Bayliner 3870

By Larry Crawford

At 38 feet, two inches, the Bayliner 3870 boasts two private staterooms, two heads (one with a bathtub!), a walk in engine room and other features normally found only on larger yachts. Bayliner has been working overtime designing the layout, and it seems to have paid off in comfort and practicality.

As you enter the large, bright saloon, several features strike the eye at once. First, the woodwork is among the best to be found on a production boat. All teak, the veneer and solid wood is well matched, the joints are tight and all screws (except those that will have to be removed for access to wiring and so on) have been countersunk and plugged. Cabinet comers are solid teak rounds, rabbeted for the teak ply to sit flush. The cabinet doors are framed wicker caning with brass handles and hinges, and sit flat with no binding or misalignment.

The layout of the saloon is spacious and attractive. To port is a large U-shaped lounge – a much less closed in dining area than most. A permanently mounted coffee table sits in the centre of the lounge, and a large pedestal dining table (stored against the starboard bulkhead behind the helm when not in use) is erected over it for dining.

To starboard in the saloon are an entertainment centre housing the stereo console and liquor cabinet, and the lower steering station. As well as being fully instrumented, the helm console also houses the complete 12-volt breaker panel. Mounted above the helm is an open cabinet ready to accept a VHF radio, depth sounder and Loran C. The engine controls are to starboard of the wheel, in a position that is easy and natural to reach.

Forward of the saloon and to starboard is an efficient, well laid out galley with double sinks, 12/110 volt refrigerator-freezer and a three burner propane stove and oven. The galley also features hot and cold pressurized water from a single lever faucet.

Bayliner 3870 - Main SalonThe large stateroom across from the galley boasts a double bed (on this boat, beds can hardly be called bunks), a hanging locker, plenty of storage space and access to the main head and shower-tub. The bed is nest led neatly under the molded lounge seat. For ventilation, there is a large opening window and a deck hatch. The main head is rather unique in design, with access from the aft stateroom, as well as from the main cabin. The head is complete, with a sliding tinted glass door forward to the shower-tub.

While I believe that a moderately sized boat is not a practical place for a bathtub, and this one is not really large enough to allow comfortable soaking, it is a feature that will attract a certain amount of attention and has been well-fitted into the space provided.

The glass door on the forward side of the tub opens to the master stateroom in the forepeak. The double bed in this stateroom faces fore and aft and is surrounded by storage and conveniences, including a laundry hamper built into the port bulkhead. The master stateroom has its own private head to starboard.

The 3870 is powered by twin 130-hp Chrysler Mitsubishi diesels, tough engines with an excellent track record. While this power (the only package offered on this boat) is considered low by some standards for a boat this size, it must be remembered that this is a semi-displacement hull and is not designed for all-out speed. According to John Morton of Sherway Marine Sales of Toronto, it has a very respectable top end of 2 l mph and cruises comfortably at 16 mph in the planning mode, using approximately three gph. In the more economical displacement mode, the average speed is eight to 10 mph using 1.5 gph at 1,500 rpm.

The engines are easily accessible for routine or major maintenance behind the walk-through door in the cockpit. This door is located on the extreme port side of the cockpit and leaves only the far side of the starboard engine a little hard to get at. To remedy this, Bayliner has installed a pull-up hatch in the main saloon, making the entire engine compartment very accessible. The two fuel tanks, holding a total of 304 gallons, run through a five valve select ion board, making it possible to run each engine off its own tank, both off either tank or both off both tanks simultaneously. The 11-gallon water tank is also in the engine compartment and runs off the engines’ cooling systems. This tank is also accessible through the hatch in the saloon.

Bayliner 3870 - Main HeadThe engine installations are top quality, and all wood in the bilge is coated to protect it from water damage. Gear shift and throttle cables are well-secured and lead with no restricting bends. A further look into the bilge reveals a hand laid hull cored with Marine Core™, which, according to Mort on, produces a hull 20 per cent lighter than solid glass. The majority of the deck is covered with a functional nonskid, a safety feature often forgotten on powerboats. This non-skid is of a darker colour than the smooth areas of the deck, making it easy for one to recognize where to plant one’s foot in rough weather. On the subject of deck safety, starting from the bow, we find a stainless steel bow rail, extending over the bow platform and running approximately 10 feet aft. The rail and four stanchions on each side are solidly mounted and through bolted. The double lifelines, which run from the bow rail aft to the forward side of the cockpit, are plastic covered stainless steel wire.

For access to the deck from the cockpit, Bayliner has molded two steps into each forward comer of the cockpit. There is no proper hand-hold to assist in getting out of the cockpit, making the climb a little awkward for the not so nimble. A solid handrail is provided along the side of the command bridge; however, once past this point, a good grip is hard to find. While there are two solid handrails on the cabin top forward of the bridge, they have been set too far inboard to be reach ed from the gunwale.

