Friday, May 20

Palm Beach Boat Show: Lots of Great Boats in a Great Setting, Plus 25 Boat Reviews

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It’s not hard to see why the Palm Beach Show has become more and more popular in the past few years. First off, the location is terrific: It’s pretty, it’s easy to get to, and once you’re there it’s easy to navigate the docks and tents without competing with a horde of other people. It’s a no-hassle boat show, with a bit of the Goldilocks’ effect: It’s not too big; it’s not too small, it’s just right.

The show this year, officially the 32nd annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, runs from Thursday, March 23, through Sunday, March 26. It’s along the Lake Worth Lagoon, the waterfront in West Palm Beach, centered on Flagler Drive and Evernia Street. There’s parking in easy walking distance, and lots of great restaurants and places to have an after-show drink nearby. If you come by boat, you can tie up your dink at a designated dock just south of the show.

All told the show will have hundreds of boats, from 8-feet to 150-feet-plus, and a lot of cruising powerboats. The organizers say the show will have more than $1.2 billion worth of boats (new and brokerage), engines, electronics and accessories, just about everything, both in the water and in tents. The Carefree Boat Club will give boat-handling classes throughout the show. For more, go to:

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



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.



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.



Just introduced to the U.S. market at the Fort Lauderdale boat show, the new Greenline 36 Hybrid offers a combination of a totally silent 6.5-knot speed under electric power, or an 18-knot speed under traditional 220-hp Volvo diesel power (boosted to 25 knots with an optional 370-hp Yanmar). The reaction to the boat at the show, said Vladimir Zinchenko, the CEO of SVP Yachts of Slovenia, the new owner of Greenline, was “very good. People are much more comfortable with hybrid technology today. They love the environmentally friendly aspect and the idea behind Greenline.”

I tested an earlier version of Greenline, a 33, in Annapolis a few years ago, and at first was disoriented by the lack of noise as we cruised down Spa Creek at 6 knots under electric power. It was like being on a sailboat but without hearing any wind in the rigging. The switch from diesel to electric power, and back again, was seamless. Soon I was more than happy with the almost-silent performance of the boat and felt like I was connecting with the real world again.

The company has won 21 international awards for its earlier hybrid boats, and now claims that the new 36 is the first production-model hybrid. It offers a constant 110V to power an air conditioning/heating unit, a large fridge, a microwave, an oven and TV. That’s all powered by a 5.7 kW Li-Po battery and inverter/charter, plus solar panels on the hardtop.

The Greenline 36 has two staterooms and one head with shower. The transom folds down to open up the cockpit for water sports, and a sliding door at the starboard helm gives easy access to the side deck. Maximum range under diesel power at 7 knots is about 1,000 nm. Zinchenko says he wants to find brokers to sell Greenlines, with models from 33 to 48 feet, in the U.S.

Specs: LOA: 38’0”; Beam: 12’3”; Draft: 2’9”; Disp.: 16,534 lbs.; Fuel: 185 gals.; Water: 106 gals.; Power: 1/220-hp Volvo D3. Price: About $256,000.



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.



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.



This new coastal cruiser from the prestigious French builder combines two major trends: the growing popularity of pocket cruisers, and the growing popularity of outboard power. It also packs a lot of comfort, innovation and living space into a 29-foot boat.

For all-weather comfort, the helm deck is enclosed with a hardtop and surrounded by large picture windows. The hardtop itself has two separate opening hatches to let in more air. And the sliding door next to the helm on the starboard side gives immediate access to the side decks, which is a great advantage in docking or going through locks. The back of the passenger seat opposite the helm can be flipped forward to create a large lounge along the port side; a table can be placed in the center for lunch or cocktails. The galley is up, behind the helm.

Below, the master stateroom also has lots of light, plus an en suite head with a sink and shower. A second stateroom is tucked under the helm deck.

You climb on the boat via a boarding door midships on the starboard side, or from the swim platform. The aft bench seat is on a track; you can slide it all the way back to create maximum space in the cockpit, or forward if you want to fish or tilt up the outboards. And there’s a large L-shaped lounge on the port side for outdoor relaxing.

