The term "convertible" as it applies to yachts suggests a design that can be fished or cruised. That's where Tiara's heart was when it put pen to paper to design the new 3900 Convertible. She is the furthest the builder has wandered into the offshore fishing market to date. Yes, she is as competitive as any convertible her size in terms of cruising comfort; however, her crisp modern styling and cockpit layout suggest Tiara's designers had a more focused mission in mind.
Those who think serious fish boats start at 60 need to review the history of the sport. I am somewhat biased as I own a 37-footer, but the fact is that given appropriate cockpit size and the maneuverability horsepower affords, a smaller boat on a large fish is hard to match. Call me old-fashioned, but in my mind Tiara has found the sweet spot. What's more, the 3900 does not need the Tournament Series outfitting Tiara offers on its open designs to woo anglers. Add the optional Rupp outriggers and Raymarine electronics package and you're ready to fish.
Molded with soft edges, her cockpit is clean and uncluttered with cleats and other appendages. The cockpit sole is finished in Tiara's aggressive molded nonskid; deep hatch gutters and molded-in channels clear water over the side via a centerline freeing port. Two fish/storage boxes have removable liners. Those who fish and catch will want to opt for the macerator discharge. A clear-top livewell with a nightlight is molded into the transom coaming. A storage area suited to cruisers is standard. A transom door with a lift gate is ideal for taking a dip but a bit tight for boating a large marlin, so please, catch and release! For those less serious about fishing, a swim platform with an integral ladder is available.
The bulkhead console conceals a tackle center with a sink, a cutting board and tackle drawers. While the sink is plumbed with raw water-a fresh water option would be nice-there are hose connections for both fresh and saltwater cockpit wash-downs. A separate cabinet adjacent to the saloon door is designed to accommodate removable clear plastic tackle storage boxes. And a must for those serious about fishing or cruising in the Bahamas, a top-loading insulated cooler can be plumbed as a freezer. A foundation for a rocket launcher or fighting chair is provided in the cockpit sole. Those who fish the summer months in the Bahamas will want the optional cockpit mister system.
While a "cruising" ladder option is a bit less steep, I found the aluminum "fishing" ladder to the flybridge easy to navigate. The pod-style helm and electronics console is one of the best designs I have found on a boat this size. A cast aluminum wheel, side-mount Glendinning single lever controls and analog instrumentation under glass with a stainless steel bezel set the tone. There is enough space for two large electronics displays and an assortment of other electronic goodies, including the electronic engine information displays. Covered console and cabinet space can accommodate additional electronics and gear. Our test boat was fitted with Release Marine tournament-style helm and companion chairs, which are larger than the standard chairs. While there is a bit less room to move around them, they are a worthy option for fishermen. A bench seat forward of the console has a built-in cooler and there is a storage locker just forward. An attractive tournament-style half-tower with a fiberglass hardtop is standard on the 3900. It has molded-in spreader light enclosures, five rod holders and integrated navigation lighting.
A swing door leads to the main cabin, where the layout is standard fare for small convertibles with an L-shaped settee that converts to a double berth and a small dinette. A 26-inch flat-panel TV and Bose media system are included in the standard package. A window in the house-face is offered as an option and will likely appeal to cruising customers. The galley is two steps down and is equipped with a stainless steel sink, a ceramic cook-top, a microwave convection oven and a dual voltage refrigerator/freezer. A guest cabin has upper and lower berths and storage space for fishing rods. The master cabin has an island berth with an innerspring mattress. Both cabins have 13-inch flat-panel TV's and cedar-lined hanging lockers. The molded fiberglass head features a circular booth style shower enclosure. The 3900's satin teak interior is finished to Tiara's high standards. A selection of soft goods and countertop finishes are standard, and leather upholstery and hardwood soles are available.
The 3900's hull and superstructure are hand-laminated with isophthalic polyester resin and stitched reinforcements. The solid fiberglass bottom is supported by a fiberglass stringer system and plywood bulkheads and web-frames. A skin coat of blister-resistant vinylester resin is used below the waterline. Balsa coring is used to stiffen the hull sides, decks and superstructure. All exterior surfaces are finished flawlessly in gelcoat and are a reflection of the investment Tiara makes in its tooling.
While Tiara has always done a good job with systems design and installation, it seems to have kicked it up a notch with the 3900. Her engineroom is finished neatly in gelcoat and trimmed with fiberglass diamond-plate sole panels. Considering the 3900's size and configuration, access about the engines is good and the cockpit entryway is generous. The generator is located in an insulated space just forward of the engineroom. Access is through a rather bulky vented panel in the forward engineroom bulkhead. I believe I would simply leave this panel on the dock.
The 3900's hull form began with a proven design that Tiara engineers tweaked to perfection. We ran the numbers in a light chop on the Indian River in Stuart, Florida. Our test boat was equipped with a pair of 540 hp Cummins, a good match for the 3900, and I suspect that the 575 hp Volvo's that are offered would be as well. The 3900 is big for her length and her 30,000-pound-plus displacement and 14-foot, 5-inch beam can handle the horsepower. I measured a maximum speed of 32 knots at 2600 rpm. Pulling back the throttles to 2100 rpm yielded a relaxed cruising speed of 23.5 knots. She has the solid feel I have come to expect from Tiara's designs and the agility generous horsepower allows. She responded quickly given throttle and planed off at a bit more than 1800 rpm. We reached maximum turns in about 25 seconds.
It's been a few years since Tiara cast its lot in the competitive convertible market. Leaving the comfort zone it has earned as a builder of express-style yachts could have been risky, but the jury is in and the effort worth it. The 3900 Convertible looks like a winner.
Contact: Tiara Yachts; www.tiarayachts.com