Davis 45 Express — By Capt. Bill Pike — August 2001
|Part 2: Davis 45 Express continued|
The final factor is the helm itself. Situated on a bridge deck just high enough to guarantee sit-down visibility throughout the planing process and just low enough to maintain the tumblehome beauty of the boat's profile, it's a winner. While driving the Express, I found the top-of-the-line Murray Products Paragon helm chair to be solid, comfortable, not too high off the deck, and strategically located vis-a-vis the Cruisair air-conditioning vents. Visibility aft for a piscatorial tussle was unobstructed except for the skinny blind spots created by the back legs of the optional Pipewelders tuna tower. The action of the single-lever sticks, connected to Sturdy Corp. electronics, was smooth and responsive, as was the movement of the polished stainless steel Release wheel, thanks to Hynautic hydraulics and engine-driven power-assist. A dashboard cowling protected the electronics and DDC Electronic Display Modules from saltwater without making them difficult to access or see.
After a long, lovely Gulf Stream romp, which I periodically fantasized about stretching into an overnight stay at the Bimini Big Game Fishing Club, complete with two plates of conch fritters from the Gulf Stream Restaurant, I headed the Express back to Islamorada to check out her fish-fighting arsenal dockside. Its overall beefy nature was what impressed me most. The hatch over the 15-cubic-foot fishbox in the cockpit sole looked tough enough to withstand a direct hit from a sledgehammer, the transom scuppers were giant, and the fiberglass console boxes on either side of the engine-room companionway (top-loading freezer and sink to port, circular baitwell and Cruisair refrigerator to starboard) resounded with a steely thunk when I struck them with my fist. Not surprising, I guess, in a solidly built, 17-ton vessel with an all-glass bottom, Divinycell-cored hull sides, Nidacore-cored decks and bulkheads, and a hull-to-deck joint that's screwed, epoxied, and fiberglassed.
A number of engine room specifics also impressed me. Not one, but both mains had Y-valves on their seawater-suction systems--obviously, the folks at Davis think two giant emergency bilge pumps are better than one (or none) and I totally agree. Also, instead of a bunch of heavy, conventional 8D batteries powering a 12-volt D.C. system, there were four gel batteries grouped into two, efficiency-boosting 24-volt banks, each maintained in constant readiness via an automatic, 24-volt, 50-amp Sentry charger and 80-amp Vanner Voltmaster equalizer. (Gel batteries are lighter than most 8Ds and require no maintenance.) And finally, Sea Pro 511 fuel-water separators were conveniently bulkhead-installed with electric priming pumps and duplex capability--apparently Davis feels being able to change mucked-up separator elements underway is just as useful as avoiding air locks during fuel-filter changes.
It gets hot in Islamorada, so I wound up my test of the Express by retiring to the cherry-joinered interior, with its cool 26,000 BTUs of Cruisair air-conditioning. Our layout was the more open of the two available, with a stateroom forward, a port-side galley aft (opposite a dinette table and L-shape UltraLeather lounge), and a saloon amidships with an enclosed head to starboard and a sofa/pullman berth arrangement to port. What sets this arrangement apart from the other is the lack of a bulkhead, which turns the sofa/pullman area into a second stateroom with stacked bunks and a hanging locker. At any rate, the joinery looked pretty good, considering our test boat was a prototype, and componentry was top-shelf, with a Sub-Zero drawer-type refrigerator in the galley, VacuFlush MSD in the head, and Grohe fixtures and Corian countertops in both spaces.
Once I'd finished checking all this stuff out, I eased on back to the dinette lounge, took a seat behind the table there, and with due appreciation for stalwart engineering and beefy sportfishing equipment, fell to wantonly reminiscing about the fun I'd had during the test drive.
No doubt about it. The Davis 45 Express is a sturdy, comfortable, no-nonsense fishing machine. But out where the blue rollers roll, she's also as smart, fast, and flat-out fun to handle as a cowpoke's best friend.
Davis Boatworks Phone: (877) 779-2248. Fax: (252) 473-6222. www.buddydavis.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.