Performance/Design/Helm

The PDQ 34 has twin, semi-displacement hulls with radiused chines and flat sections aft that transition to an axehead shape aft to create a vertical surface for the shaft log to pass through. With 100-hp Yanmar inboard diesels, the boat reaches 18 knots at full power, with an easy cruise speed of 15 knots.

The propellers are fully protected by the hull, so light grounding will just be a nuisance requiring backing off or getting towed into deep water. The running gear should emerge unscathed as it is completely protected by what is essentially a full keel and skeg aft.

Our test ride took place off Floridaís St. Lucie Inlet in 1- to 2-foot chop on top of a 2- to 4-foot swell. The boat effortlessly sliced through the chop. In fact, the most noticeable motion was not pitching as it would have been on a monohull in these seas but rather, the boatís snap-roll and the surge of the boat rising and falling vertically in the swells. The two hulls want to go up and down at slightly different times, too, so that results in some subsidiary hull motions and shudder typical of catamarans. The overall effect was not unpleasant. One could wish for a little easier roll period, but this is the nature of a cat design with its tremendous form stability. Many people will forgive this trait, considering there was no rolling past 10 degrees (compared to the 15- to 25-degree rolls a monohull would have been dishing out in the same seas), with the vessel following the angle of the wave fronts religiously. The hull draws only 2 feet, 4 inches, which is great, but it also means the top of the props arenít far below the surface, and they tend to ventilate in heavy weather though it only happened once or twice in the moderate seas we encountered during the test.

Dick Tuschick, owner of Rhumbline Yacht Sales, PDQís largest dealer and our host for this boat test, noted that customers who get seasick on a monohull appreciate the PDQ because they don't get seasick on a cat.

The waves weren't rough enough on our sea trial, but count on the top of the tunnel bottoming out when the waves are high and close enough together and you're running right into them. Usually you can minimize or eliminate this by changing course so the seas are 20 or 30 degrees off the bow, or by slowing. With full-planing cats (which the PDQ is not), the faster you run, the better, as the hull (including the tunnel roof) rises up, clearing all but the steepest wave peaks.

Any semi-displacement cat likes to go in a straight line more than it likes to turn. It took the PDQ we tested 45 seconds to complete a 360-degree turn, doing 15 knots at 3000 rpm before putting the wheel over. This compares to 25 to 35 seconds for an inboard, 34-foot planing monohull, but then again, a full-keel, Downeast-style hull also would take a full 40 to 60 seconds. You can speed up the turn by almost 10 seconds, however, by stopping whichever engine is on the inside of the turn, which slows the boat a few knots, but it also tightens the turn considerably.

The PDQ 34ís natural coursekeeping is a delight when not trying to turn hard. Even running downsea in those 3- to 4-footers, it took very little rudder input to keep heading for the sea buoy on the way back in. An autopilot should live a long life on this boat.

Another nice thing about this cat is its capability to get home on one engine. With one engine running at an easy 3000 rpm, we made 11-plus knots, and it took less than a half-turn of the wheel toward the running engine to maintain a steady course. The Kobelt mechanical single-lever engine controls were as smooth and enjoyable to use as any we've operated.

The hulls are so far apart that the boat twists very responsively with the engines at idle. In fact, we used no throttle at all when backing into a slip just let the transmissions do the work. The props provided plenty of traction dockside, and ran smoothly at cruise speed (15 knots) offshore.

Testersí overall reaction is that this boat, as any cat does, has its ride-motion quirks from a monohuller's perspective but we would recommend it without hesitation for its stability, low amplitude in roll, natural course-keeping, smooth ride in a chop, and high propulsion efficiency.

The PDQ 34 has upper and lower helm stations. The lower is aft in the saloon, with a two-person seat and the wheel 10 feet aft of the windshield. But with the minimal bow rise and the large windows, visibility forward was quite good. We would like to see narrower windshield mullions. Thereís 10 inches between the windshield sections forward, and thatís more horizon missing from the view than we'd prefer.

The center window opens, which directs a pleasant, high-volume seabreeze right through the saloon. The spray rails kick spray up instead of down (something we think needs to be tweaked), so you'll be limited as to when you can have this window open underway. Noise levels were quite low at the lower helm (about 80 decibels) through the 3000 rpm cruise speed.

Up on the bridge, visibility was excellent, and the bridge wheel and engine controls were positioned just right in terms of height, angle, and distance from the helm seat to operate seated or standing up. The forward-angled windscreen did a surprisingly good job of deflecting wind up and over one testerís bald head, and we never felt a drop of seawater on the bridge.

Construction

The hull starts with an 18-mil layer of Cook CCP gelcoat, followed by a layer of 1-ounce, hand-laid mat (the builder does not own a chopper gun) wet-out in vinylester resin to prevent osmotic blistering. Every hull also gets treated with a four-coat epoxy InterProtect anti-blistering system.

