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September 21, 2007

Mirage Pilot House 32 Classic

This 32-footer offers protection from the elements and lots of range

The fact that a relatively small company such as Mirage Manufacturing has been building custom sport fishing boats for more than 30 years speaks volumes. Three decades is an impressive track record in the boating industry, but when you have a popular hull design, a responsive production team and strong customer satisfaction, what else do you need? How about a new model, one that is better suited for inclement weather and comfortable cruising? That's the basis for this Florida company's new Pilot House 32 Classic.

"We've sold a lot of sportfish boats in the South," says Mirage president Ken Fickett. "With the Pilot House 32 we hope to attract more buyers here at home, but also from the cooler waters of California and the Northeast. It's a great platform for fishing and cruising."

The Pilot House edition is based on the company's 29- and 32-foot center-console hulls, and is available with both inboard/outboard or outboard power (for outboards, the LOA is stretched to 34 feet). The construction is the same for both versions - composite, hand-laid hulls with full foam-core construction and bonding that completely fuses the deck, bulkheads and longitudinal stringers for strength and rigidity. With a dry weight of 6,000 pounds, a bow entry of 56 degrees, and a 22-degree transom deadrise and flat outer chines, the Pilot House is extremely seaworthy and soft-riding. Hydraulic steering and trim tabs are standard, and the hull comes with a ten-year warranty.

Mirage Pilot House 32 Classic

Our test boat was powered by a single 285-hp Volvo KAD300 diesel with counter-rotating drives, and it was very responsive to the throttle. At a cruising speed of 24.7 mph at 3250 rpm, the light chop on Florida's Sarasota Bay was hardly noticeable, while at wide-open throttle our top-end was 34.8 mph. The boat left a very clean wake at trolling speed, and maneuverability was nimble in reverse. Subsequent factory tests with a 32 powered by twin 265-hp diesel engines produced speeds in the high 40s at cruise and a top-end of 53 mph, fully loaded with tower.

Routine maintenance is easy with the electric engine-hatch lift, and there's enough room for quick access to the pumps, batteries and battery combiner. With a 230-gallon fuel capacity and a 3.5 mpg burn at cruise, the 32 has a range exceeding 700 miles. Additional factory tests with twin 265-hp diesel engines produced speeds in the high 40s at cruise and a top-end of 53 mph, fully loaded with tower.

"We really think that the KAD300 is the best choice," Fickett says. "You can head to the Bahamas on Friday, fish all weekend and come back on Monday without ever having to stop for fuel. But if you prefer twin diesels or outboards, we can accommodate that also, and the boat will perform as well or better than anything else in her class."

With its impressive range capabilities and comfortable pilot house (you don't have to shout while underway), this boat can easily handle unexpected weather or forays to distant grounds. Twin in-deck, insulated fishboxes are standard; a 35-gallon live well/tackle center, salt water washdown and coaming pads are optional. The roomy forward casting deck comes with enclosed dry storage, but Mirage's custom capabilities allow substitutions such as overboard-draining, insulated fishboxes or a sun lounge. A forward insulated icebox with cushion is also available as an add-on.

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SPECIFICATIONS

LOA: 32' 4"
Beam: 10' 9"
Draft: 3'
Weight: 6,000 lbs.
Water: 70 gals.
Deadrise: 22 ¿
Fuel: 230 gals.
Price (as tested): $130,500

The Pilot House configuration is very cruising-friendly for a crew of four. Our test boat had the Classic interior option, which includes an insulated icebox, cutting board, sink, microwave and Kenmore refrigerator. An optional bench seat offers storage underneath. The helm was cool and pleasant with the door open, but air conditioning is also available with the shore-power option. The Classic interior package includes mahogany trim and a teak-and-holly sole for a retro look.

The belowdecks layout features a full forward vee-berth, an oversized double mid-berth and an enclosed head with a 70-gallon fresh water system, shower and macerated head with holding tank. A pump-out upgrade is available.

If you like to brave the elements and fish when others are sitting at the dock, check out the new Pilot House 32. It's another example of why Mirage will undoubtedly be building boats for decades to come. Mirage Manufacturing Company, Gainesville, FL; (352) 377-4146; www.mirage-mfg.com.