this boat is. Nice. Kids are made of flubber; adults aren't.

With the windows a bit larger, the 360 is not quite as dark inside as the 350, except up forward where its like a cave. Some people like caves.  But I think it really need some skylights up here where glass prisms or a hatch would do just fine. One thing for sure, the lack of window glass lets the AC keep her nice and cool inside. Southerners will appreciate that, while the northern ladies will probably cringe, and the guys could care less.  Here's yet another boat with a uselessgalley sink, no bigger than a bucket. You could wash a couple glasses in it, but nuthin else. Far better to have a large basin with a cover over it if you need the extra space.

The master stateroom is satisfactory but the guest "stateroom" is a hole with two bunks stacked in it. Give heebeejeebies to anyone who's ever done submarine duty. I can't remember when the last time I saw someone trying to sleep six in a boat this size, but I guess their marketing people have a reason for it. I'd rather sleep on the couch, thank you. She's got the typical L-shape settee, but do you ever see anyone sitting at these things? The table is always in the way, and being move around -- usually spilling everything thats on it. All over the white carpet that shouldn't be there. And like a movie theater, people only want to sit at the ends -- no one wants to sit in the middle. I still think the convertible dinette is a better idea, and far more useful. Yet that extra 11" of beam makes the difference between claustrophobia and leibenschraum.

The glass work is not perfect, but its darn good. Gel coat don't hold up worth a diddly though. No weak spots, no footprints left by the bean counters we could see. Solid, decent construction.

Engineering wise, we find just about everything done the way it should be done, with little to complain about. The inline 6 cylinder diesels don't cramp the engine room too much and maintaining this boat will be about as easy as it gets. How do the 3126's hold up? Nobody knows, they're too new to have developed a track record. But, Cat does a fair job honoring their warranties . . . .

The price tag? Well, its probably not enough to strangle a cat all by itself.   Until, that is, you go haywire on all those extra goodies that you really don't need but are going to buy anyway to help all us good folks in the marine industry keep our economy going. Once you start looking around at your options  you'll probably feel as I do that this is a pretty good buy, new or used. For the price, you'll also find that there's a lot that you don't get. Like there's dearth of hardware, and when you look at more costly boats, you'll see things there that aren't here. But what is there, is worth being there, and they don't try to fool you by adding a lot of  junk just in order to say its there. Boy, haven't we had enough of that? Are people finally learning that if it aint good quality, it aint worth having?

No  feature stripe tape to crinkle up, no cheap molded plastics, no aluminum, no die cast zinc alloy, no cost cutting, bean counting crapola junk worthy of being mistaken as a Chinese import. So you won't find a bunch of crappy leaky portholes (there aren't any), nor a couple extra deck hatches (there aren't any) -- you know the plastic kind you step on and you feel like you're gonna fall through -- or aluminum window frames that corrode like hell and leak like crazy and pour salt water all over your nice interior. No crunchy, crumbly molded plastic ventilator cowls, no mildew infested plastic inspection ports that aren't worth a buck-and-a-half, no hardware screwed into glass that's going to rip out. And there's some hand rails missing, too. Did I miss anything?

But so what? Yes, sir, I do believe I see a trend in the making here. And its very definitely a welcome one. Keep it clean, keep it simple, and if it isn't good quality, forget about it. If you can't afford to put a good one on, then leave it off. Don't appeal to vanity by doing something stupid. Boats are just to darn expensive to be peddling junk for very long and get away with it. Five years running now, what we got here is another very credible effort by Luhrs to deliver good value for the money. Whatever else her faults, there is some integrity in the construction of this boat, and we're always pleased to report that. Twenty years from now these boats will be selling just like 20 year old Bertrams do today. Because they look good and they be good.

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David Pascoe Power Boat Books

Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats (2E)

David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from over 70 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

Biography - Long version

Articles at
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David Pascoe's
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Mid Size Power Boats Mid Size Power Boats
A Guide for Discriminating Buyers
Focuses exclusively cruiser class generally 30-55 feet
With discussions on the pros and cons of each type: Expresses, trawlers, motor yachts, multi purpose types, sportfishermen and sedan cruisers.
Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats
Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
Dedicated for offshore outboard boats
A hard and realistic look at the marine market place and delves into issues of boat quality and durability that most other marine writers are unwilling to touch.
Surveying Fiberglass Powewr Boats
Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats
2nd Edition
The Art of Pre-Purchase Survey The very first of its kind, this book provides the essentials that every novice needs to know, as well as a wealth of esoteric details.
Marine Investigations
Pleasure crafts investigations to court testimony The first and only book of its kind on the subject of investigating pleasure craft casualties and other issues.
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Links to Each Chapter Contents with Excerpt at:
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