As center-consoles increase in size and flood the big-game, small-boat market, Jupiter offers an excellent alternative — the 34 LX — an equally nimble 34-footer tailored for serious angling and long offshore runs, but with roomy, well-appointed quarters below deck for the crew or family to overnight in comfort.
Weather: Partly sunny
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Wind: East 12 mph
Sea State: 2- to 4-foot chop
Test Load: Four adults, 170 gallons of fuel, 50 gallons of water
Far from a compromise, the Jupiter 34 LX offers top-notch design and construction, along with many of the features anglers expect to find in large express-style fishing boats, but in a smaller platform that is easier to manage with a reduced crew.
The hull, deck and liner are separate pieces, and the liner is bonded directly to the hull sides prior to the deck installation, a procedure that results in a larger cockpit with more toe room under the coaming and, along with Jupiter’s uni-grid stringer system, makes for a more-rigid hull.
While most boat builders opt for stainless and bronze hardware to thwart rust and oxidation, Jupiter takes the fight against corrosion a couple of steps further: All wiring is tin-coated copper, and the fuel tanks are high-quality aluminum coated with an epoxy material to guard against exposure to salt water and counteract the corrosive effect of ethanol fuel.
Jupiter also offers an automatic battery-management system that supplies maximum power to the boat’s systems while isolating the engine-cranking batteries. And when it comes to comfort and convenience, the 34 LX sure has it going on.
An L-shaped lounge in front of the console offers comfortable seating for three or four, with storage and a centrally located 85-quart drink cooler underneath. On the port side, a large hatch provides entry to an air-conditioned cabin below, complete with LED lighting, a convertible dinette with a high-low teak table, flat-screen TV, microwave oven, refrigerator, sink with hot and cold water, electric head with holding tank, and forward storage compartments. A deck hatch with a sunshade opens forward for ventilation.
Just astern, a wide console provides the real estate for a complete electronics suite, a compass, multifunction gauges, switches, and optional stereo and Helm Master control. Next to it, a flip-up counter hides a freshwater sink. Seating at the helm is a stand-up-height module with fold-down footrests that harbors a bait prep center with ample tackle storage and a 25-gallon livewell.
The cockpit, the heart of any game boat, is spacious and boasts coaming bolsters throughout. There’s a side door, a transom door with a retractable boarding ladder and twin in-deck 54-gallon fish boxes with macerator drains placed near the port and starboard gunwales where they won’t interfere with crew members rigging baits or tending rods and lines. There are also fresh- and saltwater washdowns with molded hose-coil holders, a rod storage locker and three in-deck compartments offering a combined 22 cubic feet of dry storage. Our test boat donned the optional hardtop with recessed LED lighting, which keeps the lounging area and the helm shaded — also dry with the available clear bridge enclosures — and makes a perfect base for a second helm station up top. Buyers, however, can choose a custom tower instead.
Four rod holders on the gunwales come standard, but additional flush-mount holders, a rocket launcher on the hardtop and vertical tubes on the hardtop frame are among the available add-ons, which also include a transom-mounted livewell, a bait prep center with a 45-gallon livewell, double helm seats with a flip-up bolster, a stern-recessed seat, bow thruster, lighting in all storage compartments, underwater lights, and windlass with anchor and line.
For superior performance, Jupiter gave the 34 LX a 60-degree entry and incorporated its exclusive Posi-Stern hull-pad design that produces a variable dynamic stern lift to provide the ideal running angle at all times, resulting in higher speeds, sharper turns, better fuel economy and a smoother ride.
The ride of the Jupiter was quickly put to the test by the 3- to 4-footers encountered during our 30-mile run offshore. Despite the bumpy seas, the 34 LX remained both comfortable and maneuverable, and easily took on the chop without any jolts. Spray began aft of the centerline, slightly past the helm, with little of it blowing into the cockpit despite the moderate wind.
Powered by triple Yamaha F300s, the test boat was fast out of the hole, going from 0 to 30 mph in eight seconds before we throttled down to 4,200 rpm, a setting that pushed us at a comfortable but speedy 39.4 mph while burning 37.9 gph. That combination translated into 1.1 mpg and a considerable range of 380 miles.
Back in bay waters, I put the 34 LX through an extensive slalom test and later high-tailed it in reverse, zigzagging to simulate backing down on a billfish. The Jupiter earned high marks in both instances, adding to an excellent overall experience that included several hours of actual fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico.
Whether chasing big game far from shore or island hopping with the family, the 34 LX fits the bill. Anyone looking for a premium boat with the feel and functionality of a large sport-fisher, but at a more manageable size and more affordable price, should take the Jupiter 34 LX for a spin.