Denali is the Inuit name for the highest peak in North America. Also known as Mount McKinley, it is the centerpiece of Alaska's Denali National Forest and Preserve. This is a place of rugged majesty that exemplifies the great outdoors.
The Pursuit Denali was conceived in this spirit, as a "sport utility vehicle" for the water. Since the first Denali was introduced, the appeal of this style of boat has paralleled that of its wheeled counterpart.
The Pursuit 2865 is a redesign of the original 28-foot Denali. It has the versatility to navigate both inland and offshore waters with aplomb, while serving as a platform for cruising, fishing, diving or skiing with equal ease. What's been improved is the amount of seating and storage space, along with a number of features and creature comforts to make the outdoor experience even more enjoyable.
First off, the changes are all above the waterline. The Pursuit people didn't touch the hull: It's still the same 21-degree deep-V that slices through swirling seas with straight-as-an-arrow tracking.
The new Denali boasts cockpit seating for more than 10 people, depending on their size. A pair of aft-facing jump seats amidships allows for a 15-gallon livewell under the single seat to starboard and a 30-gallon cooler under the double on the port side. Both are well insulated with sprayed-on foam from beneath.
The engine box at the transom has been reconfigured for a much more comfortable bench seat than before.
The focal point of the forward cockpit is an L-shaped lounge that is served by an optional removable table. Under the seat, you'll find a storage compartment long enough to handle water skis and deep enough to stand up dive tanks.
Opposite it is an electrically adjustable helm seat — a standard feature. There's a freshwater sink with a stainless steel bowl directly behind it. Beneath, a pair of doors opens to reveal storage for six plastic tackle boxes, as well as two drawers.
An innovative addition to the helm is a panel of electrical switches. They're mounted in a completely sealed case, impervious to moisture and corrosion. They send low voltage to a junction box, located beneath the cockpit sole, for controlling accessories.
Another high-tech helm feature on our test boat was a set of Volvo Penta electronic engine controls. Instead of conventional analog gauges, an LCD display can be configured to show you what you want to know about what's going on in the powerplant. An electronic throttle rounded out the "fly-by-wire" configuration.
There's a blank panel above the wheel that's large enough to hold a pair of 7-inch electronic displays side by side, with room left over.
Getting around the deck of the 2865 Denali doesn't require the agility of a mountain goat. Side walkways to the foredeck are comfortably wide and well grooved with nonskid surfaces. Of course, the security of a substantial grabrail, attached to the hefty welded aluminum windshield frame, helps, too.
A transom door opens to the wide integrated swim platform. A pair of steps are molded into the deck near the jump seats. They make side boarding via the extra-wide gunwales an easy stride instead of an overextended reach.
I thought the best new idea on the 2865 Denali was the way the cockpit is ventilated. If you've ever baked on a hot, sunny day under a Bimini top with no air flowing through, you'll appreciate this.
Both sides of the 2865's windshield are hinged along the top of the frame and open to a completely horizontal position. Even at idle speed, you'll get considerable air movement through the boat.
When running at higher speeds, you can adjust the breeze to your liking by moving the windshield panel — but there's another choice. A clear plastic panel between the top of the windshield frame and the optional Bimini is removable, for increased airflow.
The 2865 Denali's cabin is cozy but elegant. The teak and maple sole, along with a high-gloss tabletop, is accented by attractive upholstery fabrics. The tabletop drops to convert the seating area to a double berth, with the addition of a filler cushion.
A Corian countertop is the focal point of the galley, which houses a stainless steel sink and a dual-voltage refrigerator — both standard features. There's also space for an optional microwave oven.
Pressurized water comes with the boat. You can opt for a hot water tank, if you like. An enclosed fiberglass-lined head compartment includes a china toilet.
A hidden surprise awaits behind the flip-up cabin step. There's an access door to the space under the cockpit floor. Here's where the pumps, batteries, electrical junction boxes and such are concealed.
It's also a place to put things you need to have on board but don't need to use very often — a spare propeller, for example. Amazingly, there's headroom enough to sit up and work comfortably in the lighted space.
My only disappointment about testing the 2865 Denali was that it happened on a picture-perfect blue-sky drop-dead-gorgeous calm day. I really wanted to take this boat out into some slop and come back with the marine equivalent of getting it mud spattered. As it was, we did manage to cross a few good-size wakes to get a feel for how the boat handled adversity.
I liked the responsiveness of the electronic throttle control. Having tested boats with this before, I was prepared for a bit of "spookiness," but this one felt good.
Pursuit offers two power choices from Volvo Penta for the 2865 Denali; both coupled with a Duoprop stern drive. One is a 375 hp 8.1L freshwater-cooled gasoline block. Our test boat was equipped with the optional 285 hp KAD300 turbocharged diesel.
I'm certain the gasoline engine would make this hull a good performer, but the diesel was definitely no slouch. Off the line, it did 0 to 25 mph in just under 10 seconds, coming to plane in around 6 seconds. The top-end speed averaged just over 37 mph, on multiple runs.
With this kind of performance, responsiveness and accommodating convenience, Pursuit's 2865 Denali offers sports-car-style excitement along with its SUV-style practicality.
Pursuit 2865 Denali Specifications
|Draft (drive down||3'|
|Fuel capacity||148 gallons|
|Water capacity||30 gallons|
|Base price with 375-hp Volvo Penta 8.1L engines and Duoprop drives||$100,025|
|Price as tested with 285-hp Volvo Penta KAD300 diesel engines and Duoprop drives||$120,460|
|Top speed||37.2 mph|
|Miles per gallon at 3,000 rpm||2.65|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 miles||$69.44|
|Range at 25-mph cruising speed||92 miles to empty|
|Sound level at 25-mph cruising speed||84 dbA|
(Estimated fuel cost based on fuel price of $1.84 per gallon.)
Welded aluminum windshield w/handrails; teak and maple cabin sole; bow pulpit with anchor roller; self-draining rode and anchor locker; Bomar aluminum deck hatch with screen; one-piece welded #316 stainless steel bowrail; stainless steel rod holders; recessed Bennett trim tabs; freshwater sink behind helm seat; 110v dockside power; built-in tackle locker; swim platform; galley w/sink, Corian countertop; microwave oven; DC refrigerator; electrically operated helm seat; dual battery system; Lowrance digital depth sounder; Clarion AM/FM stereo w/CD player and four speakers; Custom Pursuit tilt-away fiberglass helm console; instrumentation; Ritchie Helmsman compass.
Options on Test Boat
Bimini top w/electronics arch and side enclosures; microwave oven; windlass; removable cockpit table; Clarion CD changer.
Fiberglass hull with 21-degree transom deadrise.
For More Information
Pursuit Fishing Boats