The Scarab 38AVS delivers an exhilarating and comfortable ride.

The Scarab 38AVS delivers an exhilarating and comfortable ride.

Offshore boat lovers with time and money to burn spare no expense on their toys. That's a fact. It's also a necessity, because truly great offshore performance boats don't come cheap. Never have, never will.
Take the amazing Wellcraft Scarab 38AVS, which I had the pleasure of testing a few weeks back. This 80-mph rocketship came with a pair of Volvo Penta 600 DPX engines and a $253,260 sticker. Even with milder motors and no frills, the 37'10"-long, 8'9"-wide beauty rings in at $196,600.

Without question, those prices put the boat just slightly out of reach for a lunchpail-toting, timeclock-punching member of the great proletariat class (like me). But what a wonderful fantasy-turned-reality it was to jump behind the wheel for a test spin. A few minutes with the throttles pushed forward was all it took for me to forget my initial sticker shock and begin pondering the virtues of high-risk, high-yield investment strategies.

The 38AVS is the middle child between the Scarab 33 and 43. In many ways, it is the best boat in the line. It is as nimble as the 33, yet feels as solid in rough water and spacious in cabin area as the 43.4.

Speed, of course, is the big attraction and that's exactly what the 38AVS delivered during my tests. Top speed was 82 mph with the engines turning 5,200 rpm, and the boat cruised at an efficient 41 mph at 3,200 rpm. The 10,200-pounder had no trouble crushing chop and knifing through the rough stuff, which is a real plus in offshore waters.

AVS stands for "aft vented steps," and two-step running surface proved efficient, without compromising stability or handling. With the twin 560-horsepower Volvo engines providing the juice, the 38-footer was downright quick. It hopped on plane in 3.4 seconds and shot to 60 mph in less than 13 seconds.

Among the construction highlights of the 38AVS is its stringer system, which is fully encapsulated in fiberglass. Strakes are reinforced with fiberglass micro-balloons for added brawn. The designers also came up with they called a "stress distribution pad," a reinforcement device designed to better distribute the shock encountered in rough water.

A vibrant graphics package made the boat look fast while tied up at the dock. If the standard color packages aren't snazzy enough for you, Wellcraft offers some wild exterior paint options that run from $1,000 to $4,000.

Chances are, given the rumble the 38AVS makes when you turn the key, it won't land you an invitation at the next Walden Woods benefit. At idle, the boat delivers a marina-rocking 88 to 90 decibels. At wide-open throttle, the reading jumped to a thundering 105 dba. To be fair, boats of this kind aren't designed to make operators stealthy or inconspicuous.

Twin bolsters for the driver and copilot are standard. The rear bench seat is molded into three individual bucket seats. Available for the forward section of the cockpit, an optional three-person bolster will set you back $4,070.

The cabin of the 38AVS is slightly larger than that of the 33AVS. It has two double berths, each of which could handle two people. Highlights of the cabin include a galley with a refrigerator and a sink, as well as an enclosed head compartment.

For sun lovers, there's a two-person sun pad on the power engine hatch. With the hatch raised, I got a good look at the immaculately installed powerplants. I did, however, have to squint, thanks to the sparkle from all the diamond plate on the compartment's sole.

While you could spend to your heart's content loading the 38AVS with extras, there are two options I highly recommend. The first is the aluminum swim platform ($2,380) mounted on the transom, which is a great convenience for reboarding or simply drying off after a refreshing dip. The second is extra 50-gallon fuel capacity ($965), which enables the boat to carry 194 gallons of fuel.

Chances are, you'll need every drop of that, especially once you discover the delight of running the Scarab 38AVS at full speed. That's kind of the point, and the real pleasure of this offshore performer, isn't it?

Boat Specifications
Weight10,200 pounds
Base powerTwin MerCruiser 454 Magnum MPI engines
Test powerTwin Volvo Penta 600 DPX engines
Standard fuel capacity194 gallons
Top speed81.8 mph
Time to plane3.4 seconds
Zero to 60 mph12.9 seconds
Base price$190,600
Price as tested$253,260

For more information:

Wellcraft Marine
1651 Whitfield Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34243
phone: (941) 753-7811