Tiara 3600 Convertible

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Tiara 2900

The term convertible, as it applies to powerboats at least, typically designates a model that is intended for the dual purposes of fishing and cruising. While some large convertible models - usually over 60 feet - offer truly luxurious accommodations and outstanding fishing amenities, smaller models with just over 36 feet to work with, really cannot give equal time, so to speak, to both pursuits. In the case of the Tiara 3600 Convertible, I think it's fair to describe her as 25% fishing boat and 75% cruiser.

Designed by S-2 Yacht's in-house design team, the Tiara 3600 Convertible was introduced in 1987 and remained in production through 1995. She was built on the exact same hull as Tiara's 3600 Open, a very popular sportfishing machine that had been introduced two years earlier. In view of space limitations, I will confine my comments to the 3600 Convertible but anglers may want to take a look at the 3600 Open, a true sportfishermen.

Unlike some boatbuilders who puff up their models' names to reflect a larger-than-life size, this Tiara model actually understates her dimensions. The overall length of the 3600 Convertible is 39'8" which includes a permanent, molded bow pulpit. Add two more feet for the optional transom-mounted swim platform found on most models and you end up with an actual (what you'll be charged for at the marina) length of nearly 42 feet. The beam is a substantial 13' 9" and draft is specified by the manufacturer of 36-inches is based on a designed "dry weight" of 18,300 lbs. More than 3,500 lbs. of fuel and water is sure to add a few inches to the in-service draft.

The hull form is a modified-V with 14 degrees of deadrise at the transom, gradually increasing toward the bow which allows for a comfortable ride and there is a very shallow keel for added directional stability.

A hallmark of S-2 Yachts is their reputation for building quality boats. As I would agree with this commonly held assessment, I won't spend time here expounding on all their good points but rather "nitpick" a few things I find fault with. First, they do not eliminate balsa coring in areas of the deck where rod holders and other deck hardware penetrates the fiberglass composite. Although they do an excellent job of sealing these areas at the factory, inevitably time and lack of proper maintenance will leave the balsa core more susceptible to water intrusion and subsequent damage. My second complaint may be the most common for anyone who actually has to work on a boat after it rolls off the assembly line - lack of access for inspection, service and repair. Machinery spaces are cramped, particularly when auxiliary generators are installed and access below the lower cabin sole and behind lockers and drawers is very limited.

For a boat with nearly 14 feet of beam, side decks are quite narrow but there is a convenient grab rail along the flybridge. The cabin trunk forward is unobstructed except for three deck hatches and there is a welded stainless steel rail surrounding the deck for security. The anchor is stowed on a roller centered in the bow pulpit with the anchor rode stored in a foredeck locker.

The transom door from the cockpit is more for convenient access to the swim platform and boarding than landing big fish on this model. And, although the cockpit is wide it is only slightly more than seven feet deep - not large enough for a fighting chair. Avid fishermen will want a tackle center handy and although not standard equipment, there is space forward of the flybridge ladder to add one.

The flybridge provides comfortable seating for five adults with captain and mate chairs aft of the helm console and a bench seat forward.

The traditional styling of the 3600 Convertible does not permit the cavernous full-beam accommodations found on some modern designs but two comfortable interior arrangements were offered - a double stateroom model or single stateroom with dinette. Both feature a lower level master stateroom forward with center island queen-sized berth, followed by a head with separate shower and galley along the port side. To starboard is either an open dinette that converts to a berth or an enclosed second stateroom with bunk berths.

The small main saloon offered and optional lower helm with a small settee behind it or an L-shaped lounge to starboard and lounge chair to port.

The majority of 3600 Convertibles were built with gasoline engines - either 350-hp Crusader or 330-hp MerCruiser models, although 320- and 375-hp Caterpillar diesel engines were offered as an option. Even with the higher horsepower engines this was not a particularly fast boat for her time and by current expectations would be considered slow. Economical cruising speeds range from 15 to 20 knots depending on engines and load and she'll top out in the high 20s. She is moderately deep forward for a comfortable ride in other than extreme conditions and she tracks very well. Fuel capacity is just shy of 400 gallons allowing for good range between fill-ups.

Overall the Tiara 3600 Convertible may fall a bit short of the benchmark, high-end production boats of this type such as Hatteras and Bertram, but she is close and prices are lower. This is still a boat that can take her owners cruising or fishing in style.

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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