The Jeanneau NC (for New Concept) 895 is designed as a family cruiser, and it’s a safe boat, with large railings going forward. There’s a large sunpad on the bow, which can be adjusted to a bench seat. to the bow. Specs.: LOA: 29’2”; Beam: 9’9”; Draft: 2’0”; Disp.: 6,746 lbs.; Fuel: 106 gals.; Water: 42 gals.; Power: 1×350-hp outboard; 2×175-hp outboards.



Boats don’t come much saltier, or more bullet-proof, than Kadey-Krogens. And the new 52, a go-anywhere-in-the-world displacement trawler, promises to be no exception. A traditional long-range cruiser, the 52 has a raised pilothouse, Portuguese bridge, large protected cockpit, and spacious accommodations to make living aboard almost as comfortable staying at home – except that the passing view will be much more interesting.

You enter the large salon through a weathertight door from the cockpit. Forward, on the starboard side, is gourmet galley with a full-size Jenn-Air fridge and four-burner Viking range with oven. Another weathertight Dutch door leads to the side deck. On the port side of the salon, stairs lead up to the pilothouse, with a teak wheel, dual helm chairs, and an aft settee that converts to a watch berth when you lower the teak table. More weathertight Dutch doors lead to the side decks.

The 52 comes in a two- or three-cabin arrangement, with the master either forward or midships. With two cabins, you’ll have an additional dedicated office space. Both the master and guest staterooms have heads with stall showers. Since Kadey-Krogens are made for long range cruising, you won’t have to leave anything at home; there is storage space everywhere.

A single 231-hp John Deere diesel tops out at 9.6 knots, but the 52’s range is remarkable. At 9 knots, range is 1,700 nm; at 7 knots, it’s 3,300 nm. For comfort underway, the Kadey-Krogen 52 has a 5,300 pounds of encapsulated lead ballast. And the new 52 has the benefit of completely new tooling. Specs.: LOA: 52’8”; Beam: 17’3”; Draft: 5’5”; Disp.: 70,000 lbs.; Fuel: 1,400 gals.; Water: 400 gals.; Power: 1x 231-hp John Deere diesel.



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 Lauderdale show was the first display of the new Marlow 53 Explorer, a fuel-efficient, long-range, state-of-the-art cruiser that has enough fuel to cruise from West Palm Beach to Greenland and back without stopping. For shorter trips, the new Marlow offers the same elegance, comfort and sophisticated engineering as its siblings.

David Marlow uses aviation-like standards in the yachts bearing his name, with lots of Kevlar, carbon fiber and modified epoxy, while keeping both the overhead height and the center of gravity low. The new 53 tracks straight with Marlow’s exclusive Strut Keel. The engine room has standing headroom and walkaround access to the twin John Deere diesels.

The boat’s salon has a desk and long L-shaped settee on the starboard side, and another settee between the bar and a granite-topped cabinet forward on the port side. The galley and dinette are in the pilothouse area.

Below, the large master stateroom has a centerline queen bed and a luxurious head with his-and-her toilets and vanities separated by a shower. The VIP stateroom forward has a queen berth with lots of storage and a head with shower. A smaller stateroom with upper and lower berths is under the steps. The flybridge has twin Stidd helm chairs, two settees and a hidden grill with sink, fridge and icemaker.

Specs.: LOA: 56’7”; Beam: 17’3”; Draft: 4’5”; Disp.: 66,000 lbs.; Fuel: 2,000 gals.; Water: 300 gals.; Power: 2x John Deere diesels.



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.



