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October 25, 2001

Wellcraft 35 Scarab

Wellcraft already has done a lot of fine-tuning, a testament to its responsiveness to consumer input. Suffice it to say that when running this boat, its hard not to feel indestructible.

If you want to impress women, tell them you're spending the weekend fishing the Hog's Breath Kingfish Tournament in Key West. Then don't expect them to return your calls. My cell phone didn't ring once while we pre-fished the tourney in punishing conditions.
Performance
Sure, it was sunny Florida in January, but rough water made our test day more ... spirited. I'd consider heading out in 4- to 6-foot ocean swells and immediately running 35 miles downwind to be a baptism by fire. The Scarab 35 handled it all at 35 mph with nary a drop of spray on the windscreen.
Later in the day, one supposed hot spot eight miles offshore presented 8- to 10-foot seas. We slowed down to about 15 to 20 mph and headed straight into it. Once there, I discovered that this boat didn't suffer from the drift-fishing maladies other performance boats do. It set rock solid in the troughs.
Rather than slog home in the big stuff, we came back inshore near the Marquesas to take advantage of calmer water for our long ride back to Key West. In the 2- to 3- foot seas, our twin Yamaha 250 EFIs helped us fly along at 47 mph, dusting numerous other boats in the process, though admittedly we cruised more comfortably at 44. We managed an even 50 mph in flat-calm water, burning 33.6 gph. A comfortable (and more affordable) cruising speed of 35 mph used 16.6 gph. All in all, this 35 makes bad sea conditions seem deceptively smooth.
Like other mammoth center-consoles on the market today, the Scarab 35 is available with triple outboards, but certainly runs well (and more economically) with twins. Triples top out at just over 60 mph. In my book, that's a lot of money to pay for a mere 10 mph more.

Fishing
Until now, I've always avoided drifting in any performance boat because the narrow beam means it rolls like a demon. With a wider, 9-foot 9-inch beam, not only is the Scarab 35 very stable in a large beam sea, but when everyone moves to the same side of the boat to fight, gaff and take photos, it doesn't lean over at all. This also means that as people move about the boat, you don't need to constantly readjust your trim tabs while running.
Few boats come with five fish boxes, though you needn't (and, I hope, won't) fill them all with fish. In addition to the racks for four rods under each gunwale, standard equipment includes two in each gunwale, though most owners install another 10 or so around the entire boat.
I found two changes to the fishing configuration that I'd make were this my boat. First, I'd get rid of the anchor roller sticking out below the bow (through the stem). As we fought fish, it was a real hardship trying to work the fishing line around the protruding anchor. I'd plug that bow hole and lift the anchor out of the locker when I needed it.
And although I love the huge bow deck for fishing and casting nets, my second change would be to fabricate a set of stairs to access it. It's waist-high on me and tough to climb on at any time, let alone with something in your hands. I hope Wellcraft will mold a set of steps in the anchor locker hatch. They could hide there when not in use.
Kingfish tournaments represent the NASCAR of fishing. The boats travel at high speeds everywhere they go. Many owners have taken to putting bean-bag chairs in the stern for comfortable seating under way. Wellcraft's recessed transom seat accomplishes the same thing in more sophisticated fashion.
I also appreciate other details on the 35. Besides the big "coffin" fish box above-deck forward, this center-console has an optional freezer. Nothing beats an ice cream sundae or sandwich on a hot afternoon.

Design/Construction
I'd venture a guess that this 35 center-console provides as much dedicated storage area as the same size boat in an express or convertible model. Remember that great fish "coffin" I mentioned? If you aren't using it for fish, it's bigger than your average dock box for storage. Additionally, it lifts up on electric rams to reveal another deep storage locker in the forward hull. And, if nobody aboard plans to use the full head in the console, that area also can accommodate tons of stuff.
Wellcraft includes coaming pads around the entire perimeter. I'd like to see the recessed handrail full-circle too, rather than just in spots.
Unlike old 30-foot Scarabs, the 35 contains no wood. Composite coring in the topsides and an all-composite transom to augment the fully encapsulated foam stringers make this the first all-glass Scarab.
Wellcraft already has done a lot of fine-tuning, a testament to its responsiveness to consumer input. Suffice it to say that when running this boat, it's hard not to feel indestructible.