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March 12, 2009

Yellowfin 36

It's hard to imagine an improved Yellowfin, but this boat handled more than we had a right to throw at it with complete comfort and security.

Ever wonder if you took the logos off many boats today whether you'd still be able to tell them apart? You'll never have that difficulty discerning a Yellowfin. From the proud bow to the swooping sheer, a Yellowfin is unmistakable. And those who run them feel proud looks aren't all that set these boats apart. Yellowfin president Wylie Nagler's history involved successful offshore powerboat racing. Hence, he built the entire Yellowfin line to run faster than average.

The redesigned 36 center console Nagler brought to the ramp in February featured triple 300 hp Mercury Verado outboards on the transom. But with the icy-cold wind out of the north at a steady 30 knots and seas running two feet inside sheltered Sarasota Bay, I had misgivings about letting those big dogs run - or even leave the dock. I looked across the street from the ramp and saw the mammoth American flag at the car dealership standing out straight! Nonetheless, Nagler still wanted to "poke our nose out" offshore.

Crossing the nasty bay turned into a non-event at 50 mph and dry as a bone. We found steady eight- to 10-footers, with the occasional elephant offshore. We still managed to comfortably run at 20 to 25 mph even in those seas. We never touched the tabs and never had to. This 36 ran smoothly on all points. Nagler got a little enthusiastic at one point and launched off the crest of about a 12-footer. The landing proved much less jarring  than expected! But it did inspire him to head home.

Heading straight down-sea at 35 mph with the spray flying out to both sides and no swerving or lagging whatsoever, I figured that even though it was no day for any sane recreational boater to be offshore, we could have traveled pretty much in any direction prudently.

In the lee of the reef, we hit 40 mph at 3,750 rpm, burning 27 gph. Even a 50 mph cruise only burned 34 gph. Top end at 6,100 rpm burned a less conservative 84 gph at 68.5 mph.

When you compare that cruising fuel flow to the 510-gallon tankage, you'll find you can take this boat fishing almost anywhere! The trade-off for that capacity is a remarkably shallow console: All 510 gallons are located in three aluminum tanks amidships. Fish Bermuda, anyone?

The Yellowfin 36 does more than run fast and well. We sat beam-to in the big stuff outside the reef and remained absolutely dry. At the same time, I found the drift extremely stable and amazingly quiet - with no significant chine slapping.

It turned out to be one of those days where you honestly had to wait and pick the point where you wanted to turn and then commit. The Yellowfin 36 handled it like a ride in the park.

You can make this boat more or less fishing-oriented by adding the huge helm module with livewell to augment the 55-gallon transom baitwell. But if you opt for the aluminum leaning post rather than the massive module, you still get a big livewell.