Nordhavn displayed its new 60 for the first time on the east coast at the Lauderdale show, and the company expects it to be as popular as the 55, a proven world-wide displacement cruiser. In fact, the 60 has almost the same interior as the 55, but with an additional five feet in the cockpit and lazarette to make it easier to enjoy water sports or evening cocktails as the sun goes down. The additional five feet also mean a larger boat deck up top, so there’s more room for a larger tender or more water toys. The extra footage also means a slightly higher speed and longer range; the 55 tops out at 9.5 knots, with a range of 1,500 nm. Dialing back to 8.25 knots, the range doubles to 3,000 nm.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Nordhavns (on their 2004 Atlantic Rally I was fortunate enough to be on their 57 from the Azores to Gibraltar), and I’m a big fan of their professional-style pilothouses. The pilothouse on the 60 is amidships, for minimal motion at sea, and has 360-degree visibility. An elevated L-shaped settee and table are situated behind the helm chair, next to a private stateroom with a double-sized berth and head for off-watch crew (or a third private cabin).

The salon and galley are almost home-sized, and the large owner’s stateroom is amidships on the same level as the galley; the master head has a shower and a bathtub. A generous guest stateroom is forward, with a double-sized berth, office area and head with stall shower. Specs.: LOA: 62’6”; Beam: 18’0”; Draft: 6’8”; Disp.: 138,000 lbs.; Fuel: 2,250 gals.; Water: 600 gals.; Power: 1x 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.



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 Newport show was the U.S. debut of the Palm Beach 65, which is made in the joint Palm Beach/Grand Banks factory in Malaysia. A luxurious – and beautiful – three-stateroom, three-head boat designed by world champion sailor Mark Richards, the Palm Beach 65 can be ordered with Volvo IPS pod drives or with straight shafts. This particular boat is powered by Volvo D-13 900-hp diesels with shaft drives; bow and stern thrusters make maneuvering easy. I tested this boat recently on Long Island Sound and it topped out at 30.2 knots; the ride was remarkable with the bow barely rising as the big boat came up to speed and the hull – a semi-displacement affair designed by Richards – barely leaning as the boat carved 25-knot turns.

The Palm Beach 65 is much more than just another pretty boat, although one with gorgeous lines and world-class teak accents everywhere. Push a button and the transom lifts up to display a 10.5-foot RIB in the garage. From the helm, push other buttons and the side and back windows power down. The galley is huge, as is the master stateroom, with a king-sized bed and separate laundry room (the owners plan on living on board in the Bahamas).

Specs: LOA: 70’; Beam: 19’: Draft: 3’6”; Disp.: 50,700 lbs.; Fuel: 1,320 gals.; Water: 336 gals.; Power: 2x D13 Volvo diesels. Base price: $3.4 million.



Just launched at the Yachts Miami Beach show in February, the new Prestige 460 flybridge has the same French lines, creative use of space and large amounts of natural light that have become the company’s hallmarks. Nick Harvey, president of Prestige America, says the two-cabin, two-head cruiser “is the perfect size with outstanding performance and exceptional accommodations.”

Prestige makes five flybridge boats, from 42 to 56 feet, all using Garroni Design with engineering from JP Concepts. Part of the powerhouse Beneteau Group, Prestige was created more than 20 years ago. Since then, it has sold more than 2,500 yachts worldwide. With its raked windshield, radar arch and low profile (even with the flybridge), the new 460 carries an aggressive contemporary look that fits into the Prestige mold.

You step into the boat from the port side of the large swim platform. The cockpit has a large L-shaped settee across the transom and partially down the starboard side, for easy lounging or entertaining. The cockpit is well protected by an overhang from the flybridge. In the salon, the aft galley serves guests inside and out, while there’s a large L-shaped settee forward to port, opposite the helm, and a smaller settee behind the helm to starboard. Large windows all around let in lots of light.

Four steps down, the accommodation deck features a full-beam master stateroom midships. It’s large enough for a settee on the starboard side; the hullside windows make the stateroom seem bright and open. The guest stateroom is forward.

The flybridge serves as a major social and sunning area (although there’s a sunpad on the bow too), with a large L-shaped lounge aft and another lounge forward on the starboard side, opposite the helm to port.

Power comes from twin Volvo diesels. Owners have a choice of 370-hp Volvo IPS500s or 435-hp Volvo IPS600s. The boat tops out at about 30 knots, and cruises at 22 knots.

