Douglas 32′ Skater: Performance Test

Douglas 32 Skater delivers some astounding performance numbers.

4th December 2001.
By Staff

Top speed for the 32' Skater was a blistering 121.4 mph.

Top speed for the 32' Skater was a blistering 121.4 mph.

To think this is a pleasure boat — where all it takes to own one is a burgeoning bank account and a fathomless appetite for speed — the axiom, “You get what you pay for,” has never been more true. And with the new 32 Skater, you pay a lot — and get a lot.

Douglas marine delivered the 32′-long craft to our Captiva Island, Fla., tests with a long list of custom features. For just the boat, buyers can expect to pay $127,789. As tested, our 32-footer rang up at $443,735, which included the Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines and the swept-skeg 1.35:1 No. 6 drives that came with it.

Performance

In the middle of a 90-mph turn while performance-testing the 32 Skater, Bob Teague — our lead tester — chimed in over the intercom system and said rather offhandedly, “Fun boat.”

Behold the understatement of the year.

From its $30k paint job to its 121.4-mph top speed, there was nothing understated about the 32 Skater.

A pair of 550-horsepower Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines delivered serious kick for the 32' catamaran.

A pair of 550-horsepower Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines delivered serious kick for the 32' catamaran.

The boat had five steps in each sponson, the first of which measured about three-eighths of an inch high. Three feet aft of that, the next step measured about 1-inch high, followed by a half-inch step 3 feet behind it. Three feet farther aft, Douglas built in another 1-inch step followed by yet another half-inch step, which was located about 4 feet forward of the transom. The larger steps interrupted the lifting strake, which began at the bow about eight inches from the inside of the sponson. As the strake ran through each of the two “major” steps, it shifted toward the outside of the sponson by one strake width, and by the time it got to the stern of the boat, the strake was closer to the chine.

The chine measured about 3 inches wide and was flat. Between the sponsons, Douglas Marine made the tunnel about 20 inches deep and fitted lifting runners about 2 inches wide on the inside vertical surface. Further, water flowing through the tunnel catches a little bit of the inside swing of the inward-rotating Mercury 17 1/4″ x 35″ lab-finished cleaver props.

With that setup, the 32 hit a top speed of 121.4 mph. On the way to the top speed, the boat didn’t really get going until about 77 mph, which took 20 seconds. Prop aerators would have helped the boat’s acceleration by allowing the engines to break the props loose a bit. On the other hand, the 32 Skater was capable of cruising at 100 mph, no sweat. At those speeds, the Skater remained composed and didn’t even feel as though we had asked much of it. Behind the windscreens, testers could talk on the intercom as calmly as someone riding down the interstate in a Lincoln Town Car. What was more impressive was that testers were traveling over 2- to 3-foot seas that day, and it was no big deal. It tracked superbly and actually leaned in during turns. Only when we slowed down to about 35 mph, did it lean toward the outside of the turn, but in all cases, the 32 Skater exuded and inspired confidence.

Worksmanship

Douglas laid up the 32 by hand using a composite laminate of S-glass, balsa coring and epoxy resins. It also vacuum-bagged the assemblies for added strength and decreased weight. Douglas then treated the boat to a $30,000 paint job that only a photograph could do justice.

The deck and transom were fitted with flush-mount stainless-steel lifting eyes, and there also was a flushing fitting mounted on the transom so that the engines could be flushed without having to climb aboard or hooking up to the underwater pickups.

Under the engine hatches— which were hinged at the sides and lifted with electric screw jacks— the installation and rigging were pure artwork. For example, engines were bolted to custom Skater mounts, a rail system attached to the inside stringer and the stringer at the center of the sponson. Water came through two pickups on the bottom of the hull up to a seacock, then through Teague Custom Marine sea strainers. All lines, hoses and wiring entered the engine bay through PVC tubes glassed into the hullsides and featured race-style rigging and stainless-steel cushion clamps. Flawless stuff.

Behind the 575s, the 72 series Velvet Drive transmissions were covered with scatter shields and hooked to heavy-duty jack shafts that led to the No. 6 drives. Underneath it all lay gleaming white epoxy coating.

