Pursuit 3000 Express
By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
With roots that date back to the 1950s wooden runabouts of Leon Slickers, Pursuit Boats of Fort Pierce, Florida, is one of the most respected builders of mid-sized boats. Although most Pursuits are marketed primarily as fishing machines, the Pursuit 3000 Express also offers a small, luxurious cabin suitable for overnight or weekend cruising for a couple or small family. A product of Pursuit's in-house design team, the Pursuit 3000 Express was introduced in 1998 and remained in production through 2003. (Don't confuse it with the 3000 Offshore, offered during the same period and only a few inches longer, the 3000 is a foot-and-a-half wider than the 3000 Express and not comparable.)
Although the hull of the 3000 Express is only slightly more than 30 feet in length, the molded, integral bow pulpit increases the overall length to 32' 8". The beam is a modest 10' 6"; draft is 2' 10"; fuel capacity is an adequate 210 gallons; water capacity is marginal at 30 gallons; waste-holding capacity is only nine gallons - hardly enough to get through a weekend without a pumpout.
The materials and construction quality of the 3000 Express ranks among the best of production boatbuilders. The bottoms are constructed with solid fiberglass and resin strengthened by a stout fiberglass composite grid system. The hull sides are fiberglass composite with a balsa-wood core for strength, rigidity, and light weight. Attachments are neat, without the jagged edges found on lesser quality boats. I've yet to find failures of structural components even on several boats used in some extreme conditions. The only potentially serious problem I've encountered, and on more than one occasion, is elevated moisture in the hull sides below the engine room ventilators. In at least one case, the balsa core was found to be separated from the outer fiberglass laminate. The problems result from the manner in which Pursuit mounts the engine-room ventilators through the hull side without removing and sealing the balsa core at the penetration. Depending on the model year, either 3-M's 5200, or Plexus, a structural adhesive, was used to mount the ventilators. If the seal is not perfect, seawater spray can get into the balsa core. If this happens, the repair is further complicated by the 5200 and Plexus materials used in the factory. The bond is so strong that ventilators are likely to be destroyed in the process of removing them. Although Pursuit has shown a willingness to work with owners to solve this problem, the molds for the ventilators were destroyed by one of the five hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004; matching ventilators are not available for replacement.
The cockpit arrangement is likely to satisfy cruiser and fisherman alike. Although not huge, it will accommodate three or four anglers easily with the transom seat stowed out of the way. There's a large fish box across nearly the full width of the cockpit at the transom, a bait-prep center, tackle storage chest, sink with icemaker below, and very sturdy transom door for bringing in the big ones. Visibility is excellent from the bridgedeck, which features a lounge seat to port and helm seat to starboard. The arrangement for engine instruments and available space at the helm for instrumentation is very good. Below deck is a comfortable, albeit small, cabin with more than six-foot headroom. There is an enclosed head and shower to port followed by a counter with single-burner galley stove, small sink, and microwave oven. Forward is a double berth offset diagonally across the forepeak. Along the starboard side is a traditional dinette that converts to an extra berth for a single adult or two children. There's a small hanging locker forward of the dinette. The quality of craftsmanship and materials used for the interior is as good as can be found on production boats.
Depending on the model year, either 300-hp Mercury or 320-hp Crusader gasoline engines were the standard power package for the 3000 Express with 250-hp Cummins diesel engines as an option. The entire bridge deck raises up for access to the engines but the opening is small and access is limited particularly outboard and forward of the engines and especially if an optional generator is installed aft of the engines. There doesn't seem to be much of a difference in speed between the various power options with a cruise speed between 23 to 25 knots and a top speed around 30 knots. The boat is quite dry and the 21-degree deadrise hull provides a smooth ride.
Compared to some of the bargain-basement buys that can be available in tough times, the price of Pursuit 3000 Express model can be a bit on the high side but buyers are undoubtedly getting higher quality, which translates to greater longevity and good value.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.