Master 520 — By George L. Petrie
— September 2001
A Home on the Water to Go
|With a Harbor Master 520, you can take it with you.|
My first thought was, "What did I do to displease my editor?" Why was I being banished to the hinterland to test a houseboat? But a day aboard the new Harbor Master 520 Pilothouse Motor Yacht changed my whole outlook. Offering the comforts of a shoreside condominium, she also delivers good performance, with speeds in the 30-mph neighborhood and a hull form suited for all but offshore cruising. And who could complain about the test venue, a scenic stretch of the Tennessee River just north of Chattanooga?
Harbor Master's marketing director, Clyde Head, bristles when people call the 520 a houseboat. Not that there's anything wrong with houseboats. Harbor Master has built hundreds of them over the years, with roomy accommodations and shallow-deadrise hulls, just the ticket for inland lakes and rivers. But the 520, of which more than 100 have been built since 1986, is a more capable breed with a deep-V entry, hard chines, and 15 degrees of deadrise all the way to the transom. Recently upgraded, the new 520 offers more useable space inside and out plus the convenience of single-level living: Her staterooms, galley, and saloon are all on the same level.
It's easy to see how one might think of this yacht as a house. Her spacious saloon is like a shoreside living room, with big windows that open on either side. And like a picture window overlooking a sunny patio, double sliding glass doors open onto the roomy aft deck, which is sheltered by a hardtop that's sturdy enough to have a dinghy and davit mounted on top.
Saloon furnishings are also reminiscent of home, with a comfortable L-shape sofa that has a built-in recliner section. Manufactured by Flex-steel, it also converts into a double bed easier than any convertible sofa I've ever seen. One hand and about 30 seconds is all it takes to fold it out or fold it up. The only way I could imagine improving the arrangement would be to relocate the recliner section from the side to the aft end of the sofa so it faces the 27-inch TV and entertainment center built into the forward end of the saloon.
Of course, there may be a rationale for the recliner's present location, just an arm's reach from a built-in bar and a day head, complete with shower, amidships on the starboard side. To port is a fully equipped galley that's more like a kitchen in a home, with a full-size, side-by-side refrigerator-freezer, three-burner stove, oven, and double stainless steel sink, not to mention the optional dishwasher, trash compactor, and washer/dryer combo. Galley cabinetry and joinery throughout the yacht are done in a handsome, easy-to-maintain, high-gloss cherry mica.
Just aft of the galley, the dinette space is offered in several configurations. I liked the layout on our test boat, which had four chairs along a low counter adjoining the galley. But others might prefer the option of high stools and a raised countertop or a more traditional freestanding table and four chairs. In any case, the galley, dinette, and saloon offer a nice open floor plan, as comfortable as a country cottage.
Stowage abounds throughout the 520, in the galley, in big cabinets flanking the entertainment center, and alongside a hallway leading forward on the port side that offers three cabinets, each about 30 inches wide, 48 inches high, and 16 inches deep. In the master stateroom there's a large closet to port, more stowage space to starboard, and a big bin beneath the centerline queen berth. Even the midcabin guest stateroom has generous stowage in a built-in dresser and a hanging locker nearly four feet high.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.