When Lake Michigan is your aquatic backyard playground, you tend to take rough-water seriously. Just ask Steve Bareman of Holland, Mich., whose last two boats were a 40-foot flat-deck Skater catamaran and an Outerlimits 42 Legacy V-bottom he co-owned with his brother, Mike. So when Bareman sold the 40-foot catamaran equipped with temperamental supercharged inboard engines and decided to go the more-reliable outboard-engine route with his next cat, he knew he wanted something substantial to take on the mercurial waterway.
Owned by Michigan’s Steve Bareman, the first outboard engine-powered Skater Powerboats 388 catamaran should be in the water by May.
“I was talking to Tony Cutsuries at Skater about a 368 cat, and by the time we finished talking it had grown to a 388,” he said, then laughed. “The bigger the better on Lake Michigan—and nobody else had built one with outboards.”
While “build one” typically means “ordered one” in the go-fast boating world—even in the custom realm—the expression is more literal for Bareman. He rigged the boat from stem to stern. He installed and wired its entire electronics system, which includes C-Zone switching, one 17-inch Garmin GPS and two nine-inch Garmin GPS units, a Mercury Marine VesselView monitor, a trio of gauges on each side of the dash and LED lighting with Shadow Caster control. (He actually “fired up” the cat’s electrical system for the first time today and everything is working.)
Bareman also installed the cat’s twin Mercury Racing 450R outboards on manually adjustable brackets from Shaun Torrente Racing, and tackled all the rigging himself. Having handled the installation of triple Mercury Racing 450Rs on the transom of a 48-foot Fountain Express Cruiser with his brother for their friend and fellow Michigander Ron Meyering, Bareman is no stranger to outboard applications.
Tony Cutsuries: “No one has ever seen an outboard-powered 388—this is the first one.”
He even got involved in the boat’s paintjob with his friend Dave Shaffer, the principal of T&D Custom Painting in Zeeland, Mich.
“I took off a couple of weeks—I’m semi-retired anyway—to help Dave paint it,” said Bareman.
“He did—he really did,” Shaffer said, then laughed. “That’s not normal practice here, but we painted the Classic 40 flat-deck Skater for Steve and his brother and they wanted to help then. I was like, ‘No, no, no’ but now that I know Steve I should have said yes. They could have helped a lot.
“I have known Steve for seven or eight years and he’s just a super-nice guy,” he continued. “The final design was no problem because we sat around and shot the bull about it for hours. So when I did the rendering, I knew what he wanted.”
Check out the slideshow above to enjoy more images of the project.
Of course, Bareman didn’t order a trailer from Skater—with help from his brother, he started with a 2006 model-year rig from American Trailers and rebuilt/customized it for his new 388. His friend and fellow Michigan local Nick Hardy is handling the cat’s six-seat interior.
If all goes to plan, Bareman will test the 38-footer in May. Cutsuries, Skater’s national sales manager said he and Peter Hledin, the owner and founder of the Douglas, Mich., custom boat company, are eager to see how the cat performs.
“No one has ever seen an outboard-powered 388—this is the first one,” said Cutsuries. “Pete loves outboards and he’s really excited about it. We think it’s going to be great.”
The truck in this image is about the only product Bareman didn’t have a hand in building.
Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com will report on the 38-footer’s first test session.