Both hull bottoms are solid fiberglass. Above the waterline, the sides are cored with Ĺ-inch CoreCell structural foam bedded in CoreBond and vacuum bagged to the outer fiberglass skin an excellent method of ensuring integrity in the skin-to-core bond. Inner and outer fiberglass skins are 22-ounce, non-woven triaxial fiberglass reinforcements. The tunnel area, which is subjected to considerable wracking forces, has a double layer of fiberglass in the outer skin and longitudinal stiffeners molded into the outer skin.

The engines are supported by an all-fiberglass grid system. Increasing the mass of the engine beds would be a simple way to reduce the somewhat high engine vibration levels at idle (a vibration reducing option is also available, involving softer engine mounts and a remote thrust bearing).

The hull-to-deck joint is a horizontal flange, bonded with Sikaflex urethane adhesive and bolted every eight inches. A rugged, aluminum rubrail is through-bolted at the hull-to-deck flange, and is designed to be replaced easily in the event of damage to a section. All deck hardware is through-bolted in solid, core-less sections of deck.

The construction methods and materials were selected for their structural integrity and light weight. For example, using CoreBond instead of chop saves as much as 1,000 pounds in the hull laminate, while providing a better bond between the outer skin and the core.

Many of the furniture components are made of honeycomb-cored cherry veneer, which helps the builder keep the weight down. This is important in a cat for two reasons: The pounds-per-inch-immersion (PPI) figure is lower than it is for a monohull, so cats are more sensitive to weight changes. The reason it matters is because the deeper the hull is in the water, the greater the drag, and the more fuel it takes to maintain a given speed. The other, and probably more important, reason is that the tunnel roof gets closer to the waterline, making tunnel impact with waves more frequent and jarring.


Fuel Tank/Engine Room

The two aluminum fuel tanks are located above the tunnel and below the salon deck. These locations puts them well away from the bilges, which on this boat are, in any event, bone dry. The aft 112-gallon tank, which feeds the propulsion engines, is next to the lower helm, and the forward 70-gallon tank, plumbed to the generator, is offset to port below the windshield. The tanks have plenty of room to breathe, which is good and they're not encased in moisture-trapping foam. But the boatís tunnel must be cut to achieve full access for inspection or removal.

Installing inboard engines in a cat is great for the designer, since the hulls are just the right size to hold the engines, and the low shaft angle (2 degrees) makes for an efficient drivetrain. For the person who installs the engines, and who maintains them afterward, the cat inboard becomes more problematic, since those narrow hulls restrict access to the outboard sides of the engines.

On the PDQ 34, the engines are below the stateroom berths. A box opens for access to the forward end of the engine, which is where all the maintenance checks (raw cooling-water strainer, expansion tank, oil dipstick) can be done. Hatches under the mattress also lift off for access to the aft end of the engine, and also to the battery and battery charger. The rudder board at the top of the rudder post looks a little lightweight, in our opinion, but the rudder post is supported at the skeg at the other end, so we suspect it would remain intact in a hard grounding.

Getting to the engines for major maintenance takes some work, and removing an engine would involve a convoluted path up to the saloon and out to the cockpit, but the openings are just large enough for the engine to fit through with the removal of a few engine accessories. All in all, the builder has done a good job given the space constraints. Also to be mentioned is the top-notch wiring job throughout the boat.
  Also with This Article...
 
Fast Facts: PDQ 34 Cat
 
Critic's Corner: PDQ 34 Cat
 
Value Guide: PDQ 34
 
Performance: PDQ 34
For this monthís Powerboat Reports boat review, PBR performed a sea trial and inspection of the PDQ Power Catamaran, a diesel-powered inboard cat with a massive beam of nearly 17 feet. This 34-foot cat gets good fuel mileage, offers a comfortable cabin, and is constructed of quality materials. Itís an excellent choice for cruising coastlines.
When it comes to space, ride, and economy, itís hard to beat a cat. Two thin hulls push through the water with a lot less resistance than one wide one, and they cut through the waves with a lot less thrashing around in certain sea conditions. And when you have a 34-foot cat with a 16-foot, 10-inch beam, like the PDQ 34, you can add space to the mix, with a combination of layout enhancements and limitations.
With its easily propelled, efficient hull form, the PDQ 34 gets about 3 miles per gallon cruising at 18 mph.
PDQ Yachts, which also makes sailing cats, was approached by boaters looking for a power version. Some just wanted one of PDQís sailing cats without the mast. PDQ knew its sailing hull wasn't the right answer, and so went to work designing and researching the
boat that became the PDQ 34. This involved investing in expensive hull design software as well as a regimen of tank
testing.
Note: This article can be seen in its original form in the March 2007 Issue of  Powerboat Reports
Boat Test: PDQ 34 Power Catamaran
Itís hard to beat a power catamaran when it comes to ride quality, economy, and space. And when you have a 34-foot cat with a nearly 17-foot beam, like the PDQ 34, you really have some room to maneuver. PDQ Yachts, which also makes sailing cats, was approached by boaters looking for a power version. Some just wanted one of PDQís sailing cats without the mast. PDQ knew its sailing hull wasnít the right answer, and so went to work designing and researching the boat that became the PDQ 34. This involved investing in expensive hull design software as well as a regimen of tank testing. 
Cockpit/Deck/Foredeck

