Source: Peter Bohr, Sea Magazine
Carver’s 36 Aft Cabin has room for the whole family
Are you in the market for a mucho-macho muscle boat with huge engines that’ll whisk you from Newport to Catalina in 30 minutes flat?
Or are you looking for a dedicated fish boat with a no-nonsense interior and a spacious cockpit, ready for chasing chinook off British Columbia?
If so, then Carver’s 36 Aft Cabin cruiser isn’t for you.
But if you are seeking a seagoing condo with enough room to comfortably accommodate your family, your friends and even your kids’ friends, then this Carver should rank high on your wish list.
When Carver Boat Corp. of Pulaski, Wisconsin introduced the 36-footer in 1982, Chris-Craft and Uniflite, among others, were also building aft cabin models. But Carver one-upped the competition by squeezing the living space typically found in a 40-footer into a hull that measured just 35 feet, 7 inches overall.
Starting from the top, there are six distinct “living areas” on the 36 Aft Cabin. Outside, there’s a roomy bridge with seats for seven, and a raised aft deck suitable for sunbathing or serving cocktails. (The bridge, by the way, is only three steps up from the aft deck, which means the skipper isn’t isolated from guests on the deck.)
Indoors, there’s a forward cabin with V-berths for two, plus a head with a wash basin. Then comes a galley with a dinette that converts to a berth for two.
In the saloon, there’s a convertible settee that can sleep two, and a standard lower helm station. Finally, there’s the piece de resistance: an immense aft cabin with an island berth, a vanity and a head compartment that includes a stall shower with a bathtub.
All these living areas effectively mean there are four separate staterooms — five, if your Carver 36 Aft Cabin has a hardtop over the aft deck — available from 1985 on — enclosed with curtains.
Moreover, Carver cleverly managed to use every nook and cranny of the interior to good advantage. For example, Carver installed a large hanging locker behind the wash basin in the forward head compartment, instead of the usual small medicine cabinet.
Carver also took care to make the saloon windows large, giving the area a light, airy atmosphere. And Carver used attractive, contemporary fabrics in the interior, as nice as those found in many apartments on shore.
Carver managed to cram so much into such a relatively little space, not with a slight of hand, but by using a beamy hull with very little tumble home. In other words, the hull’s width is carried all the way to the waterline — a feature with important consequences, both pro and con.
Besides providing a maximum amount of interior space, the boat’s waterline beaminess adds to the hull’s stability. The 36 Aft Cabin’s modified-V hull has a soft ride with no tendency to broach in our big Pacific rollers.
A deep forefoot contributes to the boat’s easy ride in head seas. And a big flare at the bow, combined with a hefty spray rail at the waterline, keeps the boat remarkably dry in most conditions.
On the other hand, the wide-body hull is not particularly efficient on a plane when it comes to either speed or fuel consumption. Though the boat was designed for either single or twin engines, the vast majority of 36 Aft Cabins are powered with twin Crusader, MerCruiser or Volvo Penta gasoline engines, all of which are based on General Motors 454 c.i.d. blocks. Diesels were available options, but few buyers were willing to pony up an extra $35,000 to $40,000 for diesel power.
With the standard twin 350 hp gasoline engines, the 36 Aft Cabin will cruise at just 16 knots (burning 25 gallons an hour) and will top out at only 26 knots.
But the Carver 36 Aft Cabin’s seakindly handling and amazing interior space made it an instant hit after its debut. The molds required only one significant modification during the model’s production run, which ended in 1989: The entryway from the aft deck to the saloon was enlarged in 1988.
These Carvers are not given to any particular structural problems, according to surveyor Gary Stevens, owner of Maritime Consultants in Newport Beach. Hull blisters are uncommon, affecting perhaps five to six percent of the boats.
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