Monday, June 21

Report from Annapolis: “Best Show in Years”

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The Annapolis Powerboat Show just ended, and the reviews are coming in:

“Best Annapolis in recent years” –  Dave Northrop, director of sales and operations, Americas, for Grand Banks and Palm Beach Yachts.

“Our attendance was 4.8% better than 2015 and the best since pre-2008.” – Paul Jacobs, show president and general manager.

“The overall attitude of customers was more positive than any of us can remember.” – Jeff Messmer, VP of Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats.

“It looks like it will be a great show.” – Bentley Collins, VP of Sabre and Back Cove Yachts.

“We were so busy, Saturday was ridiculous. We definitely had a few very good prospects come out of that show.” Jenny Stern, marketing director, Nordhavn.

“We had great, quality customers.” – Ben Wilde, of Wilde Yacht Sales, the largest dealer for Nordic Tugs.

“We received overwhelming praise for the new three-panel sliding safety glass sides on the bridge deck of the 50z.” – Chris Hughes, Partner, MJM Yachts.

Overall, the 45th U.S. Powerboat Show, centered around City Dock in the middle of Annapolis, was a big success. The show included some 300 powerboats from 8’ and up, with many of the new cruising powerboats from builders all around the world. Jacobs said it was the largest show since the 2007-08 Recession. In addition to the new-boat show, a separate brokerage show a few blocks away on Spa Creek had 65 boats  “and it was a mob scene all weekend,” Jacobs said. “We kept three water taxis at capacity all weekend.”

The fall weather was almost picture-perfect all four days of the show, which could have been a mixed blessing. “Booth sales may not have been as stellar due to great weather,” said Jacobs. “Contrast that with rainy and windy days of the sailboat show where outerwear vendors reported sales through the roof.” Northrop also cited the “awesome weather, strong attendance, enthusiastic boaters and multiple contracts.”

The show got off to a good start on Thursday, when Cutwater sold two boats. “That certainly was a pleasant surprise,” said Mark Mansfield, the company’s national sales manager. “People were buying boats,” said Messmer. “Overall it was a very good show.”

Others said they were pleased by the appearance of new customers. “Our most pleasant surprise was the show seems to appeal more and more to North Carolinians,” said Collins, of Sabre and Back Cove. “We had plenty of prospects from North Carolina. But sales were made for both brands and across all sizes in the range. All in all we were very pleased with the results.”

At Nordic Tugs, Wilde said “Our new 44 was a big hit. People really love the huge pilothouse and the ability to have two helm chairs and direct access to the flybridge.”

MarineMax reported strong sales, with big “SOLD” signs appearing Sunday afternoon on a new Azimut 66 Flybridge and an Azimut 54 Flybridge.

Annapolis is always a popular show. It’s fun, easy to get to, and easy to enjoy. Annapolis, of course, is the hub of the Chesapeake, a cruising mecca with boatyards and marinas all around. Then there’s lots to do at the show itself, with dock after dock of new boats plus tents full of displays of everything from new electronics to knife sharpeners. The show offered seminars from the Annapolis School of Seamanship and it had a Demo Dock, where show-goers could try out new boats, engines and stabilizing systems. Pusser’s Painkiller Party Barge was a popular destination throughout the show.

For me, the Annapolis show is a place to see new boats and accessories, to bask in history, and to take in some crab cakes at McGarvey’s and the Boatyard. I also got my annual boat show breakfast on Friday at Chick & Ruth’s Delly on Main Street, just a few blocks up from the show. When I walked in, I think about half the exhibitors from the show were there. And then, per Chick and Ruth’s custom, at 8:30 we all stood up and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

For more about the show, go to:

Here’s a look at some of the new cruising boats at the show:



A sturdy cruiser, well-equipped to handle the coast of Maine, the Great Loop, or the Waterway down to the Keys or the Bahamas, the new American Tugs 435 has two staterooms, two heads, a raised pilothouse, a comfortable salon with forward galley and enough storage and living areas to keep a couple or family comfortable for a long time onboard. American Tugs are made in LaConner, Washington, but about half are now sold on the East Coast as more and more owners appreciate all the boats have to offer. The no-frills approach to cruising, with a single 500-hp Cummins diesel, a Side-Power bow thruster to help with docking, and a solid hull (with a 10-year warranty for workmanship and blistering) is increasingly popular both with experienced cruisers and people just starting out.

Inside, the master is midships with a walkaround queen bed, a cedar-lined hanging locker, side tables, lots of storage areas and an en suite head. The second cabin is in the bow, with the berth to port and an en suite head to starboard; both heads have large showers. In the pilothouse, the helm chair is centered, with an Edson stainless wheel, a large console for electronics, and a seat for four adults, with a table, behind the helm. Doors open out to the side decks, and the pilothouse has six opening windows, with screens, for visibility all around. The salon has an L-shaped settee to starboard, with the galley forward to port.

