power_boat_review-buzzards_bay_33-largeWe were pacing along side a nice new deep vee express cruiser heading deep into Halifax harbour. We were making an easy pace for the water conditions but the express cruiser was dragging a huge wake with its bow way up. The Buzzard's Bay 33, at the same speed, was leaving a wake like a 14-foot aluminum boat would with two fishermen aboard.

Russell Hunt, the creator of the Buzzard's Bay 33 and founder of Multihull Development, summed it up this way, "our owners are already knowledgeable boaters and they chose their Buzzards Bay 33 because they plan to use it much more than the average."

Russell's family had a boatyard in Buzzard's Bay, Massachussetts and North Atlantic Yachts in Halifax, Nova Scotia build the boats. Between the Nova Scotia and Cape Cod influences, you can bet the Buzzard's Bay 33 is a capable sea boat. Then, Chris White, who has specialized in multi-hull designs and lightweight composite construction for a quarter of a century is the designer.

Every boat is a combination of styling, accommodations, construction qualities, sea keeping qualities and performance. What I find endlessly fascinating is that you need to find the right balance for your own particular needs and tastes. There is no "right answer".

Power catamaran designs offer especially interesting alternatives. This one has been dialed in to emphasize performance although the design offers appealing accommodations as well. Maybe this is the recipe for your ideal boat.

Measuring 33'6" with a beam of 12'6", the boat is currently offered in a Pilot House configuration and the builders give you your choice of twin 225 hp Mercury Verado 4 stroke outboards or twin Volvo Penta diesel stern drives in 130, 167 and 190 hp levels. While the diesels will be attractive to long range cruisers, the top power option and lowest weight too, is the twin Verados. They are a great choice because the big attraction is the performance.

With a load of seven grown men and full tanks, we still accelerated from a standing start to 35 mph in only 15 seconds and hit a top end of 36.1 mph at 5,850 rpm. At the other end of the range, the Verados silently held 2,000 rpm doing a canal-happy 9.4 mph and with the SmartCraft Vessel View instruments showing 4.5 gph for a fuel burn of 2.08 mpg.

If that seems slow for your cruising tastes, how about 3,000 rpm doing 18.4 mph and burning 10.9 gph for 1.68 mpg? We were still better than 1 mpg at over 30 mph.

You are starting to see the delightful side of this power cat; it is happy at almost any speed. The tunnel is uniquely tall in this boat as well, so when we encountered the big rolling swells of a fast Coast Guard Patrol boat, the Buzzard's Bay just knifed through, smooth and stable. The tracking was impressive and the Simrad Autopilot will be a favourite on long cruises where the great ride and sea-keeping qualities will minimize the need to drive for the sea conditions.

The test boat had the Furuno NAVNet system with radar overlaying the chart plotter, GPS and depth functions – very neat and compact. The iCOM VHF radio and SmartCraft information systems complete the helm with all the information you could reasonably want at your fingertips.

We'll come back to impressions at the helm, but first, let's talk about the layout.

An aspect of catamaran design is that you are able to lay everything out around a wide, flat floor. The Buzzards Bay 33, ordered with either the diesel stern drives or the Verado outboards, still comes with a wide, flat cockpit floor; great for fishing, entertaining or diving. With the built-in full width swim platform, center post type dive ladder and two large transom doors, the cockpit is a real action area.

Our test boat was rigged with a stern station consisting of additional cockpit engine controls, fish-finder and autopilot controls – very neat. A special bracket to hold a small outboard safe in the cockpit was included and a dinghy could easily be accommodated on the Pilot House roof. The test boat also had fresh and raw water washdowns, a large combination seat and storage box and massive scuppers to quickly drain overboard.

Where the flat floor really starts to pay off is that the cabin sole and cockpit are at the same level; you simply swing open the substantial door, latch it open and walk in. There is the galley immediately to port.

The galley stretches out ahead with a very deep and usable double stainless steel sink, Dometic fridge and freezer combination with stainless steel door, built-in microwave, three drawers on stainless steel slides and two very spacious lockers.

Because these boats are hand built in low volume, owners can specify what they want and this owner wanted a propane system onboard. So, there is a two-burner Princess propane stove.

Opposite the galley is a large L-shaped settee with a tremendous amount of storage inside. This also houses the optional air-conditioning system and the test boat was fitted with a very clever hi/low table that folds out from compact cocktail size to dining. The whole area can convert to a double berth when guests are aboard.

The aft bulkhead includes the rubber gasketed Diamond Sea Glaze door with a window; another large window can be latched closed, opened to a vent position, or swung wide open overhead making the whole cockpit and cabin feel like one big living space.

Up the port side hull, forward of the helm, is a sliding, locking hatch that you pass through, down four steps to the head. This is quite spacious, has a large storage locker, sink in the vanity, two opening ports, and the VacuFlush MSD mounted forward where the area can be curtained off for a shower. The test boat had elegant teak grate flooring. A feature to note is the opening hatch on the inside wall.

The opposite hull is down four steps with great access to the cabin berth. There is a generous hanging locker, storage area and the full queen berth is cleverly located above the tunnel. There is generous sitting height, two more opening portables and a large deck hatch overhead. Now, the designers have cleverly included the sliding hatch panel we mentioned when describing the head, that opens the stateroom full beam for a spacious feeling and cross ventilation at night. It's a very comfortable and livable arrangement.

Equally livable and accessible is the exterior with side decks that are particularly wide and with a flat forward deck. The anchor locker is large enough for a man to get into and the test boat was fitted with a Maxwell windlass and a big anchor. There are eight oversize cleats are fitted on both sides of the bow, double springs and stern.

Getting back to the helm, our test boat was fitted with a remarkable, orthopedic quality Stidd seat that has an extremely wide range of adjustment in height, reach and foot rests. The instruments and controls are mounted on the binnacle, centered in the pilot house. Stand or sit. The Furuno navigation system, Simrad autopilot, Mercury SmartCraft Vessel View systems and the control levers are all in easy reach. A companion seat is located to starboard. Everybody has a good view forward. At top speed, the boat is a blast to drive and you can crank hard into a turn at wide open throttle and it tracks right around, leaning out a little but remaining impressively flat.

You can run the Verados like this was a sport boat for fishing excursions but with the Furuno system that combines GPS, chart plotter, depth sounder and radar including a full radar overlay as well as split screen functions, this boat was rigged for long distance cruising.

Strong performance, impressive fuel efficiency and excellent sea-keeping qualities distinguish the Buzzards Bay 33. Remember too, at 33 feet, this boat will find it easy to get transient accommodation at marinas as you travel and the shallow draft means you can anchor out or literally beach it if you are lucky enough to find that deserted Caribbean island. The Buzzards Bay 33 can take you there.

By Andy Adams

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