Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Arvor Guernsey 34 on the secondhand market…
A quality wheelhouse cruiser, with classic lines, a big, flared bow and a coloured hull, is not something you would expect from a manufacturer of modern mass market GRP sportsfishers.
But, in 2006, Arvor broke tradition by creating a line of US-style lobster boats. Described as a ‘crossover fisher’, the Guernsey 34 is one of two traditional-style models and is truly multinational.
It was built under the patronage of French company, Arvor, which was part of the huge American marine corporation, Brunswick, designed by Polish naval architect, Jacek Centkowski, and built in Poland.
The Channel Island of Guernsey printed on its stern quarter completes the set and is perhaps a representation of its English-speaking target audience.
The elegant, single shaftdrive, six-berth, 37-foot model made its head-turning UK debut at the 2007 London Boat Show.
Article continues below…
Grand Banks 36 Sedan buyer’s guide: Rugged trawler with a fair turn of pace
Secondhand buyers guide: Best wheelhouse and walkaround boats
Priced from £148,000, it came equipped with two useful options as standard, an electric windlass and a bowthruster.
Describing the Guernsey line as ‘beautiful’ and ‘very low production’, UK Arvor dealer at the time, Essex Boatyards (now Boats.co.uk) told MBY that the builder was producing roughly 12 a year up until production ceased in around 2010.
Brunswick confirmed that it produced and sold about 100 Guernsey models. Arvor continued building its popular 20-30ft sportsfishers but was later absorbed into fellow Brunswick boat brand, Quicksilver, with ‘Arvor’ emblazoned onto some models.
The Arvor Guernsey 34’s multinational voyage did not stop there. The 28 and 34 mould tools came to the UK after being briefly acquired by Sealine at Kidderminster, prior to its closure, and were sold on to Boat Mouldings UK, based in Essex, which, renaming them the Jersey 30 and 36, built them from 2013 under the company name Fibre Classics. It sold in the region of six Jersey 36s, exporting some worldwide.
Finally, the mould tools were sold to Norfolk-based and Oyster-famed boatbuilder, Landamores, with the Arvor Guernsey 34 morphing into the current model, the Jersey 36 Elanco, which made its debut at the 2018 Southampton Boat Show.
Sixteen years on, the Arvor Guernsey 34 is an extremely rare sight in UK waters, let alone on the market. MBY was lucky to get on board a 2008 example for sale at RBS Marine for £115,000 before it inevitably went under offer.
Current owner and marine surveyor, Mike Newton, admits to falling under the Arvor Guernsey 34’s spell and buying it because of its classic lines.
He originally found it for sale in southern Brittany, and says, “It is a fabulous looking boat that attracts admiring looks and comments everywhere she goes.”
Mike is full of praise for its layout, its open, one-level saloon and aft cockpit, with just two wide steps down to the forward cabin.
Stepping aboard his 2008 example it certainly has impact and quality to boot, a far cry from a basic, budget sportsfisher.
Fold back the handsome wooden bifold doors, and the flow of the cockpit into the wheelhouse is spacious, safe and unencumbered.
With its deep, canvased-enclosed aft cockpit, you would rarely need the doors to be closed while aboard, underway or static.
The bright and airy wheelhouse is gilded with beautiful, exquisitely crafted wood and topped with two sun hatches. With so much detail, it is easy to see why these were low volume production boats.
There is a shapely, practical galley unit and a comfortable, well-executed, single helm position to starboard, while to port is a cosy, adaptable L-shaped, raised dinette seating area, complete with a clever corner forward bench area with reversible backrest for multiple co-pilots.
The two-tone dinette upholstery may appear dated, but is obviously hard wearing, with owners no doubt feeling it unnecessary to replace it.
Mike comments, “The saloon is a bit lacking in storage and to get to it means lifting out heavy, board-backed cushions. Drawers would have been better.”
The lower accommodation is largely open plan but is spacious and practical. It provides two large doubles; an impressively airy fixed bow berth and a vast athwartships mid berth.
The latter has seated headroom and a ventilation porthole to the saloon. Its mattress area can also be enclosed by a partition, which is useful but we suspect rarely used as it could prove claustrophobic.
In between the two sleeping areas is a spacious, teak-laminate-lined, full height dressing area, with multiple storage areas and a good size toilet compartment complete with a shower mixer tap.
However, owner Mike says that some drawers in the forward berth base would have been a useful addition.
Overall, it is an ideal space for a couple to spread out their boating kit and put their heads down after a long day cruising.
It also has the flexibility of extra berths, with a mid-berth ‘den’ when kids come to stay or, if you are friendly, another couple. There is of course the double in the wheelhouse too.
It is only really in the cockpit that you spot this boat’s fisher lineage.
Customary bait lockers in the transom tops now double as rope and equipment storage with additional lockers in the lower voids, and the long, rectangular rod lockers in the cockpit sole are perfect for longer items, such as brooms and boathooks, most of which you have to kneel down to access.
A sparse practical cockpit remains in evidence across all versions, with its drop-down teak slatted bench seats and moulded fender storage.
However, this is normally fronted with the optional ‘Comfort Pack’ arrangement of leisure-friendly settees framing the central transom gate.
Whilst in the cockpit be sure to examine the wooden wheelhouse doors, particularly the inside lower edges, as these can become stained by exposure to weather and any water entering the self-draining cockpit.
Its original UK dealer also informed us that the doors have a tendency to warp and can, therefore, be tricky to open.
Clever features and detailing continue as you venture out onto the wide, easy-to-get-around deck, starting with neat hinge-down panels in the cockpit coaming for easier deck access.