The cockpit is large and deep and padded around three sides, making it a safe and comfortable place to be in almost any weather. At the starboard aft comer of the cockpit, there is a walkthrough gate to the broad transom platform, which comes complete with a fold down ladder.

Access to the command bridge is a double-rail ladder, consisting of seven teak steps. The ladder is solid and well-mounted, and although it is steep, it should not be a problem, provided you descend facing forward. Once on the bridge, we find comfortable seating for eight, including helmsman, on wraparound single and double seats. The helmsman sits centre and high on his swiveling bucket seat, which has equal visibility on both sides for close maneuvering. The upper steering station contains a complete set of instruments, and, as with the lower station, the placement of all gauges and controls has been well thought out. Both dashboards include hydraulic steering, trim tab controls, tachometers, oil pressure, engine temperature, voltage and fuel gauges.

While the 3870 is by no means heavy for its size, at 19,608 pounds, it has a good solid ride, even at speed, mainly as a result of the semi displacement design of the hull. The high, flaring bow keeps spray to a minimum, while the clean, fair lines aft make for effortless planning and give positive directional stability through its total speed range.

Although Lake Ontario was flatter than the average millpond on the day of our photo session and sea trials, 20 top speed passes at the photo boat set up enough of a sea to give a fair estimate of the Bayliner’s sea-kindliness in a moderate-to-heavy (albeit confused) chop. Pitch was kept to a minimum, even at low speeds, by the full, flaring bow and broad sections aft. When encountering an oncoming wave square on the bow, at speed, the water seemed to be cut neatly in two and sent flying, almost horizontally, with relatively little impact being sent through the boat. However, when overtaking one particularly large wake, again at speed, the boat slowed measurably, the engines took on a deep-throated, overworked pitch, and the sensation was definitely one of submarining. This is a direct consequence of the Bayliner’s full bow and semi-displacement hull configuration. When encountering a cross-sea, its 13-foot, five-inch beam kept roll to a minimum, and the momentum of the roll died off quickly as the waves passed. Even on the high command bridge, the roll was never uncomfortable.

While poking around on the command bridge, I found the propane storage area tucked up under the dash to starboard. Three potential safety hazards arise from this arrangement. First, it is well known that propane gas is heavier than air, and therefore will flow quickly to the lowest possible level. The drainage provided for the propane on the bridge is a regular rain scupper at deck level through the side of the bridge. While this in itself is adequate ventilation, there is a large opening port beneath the drain. To make matters worse, the same port is directly above the galley. There is no doubt that a major propane leak at the tank when little or no wind was disturbing the air would result in propane flowing down the side of the cabin, in the window, and settling in the cooking area. Second, access to the tank to shutoff the fuel at the source, should a problem occur, is awkward and simply too far away from the cabin. Finally, propane tanks, especially when full, are heavy, cumbersome and can inflict damage to the boat and any person nearby if dropped. I can see no reason why the tank should be carried up a long, steep ladder to the bridge when there is such a large cockpit below. A proper molded propane box, vented directly overboard by way of a through-hull fitting above the waterline, could be incorporated into the port aft comer of the cockpit, and could even be disguised as a cockpit seat. Considering the thought and planning put into the rest of this fine yacht, I was surprised that this detail had been overlooked by Bayliner.

As for the rest of the installations, they are all first-rate. Cleats, stanchions , handrails and all other hardware that will take loads are bedded and through-bolted. There are no chocks for mooring lines to pass through. Instead, the cleats have been mounted at the edge of the deck where the glass is thickest and strongest. This is a trend definitely not limited to Bayliner, as most major manufacturers are using the same idea. Not only does this arrangement make for solid cleat mounts and keep the cleats from getting under foot, it also saves the builder the unnecessary expense of purchasing and installing the chocks-a nice arrangement for all concerned.

As I walked down the dock at Ontario Place after our sea trials, I had the feeling that I had been aboard a quality yacht, one that has made progressive strides, both in construction methods and innovative ideas.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s December 1983 issue.


Gunwale length: 9 ft 6 in.

Centreline length: 38 ft 2 in.

Draft: 3 ft 2 in.

Weight: 19,608 lb.

Fuel capacity: 390 U.S. gal

Water capacity: 80 U.S. gal

Hot water tank: 11 gal

Head type: 2 marine heads & holding tanks

Engine: Chrysler Mitsubishi twin 130-hp diesels

Steering: hydraulic

Propeller: 4-blade bronze


Photo 1 – N/A

Photo 2 – The Bayliner 3870’s main saloon is large and airy, featuring exceptionally good woodwork for a production boat.

Photo 3 – The 3870 s main head, with its sliding tinted glass shower doors and bathtub, is accessible from both the main and aft cabins.

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