Capt. Steve Says…
For the last 10 to 12 years or so express cruisers have been evolving. The tempo of that evolution has picked up the last five years with hardtops becoming pretty standard on express cruisers that before only had Bimini tops, if even that. Since I have very fair skin and must use sunscreen rated R 98 I have been very happy to see this sensible movement to permanent hardtops. They keep people out of the sun and rain. Formula, incidentally, with its designer John Adams, has been a leader in pushing this trend. Having said that, we must realize that these express cruisers when they were first conceived 20 years ago or so, did not envision a hardtop. As a result their proportions, styling and in some cases, just the size of things don’t always work together harmoniously when a hardtop is added to an existing express cruiser. So, when out shopping for a cruiser this size, please keep this subtle design evolution in mind as you consider different models. Designer Adams is well aware of this problem, and because he is a veteran boater he also knows that some of the solutions that some builders are using – particularly in Europe – are not ideal. For example, curving the hardtop down to meet the windshield often means you can only drive the boat sitting down. In order to stand up you must open the sunroof and stick your head out, sort of like a military tank driver. Formula, Adams, and the staff at BoatTEST.com uniformly agree, that kind of styling over function is not desirable. Formula’s solution is to have a large gap between the top of the windshield and the hardtop. In this way one can stand and see over the windshield frame, or sit and look through the windshield. For people who live north of Charleston, isinglass will probably be fitted between the window frame and the hardtop. Be sure you get the kind that is rigid and folds up to the overhead as opposed to rolling up.
I stepped aboard from the transom walkthrough, and everywhere I look, I see stainless steel fittings. While that is to be expected on all well-built yachts, it reminded me of the fact that Formula goes first class on all of its fittings whether you can see them or not. I look down at a cleat and it’s stainless with a “Formula” logo cast into it. It’s not hardware off the shelf, it was custom cast for Formula. These little details set Formula apart. The cockpit doesn’t have anything that hasn’t been seen before. The U-shaped settee has twin pedestal tables that give a good array of options of how you want them set up… single table, double, short pedestals for adding a filler cushion, tall for dining etc… There was an optional LCD TV installed at the wetbar. While I like that the TV is offered as an option, I always cringe when I actually see it. (I think boating is something one should do to get away from TV. But then, I’m from New England.) The entertainment center is to port and a stainless steel grab rail is positioned right at waist level for traversing the two steps to the bridge deck.
The Bridge Deck…
To port of the helm is a lounger that seats two, or one person with her (his) feet up. Just to port of the helm, are the integrated steps leading to the bow. One of the hardtop supports doubles as a handhold while heading to the bow. There is a narrow sidedeck for traversing to the bow as well, and while that is a welcome feature, even with its multiple handholds, it’s just for seasoned boaters in a seaway.
The helm is functional enough with the optional E-120 Chartplotter front and center. Just to the left of the panel is a SS handrail for assisting with getting to the bow. Lighted rocker switches are all in a row and grouped properly. Circuit breakers are below and to starboard. The engine controls are mounted on a 45 deg plane -- I’d rather see them level -- but the Axius joystick is level and just forward of the twin controls. I like the double wide seat, so a companion can sit with me while operating, but there needs to me more room for stuff. Drop a cell phone in a drink holder and it’s suddenly full. The burlwood accents all over the helm add to its good looks. And thank you Formula for installing the stereo at the helm instead of just a remote. Other builders… take note. It can be done. This one even has the now required MP3 jack.
Stepping into the cabin, again yielded few surprises from a layout perspective, cabin forward, salon and galley center, convertible cabin aft, but the quality of the fit and finish was evident wherever I looked. There were no gaps between panels that usually drive my obsessive compulsive personality over the edge. Fittings were all stainless here as well, even in the protected environment of the cabin, and they are sturdy. The forward cabin is accessed by a pair of pocket doors which is unusual. I like this idea because it really opens up the space both of the forward cabin and of the salon..
As I looked at the storage doors to starboard above the settee, I noticed (as I do) that they were all spaced perfectly and aligned evenly. Pulling out the galley drawers, I saw that they were all dovetailed and not just facades attached to stock drawers. This is almost a Formula exclusive in the boating industry these days.
The test Formula 37PC was powered by a pair of 425-hp 8.1L Mercury gas engines with Bravo III stern drives and the Axius system controlling the outdrives. She had less than ½ fuel and empty water tanks, so with three people onboard she was almost the average weight of a boat in real cruising conditions. I like the idea of carrying a half tank of fuel instead of hauling around a lot of weight not needed for a short trip. So add a body or two and a full tank of water, some gear, and we’d be at cruising weight. Offsetting the slight weight discrepancy, there was a 3’ chop running when we tested. The 37 PC sliced right through with an “I don’t care” attitude that I find to be typical of Formula’s boats. She had a flat-out top-end speed at 4950 RPMs of 46.9 MPH. Hauled back to her best cruise of 3500 RPMs and she ran at 30.7 MPH burning 34.4 gph giving her a range to 190 miles. The Formula 37 PC has a LOA of 38' 5'' / 11.7 m and a beam of 12' 0'' / 3.66 m. Depending on your engine choice, her dry weight will be approximately 17,500 lbs / 7,937 kg and you can expect a draft of 34'' / .86 m.
All in all, I was very impressed with the Formula 37 PC, not so much from a new and different approach, but from the quality of build that I’ve come to expect from Formula. Her size and features make her an attractive weekender, and for dock appeal, she’s hard to beat. This is a boat that you owe it to yourself to check out, but only if you’re looking for a quality functional boat. If price is your only driving factor, you’re wasting your time. Don’t go to the steakhouse to buy a hamburger.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Formula 37 PC with Axius (2009-2010) is 46.9 mph (75.5 kph), burning 67.2 gallons per hour (gph) or 254.35 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Formula 37 PC with Axius (2009-2010) is 30.7 mph (49.4 kph), and the boat gets 0.89 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.38 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 190 miles (305.78 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 425-hp MerCruiser 496.
Standard and Optional Features
|Radar||Standard Raymarine E120|
|VHF Radio||Standard Raymarine|
|Air Cond./Heat||Standard 18,000 BTU reverse cycle AC|
|Battery Charger/Converter||Standard 60-amp|
|CD Stereo||Standard Kenwood AM/FM/CD stereo|
|Dripless Shaft Seals||Standard|
|Trim Tabs||Standard Bennett|
|Water Heater||Standard 120V|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
|10 Years Yes|
|5 Years Yes|
|2 Years Yes|
|5 Years Yes|
|ISO Certification NMMA Certification||Yes|
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