When I first saw the new Cruisers Yachts 3970 Express, she was tied up to starboard of her new sistership, the 4370 Express. From the dock, both siblings embodied the sleek, rakish style for which the builder's express boats are known.
Yet after climbing through each yacht's cockpit and helm, then combing through the belowdecks details, I came away questioning the old adage that bigger is always better.
The 3970 has enough wraparound cockpit seating to satisfy at least three couples, well-placed cup holders and stereo speakers, and a convenient refrigerator/ice maker and wet bar. In fact, her cockpit "fun zone seemed almost as big as her sistership's, just a few feet away.
Up two steps is the helm, with enough space to flush-mount all the electronics a skipper will need. In this space, I found the 3970's seating arrangement more to my liking. To port, both models have a companion helm lounge, a curved L-shape perch that's great for socializing, but that might not offer passengers the support needed on a choppy day. At the helm, to starboard, the 3970 has a double bench where the 4370 has a less-social single helm seat.
Belowdecks, the 3970's cherry interior has 6 feet, 5 inches of headroom-just an inch less than the 4370. Her galley also offers a comparable amount of prep space, along with a microwave oven and a refrigerator/freezer.
The 3970's master cabin is in the bow, with a climb-in berth and a split head/shower arrangement that straddles the passageway door. Two portlights and an overhead hatch bring in light and air. Stowage is good, though the boat lacks a dress-length hanging locker. (The 4370 has one. Ah, a point for the big girl.)
Two interior layouts are available on the 3970. The standard layout, which I saw, has a sleeper sofa and combination head/shower with separate sink area aft, all divided from the main cabin by curtains. Owners who plan to have adult guests on board might consider the optional layout, which adds twin berths to this area and encloses it behind a bulkhead and a door.
Power options are available from MerCruiser, Volvo, Crusader, Caterpillar and Yanmar.
Cruisers Yachts, (920) 834-2211;