Tiara 3100 Open — A Crown Jewel

Tiara's 3100 Open is sought after for its high quality and practicality.

23rd September 2003.
By Matt Gurnsey

It's no surprise that the Tiara 3100 keeps popping up on Sea magazine's list of most desirable brokerage boats.

It’s no surprise that the Tiara 3100 keeps popping up on Sea magazine’s list of most desirable brokerage boats.

The best way to find out about the inner workings of a boat is usually upside down, contorted like a soft pretzel. Upon crawling back out of the hole into which even Alice’s rabbit would avoid will probably find you covered with pretzel-salt like debris.

So, when I offered to crawl into the guts of my friend Dave’s Tiara, it was because as the (slightly) younger man, I might more easily survive the contortions.

It seems that the rear compartment hatch on Dave’s 35 Express was refusing to rise when asked, and the motor was tucked outboard of the storage compartment. So, with the pull of two pins, the lid came up. After clearing the trunk of dock lines, fenders and cleaning supplies (lots of cleaning supplies, as Dave is fanatical about his boat’s cleanliness) I crawled into the compartment.

I twisted around through an access hatch and ended on my back, looking into the inside of the Tiara’s hull, in an area where no one had any right being. This is the area where many builders wouldn’t worry about the finish, as no one is ever likely to see this part of the boat.

Tiaras are different. On this boat, the entire area was nicely finished, gelcoated in white and without any sign of construction debris or dust. It was almost operating-room clean — and then I understood why Dave bought his Tiara.

I was able to lie in relative comfort, set my flashlight down and trace out the wiring harness, as Dave called out what color wire I should see. In his hand was a huge three-ring binder — containing not only owner’s manual information, but also a complete wiring schematic for the boat.

In my compartment, the wires were neatly bundled, wrapped and supported at regular intervals: a surveyor’s dream. However, I traced the wiring back and discovered one wire that didn’t appear on the schematic. Uh oh.

A quick phone call to Tiara, and Dave received an apology for the erroneous page — and the revised page was soon on its way. With a little help from the technical support team at Tiara, we traced down the problem and had Dave’s boat back in business in no time.

So, it comes as no surprise to me that the Tiara 3100 keeps popping up on Sea’s list of most desirable brokerage boats. These are well-constructed boats, with loads of craftsmanship throughout. And as much as that word may be overused, it truly applies to the Tiara line.

A Solid Heritage

Company founder Leon Slikkers cut his teeth in the Chris-Craft plant in Holland, Michigan. Working in the joinery shop, Slikkers crafted cabinetry for Chris-Craft in the company’s heyday during the 1950s.

A few years later, Slikkers would form Slickcraft — a company building wooden, and later, fiberglass runabouts. He would gain the attention of AMF Corp. in 1969 — along with a large pile of the corporation’s money for selling Slickcraft to AMF.

Not content to sit around and be “retired,” Slikkers started S2 Yachts and began building sailboats. The Tiara line came later, along with Pursuit. After AMF started running out of steam in the boat business, Slikkers reacquired Slickcraft, adding it to the S2 fold.

While the Tiara line was originally more of a sportboat, it wasn’t long before Tiaras became multipurpose boats — capable of daycruising, overnight cruising and fishing.

Introduced in 1979, and selling over 800 units in its first 10 years, the 3100 Open struck the right balance. Fast enough to be sporty, the 3100′s modified-V hull (called a Paraplane by Tiara) provided a good ride, if a little wet.

Starting with a deep-V shape forward, the hull flattens out aft until it has only 14 degrees of deadrise at the transom. This flatter aft section, coupled with downturned chines, provides good stability and lift. Trim tabs are not needed to get this boat on plane: It rises quickly and smoothly. With twin big-block powerplants, it cruises nicely at 22 knots — with fuel economy of about 1 mile per gallon.

If this “craftsmanship coupled with performance” weren’t enough, the 3100 offered a roomy cabin with a decent-size head and galley, as well as a private stateroom forward. With cabin space bigger than many other boats this size, the Tiara 3100 makes a good cruiser for a couple, and it will sleep four if you convert the large U-shaped dinette.

If this were all there were to the story, the original Tiara 3100 would still have its place in the hearts of many boaters as a solid design, crafted with pride and still be a sought-after commodity.

A Whole New Boat

In 1992, Tiara introduced a brand-new 3100 Open design. After a dozen years of production, it was time to address some of the shortcomings of the original design. So, with fresh sheets of paper before them, the design team at S2 developed the all-new 3100.

Not surprisingly, it looked almost identical to the 3100 of old (which would continue almost unchanged for four more years as the Pursuit 3100 Express Fisherman). The solid, conservative styling of the old 3100 was retained, with only minor changes.

The same broad 12-foot beam was kept, and only 3 inches was added to the hull’s length. The biggest change came below the waterline. Gone was the modified-V Paraplane hull shape. It was replaced with a deep-V hull with 18 degrees of deadrise at the transom.

A broader hull forward with additional flare added to the drier ride — and with an additional 2,000 pounds of weight, this new boat cut through green water even more decisively than its predecessor.

The redesign was all about increases. Not only was the boat built to be heavier and slightly longer, but fuel capacity was increased by 50 gallons, to 246 gallons.

A new bi-level cockpit was added, raising the helm to make more room for the engines. Where 8.2-liter Detroit Diesels were the only options on the old 3100, the new boat had the room for numerous options from Volvo Penta, Caterpillar and Cummins.

More efficient diesel engines cruised faster and farther than the big-block gasoline engines of the old model. One of the few decreases in the new model was the shaft angle, thanks to small prop pockets.

Belowdecks, there was increased headroom in the cabin, and a feeling of increased size as a privacy curtain replaced the bulkhead separating the forward berth. Most couples find this an acceptable trade-off for more useable interior space.

The large head gives enough room to shower, and the forward galley allows preparation of more than just the basics. The large dinette is even larger, and the forward berth is a little higher for added room.

There was less teak in the new interior, although all joinerwork shows the Leon Slikkers heritage. Drawers feature dovetail construction, and there are no shortcuts in the building process.

If there is a downside to the Tiara 3100, it is that the quality of materials and construction comes at a price. These are not inexpensive boats. However, for boat owners who are looking for lasting value in their next boat, the Tiara 3100 warrants closer inspection.

The only problem may be finding a broker with one that’s available, as these boats remain in demand, and are highly sought after. There must be a lot of buyers out there who know a good boat when they see it.

Tiara 3100 Open Specifications

Length 33’10″ (with pulpit)
Beam 12′
Draft 2’9″
Weight 12,300 pounds
Fuel capacity 196 gallons (older version) and 246 gallons (newer version)
Water capacity 36 or 38 gallons
Standard power 300-hp twin 454 c.i.d. gasoline inboards
Typical used-boat prices range $35,000 to $225,000

Years of production

Original 3100 Open 1979-1991
Updated 3100 Open 1992-present

For More Information

Tiara Yachts
725 E. 40th St.
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 392-7163
www.tiarayachts.com


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