Luhrs 35 Convertible Boat Test

At first glance, Luhrs’ 35 Convertible might seem a little retro in its styling. But after spending time aboard, particularly out at sea, Warren Steptoe returned from the test with raving enthusiasm for the boat’s spaciousness, quality and performance. And with space-saving Volvo IPS drives, Warren discovered surprisingly economical running costs in a 35-foot gameboat that offers the room and sea-handling abilities of a much larger vessel.

Luhrs 35 Convertible Boat Test

Boat Test Luhrs 35 Convertible: THE ILLUSIONIST
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe

This boat test ran in ISSUE 85 of BlueWater magazine –  JUNE-JULY 2011

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here

First impressions of Luhrs’ 35 Convertible are high, flamboyantly flared bows and a distinct tumblehome at the transom suggesting a classic, or even retro personality to what is in reality a very much up-to-date boat.

The 35 Convertible’s hull shape features the latest in variable deadrise design to deal with the sea surface in ways boats built forty years ago only dreamed about – as with the performance of the boat’s Volvo’s IPS-500 drives.

Luhrs has created an impression of spaciousness that is remarkable for a 35-foot boat – and that impression is not in the slightest diminished once you’re aboard. Part of the reason for this is its high Carolina-flared bow that naturally affords plenty of interior space. Also, when Luhrs quote a boat’s length at 35 feet, they’re talking about waterline length. Which, when compared with the overall length measurement (usually designated by the acronym LOA) favoured by some manufacturers, means a Luhrs 35-footer will be quite a bit bigger than a boat designated ‘35-foot LOA’ as this is likely to include bowsprits, etc.

The outright roominess of its salon, bow and portside staterooms and bathroom are some of the boat’s most endearing features. Along with a spacious cockpit and a foredeck with room to lash a tender, movement forward along the cabin sides to the foredeck is notably easy, a journey made safer by a moulded non-slip surface in a recessed walkway and a sturdy grab rail along the cabin side.

Big windows along the cabin sides enhance a sense of space in the salon, allowing enough natural light inside to make optional front windows hardly necessary. An option not fitted to our test boat was a lower control station in the salon. Instead, it had a solid fibreglass cabin front which provided space for extra kitchen cupboards above the benchtop in the galley, plus a sofa along the starboard side instead of 3 single lounge chairs, one of which would also function as the helm chair.

Comfortable Interior

The Luhrs 35 maintains interior space in the portside second stateroom by extending the double-bunk beneath the salon floor. This provides more space for the shower stall. The master stateroom in the
bows has its own dedicated entry to the head, along with the usual entry from a central companionway.

Our test boat featured two reverse cycle air-conditioning units in the salon and staterooms. These and their 9kw Kohler 240V generators are extra-cost options for the Luhrs 35 Convertible in Australia. The 240V is needed for the twin ring cooktop in the galley, while the standard fridge/freezer runs on either 12V or 240V. A standard microwave oven helps with cooking duties.

Both an ‘L’-shaped dinette lounge portside (aft of the galley) and the sofa along the opposite side can be converted to bunks for extra sleeping space. Interestingly, the dining table sits on a heavy non-slip base instead of being fixed into the usual socket in the salon floor, which was reassuringly still firmly in place after the BlueWater photo shoot – despite some pretty radical turns for the camera.

Warm timber and neutral coloured upholstery made our test boat’s interior decor perhaps more comfortable than stylish. The salon and staterooms were certainly pleasant places to be, and anyone who doesn’t agree with that sentiment will find alternatives on the options list.

A Fisherman's Cockpit

The cockpit would bring nods of approval from deckies and anglers alike. There’s a ready-made rigging station atop a spacious ice box (which can be optioned with refrigeration), and a sink under a separate cover, above a built-in tackle locker beside the cabin companionway. The deck is reinforced to mount a heavy-tackle chair and on both sides, there are huge ice-boxes (which can also be refrigerated) set into the moulded non-slip deck. Finally, there’s an insulated fish-box set into the transom.

Access to the bridge is up a set of moulded stairs on the starboard side. These make little concession to style but do facilitate a rapid ascent or descent. A 120-litre livewell, fed by a high-capacity pump, forms the bottom step.

Our test boat had a set of optional upholstered bolsters around the cockpit periphery, except for a gap in the covering board where the transom door opens. This gap was the only aspect of the entire cockpit I didn’t think perfect or close to it, although a swing-over section to complete the transom covering board would soon fix that. The engine room’s access hatch was, as they often are, under the cabin companionway.

Upstairs, the flybridge was much like the salon in terms of roominess. Its ergonomics were almost ideal except that the skipper’s perch lacked a control lever each side of the wheel. These days, Volvo’s IPS and Mercury’s Zeus drives have changed how ‘skipper ergonomics’ work.

Volvo IPS Drives

Our test boat (somewhat surprisingly) wasn’t fitted with Volvo’s optional ‘Sportfish’ mode. This makes more thrust available through the joystick control for the kind of manoeuvres necessary while fighting fish, so it’s hard to imagine a serious fishing boat doing without it. With Volvo’s IPS Sportfish mode, the fine old tradition of a skipper backing down, bum on the wheel and a control stick in each hand is history already.

Volvo’s IPS joystick control is simple to use and easy to master, although I did find the IPS trim-adjustment switch panel confusing – until I tried again with my prescription glasses on. Once I could actually read the symbols on the buttons it was quite straightforward, and I found the boat could be trimmed to a degree of fineness unattainable with shaft drives and rudders – even in boats with trim tabs. It’s yet another advantage of IPS I suppose.

The only scary thing about all this modern technology is that I’d bet my 7-year-old grandson would have it down-pat in half the time it’d take an experienced skipper.