Arvor added beautiful exterior wood elements, such as attractive capping around the aft cockpit and deck toerails, all of which will need some care and seasonal protection.
Three hull gelcoat colours were available, burgundy, a classic navy blue or a less impactful, but lower maintenance, cream.
Finally, the boat has a space-saving party trick aft. Its generous bathing platform is powered by an electric winch and folds back against the transom. A rarely used gimmick perhaps, but this could shave a metre off marina berthing fees.
Being part of the same US Brunswick group, a Cummins Mercruiser engine pairing was inevitable, effective and road tested in its small fishers.
The Arvor Guernsey 34 was initially available with a single Cummins Mercruiser 425hp diesel running on a conventional shaftdrive with a prop protecting skeg.
A 2007 test of this version in our former sister magazine Motor Boats Monthly, describes a wonderfully natural running angle, it sitting squarely on the water, never feeling awkward or tender, and a hull happy wherever you put the throttle.
Excellent praise indeed. It provided a 23-knot top speed and a respectable 1.6 miles per gallon at a cruising speed of 18 knots.
From May 2008 onwards the Arvor Guernsey 34 was offered and fitted with twin 2.8-litre 230hp units, as seen here in the featured 2008 version, providing a top speed in the region of 22 knots.
Owner Mike tells MBY, “It is built to a very high standard and is a very good sea boat, stable and confidence inspiring, with a happy 15-knot cruising speed.”
He did add that his twin engine version, with its props in tunnels and the 500-litre diesel tank mounted aft, sits a bit low at the stern.
This makes trim tabs desirable to obtain good longitudinal trim. Mike said, “The worst conditions I’ve experienced were heading from Weymouth around Portland Bill, where we got caught out in a strong breeze that caused a very steep confused sea. We had large waves coming at us from every angle.
“The boat took it in her stride, my concerns were entanglement with fishing gear or losing an engine, but she shrugged it off.”
Grace and pace
Engine access is straightforward with full-length, gas-strutted hatches extending from cockpit to wheelhouse.
There is inevitably less standing room in twin configurations, but on the plus side the fit-out is engineered to a very high standard, with key items accessible and visible.
Cummins Mercruiser diesel engines are generally well regarded, and this is backed by a decent engineer network and availability of spares in the UK.
Be sure to examine service history to satisfy yourself that everything has been looked after. A survey, a sea trial and out-of-water inspection are all recommended as well, but you could also consider enlisting the services of an unbiased engineer to inspect the engine(s) prior to purchase.
The Arvor Guernsey 34 is a very attractive, well-mannered cruiser that offers both grace and pace. A cruising chameleon too, it would be at home on the coast or inland.
For those looking to venture in style around Great Britain with £90k-£150k to spend, it is worth a look.
It provides the sensible cocoon of a wheelhouse for the often unpredictable British weather and a hull capable of a spectrum of cruising speeds.
However, opting for a large single engine would prove the most economical for such an adventure.
Arvor Guernsey 34 surveyor’s report
Arvor specialised in building rugged fishing craft which have stood the test of time well so there’s no reason to believe that this should be any different. However, it’s still worth checking for the following concerns with any boat of this age.
Points to note when considering buying:
- Environment can play a part in the risk of osmotic blistering especially in warm climates and brackish water, so check for blistering and ensure that all bonding to structural mouldings is sound.
- Gelcoat blooming is likely to be an issue on a vessel of this age and colour. Regular polishing will help preserve it but at some point a re-paint or wrap may be required.
- Check the wood veneers around windscreens and side windows for blackening, condensation or UV bleaching.
- Many boats were left unattended during lockdown so I am finding more issues with heat exchangers, oil coolers, impeller seals, exhaust injection elbows corroding and/or sooting up.
- The same applies to galvanic corrosion of sterngear. so look for signs like ‘pink’ props, prop nuts, P brackets, rudders and skin fittings.
- Check the lifting swim platform’s hinges, fixings and cables are sound and the quarters are free of damage
-Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Arvor Guernsey 34 specifications
LOA: 37ft 3in (11.35m)
Beam: 12ft 7in (3.85m)
Draught: 3ft 7in (1.10m)
Displacement: 6.4 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 520 litres
Water capacity: 250 litres
Designer: Jacek Centkowski
Hull type: Semi displacement
RCD category: B
Top speed: 23 knots with standard single Cummins 425hp
Range: 140 miles at 16-18 knots with 20% reserve
Annual marina mooring: £5,845-£9,750 (inc. VAT) in the Solent area
Annual fuel burn: 50 hours cruising at 18 knots would consume around 2,550 litres
What’s on the market?
Engines: Twin Cummins Mercruiser 2.8L
Lying: Birdham Pool
Contact: RBS Marine
Engine: Single Cummins Mercruiser 425hp
Contact: AYC Yachtbroker
Engine: Single Vetus 250hp diesel
Contact: Howard Ford
In association with SETAG Yachts. Design and refit specialists SETAG Yachts bring luxury to the pre-owned market – by creating the bespoke yacht of your dreams, with no compromise. To fall in love with your boat all over again visit www.setagyachts.com or call + 44 (0)1752 648618 for more details.
First published in the February 2022 issue of MBY.
If you enjoyed this…
Be first to all the latest boats, gadgets, cruising ideas, buying advice and readers’ adventures with a subscription to Motor Boat & Yachting. Available in both print and digital formats, our monthly magazine will be sent directly to your home or device at a substantial discount to the usual cover price. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.