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September 21, 2007

Phoenix 35

This new 35-footer is the first boat released under the Phoenix name since Carl Herndon bought the company last year, bringing Phoenix onboard to complement his line of Jupiter Marine outboard boats. Herndon reworked the old Phoenix 34 into the 35, and the new boat is a considerable improvement, boasting cleaner lines, an improved interior layout, better fit-and-finish and superb fishing features.

The boat's interior offers innovative design touches everywhere you look. It's a single-stateroom layout, a logical way to go when you're working with 35 feet and still want a sizable cockpit and a full galley. Phoenix accomplished this by building a galley-down interior, with the galley to port. It has everything the cruising fisherman could want, including a top-quality Sub-Zero refrigerator and ice maker, microwave and two-burner stove. The real bonus, though, is that there's a lot of room in which to move, something many 35-footers lack.

The head is starboard across from the galley and is equally spacious. It features a large stall shower with an acrylic door, a full-sized marine head and a ton of storage space. Corian countertops finish it off. The head can be accessed from either the galley or the forward stateroom.

A double berth on the centerline occupies most of the master stateroom, but Phoenix still managed to squeeze in two hanging lockers and a large amount of storage under the berth in three drawers and a large compartment beneath the center of the bed. More storage space is spread around the hullsides. The interior surfaces are covered with a plush headliner material, and all of the woodwork is first-rate.

Even though the 35 is a single-stateroom boat, it sleeps six. The convertible dinette in the salon transforms into a double bunk, and the lounge seat to starboard converts into Pullman-style berths. There's an innovative rod-storage locker behind the lounge, and the salon even comes with an upscale entertainment center with a flat-screen Sony TV, VCR, CD and DVD player. The interior on this boat rivals those of many 50-footers - and surpasses most of them.

Built to Fish

Phoenix 35 specificationsFishing is the main mission, though, and Herndon knows how to build a cockpit from his days at the helm of Blackfin. The 35 has a tremendous amount of room in the 114-square-foot cockpit, with an in-deck fishbox to starboard and a unique in-deck live well to port. Both drain through macerator pumps. A rugged transom gate to starboard opens under a hinged covering board, and coaming pads surround the entire pit.

Forward, the engines sit beneath raised boxes that occupy part of the forward cockpit area. This design provides excellent access to the engines, and a hatch in the salon affords access to the entire engine room. Our test boat featured the optional Northern Lights 6.5 kW diesel generator, which sits aft in the engine space.

Everything is clean and well-lit, and the fittings are all oversized for long life. Phoenix even includes Perko emergency water pickups that tie into the engines' raw-water supply. If a major leak even occurred, a lever would shut the seacock and open the emergency pickup, allowing the engine to pump water out of the boat.

The helmsman has a bird's-eye view of the action from the flybridge at the command console, where Phoenix once again redesigned things for the better. The 35 has a very large flat surface that wraps around the helm and can house a substantial amount of flush-mounted electronics. The flybridge is kept cool by air vents in the forward bridge overhang, so there's never a problem with lingering diesel fumes. And there's more storage, of course, under the front passenger seat and in rod lockers along the sides of the bridge. There's even a CD player that provides cockpit tunes, located in a drawer next to the helm.

Our test boat came equipped with twin 420-hp Yanmar 6LY2 diesels, the top-of-the-line engine option, but there are other options available from Cummins and Caterpillar. Phoenix will price out other options for you. The 35 has a modified-vee hull, but a very sharp entry, and it runs and tracks as well as any 35-footer we've been on.

On a windy day off the Florida Keys, we ran with and into a steep chop, and the new Phoenix cut right through whatever we threw at it. It was an excellent performer, cruising at 33 mph and topping out just under 40 mph. The wide chines made the boat very stable, and the pronounced bow flare kept it (and us) very dry. The 35 simply ran like a much larger boat.

Carl Herndon has come up with a winner here, and we predict the Phoenix 35 will be a great success. It offers excellent attention to detail, fit-and-finish, and thoughtful design touches that will make it equally at home while cruising or campaigning hard on the tournament trail. It is bound to please the many fans of Phoenix boats, and will surely make some new converts as well.

Phoenix Yacht Corp., Ft. Lauderdale, FL; (954) 525-6314; www.jupitermarine.com.