Cruisers 477 Sport Sedan — By Richard Thiel
— October 2005
No, not as in voyaging around the world. Like the huge SUV that lets you take everything with you.
When someone calls to tell me he wants me to see a new boat that’s really different, it’s hard not to be skeptical. “Different” is a continuum; a change in nomenclature or even color may be all that’s necessary to justify it. “Really new”? To earn that description, someone’s got to come up with a whole new take on an existing concept.
Well, Cruisers has. Its 477 Sport Sedan represents a rethinking of the flying-bridge motoryacht. Some may find her too different. But some of you, I promise, will look at her, slap your forehead, and say, “Now why didn’t someone think of that before?”
When Cruisers conceived of a new series of flying-bridge sedans (a 427 will debut at the 2006 Miami International Boat Show and a 527 sometime after that), it talked to a lot of boaters before it drew the first line, asking what was most important in this kind of boat. The company says it came away with three major requirements. One, they wanted a saloon with 360-degree visibility. Two, they wanted a protected flying bridge helm where the windshield really shielded them and which they could enclose without horsing around a lot of canvas. Three, they wanted a soft ride and would give up some speed in exchange for it.
Cruisers addressed those three requirements in the 477. While technically you can’t have true 360-degree visibility, the 477’s saloon comes darn close. Between the three-panel windshield, stylish side windows, and sliding glass aft-bulkhead door, there’s not much on this level you can’t see through. Stand in the U-shape galley, forward and to starboard, and you’re eye level with the side windows. Sit at the elevated eight-person dinette table directly to port, and you really can see all around you. The same is true in the saloon, a six-inch step down and aft. Whether you’re sitting on the two port-side recliners facing the standard 26-inch LCD TV or on the starboard two-person settee (with stowage drawer below), you have a view to the outside on all points.
The flying bridge is protected by a big windshield, although lacking structural mullions, it does flex a bit at times. Because the sculptured hardtop is standard, only drop canvas is needed to fully enclose the area, and optional reverse-cycle air conditioning makes it a fine place to be most any time of year. Standards like a beverage cooler drawer and aft sunpads with tilt-up ends that make them into chaise lounges enhance the area.
The ride? I wish I’d had sloppy seas to find out. But test day brought only table-flat conditions. I can tell you that in pursuit of a soft ride, Cruisers upped aft deadrise from 16 degrees to 18 and added considerable flare and a prominent spray knocker forward. And it doesn’t appear that buyers will give up much in the way of speed, as our boat, equipped with optional 575-hp Volvo Penta D9s, handily topped 31 knots and registered a cruise of 21.3 knots at 2000 rpm. Kudos to VP for these new all-electronic diesels, by the way, as they accelerated our 36,500-pound test boat to her top speed quickly, without smoke or hesitation.
Actually, driving the 477 was a surprise overall. Although she’s tall—19 feet from keel to hardtop—she wasn’t tender. I was disconcerted by her relatively quick steering and penchant for heeling into a turn like a runabout. Maybe it’s me, but it just seems like a boat that looks like this shouldn’t be able to carve a U-turn in two boat lengths at top speed. But she does and does it well, although I would like to see Cruisers slow the steering just a bit.
This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.