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Maine Boater 06-04-2020 01:04 PM

Considering Pilot 34 Purchase
Hi All,
My wife and I are seriously considering the purchase of a Mainship next year. Having run a SeaRay Sundancer the past couple of years, I have a pretty tall list of wants/needs for the next boat and I think the Pilot 34 fits as close to all of them as we can get.....I'm looking for any insight from current/previous owners experience.
We like to "cruise", don't want to go fast, but would like to be able to get out of danger if needed. I really want a diesel for economy, single is fine as long as I have a bow thruster to help with docking (not a complete seasoned pro yet). We spend pretty much every weekend on our boat at the marina here in Maine during the summer so we are looking for a good balance of comfort while staying at the dock and easy handling for just the two of us.....that's why I don't want to move up to a fly bridge or anything that big YET.
The only other "want" is the ability to have our son or someone else spend the night on the boat with us occasionaly which means another sleeping area. I know these are a lot of demands for a small-ish boat, am I way off base in thinking the Pilot 34 would be the best choice?

Also should mention that we want to be around the $100kish price range.
Thanks for any input anyone can give, I really appreciate it.

Tonic1 06-04-2020 01:34 PM

Maine Boater,
We have an 07 Pilot 34 Sedan (hardtop model) that works very well for us in use as you describe. Ours is a twin engine with no thrusters. Our fast cruise speed is 15-16 kn slow cruise around 7.5 kn and WOT is about 21kn. The single engine model fast cruise and WOT would be 1 - 2 kn less. The dinette makes a pretty functional guest berth for a weekend or so. Storage is limited for longer trips, but 7 to 10 days has been doable for us.

The boat is great for a cocktail cruise with lots of space on the bridge deck and cockpit. The hardtop works great to keep us out of the Florida sun, but the side windows on our year model allow plenty of ventilation. The soft top models tend to be significantly cheaper though. We love the styling of the boat, especially with our dark blue hull, and off white deck. It would look right at home in Maine!

I think most would tell you that the Mainships provide a lot for the money, as indicated by the number out there. The build quality is solid and the traditional looks stay in style. I haven't looked at what's in the market lately, but your $100k budget may push towards earlier models. Single engines typically seem to have a bow thruster installed and are priced lower than twins.

Good luck in your search,


DavidM 06-04-2020 01:41 PM

I sold my 2003 single engine, hardtop Pilot 34 last year for $110,000 so your price is in the ball park. That was one of the best all around cruising boats I ever owned. I won't extoll all of its virtues- lots, but I will describe some of its nits:

1. Noisy at high cruising speeds of 12-15 kts. I didn't have much, but others have reported a cavitation type noise at those speeds. At 7-8 kts it is very economical and at decent noise that allows easy conversation.

2. The single engine boat is DIY maintainable. The twin is not.

3. The lack of a flybridge is fine in most conditions in the NE where we boated, but if in a warmer area you might wish for one some days.

4. The dinette can be turned into a spare bed, well sort of- lots of cross cushions.

5. The exhaust system is marginally designed and possibly can let sea water back up into the turbo, but very few have reported problems. Can be fixed with an exhaust riser extension.

But all in all we loved ours.


Duetto 06-04-2020 02:12 PM

we've had our 2003 pilot hardtop for 10 years in long island sound. it's a single with a bow thruster.

couple of points: 1) in maine i'd opt for the hardtop. no leaks and warmer. 2) our daughter regularly joins us in blocl island for a couple of days. she sleeps on th sette behind the driving station and once on the floor ontop of settee cushions. this gives both parties a little more privacy. 3) i believe that hardtops are 1 out of 10 produced so are much rarer.

we do a couple of 1 week stays in block and usually a 2 week trip to the cape & marthas vineyard. very good value and much better build than i expecte.

Maine Boater 06-04-2020 02:47 PM

All, thank you for such quick and GREAT information. I forgot to mention one of the biggest WANTS of all is VERY LITTLE TO NO CANVAS! I am so sick of fighting with canvas you have no idea. So the accolades for a hard top are right on point! :-)
Sounds like we are definitely pointed in the right direction for sure. Any other tips/thoughts are encouraged.....