Interior

In addition to its twin high-back bucket seats, the 32' Skater's cockpit boasted a three-person bolster/bucket-style bench seat.

In addition to its twin high-back bucket seats, the 32' Skater's cockpit boasted a three-person bolster/bucket-style bench seat.

Beneath the rear three-passenger bench seat lay access to the top of the integral fiberglass fuel tanks and its sending units. There also was access to battery cables and switches, hydraulic steering hoses and other wiring harnesses. And with 9’4″ of beam, the 32 Skater had stowage behind the coaming panels, which actually held things in place at 100 mph.

High-back bucket seats provided excellent support for the driver and copilot.

High-back bucket seats provided excellent support for the driver and copilot.

On the dash, Auto Meter supplied the carbon-fiber-face gauges. There also were carbon fiber panels on the console and dash. Gauges came set in powder-painted blue bezels that matched the blue billet steering-column adapter and the Momo wheel. A Bluewater Performance mechanical trim indicator lay at the center of the dash.

On the console, Latham Marine teardrop-style throttle and gear-selector levers also came in a matching blue. Other prominent dash hardware included Mercury Racing safety lanyards, a Compcom intercom system, a Garmin 128 GPS and an Icom VHF radio.

Overall

You’d be hard-pressed to find a boat with performance numbers to match the Douglas 32 Skater — at nearly any price. Sure, it rocketed to 121.4 mph — and it was only mildly powered — but more than that, it felt safe and planted to the water, never breathing hard or giving any indication that it wasn’t up to the task.

Hull and Propulsion Information

Deadrise at transom 20 degrees
Centerline 32′
Beam 9’4″
Hull weight 7,825 pounds
Engine Mercury Racing HP575SCi
Cylinder type V-8
Cubic-inch displacement/horsepower 502/550
Lower-unit gear ratio 1.35:1
Propeller Mercury lab-finished 17 1/4″ X 35″ cleaver

Pricing Information

Base retail $127,789
Price as tested $443,735

Options on Test Boat

Upgrade to Mercury Racing HP575SCi engines and No. 6 drives and transom package ($176,078), Custom graphics ($30,000), twin-inboard rigging charge, ($21,209), Skater trailer ($14,006), No. 6 drive steering ($13,082), tailpipes and mufflers ($10,800), propellers ($7,928), medium duty trim tabs ($5,325), intercom ($3,941), Auto Meter gauge package ($2,698), ignition-switch panels ($2,302), inboard scattershields ($2,158), lift rings and straps ($2,214), tonneau cover ($1,935), trim indicator ($1,878), fuel system plumbing ($1,813), header upgrade ($1,500), carbon-fiber dash and console package ($1,480), powder-coated bezels ($1,215), Icon VHF radio ($1,186), Mayfair fuel filters ($1,156), automatic fire extinguisher ($1,122), drive lines ($1,102) toggle switches with override ($1,060), sea strainers ($972), manual fire extinguisher ($704), Gaffrig electronic compass ($680), heavy-duty bilge pumps ($566), Garmin GPS 128 ($564), group 1000 battery boxes ($522).

Acceleration

5 seconds 30 mph
10 seconds 45 mph
15 seconds 60 mph
20 seconds 77 mph

Midrange Acceleration

30-50 mph 5.9 seconds
40-60 mph 6.6 seconds
40-70 mph 11.3 seconds

Rpm vs. Mph

1000 10 mph
1500 31 mph
2000 44 mph
2500 64 mph
3000 78 mph
3500 83 mph
4000 95 mph
4500 107 mph
5000 113 mph

Top Speed

Speedometer NA
Radar 121.4 mph at 5200 rpm
Nordskog Performance Products GPS 121 mph

Planing

Time to plane 4.63 seconds
Minimum planing speed 14 mph

Fuel Economy

At 55 mph 1.2 mpg
At 65 mph 1.2 mpg
Fuel capacity 230 gallons

Manufacturer

Douglas Marine
P.O. Box 819
Douglas, MI 49406
(616) 857-4308
www.skaterpowerboats.com.


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