Regal 3780

The builder raises eyebrows and expectations with its first flying bridge model.

Memories are peculiar. Some cling to the surface and need no massaging to pop back to the present. Others remain buried and only awaken when the senses are aroused. I had a day filled with the latter while testing the new Regal 3780 Commodore.

A rescued thought bubble took me back to the first time my sailor eyes feasted on the flying bridge of my father's newly purchased trawler, which was to become our home for most of my teenage years. Sure, the pew-like bench seating was antiquated and the electronics stowage was nonexistent. But oh, the view. I could actually see over the horizon. Although the flying bridge was farther from the water than the cockpit of our sailboat, I felt more in tune with my surroundings. The sensation was duplicated on the Regal 3780-though even more peculiar because the company has long been known for its bowriders and express boats.

The 3780 is the first Regal to incorporate a flying bridge, which is properly laid out for both cruising and entertaining. Two bucket seats provide a nice perch for the skipper and mate, and swivel back for chatting with guests lounged on the L-shape settee. The settee's forward end is angled to form a reclining lounge. The sun lounge abaft has four drink holders and stainless-steel grab rails for added security. The aluminum dash panel on our test boat, with a wheel for hydraulic steering in the center, incorporated a host of accessible Raytheon electronics. To ease docking, there is a clear line of sight through the stairwell to the cockpit, and opening the transom door provides a good enough view of the swim platform to judge the distance of a pier.

Regal sacrificed cockpit length to increase main saloon space, but at 60 square feet, the cockpit still works. The bridge extends over the cockpit, providing shelter from the sun (there are plenty of other areas to catch rays on the 3780) and concealing an overhead locker perfect for life preservers, boathooks and miscellaneous deck gear. Our test boat had an optional bench seat stowed flush across the transom. Carefully placed handrails and two flush-mounted cleats will help you land and secure a dinghy on the huge swim platform. Transom stowage accessed from the platform housed two 30-amp shorepower cords and additional cleaning gear.

Engineroom access is through a gas strut hatch in the cockpit sole, keeping oily rags and grime out of the carpeted main saloon. Our test boat was equipped with twin Cummins 330Bs on V-drives and an optional Westerbeake 7.6kW generator. Service points on the engines and generator were accessible. The three 8-D batteries were mounted low, and wiring was neat and easy to reach.

Like the exterior, the interior of the 3780 shows attention to detail and fresh engineering. When I walked through the sliding aft doors, I was taken aback by the amount of space. This expression is often overused in boat reviews, but this full-beam main saloon could host the Clampet family reunion. The cabin, cooled by the two-zone 18k BTU air conditioning, was a welcome respite from the summer heat. I was ready to flop into one of the two barrel chairs, a good book in hand and a few tunes playing on the standard entertainment center. The soft, indirect lighting would add to the ambience. Opposite the two barrel chairs to port was a U-shape settee wrapped with optional leather. The pear wood, Corian-trimmed table drops down to form a double berth. The settee is raised, providing a great view through the port and starboard crescent-shaped windows. Hatches in the main saloon sole lift to conceal deep stowage bins and a separate fiberglass-lined locker housing the air-conditioning compressors and pumps.

I remain undecided about my preference for up-galley vs. down-galley layouts. Some down-galley layouts sacrifice an extra stateroom or lower helm station, making a choice about them more obvious. The Regal 3780, however, bridges a nice compromise by moving the galley two steps down from the main saloon and dividing the area with a buffet and bar counter. The mess of cooking will stay out of the main saloon, but the chef can still engage in the fun. The galley has a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer concealed under the counter, a two-burner electric cooktop, a microwave, a stainless-steel sink and a coffee maker.

The guest stateroom is opposite the galley, tucked under the main saloon (a benefit of a V-drive configuration). Although it's a little tight on floor space, I didn't feel confined thanks to the overhead skylight inside the main saloon, abaft the windshield. An opening port and air-conditioning vent provide ventilation. The twin berths pull together to form a full, and stowage is ample for a few weekend guests.

The real comforts went into the master stateroom. Its plush fabrics, bolsters, innerspring mattress, natural light and entertainment system may make you wish for a rainy day. Practical appointments include two opening ports, an overhead hatch with sun shade, a cedar-lined hanging locker, a 9-inch Phillips TV/VCR, and drawers underneath the queen-size berth. The focus on comfort continues in the head, which has a full-length mirror, a Corian sink, stout fixtures, a VacuFlush MSD, a circular shower stall, an air-conditioning vent and an opening port.

Our test boat had twin Cummins 330B GBTA diesels. Gas engines are available, but if you plan on cruising in the 3780, go for the economy of operation and reliability you gain with the diesels. The modified-V with 18 degrees of deadrise aft and sharp entry forward planed as soon as the turbos kicked in around 2300 rpm, cruising at 18.5 knots. I didn't touch the tabs at any speed, although there was no chop. At 2400 rpm, we cruised at 24.1 knots and recorded a sound level of 89 decibels on the bridge. My thoughts temporally flowed from the business of the boat test to cutting the 3780 through Little Farmer's cut in the Bahamas at dawn, white sandy beach an arm's length away, then flying down the Exuma Sound and arriving in time for lunch at the Peace and Plenty. Back to reality, I duplicated a few close-quarter maneuvers and beamed a smile at the ease with which the 3780 spun on her axis, making docking stress-free.

Regal entered the flying bridge market following the tried and true credo that if you're going to do something, you should do it right. If you're looking for a comfortable flying bridge performer, you may want to give Regal a ring.

Regal Marine, (407) 851-4360; fax (407) 857-1256; www.regalboats.com.