The new 3800 Express is the largest model to date from Pursuit, and puts the company squarely in the competition among mid-size express fishing boats. The 3800 is based on the same proven hull as the 3800 built by Tiara, Pursuit's sister company. But while both are top-quality rides, the Pursuit is the more aggressive fishing machine.
It's a big 38-footer, which translates into lots of room, both in the cockpit and down below. It also has a swept-back, no-nonsense profile that makes the boat look fast even when it's sitting at the dock.
We tested the 3800 on two separate occasions, once in the Bahamas and later in the Florida Keys. On both outings we were duly impressed with the boat's performance and its practical layout. You can obviously fish hard on this boat, but in typical Pursuit style the accommodations are as plush as the cockpit is large. A small group could spend a lot of time aboard this boat, and that's not something that can be said about all 38-footers.
Our test boat was powered by twin 480-hp Volvo Penta TAMD 74P diesels, an upgrade from the standard 450-hp Cummins engines. We ran the 3800 in enough rough water to call it an excellent sea boat. Its bow rides proud, keeping spray to a minimum, but visibility from the helm remains quite good.
When the going really gets rough, you can use the large trim tabs to push the bow down, which lets the sharp forefoot cut through the chop. The boat is stable at rest and when trolling, and also backs well. Pursuit's own speed trials on a 3800 with hardtop, but no tower, produced a cruise speed of 27.7 knots at 2400 rpm. Wide open, it reached a top speed of 31.5 knots at 2700 rpm.
The large cockpit features standard coaming pads, with a sturdy transom door to starboard that opens beneath a hinged section of covering board. An optional fold-down seat disappears into the transom when not needed, but is handy for accommodating extra passengers. Transverse hatches just forward of the transom provide access to two in-deck boxes and the inner hull. The starboard box is an insulated dunnage box that sits above the starboard rudder post, while the larger box to port is an insulated fishbox that can be optionally plumbed with a macerator.
Pursuit had a full-size fighting chair mounted in the test boat, yet there was still room to move around easily between the chair and the molded-in boxes at the forward end of the cockpit. Our test boat had the optional bait-prep center to port with sink, rigging board and tackle storage. It also contained a 50-gallon live well complete with lighting and an oval, acrylic window that lets you keep close tabs on your baits. The starboard box contains an insulated cooler that can be optionally plumbed as a freezer, and comes with an aft-facing seat on top.
The helm features Pursuit's trademark gray, non-reflective helm material, with a very large space for mounting electronics above the wheel. Our test boat had ten-inch equipment from Raymarine mounted here with room to spare. The helm has an electrically adjustable seat, and there's a large, L-shaped lounge seat to port with dry storage and a drink cooler inside. An optional icemaker sits just aft of the helm seat. Everyday engine checks can be performed through a center hatch, but the entire bridgedeck raises on electric rams for major service.
Upon descending to the cabin you are immediately confronted by rich and exotic woodwork, from the standard teak-and-holly sole to the burnished bulkheads and cabinets. The L-shaped galley is positioned to starboard, and features a microwave, two-burner stove and refrigerator/freezer. Across from the galley, a portside sofa converts into upper and lower berths, and there's a slick rod-storage cabinet with glass doors. You can also order that space as a pantry, but why anyone would give up rod storage for food is beyond me.
The head is to port, and features a unique, circular acrylic door that creates a shower stall. Across from that sits a large dinette. In the forepeak you'll find an island double berth that offers lots of storage below. This area can be closed off by a privacy curtain.
Pursuit has built a winner here. Like all Pursuits, the fit-and-finish is top drawer, and by bringing that quality to ever-larger boats the company is clearly taking aim at some of the other high-end express builders. If I were them, I'd be worried.
Pursuit Boats, Ft. Pierce, FL; (561) 465-6006; http://www.pursuitboats.com.