Author: Matt Gurnsey
Running along at 65 mph on Elliott Bay, the Protector Targa 30 is secure and stable, attributes one appreciates at that speed, but it is also amazingly solid and comfortable. There was not a squeak or rattle as the hull came off the chop or the larger tugboat wakes. Protector achieves the combination of quiet and strength by making the boat out of three basic parts: hull, deck, cabin. The builder plans construction so all three pieces are finished at the same time and are then glassed together to create a uni-body structure. Final curing occurs with all the main components married together.
Layup of the deep-V hull, with 23 degrees of deadrise, is conventional, solid hand-laid fiberglass using 24-ounce roven woving layers, building up until the hull is three-quarters-of-an-inch thick on the sides and one-and-a-half-inches thick at the keel. This “low-tech” approach uses proven and reliable construction techniques, and Protector has had no hull failures since its first hull was produced in 1999.
The rugged hull is then surrounded by an inflatable Hypalon collar with seven baffled air chambers. In the places where the hull design cuts through the waves, the collar provides a dampening effect, softening the landing by absorbing the energy. So 65 mph feels comfortable and controlled, and running at 45 mph all day long is effortless for the boat and the passengers.
Improvements All Around
The Targa 30 is the latest design from Rayglass Boats, a company that got its start building boats for the New Zealand coast guard. Every hull is built to the same commercial standards. Our test boat, outfitted with teak decks and other niceties, has the same DNA as its plainer siblings and is based on a proven design, but the 30 features upgrades from the successful Targa 28 that are a direct result of feedback from owners.
The extra length provides an additional foot of waterline, improving the already impressive ride characteristics of the boat. Extra space was provided up front for a more convenient anchoring system with a windlass. The motor well was enlarged so the twin engines — Mercury Verado 300s on our test boat — could tilt up higher and get the water intakes out of the water.
The cabin sides were pushed out to make room for the optional Stidd seating on our test boat, also creating room for a larger dash that can accommodate big-screen electronics such as the Garmin 15-inch touch-screen that plotted our zigzag course. The beam of the boat remained unchanged, and the extra room doesn’t seem to take away from the exterior of the boat.
The Targa 30 has the walk-through cabin common to the line, with a large heavy-duty glass door on the front of the cabin allowing access to the bow area from inside the boat. The cabin itself features dual settees running along the hull sides, with a marine head under one cushion. While simple in layout, the cabin is nicely finished.
The dash contains the electronics, all the switches, including those for the battery, and a tilt hydraulic helm. Engine information is provided by a complement of Mercury Smartcraft gauges. Complete information on the motors is available at a glance, and more detailed information, including fuel management, is available on the LCD displays within the gauges.
Fuel management isn’t as critical as one might imagine on a boat capable of the Targa 30’s speed. At wide-open throttle, the boat burns around 57 gph, resulting in slightly better than 1 mpg. Slowing down to 3500 rpm still yields 30 mph, but fuel burn drops to 14 gph, which is about 2 mpg. Splitting the difference at 4500 rpm pushes the boat along at a very comfortable 45 mph while still getting 1.5 mpg.
The Targa 30 can make the run from Seattle to Port Townsend in 45 minutes or from Newport Beach to Catalina Island in less than 30, with almost complete disregard for the weather or sea conditions. The design is capable of performance extremes far beyond what the recreational boater will require. Even in a hard-over turn, the boat goes from a dead stop to on plane almost instantly. It can run very tight circles at high speed, and the props stay connected to the water. With adjustments to engine trim and the standard trim tabs, we were able to securely run at any speed, over any wave and have a comfortable ride with predictable handling.
A little test-day rain was only a minor inconvenience, more troublesome while walking down the dock than while under way. The large Taylor Made windshield provides excellent visibility, and its curved shape enabled rainwater to be pushed off the sides. The pantographic wipers were useful at slow speeds, but once we were on plane they weren’t needed, because the rain was a non-issue. A full drop curtain at the aft edge of the hardtop provides an enclosed helm. We were warm and dry.
I had some idea what to expect when I arrived at the boat on test day. I’d seen the boat’s specifications. But once I took the helm, the experience was far beyond what the numbers indicated. I walked away convinced that anyone looking for speed on the water, and the ability to transport anywhere from two to 12 people, would do well to take a ride on the Protector Targa 30 — and see if the numbers add up.