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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Bertram 700

You don't have to have the windows.

That may be the most important message I can convey to hardcore anglers interested in the Bertram 700. I know a bunch of you are this very moment looking at the running shots of our test boat and thinking, "Phew! No real fisherman would have those on his boat."

So all you hypertestosteronics can relax. While the master stateroom hull-side windows are standard on the enclosed-bridge 700, they're optional on the open-bridge version that most serious anglers will order. And while I'm sure I'm not going to change the mind of a single manly skeptic, I must nevertheless admit that I think they're neat. They really open up what is usually the darkest area of any boat and provide views to the outside that are relaxing at rest and entertaining underway.

Hard-core anglers will probably also sniff at another option on our test boat: the Mitsubishi ARG stabilization system licensed exclusively for powerboat use to the Ferretti Group, of which Bertram is a member. Not only do the two genset-size gyroscopes (two because of the Betram's size) occupy about half of the 700's lazarette and restrict access to her two standard 23-kW Kohler gensets (you must lay on your side to check their oil), they add nearly $195,000 to the price tag. But they also reduce roll (by as much as half, says Bertram) at slow speeds and at rest, a claim that rang true as I idled our boat in the middle of the Gulf Stream. I'm sure a lot of anglers will insist that such a technological panacea is only for the limp-wristed—despite the hazards of trying to stand up and fight a fish on a wet and pitching deck.

Remove these two items, and what do you have? A big, relatively conventional sportfisherman that with a top speed of 44 mph can definitely run with the big boys. And not just in flat water, thanks to her proven hull. In creating the 700, Bertram didn't start from scratch; it just stretched the 670, which it's been building since 2004. The 700 gains a foot in her engine room, two feet in her already-generous master stateroom, and three feet in her cockpit, which now includes a standard mezzanine. (It was optional on the 670.)

Adding waterline typically increases buoyancy aft, which should enhance planing performance. It certainly did on our 700, which not only accelerated briskly (see our test results) but did so without excessive bow rise. She assumed a 4 1/2-degree angle at 1250 rpm and then never varied more than a degree from it. Trim tabs were necessary only to adjust for asymmetrical loads and the effects of beam winds, a consideration on a boat with a full tower.

Our 700's admirable acceleration came courtesy of optional 2,000-hp MTU 16V 2000s that emitted a black cloud whenever I nailed the throttles. This isn't the first time I've seen these engines belch black smoke, but it certainly is the most egregious case of it, and I'm not certain if it's characteristic of the engine or a matter of adjustment. It's definitely an MTU issue, not Bertram's.

Speaking of test results, you may notice that the 700's sound-level readings are a little high—above 85 dB-A from 1750 to WOT (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation). Most of this was not exhaust, wind, or water noise, but due to rattles emanating from the bin inserts beneath the three cockpit hatches. The cause was an out-of-spec prop shaft: a variation of .010 inch compared to the Bertram threshold of .006 inch. (Betram checks every prop shaft with a micrometer before installing it.) The real culprit, I was told, was the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show that took place a week before our test, which necessitated using the faulty shaft so Hull No. 1 could make her debut there. The explanation rings true: Standing in the cockpit I could feel the vibration through my feet.

Even with the rattles, the 700 was a joy to run, especially in the Gulf Stream, where four-footers predominated. I had to keep reminding myself we were doing 30-plus knots as the big boat sashayed through the swells like a starlet walking up to receive her Oscar, leaving the bridge enclosure mostly dry. I was especially impressed the way she handled seas on her forward quarters—not a hint of jarring. I could have played in the Stream for hours had my arms not given out. Our 700's steering was glacially slow: 11 turns lock to lock. It seems Bertram was experimenting with a BCS electro-hydraulic system on the 700. The experiment now concluded, it will thankfully return to the 670's conventional engine-driven power-assist system.

Of course, the 700 isn't supposed to be about sporting among the waves; it's supposed to be about sportfishing, and if you have any doubt where Bertram's priorities are on this boat, you need only observe that on the main level, all three additional feet were lavished on the cockpit. The big difference is, of course, the now-standard mezzanine; when it was ordered on the 670, there wasn't as much room between the chair and mezzanine as some anglers—especially those with sizable cockpit crews—would have liked. No such problem here.

Unchanged are the transom-mounted kill box (which on our boat was connected to the Eskimo ice maker) and seven-foot fishbox flanked by 24"x32" dunnage boxes (whose liners were doing most of the rattling). The area beneath the mezzanine is divided into three deep wells (and the engine-room entrance) with lift-up lids that can be freezers, refrigerators, baitwells, or dry stowage. Also unchanged is Bertam's unique cockpit-drainage system: a perimeter gutter that feeds a large (about 15-gallon) under-deck well, which drains through the transom via three large flappered scuppers. I aggressively backed down the 700, and the only water that didn't come over the transom entered under the transom door, and it all exited with dispatch.

Interior aft freeboard here is 2'3", which means tagging a fish will be no problem for even the shorter crewmembers. As to rod stowage, a locker in the forward starboard corner not only holds rods but showers them in fresh water at the end of the day. A huge (I'd guess seven-foot) dry rod locker on the starboard side of the bridge deck is an option.

There are two options when it comes to the saloon, the same ones on the 670. Our layout was similar to the 670's Plan B but longer; Plan A features a separate starboard wet bar and, in place of our boat's six Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers, an upright refrigerator. With its big dinette and saloon sofa, Plan B is well adapted to both feeding and coddling a crowd of anglers (or any other kind of crowd for that matter). Two other changes are noteworthy. One is the first application of African mahogany on any Bertram, which along with fine lacquerwork and joinery, imparts a feeling of masculine luxury that you-know-who will appreciate. Second, the molded-in, enclosed bridge stairwell is now just outside the saloon door, a change that not only makes the trip from bridge to cockpit a lot quicker, but also saves on wear and tear on the interior.

And finally, there are the styling changes: The 700 has a sweeping, unbroken sheer instead of the 670's broken one (once a Bertram trademark) and some smoothing out of the feature lines in the flying bridge overhang. Together they make the 700 look more than three feet longer in profile than the boat she replaces. Three feet isn't a lot, but when you know just how to apportion it—as Bertram obviously does—it can make a world of difference.

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

There are many ways to build emergency, engine-driven bilge pumps. The 700's standard setup will appeal to those for whom redundancy is a paramount concern. Each engine has a separate valve, with its handle mounted on the sole between the engines, about a third of the way back. I like this configuration because when water's gushing in, you want the valves as close to the engine-room door as possible. I also like that all you have to do is flip one (or two) levers, a configuration both quick and idiotproof.—R.T.

This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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