Carver Mariner 36 Review

ssue: September 2005

A cross between a flybridge and traditional cruiser, the Carver Mariner 36 has a lot to offer Australian sea-faring families.

The test vessel belonged to Mark Skipper (with a last name like that you would have to own a boat!) who bought the craft from Pathfinder marine after his wife saw the family-friendly vessel. With a clan of eight, family appeal and sleeping capacity were high on the list of needs, says Mark.

We’ve managed to fit two into the forward berth, two on the settee, two on the slide out in the lounge and then another two on the floor of the flybridge, with camper covers fitted, Mark laughs, adding ‘the kids love staying on this boat’! The Carver Mariner 36 breaks with convention many times. Firstly, it has a single flybridge helm area that offers direct access to the bow. The second twist is that the Carver 36 has no forward facing windows in the saloon, something that is common place in yachts but not in cruisers. Thirdly, in a world where diesels are oft en found in the engine rooms of craft of this style and size, the tested Carver 36 was powered by twin Volvo shaft drive petrol engines, although diesel engines are an option.


So why have Carver done this’ Well, because they can. With more than 18 vessels in its range from 65 to 33 feet and decades of boat building history, Carver has literally carved out a niche in the US marine market. In the homogenous world of flybridge cruisers, this Carver 36 certainly stands out.

Mums will love the security that the Carver’s deck areas offer for kids ‘ on the test day young Alex Skipper ran all around the boat, all the time looking safe and secure. The enclosed lower aft cockpit has two sets of wide stairs up to the bridge area where there are very wide walkways to the bow. Very high bulwarks that flow onto waist-high bow rails protect these walkways, so the littlies are going to have to get up to some genuine mischief to end up in the drink.

The seating on the bridge caters for 11 and there’s room for three more on the bow ‘love seat’. This flybridge area is serviced by a bar fridge, lots of drink holders and plenty of stowage including a glove box close to the helm. The area has great visibility and can be enclosed via a bimini or full camper covers.

The lower aft cockpit works as an atrium leading up to the bridge or down to the saloon. The dealers opted to add a stainless rail at the back of the swim platform ‘ essentially extending the aft open areas beyond the cockpit right to the back of the swim platform. This is a good idea but makes stowing a tender a little tricky. Most flybridge cruisers have level access from the cockpit to the saloon. The Carver Mariner 36 is different as there are several steps down into the saloon, a concept closer to that of a sports cruiser. The benefit of this layout is that the vessel’s centre of gravity and windage is lower and the saloon is the full width of the vessel as the walkways are overhead. The main trade-off is that views from the saloon are reduced and there is single aft access to the saloon. Keep in mind that this hybrid two level Carver 36 has a sister that is a Sedan Bridge 36 if you prefer the traditional flybridge layout.

The Carver Mariner 36’s saloon layout is open, with a large settee portside of the stairs and a raised eating area on the starboard side. Next there is a large, starboard side galley. This is adjacent to the dual access bathroom, which services the saloon and the forward stateroom. The bathroom has a VacuFlush head and a separate shower room with sit down or stand up options.

The cherrywood and Ultra Leather stateroom has an island double bed with good stowage under and around. It enjoys natural light from the deck hatch. The airconditioned saloon has a large screen LCD and DVD, a designer d’cor package and fully equipped galley with good stowage and an ample fridge/freezer. All the electrics are supported by a generator and protected by circuit breakers.

Helm Station

The vessel’s helm is equipped with an array of instruments covering engine revs, oil, temp, hours and a GPS chartplotter/ speedo. Powered by twin Volvo 320hp petrol engines, the Carver 36 produces a top speed of 23.5 knots and a cruise around 18 knots. She didn’t struggle to get onto the plane, in fact it was difficult to tell exactly when the craft got out of the hole, but it was somewhere around 17 knots. The position of the helm, low engine noise and the light steering produces a feeling of control ‘ as if it were a slightly smaller vessel. The comfort and security of bow thrusters is a bonus and the craft ‘s comparatively low windage means handling at low speed in a breeze is good.


Overall, the Carver 36 will not be everyone’s cup of tea ‘ you will either love it or hate it ‘ it’s that kind of boat. This American vessel tests the boundaries of modern Cruiser design. It has features to maximise the enjoyment of family cruising. The layout manages to keep the vessel’s centre of gravity low, so the vessel’s handling doesn’t reflect her length overall. For $395,000 as tested, she is very well priced for a 36 footer.

The Carver Story

In 1954 in a Milwaukee garage, Charlie Carter and George Verhagen began building mahogany-planked, high-speed runabouts. What started as a hobby soon turned into a business as word quickly spread, and the two fledgling boat builders began selling boats to friends.

In 1956, the two entrepreneurs moved their growing business to Pulaski, Wisconsin. They built mahogany boats throughout the 1960s, adding cabin cruisers to an expanding lineup.

In the 1970s, the switch was made to fiberglass hulls. By the 1980s, Carver had expanded sales beyond the Great Lakes region to truly become a recognised leader in the luxury motoryacht market.

In 1991, the giant American Genmar Holdings acquired Carver. The 1990s also witnessed the introduction of the elegant frameless window system.

By the late 1990s, no Carver Yachts had any structural wood below the waterline, so with the addition of fiberglass stringers came a seven year limited warranty on hull and deck. In 2003, the company acquired manufacturing facilities in Fano, Italy, to build its new line of Nuvari Yachts, partnering with the respected naval architecture firm Nuvolari-Lenard.

Engine Room

Two Volvo 320hp shaftdrive petrol engines powered the Carver 36. Access to the engine room was a bit tight, from the saloon under the entrance steps. For major work, access can be made from the cockpit.


The following performance figures were attained in mixed conditions off Sydney Harbour’s Middle Head.

Speed to RPM: 3 knots @ 700 rpm, 4 knots @ 1000 rpm, 6.8 knots @ 1500 rpm, 12 knots @ 3200 rpm, 18 knots @ 3800 rpm, 20 knots @ 4000 rpm, 23.5 knots @ 4500 rpm.


LOA: 11.15m
BEAM: 3.89m
DRAFT: 0.94m
FUEL: 946lt
ENGINES: Twin Volvo, GXI 320hp
SLEEPS: Six plus
PRICE: 395,000

+ Low engine noise
Sleeping capacity
– Nothing to report