Boat Review: Marlin 35 SFD

Marlin 35 SFD

What does it tell you when you see a sleek boat go by with a government agency logo on the side? Usually that the boat will take more than its fair share of abuse and come out of it unscathed. But perhaps even tougher duty comes from the professional kingfish circuit anglers. These cowboys run the dickens out of their boats. Any weather, they put the throttles to the fire wall and go.

More and more often, you'll find the Marlin 35 in either scenario, as the boat's combination of solid construction and high speeds has been gaining popularity with both the tournament angler and law enforcement agencies. And now, for the first time, Marlin offers its 35 in an inboard stern-drive configuration.

Construction
No other boat company builds boats the way Marlin does. The company makes use of lightweight construction materials, but not to the point of sacrificing sea-kindliness. One unique technique calls for the use of pre-expanded catalyzed polyester resin and multiple-size micro-balloons to guarantee a perfect bond between laminate layers and provide equivalent strength at a lighter weight than balsa, PVC foam or many other core materials.

In addition, Marlin sprays in a layer of syntactic foam for added strength, especially around radius curves, as well as for sound deadening. This foam also prevents print-through (seeing the fiberglass mat pattern through the gel-coat), which adds to the incredible, blemish-free gel-coat finish on every Marlin.
A mammoth box-stringer system in each hull assures rigidity in any sea condition, and the way Marlin glasses the hull to deck makes this 35 essentially a one-piece boat.

From a fishing standpoint, every amenity you'd want aboard a 35-foot offshore boat comes as standard equipment on the Marlin 35. Such features include a 50-gallon livewell, insulated bait boxes in the transom, full-length coaming pads, two substantial in-deck fish boxes and rod holders both in- and under-gunwale.

Layout
Opting for the inboard version of the Marlin 35 has its trade-offs. One of them can be found in the center console, where some of the room normally found in the outboard version has been given over to the engines. Oh well, you have to put them somewhere, and I'm thankful that Marlin has put them amidships rather than aft, which improves the boat's center of gravity.

The console itself offers a huge space for flush-mounting electronics directly in front of the helmsman, and all the systems switches border each side of this area. Below the instrument box are the Yanmar gauges and Kobelt controls. Whether you prefer dedicated electronics instruments or interfaced all-in-one units, the console will accommodate you without the need for an overhead instrument box.
The cuddy cabin provides comfortable sleeping arrangements in a queen-size vee-berth. This area provides a large, lockable rod-storage area on long trips.

Performance
You'll find that with the inboard diesels, this Marlin 35 tips the scales at just about 3,400 pounds heavier than its outboard sibling. Consequently, it doesn't qualify as the double-nickel speedster as the outboard models do. However, top speed with the diesels is still a not-too-shabby 42.6 mph. More important, cruising speed can be a steady 40 mph - 6 to 7 mph higher than the outboard models. But for real efficiency, run at the 33- to 34-mph outboard cruising speed and burn only 20 gph and you can stretch the effective range of this boat to over 300 miles.

If anything, the inboard 35 handles better than the outboard, again thanks to the placement of the engines amidships. Since the props are placed farther apart, the diesel version provides faster pivoting speed and greater leverage maneuvering against a current at the dock.

Trolling in a beam sea shows the Marlin to be relatively stable with a noticeable roll, but with a wide enough beam and fairly wide chines on the aft half of the hull to dampen the rolls pretty well. But the best part of the Marlin 35 has to be its head-sea ability. Take 4- to 6-footers at any speed and the Marlin hardly notices.
Serious anglers who are dedicated to center-console boats but prefer inboard power will really appreciate the Marlin 35's performance, fishability and perhaps most of all - its price.