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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Bertram 410 Convertible

When I was a kid, I always heard the name Bertram mentioned among boaters. The conversation usually involved someone wanting to buy the now-legendary 31-footer or someone else who had just purchased one. That vessel was—and to many diehards still is—the ultimate in solid-fiberglass, deep-V fishing boats. Aside from the dock talk, I remember the picture of Moppie, the first 31 that was used to build the plug for 1,800 or so sisterships to follow, running headlong into the slop to win the 1960 Miami-Nassau race. It's an image etched into the minds of many boating enthusiasts and one that helped make Bertram an instant icon. That nearly 50-year-old story has been passed down from one generation to another, and today Bertram espouses the same core values that defined the 31: ride, performance, and solid build.

And it was just down the road from the Miami facility that produced this famous boat that the wide-eyed curiosity of my 1970's childhood met the Bertram of 2007, the 410 Convertible, which is the latest in a fleet of open and convertible sportfishermen that ranges in size from 36 to 67 feet (a 70-footer is on the way).

That unmistakable logo, complete with the wingspread eagle, shone against the bright-white Maxguard gelcoat under South Florida's summer sun as her Euro-influenced curves (Bertram was purchased by Ferretti Group in 1998) blended with the familiar profile to create an appealing package. Navy blue and gold accent stripes adorned the vessel's foredeck and cabin sides, defining her cambered, water-repelling foredeck and emphasizing her 14'6" beam. Yet the 410 is 1'3" narrower than the Cabo 40 and the Albemarle 410XF and 1'9" narrower than the Rampage 41.

The 410's narrower beam hints at a sharp entry and deep forefoot that are designed to slice head seas with ease. (The flat-calm conditions on my test day unfortunately offered me no chance to substantiate this theory.) Her entry broadens to a mid-20-degree deadrise amidships and tapers to 17 degrees at the transom, unlike that 31, which had about 24 degrees of deadrise at the stern. This is consistent with a policy dating from the mid-1970's, around the time of the 46.6, when Bertram changed from its trademark deep-V, raceboat-inspired bottom to the modified version seen on the 410. Having such a hull bottom meant that the 410 was quick to plane—about six seconds from a standing start—and stable underway at all speeds.

Indeed, when I sat in the optional Release Marine helm chair facing the centerline helm pod and throttled the Cummins' single-lever electronic controls to the pins, the optional twin 600-hp Cummins QSC8.3-600s (twin 540-hp Cummins are standard) spooled up quickly. This boat is no speed demon, hitting a respectable 35.1 mph at the engines' rated 3000 rpm, but Bertram says many prospective buyers are coming down in size, looking for a 40-footer with mid-20-knot cruise speed. When I dialed back the motors to a fast cruise of 2750 rpm, the 410 easily made 32 mph with an almost miserly fuel burn: just 52 gph, which works out to a 301-statute-mile range.

The 410 also tracked straight and true, thanks to the successful marriage of hull form and a slight keel. Yet draft is just 4'0", so shallow-water cruising and/or fishing can be done with ease. She also spins on a dime and backs down with a vengeance thanks to 2.39:1 ZF gears and 25x36.5 five-blade Michigan props set into pockets that provide just the right amount of tip clearance. I ran several fast-moving, backing-down scenarios, and the 410 performed nearly flawlessly each time while offering me an unobstructed view of the 104-square-foot cockpit. On a few of the runs, I noted that the port-side scupper drained more slowly than the starboard one. It appeared something might have been partially blocking it. I also noticed that that the hardtop began to shake at fast cruise after extended periods. I was assured that on future models it would be lower and that it would receive extra cross members for support.

A few other issues arose during my time onboard the 410. The first was in the guest/dayhead, which is accessible from the starboard-side guest stateroom and companionway. If I closed the shower stall door, the companionway door was in the stall. If water gets on a wood-veneer door like this, its life will be short. The space is tight for both a shower and a Tecma MSD, so I'd forego the second shower, or place the shower door on a circular track that closes inward instead of outward to the companionway, or eliminate the second head altogether and use the space for stowage or even a washer/dryer.

I found a more easily remedied issue in the finely appointed, forepeak master, which has a queen berth and cedar-lined hanging lockers. The air-conditioning control panel was mounted within the second step up to the berth, so to change the temperature, you have to bend down or get on your knees. Moving it to eye level on a bulkhead or even in one of the hanging lockers flanking the foot of the berth is a no-brainer. I also noticed that some of the attractive Olivari door handles hit each other when opening and closing doors. I was told doorstops would be installed.

That said, the saloon, dinette, and galley-down are done exquisitely in a satin-finish cherrywood. And when you combine 6'5" headroom in the saloon, large side windows, and a cockpit-facing window that's large enough to move those big diesels through, the natural light abounds in here. The area is voluminous enough for everyone to have their own space and close enough so you and your guests can communicate without raising your voice.

After I finished up the test, I took a tour of Bertram's plant and noticed a common thread. Every boat that was working her way down the line to make-ready and delivery was being tweaked and retweaked to make sure she was spot-on for her owners. Like any Hull No. 1, the 410 needed some fine tuning, too, but from what I saw at the factory and gathered from speaking to Bertram's staff, the details will be worked out.

And if this commitment to excellence and evolution continues, I'm sure someday my son will hear boaters discussing the next Bertram classic coming down the pike. Perhaps it might even be the 410 Convertible? Time will tell.

For more information on Bertram Yachts, including contact information, click here.

Bertram has always built its hull bottoms using only single-skin, hand-laid fiberglass. In addition, areas such as the chines and keel are reinforced with layers of unidirectional S-glass. Today encapsulated foam-cored stringers add backbone without adding weight, while the deck, bridge, and hull sides above the waterline are foam-cored and vacuum-bagged to optimize the glass-to-resin ratio and thus enhance rigidity. All external hardware (i.e. cleats, rails, etc.) mounts through laminated-in aluminum backing plates.—P.S.

This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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