By John Wooldridge
The Cutwater 31 is the third single-inboard model from parent company Fluid Motion to offer excellent interior volume, a surprisingly long list of standard features, and a clever hull form that delivers excellent ride comfort, speed, economy, and handling characteristics. And it’s trailerable, making cruising distant waterways a reality.
Unexpected innovations are the rule rather than the exception from the folks at Fluid Motion, builders of the Cutwater and Ranger Tugs lines. Side bench seats fold outward from each hull to accommodate four adults—without taking up cockpit space. A double seat, built into the transom, has a moveable back that you can adjust to face forward or aft. An opening panel in the cabin bulkhead allows the aft dinette seat to be reversed and accommodate two more cockpit guests for al fresco socializing.
An expanse of opening windows brightens the roomy main-deck saloon, equipped with a four-place convertible dinette and a European-style galley counter. The helm features a double-stitched Ultraleather console and double-wide helm seat. Beneath the raised dinette is a private guest cabin. The forward master offers an island double berth, large hanging locker and stowage compartments, plus four hull portlights and an opening skylight hatch in the 6-foot 8-inch overhead. The adjacent head compartment includes a vanity with sink, electric-flush toilet, and separate shower enclosure with curved sliding door.
There are four major molds: the hull; a full-length, one-piece fiberglass stringer grid that is bonded inside the hull while it is still in the mold; a full forward liner and saloon liner; and finally the deck. The bond between the stringer grid and the hull is so strong, the builder uses it as an attachment point to pull the finished structure out of the mold. Together, they are engineered to give the lighter, stronger and stiffer structure that aids performance and increases fuel efficiency.
During the construction phase, the hull is ready for tank, engine, and systems installation, while alongside the saloon liner and the deck are available for equipment installation. All three functions are going on at the same time, and access is phenomenal. The adhesive bonding putty from 3M is permanent, and is even used in the strakes.
The keel is heavy and solid, designed not only to aid tracking but also to support the prop shaft and protect the running gear.
The Cutwater 30’s hull design incorporates a number of interesting features, including a stepped bottom, a keel pad that runs the full length of the bottom to concentrate lift and add directional stability, and rounded shoulders alongside the keel keep the engine low in the hull. The raked stem curves downward near the waterline to a slender, near-vertical forefoot that cuts oncoming waves to ensure a smooth ride. This nuance also extends the waterline to improve fuel efficiency, and allows fuller sections throughout the forward end of the boat for greater usable interior space.
All of the features work together to give a barely noticeable bow rise during acceleration, and a quick transition to planing speeds. Handling is positive and firm, and the boat tracks so well at cruising speed, I could let go of the wheel for a couple of minutes at a time. Turning at speed feels like maneuvering a substantial luxury car, with precise control and comfortable heel angles. Low-speed handling is a breeze with the standard bow and stern thrusters.
Cutwater, 800-349-7198; www.cutwaterboats.com
: 10,200 lb.
: 180 gal.
: 80 gal.
: 1/370-mhp Volvo Penta D6 diesel
Aft steering station ($4,350); wireless thruster remote ($759); solar panel ($1,200); diesel generator ($7,990); rocket launchers ($750).
Air temperature: 72°F; humidity: 63%; load: 110 gal. fuel, no water, 2 people. Speeds are two-way averages measured with Garmin GPS. GPH estimates via Volvo Penta engine display. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.