Mainship Pilot™ 30

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Mainship Pilot 30

Timeless styling, along with a size and accommodations that customers moving up from smaller models or down from larger ones can both appreciate, have kept Mainship's Pilot™ 30 a popular model.

The design is a product of Mainship's in-house staff. To my eye, this is a good looking design that stands on its own, but is clearly influenced by working craft such as New England's lobster and bass boats, and the model's likely namesake - the "pilot" boats used to transport harbor pilots to and from ships entering and leaving harbors around the world.

The express (open bridgedeck and cockpit) version was introduced in 1998 and the sedan model (pictured), with her enclosed bridgedeck, was added in 2000. Although not immediately apparent, the model underwent another revision in 2003 which included a shortening of the keel, a prop pocket to reduce draft and shaft angle, and interior rearrangements.

The Pilot™ 30 is a very versatile boat that adapts easily to a wide range of boating interests from day trips to fishing, diving and weekend cruising.

Mainship controls costs by keeping their construction methods traditional and the Pilot™ 30 is no exception. The hull is laminated with chopped strand mat and woven roving fiberglass cloth with Coremat above the waterline and high quality gelcoat to help prevent osmotic blistering. The hull is reinforced with plywood bulkheads and four longitudinal plywood stringers.

Bulkheads are attached with fiberglass cloth and resin and stringers are encased in and attached with fiberglass and resin. Drain holes through stringers and bulkheads are coated with plastic resin to prevent water penetrating the wood core. Even so, this can be a potential problem area if the bilges are not kept clean and dry.

The cabin and deck are molded with chopped strand mat, fiberglass cloth and resin with balsa and plywood core for strength, rigidity and light weight. The hull and deck are assembled with 3-M 5200 adhesive sealant and sheet metal fasteners on 8-inch centers. The quality of the fit and finish I have seen on several of these models has varied from marginal to well done, although quality control does seem to have improved on newer models.

The more people you try to please with any design, the more compromises that will have to be made. So it is with the deck arrangement of the Pilot™ 30, but this is still an efficient use of space. The foredeck is small but incorporates a pulpit for easy storage, launch and retrieval of the anchor as well as a foredeck anchor locker. The cockpit, which measures slightly over 8 feet wide and 4' 6" long, will be tight for fishermen and divers but it is very well thought out and balances well with other accommodations. Cleats are positioned so they can't injure passengers and hawse holes are provided.

A transom door was added in 2000 and is a real benefit for boarding via the optional swim platform. The bridgedeck provides a separate captain's seat to starboard and mate's seat to port as well as port and starboard longitudinal bench seats.

Below deck sleeping and dining accommodations are forward with galley and head aft. The 2003 interior redesign replaced the combination V-berth/dinette with a small permanent berth forward followed by a separate dinette. The original port galley and starboard head were swapped side-for-side with the redesign. Headroom, which can be an issue on boats this size, isn't on the Pilot™ 30. There is 6' 3" clearance throughout most of the main cabin.

Three different auxiliary diesel engines have been offered on the Pilot™ 30 including 175-hp and 230-hp Yanmar or 220-hp Cummins models. All are efficient with very good weight to horsepower ratios with readily available service throughout the country. Machinery access is marginal and gets even tighter with the addition of an optional auxiliary generator and extra battery.

Cruising speed will range from 13 to 17 knots depending on engine option and loading, and the 175-gallon fuel capacity results in a rather impressive cruising range of better than 400 miles at a 13-knot cruise.

In its first year of production the Pilot™ 30 encountered noise and vibration problems particularly on boats equipped with larger Yanmar engines. The cause seemed to be insufficient propeller tip clearance and was addressed and repaired under warranty by Mainship.

Recognizing that handling can be tricky on single engine boats, an optional electric bow thruster is offered, but I think I would practice my docking techniques more before I sprang for the $6,000+ (2006 estimate) for this option.

As with most mid-range new boats, values tend to depreciate quickly over the first few years but used models hold their values comparatively well. Compared to limited production or custom boats of similar size and style that cost twice as much, Mainship's Pilot™ 30 offers 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.

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