Boat Review: Shearline 35

All Shearlines feature a Carolina-style bow flare, beautiful tumblehome and old-world craftsmanship.


I remember when Shearline started in a tiny shed on a cove in Morehead City, North Carolina. An ugly high-rise condo complex stands in that spot now, but since then, Shearline has grown through several buildings and boat sizes. Its new, grown-up-looking facility houses the numerous models Shearline has under construction, from an 18-foot center console to 60-plus-footers. All feature a Carolina-style bow flare, beautiful tumblehome and old-world craftsmanship. It’s always a treat to see boats built by people who put their hearts into it, and at Shearline, they are all heart.

This 35 – just a month old – hit a top end of 34 knots and cruises comfortably at 28, burning a scant 30 gph, and that’s without tweaking the Michigan wheels. Twin QSB 5.9 Cummins diesels rated at 380 hp each, coupled to ZF transmissions with electronic controls, make for a smooth-as-silk experience for the helmsman.

The huge step forward brought about by common-rail diesel technology never ceases to amaze me. No smoke, faster times to plane, decreased noise levels and greatly improved fuel economy all constitute a must-have choice in my mind.


During the bulk of prime fishing season around the southern tip of the Outer Banks, the prevailing winds run out of the southwest, making most offshore runs straight into head seas. A slight tab adjustment lowers the sharpest point of the bow, allowing the Shearline to cut into the waves like a knife.

As you’d expect from a 35-footer, maneuvering at speed proved quarter-horse quick and responsive. You should have no problem keeping a fish on the corner with this boat.

Bridge Deck
This boat’s owner chose a bridge-deck layout so clean that it borders on stark. Fore and aft, half-length settees on each side with storage beneath augment the helm and companion pedestal seats. That’s it. A Palm Beach-style steering pod with single-lever controls offers the only break in the pure-white area. Bausch American Towers seems to be putting its excellent installation skills to work on a great many boats in the lower Outer Banks locale. This Shearline sported Bausch’s recessed teaser reels in the hardtop and a beautiful tower. The bridge deck also featured one of the nicest and cleanest enclosures I’ve seen in a long time.


Engine Room
Unlike many express boats, the Shearline bridge deck doesn’t lift up on rams. Rather, the sole access is through the hatch on centerline. Another hatch by the companionway provides access to the generator. This is a tight engine compartment. Those Cummins really fill it up. Fortunately, you can find all the routine-maintenance points on centerline for easy access.

Though I considered the cabin relatively small and the access from the bridge deck tight, the space exudes a rich, warm ambience thanks to the teak and holly sole, cherry cabinetry and Corian countertops. Once below, I discovered why the engine room seemed so tight: The owner put refrigerator and freezer drawers in the cabin’s aft bulkhead, the guts of which extend into the engine room. This boat would certainly benefit tremendously from the space gained by installing Cummins’ Zeus drive system or Volvo’s IPS.

Hidden beneath the forward V-berth, Shearline incorporated storage for six complete rod sets, with more available in the overhead lockers up under the gunwale. A small vanity seat to starboard just aft of the berth constitutes the only sitting space below. Aft to port, a head with shower affords you full headroom, but forward of that you’ll find only seated headroom.


I’d have to say that you’ll find the heart of this boat in the cockpit. Large by any standards, the owner’s choice of an interesting sailfish pod in lieu of a chair really adds to deck space. The pod sports a gimbal on the aft side so you can lean against it with your rod anchored in the pod to fight a fish if you so choose.

Twin modules flank the bridge-deck steps: a portside insulated box and a starboard rigging station with tackle drawers. You can also plumb the in-transom fish box for a livewell.
Design and Construction**
Shearline builds each hull to order rather than building a hull and then letting the owner decide some of the layout criteria. Shearline cold-molds each boat using Douglas fir on the bottom and stringers and Okume plywood on the topsides and bulkheads. However, unlike many builders who just put resin or glue between the layers of wood, Shearline adds to the overall strength with a layer of 1808 fiberglass between the wood layers. And the company infuses its cold-molded wood and fiberglass with West Systems epoxy, probably the most durable hull material short of steel. With the construction complete, the craftsmen at Shearline spend interminable hours sanding and fairing the surfaces to perfection prior to coating every surface with Awlgrip paints and sealers. Since the owner of this particular 35 wanted no bow rail, I really appreciated the beautiful molded toe rail all the way around the foredeck, as well as the all-nonskid surface.

Building a custom fishing boat almost qualifies as a marriage between you and the builder. So do your homework, don’t jump into anything, and pick your builder carefully. Of all the Shearline owners I’ve spoken to, all still say they’re happily married ? to Shearline.


LOA…… 35’4″
BEAM…… 12’10”
DRAFT…… 3′
WEIGHT…… 17,000 pounds
FUEL…… 350 gallons
WATER…… 50 gallons
POWER…… T 380 hp Cummins QSB 5.9
BASE PRICE…… On request

Shearline Boatworks / Morehead City, North Carolina / 252-726-6916 /


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