45 Convertible — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— August 2002
She’s Got Game
|A Carolina-built convertible shows her mettle on a menacing mid-Atlantic sea.|
The weather report grew grimmer with each ray of the rising sun. It started with a 10-knot wind out of the north, then 20 out of the northeast, and eventually 27-plus out of the same direction by the time I was ready to board the flagship Rampage 45 Convertible at Mason Boro Inlet in Wilmington, North Carolina. I would find out later that May day that the Coast Guard was rescuing two boaters and two dogs from a sailboat a little to the north at about the same time. It was a bad day for boating, but a great day for a boat test.
From the flying-bridge helm of Hull No. 1, Capt. Doug Cratch, John Roberts (Rampage's sales manager), and I looked at the frothing white and cresting green that was Mason Boro Inlet as we listened to the dismal weather report on the optional Raymarine 230 VHF. "Winds 27 knots from the northeast; waves, seven feet, seven seconds apart," the cold digital voice repeated over and over, as if to say, "Don't go, dummy." This was not a place any of us would really want to be, but it was a place that sooner or later those of us who spend any time offshore are likely to find ourselves. And when we do, we want to know that the hull under us is going to get the job done.
Taking into account the report and Cratch's statement, "We might not be able to take it, but the boat can," the three of us decided to go for it, and Cratch headed the 45 right at the steep seven-footers. My heartbeat increased in proportion to the size of the swells as we exited the inlet. Cratch eased the Twin Disc EC-200 Commander electronic controls forward, and the twin 800-hp Caterpillar 3406Es climbed steady to 1550 rpm. The first wave slammed us on the port beam, and the high winds drove the spray up and over the three-side helm enclosure. Boom! A second wave hit us, then a third. One after another they came, close together and mean-spirited. But whether we were in a head, quartering, or following sea or beam-to, the 45, with her solid-glass bottom and end-grain balsa-cored hull sides, made way. Granted, we weren't making the honkin' 41-plus-mph top end she would eventually show me on the much flatter ICW, but this boat was getting her crew out and with our teeth intact, too. The 45 maintained her line in admirable fashion, shouldering the waves like a real bluewater performer.
Being aware of her 16-foot beam and warped running surface, which flattens to 10 degrees at the transom, I had expected a bit of pounding. But her 47-degree deadrise forward had her slicing well at that rpm. In addition, her Carolina flare and secondary chines, about four inches above the hard chines and running all the way forward, did an effective job pushing water down and away. We did continually take spray over the flying bridge with the beam and head seas, but I could not fault the 45 for it. When you're pushing through seven-footers and 30-knot winds, there will be spray. Adding to the firm feel underfoot was the 45's one-piece stringer system. This full-length fiberglass grid is laid up on a one-piece stainless steel mold, with glassed-in, composite bulkheads.
Having shown her mettle in the slop, the 45 headed back to the ICW, where she was equally impressive during speed runs, making a face-stretching 41.9 mph at WOT while burning 74 gph and offering a 331-mile range on her 650-gallon fuel tankage. (She has one 450-gallon aft tank and a 200-gallon reserve forward.) At a comfy 35.1 mph cruise, our 45 burned 54 gph for a range of 380 miles.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.