Glacier Bay 3480 Express Review

Glacier Bay makes a point of running its boats on long, long trips to prove their mettle. As cats go, the new 3480 represents the most elegant displacement cat on the market today.

September 13, 2004
Glacier Bay 3480 Express BIG

Glacier Bay 3480 Express BIG

I have a history with Glacier Bay boats. I enjoyed my role as navigator for the famous trip from Hawaii to Midway Island aboard a 26-foot Glacier Bay — 1,350 nautical miles through the mostly uninhabited northwest chain of Hawaiian Islands. I can’t think of any 26-foot monohulls on which I’d want to make that trip. Why? Because Glacier Bay represents one of the smoothest-riding boats on the market today. When we left the north coast of Oahu heading to Honolulu, seas ran 15 to 18 feet. Thankfully, they’d dropped to 12 feet by the time we left Hawaii’s capital heading west. No big deal!

Unlike so many previous Miami Boat Shows, the 2004 event enjoyed calm, balmy weather — great for attendance and most buyer sea trials, but bordering on boring for testing a Glacier Bay.

Don’t equate Glacier Bay cats’ displacement hulls with slow. Our 36-foot 3480 with twin Yamaha 300 HPDIs hit 38.8 mph at 5,600 rpm using 56 gph. I averaged 27 GPH at a 27-mph cruising speed.


Speed doesn’t affect the ride of a Glacier Bay very significantly. Since the hulls cut through water rather than riding atop it, dynamics don’t change much. Slow-trolling in a beam sea generated a rapid but gentle roll moment. However, underway at cruising speed, Glacier Bays exhibit one characteristic that takes some getting used to: For no apparent reason, the boat will heel slightly to one side, then return to its normal attitude. I can’t say this has anything to do with the seas as it happens in calm water, too. Yes, it takes some getting used to, but after crossing 1,400 miles of Pacific Ocean in a Glacier Bay, I can tell you that you soon stop noticing.

Another unusual performance trait manifests in turns. Rather than leaning into a turn like a monohull, the Glacier Bay leans away from the turn. Not so far that you feel insecure, but if you haven’t experienced it, the sensation can be initially unsettling. Suffice it to say, however, that no performance characteristic of this hull poses the slightest danger. Displacement cats just behave differently than monohulls. I promise that the sea-keeping advantages far overshadow the few weirdnesses.

Our boat sported what Glacier Bay President Larry Graf called a “crow’s nest,” which folds down into the cockpit with the removal of three pins. I suppose it’s for low bridges since I can’t really imagine towing this behemoth.


The Glacier Bay 3480 leaves the factory better equipped for fishing than any model the company has produced before. The cockpit tackle-storage module to port features molded-in space for a remote navigation unit (to show depth or track), a sink, and a lighted, 47-gallon livewell with window. I particularly liked the ingenious articulating tackle boxes in the modules. Six rocket launchers across the back of the hardtop augment two rod holders in each gunwale. You’ll find space for three more rods under each gunwale. I’d personally put more rod holders across the transom as well.

|| |—| |SPECIFICATIONS ****LOA 36 ft. 6 in. BEAM 13 ft. 3 in. DRAFT 2 ft. 6 in. WEIGHT 12,914 lb.  (w/o power) DEADRISE Displacement cat FUEL (std.) 300 gal. MAX HP Twin 300-hp OB MSRP $270,900  (w/T300-hp Yamaha HPDI)* * * Glacier Bay Catamarans **Monroe, Washington 360-794-0444 * * * **Yamaha 300-hp 3.3-Liter HPDI****TYPE 76-deg. V-6 DISPL. 204 cid MAX RPM 5,500 HP/LB RATIO 0.55 FUEL SYSTEM Direct injection GEAR RATIO 1.75:1 WEIGHT 543 lb. ALT. OUTPUT 50 amps MSRP $18,750These Yamahas still have the advantage of pumping out big horsepower at considerably less weight than the four-strokes of lesser horsepower.   _Notable Standard Equipment _-Large livewell -Huge electronics space -Hydraulic racing trim tabs -Recessed bow rail -10-year hull warrantyImpressions Glacier Bay makes a point of running its boats on long, long trips to prove their mettle. As cats go, the new 3480 represents the most elegant displacement cat on the market today.| In lieu of a splashwell, the Glacier Bay places a centerline platform that extends aft past the 3480’s engines. The inboard end holds a splashboard of clear, heavy Lucite. Lift the splashboard to keep spray or following seas out, or drop it for access to the very large swim platform (with perimeter rail). This platform also sports a recessed swim ladder, deployable from the water. If you’ve ever had difficulty extending your rod tip or line beyond the outboards when fighting a fish, this design will resolve your problem.

You’ll find the 3480’s cockpit spacious enough for multiple anglers and the boat stable enough to drift-fish even in relatively heavy beam seas. I can’t imagine getting water in the cockpit under any circumstances other than when hosing it down. But with four 2-inch scuppers draining the cockpit, water disappears instantly.


Fish boxes measure more than 9 feet long by 2 feet wide by 18 inches deep. That’s big enough for your conscience to bother you if you ever fill them with fish.

Design and Construction
Monohull owners may need to get used to having two belowdecks entrances –one on each side of the bridge deck and both quite elegant with beautiful woodwork, fabrics and joinery. The starboard side’s cabin offers a waist-high twin berth forward and an impressive navigation station. Amidships you’ll find the galley with Corian counters. To port lies a huge queen-sized berth forward with loads of storage and a hanging locker. Walking farther aft and down a couple of steps reveals a beautiful, full head with a sliding, curved shower door and Corian counters.

Glacier has spent years refining the aesthetic aspects of its boats, yet seaworthiness remains the company’s primary focus. Virtually every surface throughout the boat has been gelcoated, as well as skin-coated with vinylester resin to prevent osmosis. In addition to a hand-laid hull with three watertight compartments per sponson, the 3480’s nose receives Kevlar reinforcement. Each boat rides on double bottoms, like many of today’s tankers (though Glacier Bay fills the void between bottoms with foam). You can, with no exaggeration, punch a hole through the outer skin of a 3480 and remain afloat with dry bilges.


Though the cabins may feel slightly narrower than those monohull owners have become used to, this boat’s living spaces are classy and comfortable. Plus, you have enormous storage space everywhere you turn, from underdeck to the hardtop overhead.

The 3480 provides a pair of large sun pads on the bow. The pads move to the L-shaped settee and hi-lo table on the bridgedeck to make yet another double berth “under the stars.” Most owners will prefer to stay aboard than dock at some seaside hotel.


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