Below the waterline, a molded composite skeg protects the prop and supports the rudder, while both the main engine and the 9kW Northern Lights genset have underwater exhaust. Specs.: LOA: 43’7”; Beam: 15’10”; Draft: 4’10”; Disp.: 29,200 lbs.; Fuel: 640 gals.; Water: 210 gals.; Power: 1×500-hp Cummins diesel.



With its 21’6” draft carried all the way forward, the Aquila 44 catamaran has space – and more space – just about everywhere. The three-stateroom, three-head boat also has a lot of privacy. The master stateroom is forward with a king-sized bed, a small settee in a separate seating area and a large head and shower. The two separate hulls, meanwhile, mean the two more staterooms, one on the port side and one to starboard, are totally private, a major advantage during cruise with family or friends.

In the salon, the galley is aft, with a dining/sitting area forward; it’s bright and light, with windows all around. Up top, the bridge deck can hold a crowd. The upper helm seat can hold four, there are settees on each side and a wet bar and grill, with more seating, is aft. If you need to reach the bow for, say, anchoring or line handling, built-in stairs lead from the bridge down to the foredeck. For power, the Aquila 44 has two 225-hp Volvo diesels, which produce a cruising speed of 14 knots and a top speed of 19 knots. MarineMax Vacations uses the Aquila 44 in its charter fleet.

Specs.: LOA: 43’8”; Beam: 21’6”; Draft: 2’8”; Disp.: 35,053 lbs.; Fuel: 290 gals.; Water: 206 gals.; Power: 2×225-hp Volvo D4 diesels.



The Back Cove 32 was just named Best Powerboat Under 35 Feet at the Newport International Boat Show, a major honor for the Maine-built classic couple’s cruiser. I’ve been a fan of Back Coves since I tested the very first one they made, a 26, ten years ago, and I’ve tested every model since then. The single-diesel, fuel-efficient, user-friendly themes of the brand, combined with their iconic Downeast lines, make them very appealing, and the new 32 lives up to the company’s reputation.
You walk on the boat through a centerline door in the transom, and then the deck is level all the way forward to the companionway. The cockpit has matching L-shaped settees in both corners, and can be partially protected by an optional Sure-Shade awning. Forward, there’s a convertible U-shaped settee to port, with a cruising galley to starboard, all under hardtop.
Below, the head compartment is to port, while a separate shower stall is to starboard. A generous island berth is forward. Interior highlights are all in American cherry, but there is no wood on the exterior of the boat in keeping with Back Cove’s low-maintenance tradition.
The Back Cove fleet now stretches from 30 to 41 feet.
Specs: LOA: 37′; Beam: 11’10”; Draft: 3′; Disp.: 15,000 lbs. Fuel: 185 gals.; Water: 80 gals. Power: 1×370-hp Volvo diesel or 370-hp Yanmar diesel. Base Price: $320,000.


Beneteau Swift Trawler 30 in Sarasota FL

A pocket cruiser designed for a couple or a small family, the new Beneteau 30 is the newest – and smallest – addition to the company’s popular Swift Trawler line that was first launched in 2003. A single-diesel, fuel-efficient, semi-displacement cruising boat, the Swift Trawler 30 combines French flair with onboard amenities. And it is swift in more than name, topping out at about 22 knots with a single 370-hp Volvo diesel.

An innovation on this boat is the easily-accessible swim platform and fully-opening transom that makes boarding easy for everyone. The master is forward with a second stateroom to port, opposite a head and shower; in the single-cabin arrangement, the port cabin becomes a large, separate shower. A sliding door next to the helm gives instant access to the starboard side deck.

A few years ago I drove the big sister to this boat, a Swift Trawler 34, on a leg of the Great Loop from the top of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi below St. Louis. It was a comfortable two-cabin cruiser with a great hull that easily powered through some rough stretches. I’m sure the 30 will do the same.

Specs.: LOA: 32’9”; Beam: 11’7”; Draft: 3’5”; Disp.: 13,224 lbs.; Fuel: 190 gals.; Water: 80 gals.; Power: 1×370-hp Volvo diesel. Price: About $300,000.



Coastal Craft, founded in 1996 by Jeff Rhodes in Gibsons, B.C., about 25 miles north of Vancouver, is something else in the recreational boating market. Originally catering to the fishing and work boat industry, Coastal Craft are all built with commercial-quality welded aluminum hulls, with an emphasis on reliability, safety and seaworthiness. Gibsons is about 25 miles north of Vancouver on Georgia Strait, where the waters can be unpredictable at best.

The new Coastal Craft 45, the company’s flagship, is built with a planing hull (topping out at 32 knots), an upscale interior, two staterooms and two heads, and a large flybridge with boat deck. Inside, the large helm station has a doublewide seat, good visibility and joystick controls for the Volvo IPS 600 pod drives; there are also joystick controls in the cockpit to help with docking or fishing, and the flybridge. The interior is filled with cherry accents and has a teak and holly sole. The forward master has a queen and separate head and shower, as does the guest stateroom. A settee in the salon converts to a queen bed. Safety is a priority, with high side rails, solid handholds inside and out, safe passageways between decks, high quality hatches and doors, and watertight compartments and bulkheads.