Speaking of modern technology, Luhrs offer several Raymarine electronics packages on their options list. These include the E20 GPS/600w sounder unit plus a HD radar and/or autopilot. Otherwise, there’s plenty of room on the control console dash panel for your own preferences in fish-finding and navigation electronics.

In the corners of each side of the flybridge I was pleased to see seats placed well out of the skipper’s way, yet with an excellent view over the cockpit and wake when trolling. These will encourage company for the captain and will certainly assist with fish-spotting duties.

A moulded hardtop mounted on an anodised aluminium frame, together with a set of aftermarkets clears, provided good weather protection on the flybridge. The rocket launcher holding six rods across the flybridge’s aft rail is standard.

Sea-Kindly

On the water, our test boat showed yet another aspect of being a ‘big’ 35-footer. The spec sheet tells us this boat weighs nearly 11 tonnes dry, and filling tanks and putting gear and supplies aboard will add another couple to that, so at sea she sits as solidly at rest as she does at cruising speeds. Those big flared bows afford a fine (46-degree deadrise) entry at the bows, and the deadrise angle is still 15-degrees at the transom – the bottom shape in between formed by a series of compound curves. The accompanying photos show you don’t have to be a marine architect to see how well the hull deflects water, so it will come as no surprise that the Luhrs 35 Convertible is quite a soft-riding boat with excellent manners.

The hull sides are cored with a solid ’glass bottom making for impressive structural integrity, and a ride where flexing and internal graunches are only noticeable by their absence. Typical of quality boats built in the US, the standard of finish throughout the Luhrs 35 Convertible was of a high standard indeed. American production boats certainly set a standard for others to follow, or at least boats from respected builders like Luhrs do. You get what you pay for in cheap boats built anywhere!

Engine Options

The Luhrs 35 Convertible offers a fascinating choice of propulsion. There are three options in conventional shaft drive: 440hp and 480hp Yanmars, and the ever-popular 480hp Cummins QS8; plus, either Volvo’s IP-S500 or IPS-600 at 370hp and 435hp (each) respectively. Our test boat had the IPS-500 option. This installation uses short jack-shafts between the engines and IPS units to move the motors forward for better weight distribution.

In calm water inside the Gold Coast Seaway, our GPS recorded a top speed of 30.8 knots at 3500rpm, which was a whole half-knot quicker than performance figures provided by Luhrs’Australian importer and distributor BlueWater Power Yachts.

We also saw fuel consumption on the test boat’s instrumentation around 90 litres per hour (total burn for both engines) at 22 knots and 2800rpm, which I think is close enough to the supplied figures of 91.4 litres per hour at 22 knots and 2800rpm.

Volvo maintains their IPS-500 units are equivalent to 500hp engines with conventional shaft drives. This claim is hardly refuted by a graph on the Luhrs website that shows the (370hp) IPS-500 actually manages a slightly higher top speed than one of these boats powered by the 480hp Yanmar option. IPS-500s add just over $12,000 to the cost of the 480hp Yanmar option, and $5500 more than the Cummins option, so it all adds up to some serious thinking for potential buyers.

Tony Poole of BlueWater Power Yachts gave us some figures he’d recorded while travelling to tournaments that add to the argument for considering IPS. A trip from Port Stevens to Coffs Harbour in April 2010 took 7.2 hours and used 750 litres of fuel: a burn of 104 litres/hr. Travelling on to the Gold Coast City Marina from Coffs took 7.7hrs and used only 730 litres of fuel for 95 litres per hour.

On the trip Tony found that easing cruising speeds back to under 20 knots reduced fuel consumption to 85 litres per hour at 19 knots and opening the throttles a little to cruise at 25 knots still only burnt fuel at a rate of 112 litres per hour.

They’re a pretty impressive set of figures from a boat that impresses in every way. Luhrs have been building fine bluewater fishing boats for over 60 years – and it shows – 35-foot bluewater fishing boats simply don’t get any better than this.

Highlights

  • This is a BIG 35-footer with a remarkably spacious interior.
  • Great all-round performance of the Volvo IPS-500 engines.
  • Exceptional standard of finish.
  • Set-up for people who fish bluewater, by people who fish bluewater.

Capacities

  • Fuel: 1438 litres
  • Water: 378 litres
  • Holding tank: 98 litres

General

  • Material: GRP laminates, vinylester gel coat, cored sides
  • Hull type: Variable deadrise flared bow monohull
  • Length: 10.9m
  • Beam: 4.4m
  • Draft: 0.9m
  • Deadrise: 15 degrees (at transom)
  • Displacement: 10,659kg (dry)

Engines

  • Make/model: Volvo D6-370D-C x 2
  • Type: 6-cylinder inline turbocharged and aftercooled 4-stroke diesel
  • Rated hp: 370hp
  • Displacement: 5.5 litres
  • Weight: 887kg each (package weight)
  • Gearbox ratio: n/s
  • Propeller/s used for test: Volvo K series

SPECIFICATIONS: Luhrs 35 Convertible
Options fitted: Volvo IPS-500 engines x 2, starboard side sofa, 16,000 and 7000 BTU air-con units, upholstered bolsters around cockpit, Raymarine electronics package inc GPS, 600W sounder, radar and autopilot, flybridge clears, flybridge stereo, 9kw Kohler genset, Reelax outriggers, Lees shotgun rigger, shore water connection, spreader lights, anchor windlass, anti-fouling.  

Luhrs 35 Convertible Boat Test

Boat Test Luhrs 35 Convertible: THE ILLUSIONIST
Author and photography: Warren Steptoe
Supplied by: Blue Water Power Yachts

This boat test ran in ISSUE 85 of BlueWater magazine –  JUNE-JULY 2011

For the complete feature, including all photos and information captions, you can purchase back-issues here