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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Cavileer 48 Convertible

How do you get a 50,000-pound, Jersey-built, 48-foot convertible clean out of the water? The easy way would be with a TraveLift. But as far as I’m concerned, the real answer is to head her right at the six-foot breakers in Absecon Inlet at 26.5 knots. That was how Cavileer Boatworks president, John DiDonato, Capt. Joe Badagliacco, and I did it while testing the flagship 48 Convertible in October.

We had just finished checking speed runs in the flat-calm Great Egg Harbor Bay, where the 48 had registered a strong cruise speed of 33 mph at 2000 rpm and a WOT speed of 39 mph at 2330 rpm, when DiDonato informed me that we were headed down the New Jersey coast to really stretch the 48’s legs. “Sounds like fun,” I thought. With her speed, the trip would take the 48 no time at all, and it wouldn’t tax her fuel capacity, either, as she has a 600-gallon main tank aft and an amidships 150-gallon auxiliary tank, which is tapped via a transfer pump. At cruise the the twin 800-hp Caterpillars burn 60 gph, and at WOT, 82 gph. We weren’t planning on a WOT run, so with the 48’s main tank three-fourths full and a full auxiliary, the half-hour or so voyage wouldn’t even make the gauges flinch.

As we passed behind Atlantic City, I could see the white water of the inlet starting from the left and stretching across the mouth. It wasn’t exactly impassable, but I’d definitely call it interesting. Badagliacco pushed the throttles forward and got the 48 up to her 2000-rpm cruise as we headed into the brisk east wind and the walls of white rolling in with the tide. We easily motored through the majority of the head sea, even though the waves were close together and spaced about every five to six feet. With the tabs fully retracted, the 48 ran straight and true, but..Of course, there’s always a “but” in a story like this, and ours was coming.

As the 48 sliced through the breakers, she managed to catch one that was just perfect for riding up like a rocket ship off the launch tower. Up and away we went. I began to get that feeling portrayed in action movies where everything goes quiet and in slow motion as you wait for the impact. As the sound of the singing props brought me back to reality, I realized gravity was about to take back control of the situation. We landed in a way I can only describe as big, but there was no bang. There was white water everywhere—heck, it flew up and over the optional flying-bridge hardtop—but there was no spine-jarring, landing-on-the-chine-like pain. DiDonato credited naval architect Don Blount’s hull design for the smooth ride, flight, and landing. Upon returning to Mother Earth, I took the wheel and ran the 48 down the coast with four- to six-foot quartering seas. I was able to maintain a 26-knot cruise the entire trip.

After the test, Blount attributed my slick ride to the placement of the 48’s longitudinal center of gravity (LCG), which affects trim fore and aft. The 48’s LCG location keeps her head down and allows her to slice through big waves, even though her interior volume was achieved by carrying the tumblehome far forward, making for a 16’1” beam. The boat actually bulges out between the waterline and gunwale as you look forward up her hull sides. The 48 also sports a dramatic inverted bell-shape hull (much more pronounced than the hull of a traditional sportfisherman), making for a voluminous below-decks area that accommodates a three-stateroom, two-head arrangement. The master forward features an en suite head with not one but two sinks—perhaps his and her sinks for a cruising couple? Two seems to be the number for the 48, as it appears two people could also fit in the shower comfortably. To be fair, I didn’t try it.

The added space is also apparent in the guest stateroom, aft and to port of the master, where there is nearly six feet across the side-by-side berths. The third guest stateroom to starboard has enough volume for bunks plus an optional Splendide 2000 washer and vented dryer. This setup definitely lends itself to cruising vacations for a family or canyon running for a six-pack crew. Having spent some long-range trips sleeping on saloon floors, bridge decks, and under tables when room was scarce, I found the Cavileer’s accommodations to be substantial. If you add the optional 13-inch TV/VCRs to all of the staterooms, you might even have trouble coaxing your crew out of bed when the fish hit.

A few steps up from the commodious accommodations, the saloon equally impressed me, at first with 6’6” headroom and second with a combination of satin-finished and high-gloss teak, which is standard. The high-gloss is limited to some key molding sections but still provides a touch of elegance without being overbearing. All the cabinetry is clean, and the finger-flip doors add an attractive flush look to the galley area. The galley has the requisite Princess two-burner cooktop and standup Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer, its doors secured with large metal latches. Cavileer has done such a good job of reducing visible hardware on the cabinetry that these less-than-attractive latches seem misplaced. I’d inquire about getting drawer-type refrigerator and freezer units in here to maintain the streamlined look.

Another place the 48 shines is in her engine room. We’re talking nearly 5’3” headroom and about three feet of maneuvering room outboard of each of the 3406Es. Cavileer can install diesels to 1,050 hp each, and I’d guess that even with the biggest engines, there would still be room to spare. All regular maintenance items are easily reached inboard, and the fuel filters, although located forward in the engine room, are quickly viewable and accessible. There’s also a ton of places to stow spare parts.

When stepping from the engine room to the fish fighting area, the white-on-white cockpit makes this 163-square-foot space seem even larger. It could easily be used for entertaining, thanks to the standard freezer and sink here. Fishermen will find the removable in-deck fishbox, transom livewell, and transom door useful, but I did note that the struts on the lids of the sink and freezer were loose and could make for a dented finger or two.

Building in the high 40- and 50-foot-plus range, Cavileer faces tough competition from both production builders—including some of its New Jersey brethren such as Viking, Ocean, and Egg Harbor—and semicustom yards, but I’d say the 48 is up to the challenge. Her fit and finish is solid, and her ride is soft and smooth, and although you may not want to bust through a frothing, white inlet like we did (especially at cruising speeds), there’s a lot to be said for a boat that can do it if you have to—and sometimes you have to.

Cavileer Boatworks
(609) 965-8650

This article originally appeared in the February 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.