Specs.: LOA: 46’10”; Beam: 13’11”; Draft: 6’7”; Disp: 27,366 lbs.: Fuel: 328 gals.; Water: 106 gals.; Power: 2x Volvo IPS500s or 2x Volvo IPS600s.



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, Rhode Island, 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.


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.



Sirena Yachts, the powerful Turkish builder, is on a roll. They launched their new 64 in Dusseldorf in January and had sold four by the time they had a second 64 and a brand-new 56 at the Yachts Miami Beach show last week. And they gathered all their heavy guns there for the world-wide debut of the 56: Ipek Kirac, the company’s CEO; German Frers, one of the foremost designers in the world, who drew the hull and exterior; and Tommaso Spadolini, of Design Studio Spadolini in Florence, who did the interior. “The U.S. market is very important to us,” Ms Kirac said, in a considerable understatement.

Standing on the dock, Frers told us (George Day, my partner and publisher of Cruising Odyssey, and me) that the boat’s “distinct appearance shows the strong character of an expedition yacht,” while the semi-displacement hull “gives the best performance at a wide range of speed. It means the owners can cruise in comfort and safety with low fuel consumption and explore all corners of the globe.”

Then Spadolini took us through the boat, a treat in itself. With its clean, contemporary European lines and curved wraparound pilothouse windows, the Sirena 56 does create its own distinct look. Inside, the large salon, with galley aft, is filled with natural light from large side windows. Below, the master is full-beam midships, and is large even for a 56-foot boat, but the real surprise was the forward VIP stateroom, with the queen-sized berth aft, under light flowing down from a pilothouse skylight, and two comfortable settees and a table in the bow. We all agreed that we couldn’t decide, if we were the owner, whether to claim the master suite as home or this forward VIP; both have luxurious en suite heads with showers. A third cabin for the crew, with its own head, is aft, accessible from the swim platform.

The flybridge also was appealing, with the upper helm to port and a highly varnished table and U-shaped lounge to starboard. Aft, there’s a shower under the radar arch, plus a wet bar and two chaises for sunbathing.

With standard 650-hp CAT diesels, Frers said the boat cruises at 16 knots and tops out at about 24 knots. At its most economical speed of 10 knots, range is 850 nm with a 10 percent fuel reserve.

Specs.: LOA: 61’6”; Beam: 17’3”; Draft: 3’2”; Disp.: 60,000 lbs.; Fuel: 951 gals.; Water: 211 gals. Power: (Standard) 2×650-hp CAT C8.7 diesels; (Optional) 2×850-hp CAT C12.9 diesels.



Now here’s a change. Vicem Yacht, the Turkish builder that’s been specializing in using marine mahogany in the cold-molded construction process since 1991, is now going to introduce its first fiberglass/epoxy model, the Vicem Classic 46IPS, at the Palm Beach International Boat Show starting March 23. And, no surprise, it’s a beauty.

Designed by Vicem’s in-house team, the boat carries classic Downeast lines that just as easily could have been drawn in Southwest Harbor, Maine. We don’t have a lot of details yet, but we know the Classic 46IPS will be powered by two 435-hp Volvo IPS 600s, offering joystick control and pod drives for easy maneuvering around the docks and greater fuel efficiency at higher speeds. The boat has a hard-chine hull and is projected to cruise at 22 knots and top out at 26 knots.

As with all Vicems, the new Classic 46IPS can be highly customized, with either two or three cabins below, accommodating either four or six people. The galley and head will have Corian countertops; the cockpit has a teak sole and a custom table with a hydraulic lift. And there’s a 13.5 kW Onan genset. We can’t wait to see it in Palm Beach and test it as soon as possible.

Specs.: LOA: 46’0″; Beam: 14’9″; Draft: 4’3″; Disp.: 41,200 lbs.; Fuel: 500 gals.; Water: 200 gals.; Power: 2×435-hp Volvo IPS 600s.





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