Avowed bachelors are probably the only ones who can get away with buying a big-ticket item like a boat without clearing it first with the wife or serious girlfriend. Builders know this, and that’s why layouts with cuddy cabins, enclosed heads and forward or transom seating remain popular. The Marlago 35 Sport Cuddy, built by Jefferson Yachts, is one of those boats that will earn approving nods from both sexes. Yes, it’s loaded with comfort considerations to seal the deal. But it also has the necessary features and a wave-conquering hull that serious anglers expect. Who says nobody wins in a compromise?
I joined Marlago’s David Shaw in Fort Lauderdale recently as he delivered a 35SC to new owners. Idling towards Port Everglades Inlet gave me the opportunity to assess the boat’s many features. For weekend trips or to get junior anglers out of the sun, the low-profile cuddy cabin takes full advantage of the wide beam for a roomy enclave. The comfy V-berth is nearly nine feet long with ample storage underneath. An overhead hatch provides ventilation and natural light. For muggy nights, air conditioning is an available option, along with a generator and galley package with either an alcohol or electric stove and a sink. In fact, Marlago offers a long list of factory options to customize each boat to meet specific needs.
Responding to the trend of networked electronics, the redesigned console was lowered two inches to improve ergonomics without decreasing interior headroom; the under-console compartment has a Sealand vacuum-flush head, a sink and freshwater shower. The freshwater capacity is 31 gallons, more than enough for a long weekend aboard. A second freshwater shower is located at the transom to rinse down rods after lines out. Fuel valves and filters are conveniently located in the step leading to the transom door.
The enhanced electronics panel will accommodate two large displays along with full instrumentation. A constant-duty solenoid with 4-gauge wiring provides continuous, dedicated power for the electronics. The remote battery switch at the helm is another major improvement over previous versions.
For servicing, the console has a dog-down latch system for easy yet secure access. The added glove box, always a great spot to stash cell phones and other necessities, is located on the passenger side. The wraparound Plexiglas windshield, compass, sport steering wheel and forward drink cooler round out the console standards.
Our test boat had the optional fiberglass hardtop with the locking Plexiglas electronic cover that slides into a dedicated slot while underway. Hardtop packages that include half-towers or marlin towers with controls, Taco Grand Slam outriggers and powder-coated finishes are also possible add-ons.
The redesigned 35 is available with a 50-gallon livewell with straddling multi-drawer tackle trays and open storage forward of the tank. That is all incorporated into a comfortable flip-up bolster helm seat arrangement. A 15-gallon auxiliary pitch well can be added to the port transom. To starboard is a bait-rigging sink and cutting board. Thigh-high cockpit coaming pads are standard, along with toe rails, horizontal rod racks and gunwale rod holders. Dual fish boxes in the cockpit deck are large enough to ice down some serious tuna. Both are insulated and equipped with diaphragm pumps and overboard drains. Three more oversized boxes forward, also insulated, will hold the rest of the day’s catch or serve as dry storage.
The scene greeting us at the inlet was not pretty. Incessant east winds for several days prior had stacked 6-foot rollers into a tight washboard-like sea. We poked our nose out regardless, and the brand’s rugged construction was immediately apparent. Marlago uses Nida Core vacuum-bagged honeycomb composite in the hull sides, stringers and bulkheads to save weight without sacrificing strength. High-density Klegecell foam core makes up the transom. The finish coat is modified vinylester resin. All hardware is 316 stainless steel and through-bolted.
It would have taken us awhile, but I’m confident we could have slogged through the waves to reach Bimini none the worse for wear. The 35’s hull design starts with an aggressive 50-degree bow entry and transitions to a12-degree pad before increasing again to 24 degrees at the stern. Jefferson Yachts has a long, successful history of building boats, and they took full advantage of that experience to fine-tune the 35. They started with a full-size running plug and tweaked from there. I’d say they got it right. Despite the seas, we straddled most of the crests, and re-entry was solid, sure and dry except for the occasional wind-blown mist. Noticeably absent were the telltale creaks and shudders that indicate inferior builds.
Coming back inside really told the story, though. With twin Mercury Verado 300-horsepower four-strokes, the throttle response was hang-on torquey. The stepped transom gives hole shots a whole new meaning. Although our running lane was limited, it confirmed the obvious – this boat likes to get on top and go. Subsequent factory tests produced nearly 43 miles per hour at 4,400 rpm. The fuel burn rate at that speed was a miserly 29.5 gallons per hour. Pushing the digital control throttles to the wide-open position resulted in a top reading of nearly 61 miles per hour. The boat spins well and is stable at rest, all appreciable angling characteristics when the big one gets close.
If you are one of those free-spirited bachelor types mentioned earlier, Marlago does offer the 35 in an open center-console layout with a 6-foot bow coffin box. If you are “forced” into concessions, however, you definitely won’t be disappointed going with the Sport Cuddy version. You’ll keep the family happy, and you just might get to fish a little bit more, too. And that’s always a good thing.
**Weight: **6,500 lbs.
**MAX. HP: **600
**WATER: 31 gals.
FUEL: 221 gals.
**w/twin Mercury 300 hp Verados
Marlago ? 812.282.8111 ? marlagousa.com