Designed for serious cruising, the Coastal Craft 45 has a range of 400 nm at 27 knots, or about 1,500 nm at 8 knots. I tested a smaller Coastal Craft a few years ago in Vancouver with Rhodes, and I was impressed by the quality of the build and the interior, by the boat’s performance, and by the emphasis on cruising safety.

Specs.: LOA: 48’6”; Beam: 15’3”; Draft: 7’4”; Disp.: 38,500 lbs.; Fuel: 470 gals.; Water: 100 gals.; Power: 2×435-hp Volvo diesels with IPS 600 pod drives.



Cutwaters are made in Washington State by Fluid Motion, LLC, the same company that makes Ranger Tugs, and that was founded by the father-son team of David and John Livingston. They know how to build boats; David was president of Bayliner when the company was making 56,000 boats a year. And they know how to create value for their owners. Indeed, the new Cutwater 28, fully equipped with a 260-hp Volvo diesel, Garmin electronics, bow and stern thrusters and ready to cruise, carries a base price of $194,937. With an 8’6” beam, the 28 is trailerable, user-friendly and packed with lots of space-saving innovations that make cruising easy.

I have to admit a warm spot in my heart for the Cutwater 28, since two years ago I cruised one from New York Harbor up to Quebec City, spending six days on board with my colleague, George Sass, Sr., the photographer. The boat has a master in the bow, with a full head, and then a second small cabin tucked under the dinette. We cruised easily at 16 knots or so up the Hudson, Lake Champlain, the French canals and then down the St. Lawrence to Quebec. (I took the picture above in the charming French village of Chambly.) With two of us on the boat 24-hours a day, we never seemed to run out of space, or enjoyment.

Specs.: LOA: 28’4”; Beam: 8’6”; Draft: 2’4”; Disp.: 8,000 lbs.; Fuel: 100 gals.; Water: 40 gals. Power: 1×260-hp Volvo D4 diesel. Price: $194,937.



Many smaller cruising boats, monohulls and cats, are moving to outboard power, and the Endeavour TrawerCat 42 is a larger example of that trend. Using the same hull and layout as the Endeavour 40, the new 42 is powered by twin 300-hp Suzuki outboards that produce a top speed of 21.3 mph, while making the boat even more user-friendly in skinny water spots of the Chesapeake and the Bahamas with its 3-foot draft. You could even trim the outboards up if you need to.

The appeal of the new Endeavour, in addition to its outboard power, is the tremendous amount of living space throughout the boat. The aft deck, for example, is 14.5 feet wide. The salon and galley are on the main level, and they’re massive. The master is forward with an en suite head; the guest stateroom is in the port hull, also with a head and shower. But up top there’s even more room in what Endeavour calls a SkyLounge, which has windows all around, plus two settees, an entertainment center, and the helm station.

The Endeavour’s hull, deck and bulkheads are made with biaxial fiberglass with vinylester resin and are laid up with vacuum bag construction. Endeavour offers a five-year limited structural/blister warranty. Specs.: LOA: 40’0”; Beam: 16’0”; Draft: 3’0”. Disp.: 28,500 lbs.; Fuel: 600 gals.; Water: 150 gals.; Power: 2×300-hp Suzukis. Price: $625,000.



The quintessential serious cruising boat, the Fleming 55 has become a classic since it was first launched in 1986. Some 235 Fleming 55s have been built since then, reflecting hundreds of refinements and tweaks to reflect changing technologies and lessons learned on the water. Most of these refinements, of course, come from Tony Fleming himself, the founder of the company who cruises around the world on his Fleming 65 Venture, which he uses as a test bed to make sure the boats are constantly updated.

A pilothouse motoryacht, the Fleming 55 has three staterooms and two heads, a large, 130-square-feet cockpit, a flying bridge that can seat 11 plus an aft boat deck. The comfortable salon, with galley forward, and the pilothouse, with an L-shaped settee and interior access to the flybridge, all are filled with rich teak; fit and finish are exquisite throughout the boat.

The 55 has a moderate deadrise semi-displacement hull, with a deep keel to protect the running gear. Powered by twin 500-hp Cummins diesels, the 55 tops out at about 18 knots, but if you dial back to 8 knots the boat has a range of 2,000 nm. And Flemings are safe at any speed. I rode out a night of 60-knot winds off California’s Channel Islands on Venture three years ago with Tony Fleming, and the boat was solid as a rock.

Specs.: LOA: 55’9”; Beam: 16’0”; Draft: 5’0”; Disp,: 67,801 lbs.; Fuel: 1,000 gals., Water: 300 gals.; Power: 2×500-hp Cummins diesels.



