I first laid eyes on the Bertram 35—a modern-day makeover of the old, very popular Bertram 31—during a press event at Lyman-Morse in Thomaston, Maine. She was only semi-finished at the time, little more than a collection of disembodied components on display, awaiting a truck ride south to Tampa, Florida, where Bertram employees would finish her assembly and crank up a production line.
A couple of things caught my eye immediately. First was the complexity of the fiberglass work that Bertram was using to produce the boat’s smooth, simple, seamlessly elegant appearance. The flybridge, for example, appeared to be a one-piece, curvaceous construct, at least at first glance. But upon closer inspection, I realized that this was really an amalgam of five separate, through-bolted, fiberglass-bonded fiberglass parts, each finely tooled and crafted to fit smoothly into the whole.
Then there was the exceptionally complex stringer grid stiffening the hull. Not only was the thing beefy and meticulously refined in terms of tolerances, it was also chemically bonded into the hull’s resin-infused interior with Plexus methacrylate adhesive. A decidedly super-strong approach if ever there was one.
I actually sea-trialed the 35 several months later in Tampa and, as soon as I’d stepped onboard, the boat struck me as being just as much an aristocratic huntress of the seas as any other fish-fighting Bertram that was ever built. Indeed, her transom door was included in the base price, and so were the two fishboxes in the cockpit sole, the transom livewell, and the pair of roistering, 507-horsepower Caterpillar C7.1 diesels under the express-style engine-room hatch.
But our test boat was obviously way more than a plain ol’ fishing machine. More to the point, her interior layout with offset-queen-equipped stateroom and head forward, and amidships galley and opposed dinette, was an obvious shoe-in for comfortable overnighting and weekending and jibed nicely with the thinking of her designer (and Power & Motoryacht columnist) Michael Peters, who once described the 35 as more of a “Florida picnic boat” than a center-console substitute or a true fish chaser.
The results of our sea trial? For starters, the 35 evinced excellent directionality and speed when I simulated a rousing open-water back-down. And then, following this exercise, I soon discovered that the boat is an absolute ball to handle dockside, mostly thanks to a massive power-to-weight ratio, superb sightlines, and a set of perfectly detented, Palm-Beach-style single-lever engine controls.
There was an issue nevertheless. During the open-water portion of the trial, at 2200 rpm and above, the 35 would simply not turn tight circles without slowing down significantly or stalling out. The phenomenon, according to Bertram, was rudder-related.
I returned some weeks later for a second sea trial after rudder adjustments had been made and the 35’s high-speed turns seemed entirely normal as far as I could tell. In fact, the boat stalwartly avoided all squirreliness when I forced her into some decidedly wild, high-speed, hard-over turns, sideways to 3- and 4-foot wakes.
My take on the Bertram 35? The average top-end speed of 36.1 knots I subsequently recorded for the boat on her second outing was quite robust and will likely satisfy boatbuyers who are into beefy scantlings, sophisticated modern construction, and owning a very boaty-looking vessel that’s directly descended from an iconic model built by a legendary company. —Capt. Bill Pike
DISPL.: 20,800 lb.
FUEL: 315 gal.
WATER: 50 gal.
POWER: 2/507-hp Caterpillar C7.1 diesel inboards
CRUISING SPEED: 21.6 knots
TOP SPEED: 36.1 knots