Author: BoatingWorld Staff
When is a boat more than a boat? When it’s a Donzi 38 ZSF. The Donzi 38 ZSF is a luxurious day boat, a well-appointed overnighter, a no-nonsense offshore sportfisher and even a great dive platform. You might call the 38 ZSF a sport utility boat, but that would imply it’s big, hulking and slow — keep in mind the Donzi name is a standard bearer in the world of offshore performance boating. This boat has style as well as a great deal of substance to move you — body and soul. Options, Options All of these things are accomplished without compromise because of the 38 ZSF’s size. With an overall length of 38 feet, 6 inches and a 10-foot, 6-inch beam, there’s room for more than just the single-minded pleasureboater. The deck layout is divided into two distinct spaces separated by the helm console. The aft cockpit is open, as befits a boat used for fishing. A 65-gallon recirculating livewell is under the bench seat cushions at the transom, and there are two fishboxes in the cockpit sole. There’s also a standard wet bar along the starboard side. The standard helm features a pair of drop-down bolster seats, but you can upgrade to a seat that has tackle storage, a rigging station and a cutting board, all housed in a fiberglass module. The 38 ZSF has a high, curved-glass wrap-around windshield to keep you from blowing away while under way, and an optional hardtop. That hardtop extends well forward of the helm over a protected area with two curved bench seats. It’s a splendid spot to enjoy the ride. The seats hold insulated coolers or they can be fitted with optional refrigerators or freezers. The storage compartment in the helm console of the test boat was fitted with a cutout panel to hold dive tanks securely. The side walkways provide a sure-footed path for line handling or anchoring duties, as well as enjoying the foredeck sunpad. In addition to the 38 ZSF’s larger windshield, the helm console has its own windscreen. The curved, tempered glass piece on our test boat was well-formed. I didn’t see a bit of distortion. The helm’s lower panel holds switches and breakers, Mercury SmartCraft instrumentation, as well as the steering wheel, shift and throttle levers. The upper panel is a vast expanse for the large-screen electronics of your choosing. Interior Delights The 38 ZSF has a sliding companionway door to the cabin that’s fitted with a separate screen. Walking space down the center of the cabin has about 6 feet, 2 inches of headroom. Ventilation and light come from four portholes — two on each side — plus an overhead hatch. Air conditioning is an option for this boat, as is a generator. The galley is just inside the entrance and to port. It has a sink, a refrigerator and a microwave that come standard and an available single-burner electric stove. The cherry wood cabinetry also holds the boat’s optional TV and DVD player as well as the standard audio system — a Sony AM/FM/CD deck that powers six speakers on board. It has a remote control at the helm. There’s also a hanging locker in the aft corner of the cabinet. The head compartment is to starboard, opposite the galley. It measures just above 6 feet in height. An attractive dark surface countertop and accent pieces offset the starkness of the white fiberglass lining. The molded sink includes a separate soap dish. The toilet has a fold-down bench seat to cover it. A pair of settees line the middle section of the cabin bulkheads. They feature storage underneath the seat cushions and are served by a unique dining table that slides out from the base of the V-berth. The berth measures nearly 7 feet from head to toe. There are also a couple of storage drawers in its base. Under the Hood The boat I tested was equipped with triple Mercury 275 hp Verado four-stroke outboards. It was just like other Donzis I’ve tested, with the quickness and agility the company is known for. Given the fact that the boat tips the scales at just under 13,000 pounds dry, it hopped on plane in a flash and accelerated smoothly with seemingly little effort. The ventilated hull tracked well and was well-mannered in turns. I’m told the prototype 38 ZSF was tested in 5-foot seas and was able to maintain 50 mph. Donzi offers four power options for the 38 ZSF. All are Mercury outboards and range from 225 hp to the 275s we had on the test boat. At the top end, our 275 Verados will do just above 60 mph. With the 225 Optimax motors, you can expect a few miles per hour under 60. For all that power though, the 38 ZSF can deliver some decent fuel burn numbers, due in part to the efficient hull design. We cruised at 40 mph and each motor used 13 gallons per hour. … And Another Thing One final thought. The 38 ZSF is in every respect a Donzi when it comes to performance, but it doesn’t sound like one. Many times I’ve stood on a dock taking in the sweet resonance of a big block V-8’s thunder. The Mercury Verados are just too quiet for all that power. I measured a sound level of 84 dB at the helm while cruising at 45 mph. The motors were turning 4,750 rpm. Walking back to the transom and holding the sound level meter right over the engines, it only went up to 88 dB. The times, they are a-changin’. CONTACT: Donzi Marine, Sarasota, FL; (800) 624-3304; www.donzimarine.com.