Captain's ReportBy BoatTEST.com Staff“Does it really make sense to put a waterjet drive into a conventional powerboat?” That was the question I posed to Legacy’s president Paul Petronello, and in the dissertation that ensued I felt like a minor-league pitcher who just lobbed a meatball pitch to Sammy Sosa. He hit this one over the centerfield fence.The answer, he explained, depends on the kind of hull form you start with in the first place. When you add waterjets, you subtract the drag and inherent straight-line tracking characteristics you get from conventional shaft-and-strut propulsion systems, and that can cause a multitude of handling problems especially at high speeds. Simply put, with nothing under the hull to keep the boat running straight, she can become very squirrelly and even downright dangerous at times. But in the case of the Legacy 34—which is also available with conventional single- or twin-engine diesel power—the boat already had a full-length keel along with wide chine flats aft which provide a low bow rise upon acceleration and excellent stability in a seaway. Given that, the 34 seemed a natural for waterjet propulsion, but even so, when Legacy rolled out its first jetdrive 34 it needed a bit more help at the top-end so Legacy installed a pair of aluminum fins in the stern to help her high-speed tracking capabilities. The end result, I discovered, is truly impressive, and far better than any other jet-powered yacht I’ve tested.Before we get into the performance aspect, it’s important to know something about Legacy, how they build their boats, and how they can command the price they do. Legacy is a semi-custom builder that works closely with each owner to meet individual needs and requests. In fact, Petronello says that about 90 percent of Legacy owners visit the factory during the boat’s construction, and some of them practically camp out there. So one big difference between his product and the mass-produced boats is in the amount of hand labor that goes into every hull.Like many fiberglass boats, the Legacy 34 begins with a hand-layup of fiberglass cloth and vinylester resins. The decks and hullsides are cored with hand-laid, end-grain Baltek balsa coring which provides stiffness and lightweight, and the coring is embedded—top and bottom—in a layer of multibond putty to prevent seepage in the event of a hull penetration. That, in turn, is covered with two more layers of 1808 directional-weave fiberglass mat to create a fully cored fiberglass sandwich. The 34 also features FRP-encapsulated foam stringers to absorb vibration and provide stiffness, and the powerplants—in this case a pair of 330-hp Cummins diesels—are through-bolted directly atop the stringers by way of shock-absorbing engine mounts. And perhaps best of all, on our test boat the ZF transmissions were connected in a straight line to the Ultrajets with steel jackshafts. These have their own vibration-dampening couplings at the transmission end, which serves to cut drive-train vibration down to the bare minimum. Right about here in the construction process, we’re at the point where many builders stop manufacturing and start bringing in all the other components from outside suppliers. But not Legacy. The company bends and welds its own stainless steel rails. It custom-makes its own cabinetry, and furniture components are fiberglassed to the hull to prevent squeaking. Teak doors are varnished and hand-rubbed, and the company even hand-lays its own teak decking and builds its own teak swim platforms. Thus you can see why Petronello likes to say you’re not just buying a boat, you’re buying him and the expertise of his team of old-world craftsmen when you buy a Legacy.Out on the water, their handiwork showed. Our test boat featured the optional teak decking on the cockpit and bridgedeck soles, and the work was impeccable. Although it adds weight to the hatches (and the engine-room hatch on the bridgedeck could definitely use some extra push from the gas-assist struts), the teak decks provide the shippy feel you’d expect in a Downeast design such as this. The boat features mahogany caprails around its entire perimeter, and I was particularly impressed with the 16-inch wide sidedecks and toerail leading from the cockpit up to the uncluttered bow.The cockpit itself has a centerline transom door for easy access to the swim platform, and Legacy installed a Plexiglas panel just beneath the platform to keep the jet spray from flying upwards. An aft facing benchseat is standard here, but our test boat featured two more fold-down benchseats as an option.Its two-steps up to the bridgedeck which features an L-shaped lounge for four just abaft two pedestal chairs—one for the co-pilot to port, the other for the helmsman to starboard. The entire area is really protected by a stainless-steel framed windshield that is more than 6 feet above deck level, and by itself it’s worth more than my car at $8,500. The center panel of the windshield opens forward for ventilation thanks to an electrically actuated arm, and all three panels are kept clear by large windshield wipers.The helm console tilts back for easy access to the wiring, and it’s a simple matter to install your choice of cruising electronics. Meanwhile the mahogany wheel adds a touch of class, and it’s an easy reach to the Kobelt controls. But remember, on this boat when you put the controls in forward, what you’re really doing is flipping up a bucket at the end of each jet nozzle so the waterjet stream flows fully aft. In “neutral” the bucket is halfway down, and though forward motion is neutralized the boat still creates an impressive bubble bath around itself even when tied to the dock. In “reverse” the bucket lowers completely over the nozzle so water flow is directed forward and the boat backs. But as far as operating the actual transmissions goes, unless you’ve picked up some weeds and need to flush out the jetdrives, there’s never any reason to operate them in reverse since all motion is controlled by the angle of the waterjet buckets and—if needed—the 6-HP Vetus bow thruster on windy days.Belowdecks the proper-yacht theme continues, with a simple yet classic interior. There’s an L-shaped lounge to starboard across from a small galley to port, and the dinette table can be moved up to the bridgedeck for al fresco dining. The lounge converts to a double berth, and fully forward in front of a cherry bi-fold door, the owner’s stateroom features a centerline double berth with spacious “aircraft-style” lockers overhead, along with a small cedar-lined hanging locker. Meanwhile the wet head—located just inside the companionway door—has a generous 6’1’’ of headroom and big stowage lockers, complementing a layout that adds up to fine cruising accommodations for four adults.When the time finally comes to take a cruise, sit your passengers down and hang on. Thanks to her lifting strakes and wide chine flats, the 34 gets onto plane at about 13 knots, at which point the turbos kick in and she takes off. Steering is light to the touch and needs to be used sparingly at the top end, as during our speed runs the bow showed it can be slightly buffeted off-course by strong crosswinds. Heading into the wind, however, she tracks straight and true with excellent lateral stability, and she also showed turn-on-a-dime performance during cornering and high-speed 180-degree maneuvers.So does it make sense to add jets to a conventional powerboat? Well, in the case of Legacy’s 34 the answer is a definitive yes. But don’t call up Paul Petronello and ask him that—not unless you want to be on the phone for a very long time.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Legacy 34 Jetdrive is 34.8 mph (56 kph), burning 37.0 gallons per hour (gph) or 140.05 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Legacy 34 Jetdrive is 26.2 mph (42.2 kph), and the boat gets 1.07 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.45 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 241 miles (387.85 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 330-hp Cummins 6BTA 5.9-M2 diesel inboard.
Standard and Optional Features
Full Warranty Information on this brand coming soon!