The beautiful new 44 Eastbay is the first Grand Banks built since the company hired Mark Richards, the world-champion sailor and founder of Palm Beach, the luxury Australian builder, to run the two companies. With its low profile, long sheer, Downeast-style tumblehome and soft lines, the new Eastbay is a more modern vision of a traditional Grand Banks. It also has twin Volvo IPS 600 pod drives to boost its performance to a 30-knot top speed.

The boat has a large teak swim platform and an L-shaped settee and aft-facing bench seat in the cockpit. The aft and side windows in the salon open, while the salon has a large U-shaped settee to port and the galley, with Quartz countertops, to starboard. The boat comes with three staterooms below, or two staterooms with a utility room, plus two heads. In the three-stateroom version, the master is forward; next comes a large guest stateroom with twin berths and a smaller one with a single. In keeping with the Grand Banks tradition, teak is everywhere; the fit and finish are elegant.

Specs.: LOA: 48’8”; Beam: 14’6”; Draft: 3’2”; Disp.: 39,600 lbs. Fuel: 488 gals.; Water: 194 gals.; Power: 2xVolvo IPS 600s.



It seems that Hinckley just can’t make anything but a beautiful boat, and the new Hinckley 34R (for Runabout) lives up to that image. The flowing lines, the gentle tumblehome, the glistening teak, all speak to the company’s legacy. This, after all, is the builder who introduced the now world-famous Picnic Boat, and who just launched their 1,000th jet-driven powerboat.

The 34R lives up to its history. For looks, consider the custom teak-capped wraparound windshield, or the elegant sheerline, or the classic analog helm gauges. For performance, twin 320-hp Yanmars coupled to Alamarin jets produce a 33-knot top speed, while Hinckley’s Jetstick gives fingertip control for docking.

You board the 34R, a Downeast dayboat, from the swim platform leading to a centerline door and a walkway along the sunpad. A U-shaped settee in the middle of the boat seats a crowd, while a cabin below has small facing settees and a head with a toilet, sink and shower.

Specs.: LOA: 34’3”; Beam: 11’: Draft: 22”; Disp.: 14,000 lbs.; Fuel: 160 gals.; Water: 35 gals.; Power: 2×320-hp Yanmar diesels. Price: $685,000.



With its wide beam, low draft, long range and room for most of your family and a lot of your friends, the new Horizon Power Cat 52 is designed for both long-distance cruising and easy living and entertaining on board. One of the major advantages of a cat, of course, is the amount of space that can be packed between the hulls, and in the Horizon 52 that is put to good use. The salon with galley is simply huge and bright, with two large sofas and 360-degree views all around, plus an extra office area for a desk and chair. The owner’s stateroom occupies the entire starboard side hull with a queen bed, full-height closets and an en suite head.The VIP cabin is forward in the port hull, also with a queen bed; the guest cabin, with two twin beds, is aft of it. Those two cabins share the port head.

Up top, the flybridge seats six, and there’s left-over space for a 12-foot tender. The cockpit, meanwhile, has a seating and dining area for eight, with its own fridge and icemaker. Boarding doors on each side make for easy access.

With twin 550-hp Cummins, the Horizon 52 is a strong performer, with a 25-knot top speed. It’s also fuel-efficient. If you throttle back to 8 knots, range is more than 1,000 nm. Specs.: LOA: 51’7”; Beam: 22’0”; Draft: 4’3″; Disp.: 60,451 lbs.; Fuel: 800 gals.; Water: 250 gals.: Power: 2×550-hp Cummins diesels. Price: $1,790,000.



More and more boat owners are turning to outboard power, as the engines become more powerful, more fuel-efficient and so quiet that you often have to look at the tach to see if they’re running. In its new Surfhunter 32, Hunt has embraced that trend by hanging two 250-hp Yamahas off an Armstrong bracket on the transom, producing a top speed of 44 knots and opening up the cockpit with more space for fishing or relaxing. The new Hunt 32, of course, has the iconic deep-V hull that was started by C. Raymond Hunt on the original Bertram 31 in 1960.

The new 32 is a stretched version of the popular Surfhunter 29, with a redesigned interior and bridge deck. Visibility from the helm is excellent all around. Varnished teak companionway doors lead to the cabin below, with a full-sized V-berth, enclosed head with shower, and a galley with a single-burner stove, fridge and microwave. The best thing about a Hunt, however, aside from its classic good looks, is the ride. Over the years, I’ve driven Hunts in all kinds of weather up the ICW from Florida to Rhode Island, and up the Reversing Falls at the top of the Bay of Fundy; these are great boats.

Specs.: LOA: 31’1”; Beam: 10’6”; Draft: 3’0”; Disp.; 9,000 lbs.; Fuel: 235 gals.; Water: 28 gals.; Power: 2×250-hp Yamaha outboards.