One of the great advantages of the PDQ 34 is the ease and safety with
which you can get around on deck. The sidedecks are 29 inches wide
about three times that of a typical 34-foot monohull, so two people can
pass at once without bumping into each other. A 30-inch-high, stainless-
steel railing surrounding the deck is high enough to offer a good handgrip
in a seaway. At 1 inch in diameter, the SS rail is on the light side. Weíd
like to see the builder increase this to 1.25 inches and decrease the
stanchion spacing to stiffen up the railing, since it deflects as much as a
couple of inches under moderate load. Our test boat has a beautifully
crafted, stainless-steel davit, which did double duty supporting a large
stern seat. (wide and strong enough for four or five well-fed Americans
to sit comfortably) and the ensign fluttering aft.

On the bridge, there are seats on either side, with storage below (a cooler
fits in a nook to starboard), and a two-person seat is at the helm. The
bridge railing is 30 inches high too low for a bridge (36 to 40 inches is
more appropriate given the accentuated rolling motions higher up), but
itís stiffer than the one on the main deck since the stanchion spacing is
closer. The stairs leading from the cockpit to the bridge are wide and
deep, and the rise and run is such that they are easily ascended while
holding a drink in one hand (not that we'd know) and the railing in the other.

Interior

Entering the saloon from the cockpit, you find a lounge seat with fold-up table immediately to port and the lower helm to starboard. This area is raised above the main saloon, which improves helm-station visibility and creates the headroom needed in the twin staterooms below. Itís down two steps to the U-shaped dinette, which converts to a queen-size berth (80 inches wide, 70 inches long) by lowering the cherry table onto cleats. The berth is large enough for two adults or three or four small kids. Headroom is 80 inches in the forward part of the saloon, and the interior is a full 11 feet wide. This makes for a very large common room, which is what this space amounts to.

Outboard of the saloon is a staircase (3 feet) from tunnel-top level into the hulls. To port is the galley, open to the saloon, with two large countertops opposite each other. The one facing outboard has a deep sink, cabinets, and drawers below and is 4 feet long. The other houses a two-burner propane gas stove and microwave oven. The refrigerator-freezer is forward at chest level, which works very well, and thereís a big storage locker below. In fact, there is storage everywhere inside this boat: under deck hatches and false floors, in passageways, under berths.

The port stateroom aft of the galley, through a door is quite a marvel, with a queen-size berth (80 inches by 60 inches) in this small space over the tunnel. Outboard are two large windows (34 by 22 inches), and aft at the transom is an opening hatch thatís 19 by 14 inches, which is too small. We'd increase the hatch size to at least 24 inches square or larger, so it can serve as an emergency exit. Headroom in the stateroom is 6 feet, 1 inch. Over on the starboard side, the saloon stairs lead down to another stateroom, the mirror image of the other, and a passageway leads forward to the head with its separate, roomy shower, molded sink, opening portlight, and Bemis electric toilet.

Conclusions

Unlike most boat manufacturers, PDQ includes the majority of what would usually be on an optional equipment list in an "all-inclusive price." The PDQ with the twin 100-hp diesels and all of the equipment listed on page 4 retails for $357,500. Our test boat had a few extras, such as Ultra Leather upholstery, an electronics upgrade, a canvas, bimini and custom seats in the flybridge, which brought the price to $362,000.

The PDQ 34 is very economical to operate, maneuverable, carefully and strongly built, and makes intelligent use of available interior space. Itís easy and safe to get around belowdecks and topside, is bright and airy inside, and itís a good sea boat in moderate conditions. Workmanship is top notch, from the stainless steeling railings topside to the inlaid cherry soles and flawless fiberglass tooling below.

Concerning the few complaints we have about the boat, Simon Slater, PDQ president, said he is in general agreement with our observations and plans to address these issues. We like the PDQ 34 a lot but the poor tank access is a concern.


PDQ Yachts,
905/430-2582,
pdqyachts.com

Rhumb Line Yacht Sales,
866/520-7597,
rhumblineyachtsales.com
The fully equipped galley is set up for function
              and offers ample countertop space.
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