44 Convertible — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — October 2002
The Reel Deal
|Part 2: As the saying goes, “If there were a perfect boat, everyone would be building it.|
My performance testing looked good, too. Although my boat featured Cummins, twin 500-hp Yanmar 6CX GTE2 diesels, twin 660-hp Caterpillar 3196 diesels are also options. Shea says that to date most of the 44 owners (six of the current eight were previous Luhrs customers) are split 50-50 between the Cats and the Cummins and adds that the Cats should give about two more knots on top. I like Cummins for the 44, partly because I ran a 40-footer with a less-powerful version of these engines last summer and felt comfortable with them. Of course, the fact that these generated a top speed of nearly 37 mph while burning 62 gph on the flat-calm St. Lucie River didn't hurt either. Our 44 also cruised comfortably at just under 30 mph at 2000 rpm, burning 46 gph and producing a range of 349 NM on the 700-gallon fuel capacity. That's a nice turn of speed and fuel economy for any 44-footer.
After running the numbers with Shea at the helm, I took the Release wheel, connected to Hynautic Sea Star II steering, to wring out the 44 for myself. I could easily work the Mathers single-lever electronic controls, and the 44 reacted well at both slow and high speeds to the wheel. The controls also enabled me to spin the 44 in her own length, although the 44's 30x50 four-blade Nibrals and 2.42:1 reduction played a part as well. Sightlines forward and aft were very good, and I never needed to use the tabs. (Shea says he only uses them in a blow.)
My test boat was Hull No. 8 and the first one introduced with the new cherry interior. (The first seven were built with teak.) If you want teak for your 44, you'll have to get one of those seven because once Luhrs makes a change, that's the only way it builds the boats. As Shea says, the 44 comes in one flavor. I liked what I saw, but the 44 was not without her flaws. The cherry was attractive, but the grain could have been matched better. On the other hand, Shea says Luhrs is stepping up its standard equipment by using real leather for the port and starboard saloon settees. (In other years, Ultraleather would have been the likely choice.) One neat touch here is that the port-side settee, which can be pulled out to make an extra berth, extends under the gunwale, maximizing the boat's 16'0" beam. It can sleep two, as can the forward master stateroom, which has a queen-size berth, and starboard-side guest stateroom, which has over/under berths. Everyone onboard shares the head with shower (offering nearly 6'5" headroom), MSD, and vanity located in adjacent but separate compartments just aft and to port of the master stateroom.
Worthy of note is that the galley is aft in the saloon. Shea says the reason is simple: Fishermen can run in for a quick bite from the standard Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator and freezer and still maintain an eye on lines through the window facing the cockpit. For cruising families, Mom and Dad can keep an eye on the kids. Either way, the layout made sense to me.
The galley has an attractive, light-color Corian countertop and three-burner Kenyon electric cooktop, plus attractive stained-hardwood floors, a smart move since carpet is more likely to show spills. The remainder of the interior sports a beige carpet, which is best preserved with a runner, especially if you fish a lot or have little ones running about.
One of the attractive aspects of Luhrs boats has always been the large number of standard features. For instance, all the aforementioned galley appliances are standard. An 18-inch Luce flat-screen TV by the port-side settee is as well, and so is reverse-cycle Cruisair air conditioning, carpeting, and recessed rod stowage in the saloon's overhead, which has an enclosure that opens via a switch on the electrical panel by the cockpit door to port.
The attractive array of standard features is not limited to the saloon, either. My 44's 112-square-foot cockpit had an in-transom fishbox, bait-prep center with livewell, transom door, four rod holders, numerous tackle drawers, and six rocket launchers on the flying-bridge hardtop, which like all railings on the 44 are powder-coated.
One final item that left me scratching my head was the lack of in-deck fishboxes. Because of the 700-gallon fuel tank directly under the cockpit sole, there's no room for them, and the transom box simply isn't large enough. I like to overnight at the canyons and don't relish the idea of tuna bags lying around the cockpit, so for me these boxes are essential. If you're a 100-percent catch-and-release type of fisherman, this isn't an issue.
So what did my eyes confirm or dispel about Luhrs? Well, a one-inch-thick solid-fiberglass hull bottom and a smooth and speedy ride is a good thing, especially when the package comes with an impressive list of standard features that makes the 44 even more desirable. Is this boat perfect? No. As the saying goes, "If there were a perfect boat, everyone would be building it." The fit and finish could use some tweaking, but if Luhrs keeps on its current track of upgrades, like using real leather on its furnishings, it's going to make a lot of believers out of cynics like me.
After putting away my fine-toothed comb, I told Shea that in my overall opinion Luhrs had produced an attractive-looking boat that is a solid performer, giving credence to the adage that talk is cheap, but seeing is believing.
Luhrs Phone: (800) 882-4343. Fax: (904) 827-2156. www.luhrs.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.