Even with a flying bridge and raised pilothouse, the Krogen Express 52 manages to carry a classic low profile, enhanced by a long, flowing sheer line that emphasizes the boat’s distinctive profile. And the “Express” part of its name is not a misnomer: With twin 480-hp Yanmars the Krogen Express tops out at about 22 knots. Dial back to 8 knots and the boat has a range of 1,680 nm. With a semi-displacement hull, this express offers the best of a get-home-fast speed and a go-anywhere-without-refueling range.

Inside, the Krogen Express exudes fine craftsmanship and cherry finishing everywhere. A raised bench seat aft of the helm in the pilothouse converts to a double berth; Dutch doors open to the wide side decks. Below, the master in the bow is bright, with six portholes and hatches, and massive, with 7’4” standing headroom; an en suite head has a separate shower stall with a seat. A guest stateroom can be configured as an owner desires, including an L-shaped settee that converts to a bed plus a desk. The engine room is one of the best in the business; you can stand up and walk around. Specs.: LOA: 57’6”; Beam: 15’11”; Draft: 4’0”; Disp.: 43,000 lbs.; Fuel: 700 gals.; Water: 370 gals.; Power: 2×480-hp Yanmar diesels. Price: $1.6 million.



The flagship of the Leader fleet, the new 46 has lots of innovative touches, French lines, and Volvo performance (either with sterndrives or IPS), which all combine to make it an appealing contemporary cruiser. No wonder the Leader 46 by Jeanneau has been nominated for the European Boat of the Year award.

When I was on the boat, I particularly liked the cockpit galley with the grill opening aft; you stand on the wide teak swim platform, facing your guests, and fire up the barbeque. (There’s also a traditional galley below.) Another appealing touch: The forward-facing mate’s bench seat to port, opposite the helm to starboard, converts into an interior sunpad (or semi-exterior, if you open the large sunroof).

The Leader 46 comes in a two- or three-stateroom layout. The large full-width master is midships, with its own large head and shower; the VIP is forward, with a scissor-type berth that can be either a large single or split into two twins; the VIP also has a large head and shower. A third smaller cabin is also available. The Leader 46 is powered by twin Volvo sterndrive or IPS pod drive systems; all come with joystick controls to make docking easy.

Specs.: LOA 46’10”; Beam: 13’5”; Draft: 3’7”; Disp.: 23,369; Fuel: 238 gals.; Water: 106 gals.; Power: 2×370-hp Volvo sterndrives; 2x 400-hp Volvo sterndrives; 2xVolvo IPS 600 pod drives.



The “Z” in the elegant, low-profile MJM 50Z stands for Zurn, as in Doug Zurn, the creative Marblehead, Mass., yacht designer, who teamed up with Bob Johnstone, who started MJM Yachts in 2002. This flagship MJM is fast (I drove it at 38.7 knots in Long Island Sound), safe (with an ISO Category A offshore rating) and comfortable (with a standard Seakeeper gyrostabilizer). With a 15-foot beam, it’s also slender, meaning it moves through the water easily and efficiently.

Inside, the master stateroom forward has a large berth but also a desk and lounge chair; it’s a social area as well as a sleeping quarters. The en suite head and shower are generous; there’s another day head to starboard. The main salon has an extra-large galley on the port side, with enough storage for long-term cruising, while on the starboard side the traditional settee can be converted to a bed and the entire area can be partitioned off with three interlocking panels to provide another private stateroom.

The bridge deck has another seating area, as does the cockpit. The MJM 50Z comes with either two or three Volvo IPS drives; I tested one with three, and the performance was outstanding.

Specs.: LOA: 55’3”; Beam: 15’0”; Draft: 3’10”; Disp.: 35,850 lbs.; Fuel: 520 gals.; Water: 170 gals. Power: 2 or 3×435-hp Volvo diesels with IPS 600 pod drives. Price: Twins – $1,750,000; triples – $1,910,000.



The newest power cat from the worldwide charter giant, The Moorings 433PC, with three staterooms and two heads, is designed as a mid-sized cruising boat for families or groups of up to eight guests. A well-mannered cat built by Robertson & Caine in South Africa (and also sold under the Leopard brand), The Moorings 433PC offers a comfortable, safe, relaxed cruising vacation with more than enough room, inside and out, for everyone onboard.

The large, air-conditioned salon has windows for visibility all around, a galley forward, a convertible settee that can sleep two, and big glass doors that open to the cockpit, which has a large seating area and dining table. But what’s unusual is that another door opens from the salon to the foredeck, a signature feature of The Moorings’ new cats; if you open this door forward and the cockpit doors aft, you can have a continuous indoor-outdoor living space on board.

A large owners’ suite occupies the entire starboard sponson, with the berth aft and the head with shower forward; the two guest staterooms are on the port side and share a head with shower. Up top, the flybridge affords great views all around; it has the helm station, another settee with a dining table, an electric grill and bar.

