As luck would have it,
test day for the new Cruisers 5370 Express featured the passage of a cold
front over the St. Petersburg Cruisers dealership of Galati Yacht Sales.
With northwest winds blowing a steady 25 mph and gusts honking even harder,
Old Tampa Bay south of Gandy Bridge was a mess. Short, steep, confused
seas were cresting around six feet, with occasional eight-footers rolling
through. And the rain was cold and miserable enough to impart an apocalyptic
feel to the whole gloomy scene.
“Great day to test a boat,” said Cruisers marketing director
Don DePouw, wiping rain water off the end of his nose. I nodded a brief
assent—it was indeed a humdinger—and pushed the Twin Disc electronic
engine controls just a tad further forward. Then using a waterproof rubber
touchpad containing most of the dashboard switchery, I retracted the tabs
via a datalink with a computer hidden in the saloon. Following seas, tabs
What a ride! The tachs soon juddered at 2000 rpm while the speed readout
on the Northstar 962 danced between 33 and 34 mph. Like a heat-seeking
missile, the bow targeted a big suction dredge anchored way out in Tampa
Bay and held steady. With my right hand on the Twin Discs and my left
on the wheel, I glanced to the side for a moment, catching the rapidity
with which the seas were disappearing into history. The smoothness of
the transit was impressive, as was its true-tracking nature.
Drawing abeam of MacDill Air Force Base to port, I put the boat into a
long, broad turn, tightening it gradually as everyone clung to rails and
handholds. The experience was gratifying on two counts. First, although
the 5370 ultimately described a tight, high-speed corkscrew under deplorable
sea conditions, not a soul onboard got soused. In fact, except for the
rain pouring down and what little spray blasted the windshield, virtually
no water came aboard. Second, the sweeping ease of the maneuver not only
provided me the joy I normally get from top-shelf performance, but it
also showcased a few top-shelf elements of design and engineering.
The steering system, for example. The 5370’s helm is energized with
both Teleflex Sea-Star hydraulics and a Vickers power-assist pump running
off the port main. Trust me, the combined oomph of these two systems engenders
all sorts of nifty characteristics, among them fingertip wheel control
(four measly turns lock-to-lock) and a sense of driving empowerment that
verges on the poetic.
Then there’s hull form. While the essentials of the 5370’s modified-V
running surface are conventional, savvy peripheral details push performance
into the realm of the extraordinary. Chief among these is a triangular
keel that runs two thirds of the LOA, with a maximum depth of about nine
inches and a width of just under two inches. Proportioned to impart superb
directionality, the keel also has no effect whatsoever on the boat’s
agility in turns.
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