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February 23, 2009

Regulator 34 SS

Regulator has always built terrific, seaworthy boats. But the 34 SS marks the company's irst foray into nontraditional layouts. And it works just fine.

No one argues that Regulator makes a darn fine line of boats. But the chief engineer at Regulator, though exceptionally good at his job, has been somewhat set in his ways and brooked little change - until recently. First came a return to cabin designs, now a center console that could pass for an express boat. What's next?

Wind came out of the east at a steady 25 mph, with higher gusts, and seas rolled into a notoriously bad Hillsborough Inlet at four to seven feet. Actually, it was a perfect day to really test an offshore boat's mettle. And I'll say that this Regulator 34 SS proved more than worthy of the moniker "offshore fishing boat." Head seas - no problem. Down-sea - no problem at all. Drifting beam-to produced a short roll moment with transitions as gentle as could be.

Admittedly, Regulator builds some heavy boats. Rather than a criticism, that, in great part, is exactly what makes them such a smooth ride. But don't confuse the weight of the new 34 SS (for starboard seating) with sluggishness. It topped out at almost 60 mph (58.8) while pumping 69.6 gph through the twin Yamaha 350s that turned a pair of 151¼2-by-21-inch props. Since you won't be running at that speed very often, you'll appreciate that the most efficient cruising speed - a very respectable 30.7 mph - consumed a total of 22.5 gph for a rating of 1.36 mpg.

You do notice this boat's size when coming onto plane. However, taking      six seconds or so to plane seems a small sacrifice compared with all the other performance positives.

I pride myself on my boat-handling skills and certainly don't feel the need for a bow thruster - even on much larger boats, let alone a 34-footer. With that said, I admit to loving the ability to slide the   34 SS sideways by using the engines in opposite gears and the bow thruster to balance them.

As it has always been, so shall it ever be: Regulator firmly believes in the advantages of mounting the outboards on a bracket to give them clearer water as well as to save the transom for everything else anglers want today. Everything except an integral swim ladder, that is. I sure wish Regulator would install that as standard equipment rather than an Armstrong ladder you need to remove and stow somewhere. However, at least the bracket surface is virtually at water level. Even a fat old man like me could slide himself up onto it like Shamu.

Also, despite its weight, the 34 SS planes and runs at almost 18 mph on one engine. I believe that with a different propeller, that speed could increase dramatically.

Management at Regulator fishes all over the world. Ergo, you'll never find a fishing-unfriendly feature aboard its boats. For example, pop-up cleats and bow light as well as under-gunwale cleats with hawseholes elsewhere assure no line snags. I counted 14 rod holders included with standard equipment. The standard leaning-post module contains a pressurizable livewell with a magnetic latch to hold the clear Lexan lid open, a cutting board, sink and storage.