Initially, the new Moorings 433PC will operate out of the company’s large base in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. If you buy the boat to charter, you have access to your own boat, or one like it, for up to 12 weeks a year at one of The Moorings 20 charter locations around the world. Specs.: LOA: 42’7”; Beam: 22’1”; Draft.: 3’1”; Disp.: 25,794 lbs.; Fuel: 264 gals.; Water: 206 gals.; Power: 2/260-hp Yanmar diesels. Base price: $615,000.



If you want to go around the world, take a look at the new Nordhavn 63 – or just about any other Nordhavn, for that matter. Nordhavns have been proven blue-water performers ever since a Nordhavn 40 went around the world in 2002, and the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally two years later when 18 boats cruised from Fort Lauderdale to Gibraltar. The 63 is built to the same standards.

What’s striking about the new 63 is the pilothouse, situated pretty far aft for protection during world-wide voyages. It has an L-shaped settee so guests can enjoy the view, and a full captain’s quarters aft with a head and shower. The only helm station is up there, but two wing stations on the Portuguese bridge and another on the aft deck help with docking.

The main salon, with two large settees and galley forward, is luxurious with raised cherry paneling. Two steps down, the master stateroom is midships on the port side, with a walkaround bed and en suite head suitable for long cruises. The day head is opposite, on the starboard side, complete with a shower and opening ports. The guest cabin forward rivals the master with a walkaround bed on the centerline, cedar-lined closets, lots of storage and an en suite head.  Additional crew’s quarters are forward of the engine room.

With a 325-hp John Deere diesel, the Nordhavn 63 tops out a more than 9 knots, but with a Nordhavn, speed isn’t the point. As I know, from my own experience on a Nordhavn 57 from the Azores to Gibraltar on the Atlantic Rally, Nordhavns are rock-solid boats, built for safe cruising anywhere in the world.

Specs.: LOA: 62’6”; Beam: 18’0”; Draft: 6’8”; Disp.: 143,000 lbs.; Fuel: 2,500 gals.; Water: 600 gals.; Power: 1×325-hp John Deere diesel.


Nordic Tug Nordic Explorer in Palm Beach FL

There’s no mistaking a Nordic Tug. The iconic salty tugboat lines, even down to the faux smokestack, have identified the brand ever since the first one, a 26-footer, was introduced at the Seattle boat show in 1980. The new Nordic Tugs 44, which replaces the popular 42, has all the personality, performance and solid sea-keep abilities of its predecessors.

Nordic Tugs are built in Burlington, Washington, for serious cruisers, people who will go up the Inside Passage to Alaska or from Maine to Miami and the Bahamas as a matter of course. The 44 has a two-stateroom, two head layout with a large salon and U-shaped galley, a raised pilothouse (with doors leading directly to the side decks), and an optional flybridge. There’s inside access to the bridge from the pilothouse, for safe and comfortable cruising. The master stateroom in the bow is exceptionally large and comfortable, with more than 7-foot headroom. And almost as an extra surprise, an office/nav station is opposite the guest stateroom with a desk, leather chair and plenty of room for electronics and charts.

I drove a new 44 recently on the Connecticut River off Essex, home of Wilde Yacht Sales, Nordic Tugs’ largest dealer. With a full keel and large rudder, the boat tracked well, handled easily and was a solid, fuel-efficient performer. Top speed, with a single 510-hp Volvo diesel, was 17 knots. At 7.5 knots, the boat has a range of 1,400 nm.

Specs.: LOA: 44’8”; Beam: 13’10”; Draft: 4’6”; Disp.: 31,400 lbs.; Fuel: 600 gals.; Water: 175 gals.; Power: 1×510 Volvo diesel. Base price: $844,688.



For a user-friendly boat that’s easy on the outside and elegant on the inside, take a look at the North Pacific 49 Pilothouse. There’s no wood on the outside, you just hose it down, while the inside has rich teak throughout, a large pilothouse for easy navigation, and an unusual full-beam salon for comfortable living. With a semi-displacement hull, the North Pacific 49 is a rugged, solid trawler meant for safe coastal cruising or living aboard.

The pilothouse on the 49 is a true pilothouse, with twin adjustable helm chairs, a settee that converts to a berth, good visibility and doors opening to the foredeck (or to stairs up to the flybridge and then down to the cockpit). Owners can choose from several options in the oversized salon, with the galley forward to port. Four steps down from the salon, a centerline companionway (with a linen closet) leads to the master in the bow, with an island queen berth and en suite head with shower, or to the guest stateroom to port, with a pair of single berths and a drop-down third berth. The two singles can be pushed together to make a queen bed. Across to starboard is the guest/day head, also with a separate shower.

