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October 31, 2008

Everglades 32 Express

If you want to impress yourself and your friends with cutting-edge technology, Everglades should be on your "must-drive" list.

Some boat companies only build what everyone else does. It takes much more effort to be truly innovative and creative. That aptly describes the history of Everglades and its founding Dougherty family.

This 32 Express performs just fine: It's neither blisteringly fast nor molasses slow. On a recent September outing through horrendous wind-versus-tide seas in Florida's Ponce de Leon Inlet, it turned perfectly well, handled beam seas with rock-solid stability and never seemed to even slow down when climbing the back of one of the six-foot seas rolling into the inlet while we returned. If I seem cavalier about the Everglades' performance, that's because it has no apparent faults, and other innovations aboard overshadow its running characteristics. For example, while driving the 320 EX, I found an unobstructed 360-degree "picture-window" view from inside this pilothouse. The gigantic safety-glass windows make you feel all-seeing and invincible!
Twin Yamaha 350 hp, V-8 four-strokes topped out at 51.4 mph at 6,100 rpm while using a shade less than 70 gph. Cruising at 35 mph, turning 4,250 rpm, the massive Yammies sipped 25.9 gph.
I also liked a standard feature that helps the helmsman: A digital-electronics touch screen at the helm controls virtually every electrical system aboard, including the generator, pumps, batteries, wipers, air conditioning and even the helm vent   windows. This system - made by E-Plex and usually found on much larger vessels - lets you stay safely at the helm to   manage ship systems rather than go below to access a distribution panel. And the  big-boat-style helm chair makes staying at the helm much more comfortable. The helm console provides room for a pair of 15-inch electronics displays.

Make no mistake: The Doughertys designed this boat to cruise comfortably. But since they cannot build any boat incapable of fishing well, the 320 has outstanding amenities - like storage for 34 rods surrounding the cockpit, in and under gunwales, across the transom, and on and under the hardtop. I imagine filling every rod holder will make your Everglades look like the USS Pueblo!
Not only is the 43-gallon livewell handsome, but it functions perfectly too, with a lighted blue interior, a Lucite lid and the ability to pressurize it to keep your baits from sloshing around while you run through the roughness to your fishing spot.
Every trolling speed leaves plenty of clear space in the wake for lures and baits to be seen, and if drifting beam-to while kite fishing, you'll be able to stand hands-free with no problem thanks to the remarkably slow roll-moment transitions. Also, despite how narrow the side walkways appear, the fact that they have no toe rail combined with terrific, well-paced handholds and deep access steps means you can walk to and from the bow with rod in hand quite securely.