Island Runner boats have always been just under the radar of South Florida anglers even though the company has been making boats since 1981. Island Runners are still somewhat uncommon outside of Palm Beach County. A change of ownership in 1996, however, has led to steady growth and a legion of true believing buyers of these well-built, high-performance center-console boats. Many are repeat customers who have already moved up from a 26 to a 31 and now have asked for something larger. This is why Island Runner has introduced their newest and largest boat, the 35.
The 35 is a genuine offshore fishing platform that can cross the stream to the islands, as the name suggests, for a day or weekend of fishing, then return even if the weather is questionable. Like all Island Runners, the 35 is a semi-custom boat built which is the result of close cooperation between the buyer and Mark Lottes, the owner. Lottes is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, extremely helpful and patient. And, he doesn't forget his clients after the sale. Lottes said customer service is what brings buyers back.
Yet, buyers don't need much service after the sale. The 35 features top-notch materials and construction methods. The hull is cored with Divinylcell with 100 percent vinylester resin outside of the core, not just a skin as some other builders do. The hull bottom is a full one-and-a-quarter inch thick. After hand lay-up in the mold. the hull is vacuum-bagged to ensure even resin distribution and no voids. The fiberglass stringers are then laid in the hull and tabbed into place. Three coal tar epoxy-coated aluminum fuel tanks are installed—one middle and two saddle tanks for a standard capacity of 360 gallons. The below-deck boxes are tabbed and foamed into place if insulated.
The one-piece deck and inner liner is dropped into place and checked for fit. It is then removed, puttied and dropped back in place and vacuum bagged to pull the deck down tight to the hull and stringers, eliminating voids. The cap is then secured with 3M 5200 and through-bolted. The transom core also reflects the extra attention given by Island Runner to make their boats as strong as possible. Instead of using a single thick layer of coring material, Island Runner laminates three layers of three-quarter-inch foam together with biaxial cloth to create an exceptionally stiff transom.
Despite the relatively narrow beam of nine-feet eight-inches, the 35 has plenty of interior room. A slightly slimmer console than found on somewide bodied boats helps to compensate so that there still is 20-inches to walk around the console. Even so, the dash panel has room for two 10-inch displays, instrumentation for triple engines and accessories. The tilt steering wheel is centered in the helm. Controls are well placed for standing or sitting. Console features include two drink holders, a glove box, a cooler seat on the forward side and a windshield. The waterproof toggle switches are at knee level but they are hard to see when standing at the helm. A clear door down low allows an instant check of battery positions.
Access to the fairly spacious head compartment is through a port side consle door that swings forward. An electric Jabsco head is standard. A small sink and fresh water faucet is on the aft bulkhead along with assorted storage bins and tackle boxes. A showerhead is also standard. One opening port provides ventilation and six feet of headroom allows most anglers to stand erect. Wiring for the electronics behind the mirrored panel is neatly bundled and well secured. The leaning post is available in several configurations with or without a livewell.
The test boat's leaning post had five tackle boxes, four rocket launchers, three cup holders and even a custom installed flat panel LCD display! For the triple Mercury Verado 275-horsepower engines, five bateries were installed inside the leaning post. The nicely finished fiberglass hardtop is fabricated in-house as is most everything else. The hardtop includes lighting, four flush mounted speakers, handholds and flood lights. The anchor hatch on the forepeak lifts up and then cleverly slides down into a track so it disappears. The test boat was equipped with an optional windlass hidden in the anchor locker.
The forward deck is just a small step up, seven-and-a-half inches to be exact. Lottes says this is the height of a typical unobtrusive stair step. It should be easy to step up on even fighting a hooked fish. Yet, it really increases the capacity of the tow in-deck compartments. The forward storage compartment is nearly three feet long and 27-inches deep. The other is a rod locker able to store and lock up to 10 eight-foot rods along with loads of storage. Under the gunwales along the forward deck are zippered storage nets that conveniently store PFDs. An optional fresh water wash down was mounted under the forepeak but required kneeling down to reach. It would have been better to mount it more in the open.
A 50-gallon transom live well is standard. Options are available for another live well in the leaning post or in the deck. To the port side of the live well is a sink with fresh or salt water. A folding transom bench seat gives extra seating room for guests. A transom gate door and gate leads to the transom platform. A swim ladder is standard. The coaming pads are just right at 35-inches high or just above my knees for much of the boat and wrap 360-degrees around the boat. Toe kick space is found throughout the boat.
The aft cockpit conains four in-deck compartments. The forward section of the center compartment can be used for storage or as an insulated cooler. The aft section is the lazarette that allows access to pumps, transducers and seacocks. The pumps are installed inside a "dry box" to keep gear dry that is stored in the lazarette. Alongside the center compartments are two five-foot, eight-inch insulated fish boxes. Each is equipped with a macerator.
On the day of the test, winds were kicking up around 20 knots at higher gusts and had stirred up conditions offshore, perfect for testing the 35. Before heading out into the rough stuff we did some speed runs in a calm protected area where the triple Mercury Verado 275's provided the push to take us up to 62-mph at 5800-rpm. This was a real world measurement with a full load of fuel, fishing gear, three people and with a hardtop and crows nest installed. If you use up some fuel, and with less gear and without the crows nest, Lottes says around 65-mph can be expected. With twins, he ways the 35 will run about 53-56-mph. With the triple engines, a good cruising speed was around 44 mph at 4200-rpm where according to the SmartCraft gauges, we were getting about 1.5-mpg good for a range of around 500-miles. Opt for the 420-gallon fuel tanks and range extends to about 600 miles.
Offshore, seas were three to five feet. We tackled the seas on all headings and the 35 behaved well. The relatively narrow beam and deep-V hull of the 35 really pays off in rough seas. The hull stayed glued to the water for the most part and when we did get airborne, it came down stern first and usually without a hard impact. With the wind blowing, no boat would have kept us dry. The 35 was no exception. However, the 55-inch high console and the windshield kept us mostly dry. Backing down hard brought on only a small amount of water into the cockpit with all of it staying in the gutters, thus keeping the deck dry. The 35 settled in with a nice motion when drifting and at trolling speeds needed little attention at the steering wheel. The 35 has a 10 year hull warranty and a one year bumper-to-bumper warranty. Anglers looking for a mid-thirties size boat should definitely pull this one up on their radar screen.
|Island Runner 35|
|LOA: 34'8"||beam: 9'8"|
|draft: 24"||displacement: 157,500 lbs.|
|fuel capacity: 360-420 gallons||dry weight: 5,500 lbs.|
|transom deadrise: 24°||maximum power: 900 hp|