DavidM 06-04-2020 03:05 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I don't much like canvas either, but look at the attached pic of my former boat with its aft bimini. It keeps the sun off of the aft cockpit in the afternoon at anchor.


Maine Boater 06-04-2020 03:16 PM

THAT amount of canvas I can definitely handle! :-)

Tonic1 06-04-2020 03:32 PM

We have an awning that we use when aboard to serve the same function as David's bimini. It mounts using a bolt rope track under the hardtop and uses two poles in rod holders for the aft corners, works very well for us. In David's picture the panels that enclose the aft end of the bridge deck are barely visible. There are 2 sides, port and starboard back panels, and a large center panel that is likely rolled up in the photo.


Maine Boater 06-04-2020 03:44 PM

I meant to ask too, how comfortable is the main berth? Am I correct in thinking that it's designed to have your heads aft and feet towards the bow? The Vee berth in our current SeaRay is the MOST uncomfortable thing in the world for me and I'm not a big guy, 5'11". When it's just my wife and I, she sleeps up there and I end up in the aft berth by myself. :-(

DavidM 06-04-2020 04:28 PM

The V berth is fine for my 5' 10" frame. it is wider aft where your shoulders go and narrower forward where your feet go. Our 20# dog would sometimes sleep at our feet with room for all.


caltexflanc 06-04-2020 05:22 PM

We used to charter one of these, powered by a single Cummins and bow thruster equipped, out of Sausalito for day trips and long weekends. Fun boats. One of the joys of chartering is not having to maintain the boat, so I bow to actual owners on that front. We still had to do engine checks each morning, and I'd agree a single is preferable on that front.

Our only issue, which is a personal one, was, that like it's kindred Mainships of that era, the noise of the bow slap in the stateroom. We liked to anchor out, so I used simple earplugs to help mitigate that. We're contemplating getting a boat for that sort of usage (what Ann calls a "camping boat") and I'd definitely have one of the Pilots on the to-be-considered list.

Seanair 06-08-2020 01:30 PM

I recently helped a buddy of mine bring his just purchased 2005 Pilot 34 from Annapolis to RI via New York city. It is a hard top with single Yanmar 370 and bow thruster. Boat performed flawlessly, we were in some rough seas off of Atlantic City and handled it no problem. 2nd day we ran 18 hours straight. Auto pilot was nice.

I have been on a fair amount of these - and if I were buying one I would want;
single engine
hard top
not painted hull

But, the downside of that shopping list is it really narrows availability. As others have said there were far more soft tops produced.

IMHO these boats are very high quality and a great layout for the money they command.

bill.kimbell 06-08-2020 07:16 PM

I would add...later model w sliding helm side window. Great for variable ventilation plus easy access to side deck for shorthanded docking. Be any seaway/wind there is a lot of spray over the bow. Windshield wipers are important.

rgano 06-09-2020 07:51 PM

1 Attachment(s)
I like the capability we have to pivot the aft canvas supports forward against the hardtop where I place the boot over it. Better for trolling with it forward; better for anchoring with it deployed. Takes couple minutes to deploy because the bolt rope interface includes a zipper to attach once out of the boot.

I thought of naming my 30 Pilot II Splash because of the amount of spray it generates. A spray rail may be in my boat's future.

Maine Boater 06-18-2020 06:22 AM

Well after my wife stepped aboard a 34 Hard top this past weekend, she was SOLD! She was very apprehensive at first but once she saw the boat in person she has fallen right in love! Now, here's the biggie I need some help with.....we would have made an offer on the boat we looked at except it has a "hard back" with a door and she feels as though that really makes things feel cramped on the cockpit and not as open to the helm area....I agree, we both like the hard top, hard three sides with canvas back. That being said, I thought that I really wanted the single 370hp but after looking at this one with twins.....I have to say I'm torn. I have looked everywhere and cannot find any hard draft measurements with single vs. twins. It APPEARS to me that the twins with it's prop pockets has a much shallower draft than the single with the keel and sand this actually the case? Can anyone weigh in on this debate. My thoughts are this, twins give maneuverability, redundancy, faster top end....BUT twice the maintenance cost, tighter quarters for maintenance in the engine room.

