408 Motoryacht — By Capt. Ken Kreisler
— May 2003
A Case For Space
|Part 2: She tracked straight and true.|
The entrance to the aft cabin is via the saloon and is a few steps down on the port side. Headroom here is also impressive: 6'5". There are two closets and lots more stowage in various tables and cabinets. Separate head and shower compartments are located on the port side with a sink and vanity between the two doors.
But all this room had to come from somewhere, and that's the engine compartment (accessed via a hatch in the middle of the saloon), which I found to be really tight. How tight? Well, I'm 5'9" and about 170 pounds, and I tell you, getting to all but the most important fluid checks required some contortionist-like maneuvers.
Notwithstanding that, a walk around the 408's exterior reveals the same roomy and comfortable design as found inside. On the bridge the centerline helm has additional seating to either side--there's stowage under both of them--and offers an uncluttered console with plenty of space for all the necessary electronics. My 408 easily accommodated the optional Raymarine electronics package, including 48-mile radar, Pathfinder RL80C GPS/plotter, 6001+ autopilot, and ST40 depth indicator. Aft of the helm there's an L-shape lounge with stowage beneath and to port an optional refrigerator.
There was something else mounted on the console of my test boat: the control for the optional Docking On Command (DOC) system. This neat gizmo allows you to dock the boat by utilizing both bow and stern thrusters. You get the response you want by simply turning the knob in the direction you need either the bow or stern to go. If you push the control knob completely over to either port or starboard, engaging both thrusters in that direction, you'll be able to slide in and out of the dock. Or twist it and you can oppose the thrusters. Does it work? I'll say it does. My test day saw me often shifting locations from Placida to nearby Gasparilla Island on Florida's west coast. Between frequently moving the boat in and out of the dock at both locations, especially in the tight, skinny-water quarters at Uncle Henry's Marina on Gasparilla, I was glad I had the DOC. This is one option you should put on your must-have list.
The aft deck also has some nice features, including a wet bar with Corian countertop, dunnage-box seating aft with stowage beneath, and a hardtop with a pair of stainless steel grabs overhead. A pair of Plexiglas wing doors seals off the area, and there are three integrated steps to port leading to the bridge. But boarding from either side must be done with care, as the height of the boat makes it a bit of a stretch to get a leg up. A shoreside boarding box should help.
Out on the water, with flat-calm seas prevailing, I found my 408 test boat to be an adequate performer compared to similar boats of her ilk and power that I've been on in the same conditions. She tracked straight and true, and with her smooth Teleflex hydraulic steering, turns and maneuvering in the seaway were effortless. Her best cruise, with a pair of optional 330-hp Cummins MerCruiser diesel inboards turning 2600 rpm, was an average 22 mph. That's no surprise given her profile as a coastal cruiser--I could envision a Gulf Stream crossing, for example, on a pleasurable day--but you'd have to consider her tankage before leaving the dock. Given that it's 330 gallons, even with an economical 27.2-gph burn at cruise, you can only expect a 209-NM range with the 330-hp diesels and obviously somewhat less should you opt for the larger 370-hp engines.
If you check Webster's dictionary, you'll find meridian defined as "a high point." The Meridian 408 actually has three: roominess, comfort, and economical operation.
Meridian Yachts Phone: 866-9YACHTS. www.meridian-yachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.