Remember when a 28-foot outboard center console seemed like a big boat? Nowadays those same boats seem much smaller, due to the incredible number of outboard boats over 30 feet in today's market. As with most things American, we like our boats big!
But while lots of boat companies have only recently joined this particular race, Venture Marine has been at it a while. The Venture 34 commands respect at docks all over South Florida as a serious fishing machine, and has spawned quite a few imitations.
It's easy to see why. This 34-footer offers about as much fishing room as you could expect to find on any non-diesel-powered boat. Furthermore, Venture offers the boat with a lengthy standard-equipment list and a near-custom level of fit and finish. You can also customize the boat to a high degree to meet your particular needs.
Venture Marine builds its boats using the highest quality resins and the latest coring techniques. The hullsides, deck and hatches are all cored with Divinycell for maximum strength and weight reduction, and the hull bottom is hand-laid with solid fiberglass and Kevlar. The foam cores are vacuum-bagged in place for perfect bonding, and the transom is cored with a ceramic matrix that offers superior compression strength.
The 34's cockpit features lots of open space aft of the rocket launcher. A seven-foot storage box on the centerline held the batteries on our test boat. The large lazarette just forward of the transom bulkhead houses the oil tanks for the outboards. This space contained a built-in pocket for flush-mounting a transducer.
An oval live well on the centerline in the transom bulkhead holds 55 gallons of water, and there's a convenient sink to starboard with a sizeable storage space beneath it. The transom gate (located to port) is a solid two-piece affair with an L-shaped top that folds inward on sturdy hinges. The solid gate swings outboard, providing excellent access to the engine platform.
A lot of thought went into designing the console. In fact, it's one of the best we've seen. A tall, wraparound surface above the wheel is designed for flush-mounting large (up to ten inches) sounders and radars. A smoked-acrylic door slides down over the space when not in use to make it both waterproof and secure. The forward console seat conceals a large, insulated cooler.
Beneath the console, a large compartment offers the usual marine head and shower, but Venture also put the boat's five battery switches there. Two doors provide access to all wiring, which is neatly bundled and easy to trace - a top-notch job of rigging.
The bow has a large raised casting deck containing two huge in-deck fishboxes that drain overboard. The boat is surrounded by padded coaming, and our test boat had an optional transom seat made by Birdsall Marine Design. Birdsall built the boat's tower and rocket launcher, too. For a T-top, Venture builds a beautiful cored-fiberglass hardtop that sits atop an aluminum Birdsall frame.
The Venture runs as good as it looks. With a steep, 24-degree deep-vee hull and wide chines, the boat rides both dry and soft, as we proved on our test day in three- to five-foot seas off Palm Beach. The big Venture cruised effortlessly at 33 mph at 4000 rpm with twin 250-hp Yamahas, even in four-footers. Inshore, where we found calm water, it topped out at 50 mph at a wide-open 5300 rpm. At rest, the ten-foot beam and wide chines create a stable platform.
In the increasingly crowded world of large outboard center consoles, the Venture 34 still shines as an original. It should be included near the top of any list when you are looking for a serious outboard fishing boat.
Venture Marine, Inc., West Palm Beach, FL; (561) 845-8557. www.venturemarine.com.