I'm open to hearing any and all comments on this one....we are getting very close to pulling the trigger on one of these boats!
Thank you, Rob

Duetto 06-18-2020 07:15 AM


you don't mention the year of the boat. my guess is it is a newer version. i'm not familiar with pilots with hard back wall. does it have sliding side windows? in cold, foggy maine you might come to love the full enclosure.

as to twin vs single, i think the real issue about the twin is the accessibility to the outboard sides. other than that i'd probably vote for twins even though i own a single.

i'd be interested in bottom config on the twins. i do like the protection the keel offers on a single.

DavidM 06-18-2020 07:48 AM

I think that the "hard back" came with the 2007+ models along with the squared off side windows. Don't know of they slide. I have never been inside one so I can't comment on its lack of openness versus the canvas/plastic back but I can imagine what you are saying.

Pictures of twins on the hard show the typical rudders that might give a bit of protection to the props but nothing like the single's sand shoe. Draft should be less for the twins, but given the lack of protection it is somewhat meaningless.

Like I have said many times before, if you do your own maintenance even just changing impellers, go with the single.


Tonic1 06-18-2020 08:46 AM

I believe the hard back was an add-on. I used to use a boatyard in FL that said they had developed a kit working with Mainship for a solid enclosure across the back. On my 07 hardtop model the side windows are larger than on the earlier models and slide open. Along with the center opening windshield section, this gives us a great deal of ventilation and you can usually had the leeward side open even in a downpour. This is quite useful here in FL. The side window openings are large enough for ingress/egress and for line handling from the helm. We usually just roll the center section of the canvas up, but for extra openness, you can leave the 3 panels zippered and roll the entire rear section.

As far as the bottom configuration, the pocketed props and the twin engines have a shallower draft than the single engine version. I've seen it listed in Mainship brochures as 2', but I measure it closer to 2'4" as normally loaded for us, versus 3'4" or so for the single. There is a stub keel which is the deepest part of the boat which extends to about where the props are located providing some protection.

Engine access is challenging, but not impossible by any means. All routine checks can be done from the center aisle between engines. Oil, coolant, and transmission fluid levels are all easily accessible. The starboard engine has a secondary dipstick on the port side to allow easier access. A couple of times a year you do get to visit the outboard sides of the engines for oil filter (stbd), zincs (some on each engine) and impeller (port), which does require some contortions. I'm 6'1" and less flexible as a 60 y.o. but I manage it. The toughest part is getting turned around to get back out. Once you are on the backside of the engine, there is a fair amount of room, but limited headroom. For me the advantages of the twins outweigh the disadvantages, but that is an individual decision.

I think you have accurately characterized the various tradeoffs, now you just need a pro/con list and a glass, or two, of wine and you'll have your answer.

Good luck with your search,


Maine Boater 06-18-2020 11:39 AM

All very good points yet again, thank you!
The hard back that we are looking at is actually a 2002....the side windows do NOT open which is kind of a drag. I completely get the single engine with sand shoe for protection vs. the twin setup and the maintenance issues. Since we currently have a Sun Dancer with twin 350 Mercs in it which I have taken out and re-installed 3 separate times in the past year and a half, there isn't much that concerns me as far as access is concerned (that was miserable but doable) my son is a VERY talented diesel technician so that's a huge deal for me.

Brett, my wife and I have worked on our pros and cons list with many a cocktail and am I still very torn as to which setup to get.....I honestly think its going to come down to the actual boat AND the deal I find. If I find a reasonably priced twin that's close to us vs. a single that is far away ($$$ Shipping) then that will make the decision for me.
Thanks again everyone for such great insight, it is a HUGE help to me.

Duetto 06-18-2020 01:26 PM

hi rob,

noticed part of the decision would be delivery $$$. would/could you deliver it yourself? i would think that many of your candidates will be east coast us, fl west coast, and maybe a few great lakes. all doable with time.

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