Mariner 3400 Review

Issue: October 2000 

The 1985 Sydney Boat Show saw the Mariner 34 replaced by a fresh new model called the 3400, and the two siblings should not be confused. The 3400 was superior in all respects – handling, performance, styling, layout, construction and finish. Indeed it might not have been part of the original script but the market reaction and subsequent sales of the 3400 prompted Mariner to revamp their entire range of cruisers in 1986.

The hull used for the plug and base design of the 3400 was the former Savage 34, which was widely respected for being a sound performer at sea. With the beam widened to 3.79m, stability and internal space increased correspondingly. During a test by Modern Boating’s David Toyer, the boat proved to be very comfortable and easily handled in one-metre swells off the Sydney coast. It gave confidence to the helmsman with its predictability, ease of handling and direct response to helm and throttle. “The boat had a firmness about its sea-riding capabilities and a positive feel to its handling and directional stability,” wrote Toyer.

With twin 165hp TAMD40B Volvos as standard power, the Mariner 3400 gave a top speed of 25 knots at 3600rpm and cruised at a good 20 knots to around 3200. The boat showed a quick response to the throttle and got on to the plane without minimum effort. The exhausts fitted neatly through the side of the hull, just forward of the transom under the stepped chine. Apart from muffling the exhaust noise it reduced the chance of fumes being sucked over the stern.

The layout and decor of the 3400 aimed the craft largely at the weekend pleasureboater, though it could be used quite adequately by the sportsfisherman who liked a bit of comfort for the family as well. There were a couple of layout options offered for the interior, but both basically provided the same result and accommodation. Two cabins (one an owner’s stateroom) plus a shower/toilet compartment were below the foredeck. With convertible seating in the saloon, the Mariner 3400 has the capacity to sleep six persons comfortably – including four in the two forward cabins.

The head compartment gained a separate screened shower, which meant there was no need to wash everything else in the bathroom while taking a shower. A midship galley was made open plan to give a more spacious look to the saloon. The saloon is a very bright and spacious area, certainly improved by having an offset companionway. A very roomy dinette is situated to port and there’s an entertainment unit along the starboard side that includes TV, stereo and cocktail cabinet.

These were all built in. Alternatively, an informal interior could be created using loose furnishings. Wrote Toyer: “The saloon and galley areas are impressive sights when first boarding the boat. While there’s still a lot of moulded fibreglass liners used on the interior … sufficient use is made of teak trim, panels, fabric linings and furnishings to create an interior that looks luxurious and doesn’t have that sterile white plastic look about it.”

The provision of a secondary access to the engineroom behind the stairs leading down to the forward cabins, while not new, made access to the engines very simple for routine maintenance. It certainly avoids the need to move furniture and roll back carpets for day-to-day engineroom checks.

The quality of fitout, fittings and standard of the workmanship had improved greatly by the mid-80s and the 3400 appeared to be a nice, neatly-finished pleasure cruiser. The base price with diesels had risen to $130,000 by then – $116,000 for petrols – and the standard package was comprehensive, including radio, screen cover, compass, anchor, chain and mooring kit.

Story by Mark Rothfield