With a 355-hp Cummins diesel, the North Pacific 49 tops out at about 11 knots. A 6 kW genset, bow thruster and folding radar arch are standard. Specs.: LOA: 52’0”; Beam: 15’5”; Draft: 4’10”; Disp.: 48,000 lbs.; Fuel: 500 gals.; Water: 350 gals.; Power: 1×355 hp Cummins diesel.



The new Outer Reef 580 has just about everything you need for long-range cruising or living aboard:  three staterooms, two heads, a raised pilothouse, a flybridge, a Portuguese bridge, and enough teak everywhere to warm the heart of even the saltiest cruiser among us. There’s even simulated hull planking to add to the classic look.

With large windows, the pilothouse provides great visibility; it also houses an L- shaped settee on a raised platform, a teak table on a stainless steel pedestal, and a Stidd helm chair. From the 580’s pilothouse, one teak stairway leads up to the flybridge, while another teak stairway leads down to the accommodations deck. Below, the full-beam master has a king-sized bed, lots of teak, and an en suite head with shower. The VIP stateroom is forward, with a queen bed and teak storage drawers and wall paneling. The guest stateroom is to port, with two bunk berths. You can access the guest head, with shower, from the VIP stateroom or from the lower hallway.

On the main deck, the Outer Reef’s salon has an L-shaped settee, a teak coffee table, and teak wall paneling with satin finish. The galley has Corian countertops and lots of storage in teak cabinets. The aft deck is fully protected by an overhang from the boat deck above. The flybridge has a Stidd helm chair, stainless destroyer wheel, and an L-shaped settee.

The Outer Reef’s hull is hand-laid fiberglass, with sandwich core above the waterline and vinylester barrier lamination to protect against osmosis. Power comes from two 500-hp John Deere diesels. Specs.: LOA: 57’5”; Beam: 17’2”; Draft: 4’10”; Disp.: 69,000 lbs.; Fuel: 1,000 gals.; Water: 300 gals.; Power: 2×500-hp John Deere diesels.



The smallest entry in the Palm Beach line, which stretches up to 65 feet, the new Palm Beach 42 is the first model to be launched since Grand Banks bought the Australian builder two years ago. And it’s hard to argue with Mark Richards, the Palm Beach founder and now president of Grand Banks who says, “This is the most gorgeous and feature-rich yacht of its size out there.”

With its low profile, long sheerline, gentle tumblehome and virtually acres of teak, the Palm Beach 42 will turn heads everywhere. Owners have a choice of one stateroom and a large galley down, or two staterooms and a galley up. In either version, the master forward has a tapered island berth and a large head and shower. The salon has two large facing settees, and the helm offers 360-degree views from windows all around. The interior is simply luxurious, with Burmese teak, lots of Ultraleather, Silestone countertops, and exquisite fit and finish.

Richards, a champion sailor, insists on strong but lightweight hulls and a low CG for a stable, safe ride. Palm Beach hulls are built with total epoxy vinylester core; foam monocoque construction ties bulkheads and interior furniture into the deck for additional strength.

Twin Volvo IPS 400 pod drives with fingertip controls add to performance, maneuverability and fuel economy, producing a top speed of about 36 knots.

Specs.: LOA: 47’0”; Beam: 14’6”; Draft: 3’0”; Disp.: 23,350 lbs.; Fuel: 317 gals.; Water: 172 gals. Power: 2xVolvo IPS 400.



The flagship of the Ranger Tugs fleet, starting at 21 feet, the new Ranger R-31 CB (for Command Bridge) is trailerable, meaning you could cruise one part of the Great Loop, say, this summer, bring the boat back home and start off where you left off next year. And you probably won’t have to worry too much about highway bridges. The flybridge folds down to reduce air draft on a trailer to 13’2”; you just unlock the canvas cowling, drop the inner supports and fold it flat.

Ranger Tugs are run by the father-son team of David and John Livingston in Kent, Washington, and they have more experience building boats than just about anyone else on the planet. (Their company, Fluid Motion, LLC also builds Cutwater Boats). David Livingston designed boats for Wellcraft, Regal and Fountain, among others, and was the head of Bayliner when the company was making 56,000 boat a year.

The Ranger 31 has two staterooms and a convertible dinette and lots of innovations. A reversible settee across the transom lets passengers sit facing forward or aft, while gull-wing seats fold out of the cockpit hull on both sides. The flybridge seats four and is reached by stairs, not a ladder. Garmin GPS units are standard for the bridge and lower helm stations, as are bow and stern thrusters.

Specs.: LOA: 31’2”; Beam: 10’; Draft: 2’4”; Disp.: 11,500 lbs. Fuel: 180 gals.; Water: 80 gals.; Power: 1×300-hp Volvo D4 diesel. Price: $309,937.



The Reliant 40 is the first boat launched by two familiar faces in Newport and two of the most respected names in the business: David MacFarlane, the former president and CEO of Alden, plus Cal, Ranger and Rampage, and Jim Ewing, the former executive VP of Alden and president of Trumpy. Their new Reliant Yachts company is based in Newport, although the boats are made by Su Marine in Turkey. They know that things have changed in their 40 or so years in business, but MacFarlane says that “What hasn’t changed is the boating public’s passion for a beautiful boat.”

