Island Pilot 535 Boat Review
Island Pilot’s president, Reuben Trane, calls the 535 “a crossover trawler” — meaning it works just as well and efficiently at displacement speeds as it does at planing speeds. Indeed, on a break-in delivery cruise from Miami to Charleston, South Carolina, Trane says the 535 averaged 8 gallons per hour (gph) at an average speed of 11 knots — no doubt the Gulf Stream gets some credit for helping here. My own measurements a week later near Annapolis, Maryland, showed the 535 burned only 8.9 gph at 8.2 knots, or 48.8 gph at 20.4 knots, meaning you have a nice choice: You can travel at a traditional displacement speed of just over 8 knots and enjoy a range of about 586 nautical miles (with a 10 percent fuel reserve) or, if you’re in a hurry, you can cruise at 20 or 25 knots. (See the complete photo gallery here.)
A lifelong boater, Trane says the 535 was designed for a variety of markets. He hopes it will appeal to retiring baby boomers who most likely owned an express and want something that has more cruising amenities and capabilities; owners of full-displacement yachts who no longer want to voyage across oceans; the experienced owner who appreciates that the IP 535 hasn’t tried to cram in space for more than a couple of guests; DIY owners who’ll love the truly spacious engine room; and live-aboard couples who realize they don’t need a slow boat to have real living comforts.
The idea of the crossover trawler — a large cruising boat with some speed that maintains the essential character of the Island Pilot line — appealed to Trane’s sense of innovation. Its two large front windows, sharp angles, big cockpit and tall flying bridge make the 535 look like it has a lot of room, and it does. You walk onto the boat via the large swim platform and then step up to the cockpit, or you step through stainless side gates on either side of the cockpit. The cockpit is fully covered, and its canopy extends over the U-shape settee and dining table aft for alfresco entertaining. A barbecue grill, wet bar and ice maker keep the party happily outside.
For access to the engine room, Trane designed a large door at the forward edge of the cockpit. Like all the areas on the 535, this provided standing headroom for me, and I’m about 6 feet 2 inches tall. The engine room is large enough for a workbench over the genset to port; the batteries are to starboard, and the user-friendly fuel manifold with gauges is on the centerline.
From the cockpit you step up to the glass door leading to the salon. Large side windows, plus two sliding doors opening to the side decks forward, drench the area in sunlight. The space flows without interruption from the entry to the lower helm station and then down to the galley and dinette area. Huge front windows make this space seem like an atrium. On the starboard side, the upper salon has a large U-shape settee and beautiful teak fold-out table on the port side facing two comfortable armchairs opposite. It’s an inviting, user-friendly layout.
The split-level, all-open design — which puts the galley forward of the helm — means the cook is still part of the action in the salon. The galley has plenty of cooking, countertop and stowage space for extended cruising or living aboard. The dinette to starboard (with its own TV opposite) separates the two living areas, while also providing a spot to curl up with a good book. Just forward of the dinette is space for the optional day head or large pantry, and then the guest stateroom is in the bow. It has a walk-around queen berth, lots of stowage, tons of teak and an en suite head and shower. Just abaft the dinette is the washer/dryer cabinet and the full-beam 12-by-16-foot master stateroom. The master also has a vanity or desk, a love seat facing the bed (with a 32-inch LED TV over it), drawers, cabinets and two hanging lockers. And the large master head adds to the sense that you could comfortably liveaboard for a long time on this boat.
The flying bridge is an entertainment center in its own right, with a large U-shape settee and dining table to port, facing a wet bar and a fridge. Three seats at the helm ensure the skipper will never get lonely.
The 535’s hull has 21 degrees of deadrise at the transom to soften the ride, but a deep-V hull with as much top hamper as the 535 may roll at low speeds, hence the standard Seakeeper gyro. As I found on my test, the boat also is a bit tender if you crank the wheel all the way over at wide-open throttle; I started to do this while driving from the flybridge and I dialed back a bit because of the lean — but then you aren’t likely to try this maneuver during normal cruising situations.
“The 535 is a cruising yacht that can island-hop down the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos, then make the short passage to the Dominican Republic and take you to the Caribbean for months of independent onboard living,” Trane said. “At the same time, she can make displacement passages in comfort and safety.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.
See the complete photo gallery.
Test Conditions: Speeds were measured by GPS on the Rhode River below Annapolis, Maryland, in one-foot seas with ¾ fuel, ¼ water and two people on board. Fuel consumption was calculated by the electronic engine monitoring system. Sound levels were measured at the lower helm.
RPM Knots GPH dB(A)
600 5.5 2.4 64
1000 8.2 8.9 64
1500 10.4 28.2 67
2000 20.4 48.8 74
2350 27.4 69.5 76
DISPL.: 52,500 lb.
ENGINES: 2 x 700 hp Volvo Penta IPS ll 900 diesels
FUEL: 600 gal.
WATER: 200 gal.
PRICE: $1.495 million
Island Pilot, 888-443-2965; www.islandpilot.com