Cavileer 44 ConvertibleBy Jeffrey Moser
Cavileer Boatworks is named after 18th-century boatbuilder John Cavileer, whose boats—built in Lower Bank, New Jersey, the current home of Cavileer Boatworks—were integral players in America’s fight for independence. George Washington, then a young general, was purportedly so impressed with the stout construction and seafaring abilities of Cavileer’s boats that he used them to send the British Army packing during the American Revolution. It’s also been said that Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River was aboard a Cavileer.
So it was fitting that just a few days shy of Independence Day I met Cavileer’s sales manager Michelle DeMarco and Capt. Ben Cushinotto at Atlantic City’s Trump Marina to test Cavileer’s semicustom 44 Convertible. While we awaited the arrival of Hull No. 1’s owners, Jack and Star Thomas, and chatted amicably about the upcoming weekend’s barbecues and fireworks, I inspected the sparkling, white-on-white cockpit.
Measuring 150 square feet and well-equipped, the cockpit of Brown-Eyed Girl was, like her predecessors, battle-ready, although the quarry is now armies of gamefish. Rod stowage was aplenty, with six rod holders in the gunwales, six rocket-launcher-style rod holders on the flying bridge, and four in the pilasters, the last four placed for easier bait rigging for the optional 35-foot, triple-spreader Lee outriggers. The in-sole, insulated, and removable fishbox measures 77.5”x15.5”x16”, enough room for perhaps a dozen 50-pound-class tuna and a few wahoo. However, the center-and-near-aft placement of the optional Lee fighting chair impedes access to the fishbox and the standard transom-mounted 60-gallon livewell. Removing the leg rest frees up nearly two feet here, so unless you’re chasing grander-plus marlin, it probably would be wise to leave it off. (Without the leg rest, fish too big to be muscled over the gunwales can be pulled through the 261/2-inch-wide transom door directly into the fishbox.) The cockpit is finished with four tackle drawers, and a seven cubic-foot refrigerator/freezer. I’d add the optional coaming padding ($1,285) for stand up-fighting comfort.
The Thomases arrived, and due to the intermittent rain and hazy sunshine, we made introductions in the cockpit short and sweet and ambled through the solid teak saloon door to avoid the stifling humidity. They mentioned that while Jack, an avid fisherman, supervised the amenities of the aforementioned tournament-rigged cockpit, Star collaborated on the 44’s interior with William Bales and Company Interior Design.
In my opinion the collaboration was a success, as Brown-Eyed Girl’s interior is a model of understated elegance. The saloon is a fitting, comfortable retreat from the pelagic battles that’ll likely be staged in the cockpit. The light, grain-matched teak interior is accented with a cream Ultraleather L-shape settee to port and a C-shape settee at the dinette; both had stowage beneath. Muted-gray Corian countertops in the galley contrast nicely with the Amtico floors, teak valences, and the galley’s accessories—a flush-fit EuroKera cooktop, stainless steel sink and fixtures, and slick LG combo microwave/coffee maker. Sub-Zero drawer-style refrigerator and freezers and a Raritan ice maker complete the galley’s amenities; copious stowage here ensures that hungry anglers and cruising guests will find plenty to eat.
The amenities of the master stateroom are fit for a general, and the two-head, two-stateroom layout sustained the subtle color scheme of the saloon. A walkaround queen is flanked by two 18”x21.5”x49” cedar-lined lockers, with additional stowage below and to port and starboard. Both the master and the guest staterooms boast 6’5” headroom and are serviced by en suite heads, with the master stateroom’s featuring his-and-her stainless steel sinks. One of the sinks can be replaced with a larger, two-person shower, DeMarco told me, but the current layout felt anything but cramped—good engineering by Cavileer.
We headed out through the Absecon Inlet for a handful of speed runs. As the crew made their way to the bridge, I stayed in the saloon to gauge the sound-deadening capabilities of the Nidacore-insulated sole and got noteworthy results: At idle I took a reading of 60 dB-A (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation), meaning that the big Cats rumbling below were just a whisper. I repeated the test at 1500 rpm, and my decibel meter peaked at a quiet and impressive 65 dB-A.
The Atlantic Ocean was showing pea-soup fog, so we ran over to Absecon Bay for the speed trials. The Cats spooled up to a WOT of 2325 rpm, and the 44 hit a top end of 38.9 mph. At a cruise speed of 32.3 mph, the 44 burned 45 gph for an estimated 404-nautical-mile range—not bad considering that with a full load of fuel, water, and five passengers and their gear, she weighed in at more than 50,000 pounds.
She owes her efficiency not only to Caterpillar, but to the Don Blount-designed hull. The 44’s solid fiberglass hull features a moderate entry that flattens to 12 degrees of deadrise at the transom and has the similar, inverted bell-shape hull of the Cavileer 48; the pronounced, Carolina-influenced flare bulges again voluptuously between gunwale and waterline. Later at the dock when I traced its shape with my hands, I made the same hourglass-like outline that a 1930’s film gangster would mime when describing the figure of his best girl. This accounts for the 44’s roomy interior. In addition, the 44’s prop pockets reduce shaft angle and create a shallow, 3’3” draft.
The fog burned off in the early afternoon, so we made our way into the Atlantic and were promptly greeted by tightly bunched two- to four-foot seas. I was able to run the 44 at a comfortable 25 knots in a head sea without so much as a slap; she just plowed through the larger sets and sat softly in the troughs. She performed equally well in a quartering and following sea, and her power-assisted Teleflex steering was tight and responsive: The 44 carved tight turns near WOT with no loss in rpm and with considerable agility as I enjoyed unobstructed sightlines from the flying bridge.
In a crowded, competitive 40- to 50-foot sportfisherman market—even if you’re just considering New-Jersey-built production boats—Cavileer’s 44 Convertible stands out for her refined, roomy interior combined with the cockpit space and oceanfaring capabilities of larger sportfishermen. And for that, like General Washington long before me, I salute them.
This article originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.