And, with its traditional Downeast styling, including a gorgeous tumblehome, wide teak decks, low profile and long sheer line, the new Reliant 40 is beautiful indeed. The fit and finish is elegant throughout. The large cockpit has an aft settee facing an inlaid teak table and two aft-facing seats. The helmdeck, protected under a hardtop, has settees on each side, as in a sailboat. Below, the galley to port has marble countertops, a two-burner stove, fridge and microwave. The master, with a queen-sized bed, is forward, with the head to starboard with mahogany finish and a large separate shower.

Powered by two 320-hp Yanmar diesels and straight shafts, the Reliant 40 cruises at 24 knots and tops out at 30. The hull is super-efficient: At 24 knots, the boat burns 24 gph.

Specs.: LOA: 40’3”; Beam: 11’3”; Draft.: 3’7”; Disp.: 16,800 lbs.; Fuel: 290 gals.; Water: 80 gals.; Power: 2×320-hp Yanmar diesels.



A true pocket cruiser, the sturdy, economical Rosborough 246 reflects its salty Nova Scotia heritage while offering user-friendly cruising for a couple or small family. It has all the amenities to make cruising comfortable, considering its small size, and it also opens up distant cruising grounds because it’s fully trailerable. Its narrow 8’6” beam eliminates the need for special permits.

Originally made as commercial fishing boats in Nova Scotia, Rosboroughs are now built in New Hampshire, and the outboard-powered 246 has been one of the company’s most popular models. The new boat has an upgraded pilothouse, with 6’6” headroom, and there’s teak interior trim for a more upscale look. The V-berth in the bow is 7-feet long, and there’s also a convertible dinette in the salon large enough to sleep two children or one adult. Large windows provide good visibility all around, and the cockpit, with a bench seat against the transom, is protected by a hardtop.

A single 200-hp outboard gives the Rosborough a cruising speed of abut 16 knots, and tops out in the 20s. An integral keel provides stability and helps with tracking. Specs: LOA: 25’0”; Beam: 8’6”; Draft: 18”; Disp.: 5,000 lbs. Power: 1×200-hp outboard. Price: $146,342.


Sabre 42 Salon Express running in Oxford, MD.

With its classic Downeast looks, state-of-the-art performance and luxurious touches, the Sabre 42 is a popular built-in-Maine cruising boat. Living on board is easy, with light all around from large side and aft windows, and the American cherry wood provides a traditional nautical theme throughout. The Zeus pod drives with joystick controls make docking fingertip easy, while the 425-hp Cummins diesels power the boat into the low 30-knot range. One outstanding feature, attesting to Sabre’s quest for quality, is the sound level – only 77 dB(A) at top speed – which is exceptionally low, particularly for a large cruiser.

Visibility from the two Stidd helm chairs with Ultraleather is excellent all around; a door gives the helmsman immediate access to the starboard side deck. The galley is mid-level, while below the master is in the bow with a large head and shower. Then there’s an option for either a guest cabin with a double berth, or a dinette with fore-and-aft seating. In the salon, an L-shaped settee is to port, facing a two-person lounge with storage to starboard.

Specs: LOA: 40’10”; Beam: 14’0”; Draft: 3’4”; Disp.: 26,000 lbs.; Fuel: 380 gals.; Water: 140 gals.; Power: 2×425-hp Cummins QSB diesels with Zeus 3500 pod drives.



With its classic lines and elegant interiors, the new Vicem 65 Custom Flybridge is simply a beauty not to be missed. Introduced at last spring’s Palm Beach show, the Vicem 65, like all Vicems, is built by old-world craftsmen in Turkey with cold-molded mahogany, giving the boat a smooth and strong, quiet ride with natural insulation from noise and humidity.

Because of their construction, Vicems can be highly customized. The 65, for example, comes with two or three staterooms, with galley up or down. Hull number one, with galley down, has a custom kids’ room just aft of the VIP stateroom in the bow; the two rooms are connected by a door, so they can be opened as a family suite. The headroom on the first boat also is exceptionally high (well over 7 feet) because the owner is tall; still the overall profile of the boat is relatively low, even with the flybridge. Fit and finish are exquisite throughout. Vicem uses laminated mahogany and epoxy resin to build the hull, decks and flybridge.

The Vicem 65 is powered by twin 900-hp Volvo diesels, and it tops out at 27 knots. At a trawler speed of 10 knots, range is 1,000 nm. Bump it up to 22 knots, and range is 350 nm. Specs.: LOA: 65’0”; Beam: 18’5”; Draft: 5’3”; Disp.: NA: Fuel: 898 gals.; Water: 304 gals.: Power: 2×900-hp Volvo diesels. Price: $2,750,000.



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