Santa Cruz Coastal Flyer

PMY Boat Test: Santa Cruz Coastal Flyer
Santa Cruz Coastal Flyer — By Tim Clark — July 2002

Delayed Gratification
Boat test or sneak preview? A partially commissioned cruiser looks promising.
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Coastal Flyer
• Part 2: Coastal Flyer continued
• Coastal Flyer Specs
• Coastal Flyer Deck Plan
• Coastal Flyer Acceleration Curve
• Coastal Flyer Photo Gallery

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• Boat Test Index

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• Santa Cruz Yachts

A dozen years ago you conceivably could have glimpsed the Santa Cruz Coastal Flyer across a marina and assumed she was a refurbished classic from a bygone age. Nowadays, retrograde styling is a strong contemporary trend, and when you come across a boat like this 40-footer, you automatically begin to wonder what sort of nifty modern technological elements contradict her appearance. So naturally we at PMY were intrigued with this boat from the moment we laid eyes on Hull No. 1 last year in Fort Lauderdale. But after talks with Santa Cruz's general manager Lance Brown in anticipation of a test, we decided to hold off until the second boat was completed. Brown expected this boat to weigh significantly less than the prototype--displacing roughly 17,000 pounds as opposed to about 20,000--and we agreed that it made sense to wait patiently until we could test a boat whose performance would more closely reflect the production model.

Yet after more than five months of virtuous deferral, I still managed to jump the gun. Brown and I agreed to rendezvous at the late-April Pacific Powerboat Expo in Oakland, California, where Hull No. 2, hot off the production line, would be on display. Following the boat show I would join Brown and the Coastal Flyer's owners for a run from Oakland to Santa Cruz--past Alcatraz, under the Golden Gate Bridge, and then south about 60 miles along some of the prettiest coastline in North America. It was an attractive offer, so attractive that even though I knew Santa Cruz was working against the clock to be ready for the show, I discounted the chance that the boat wouldn't be fully commissioned. I was wrong.

Even smaller boats contain dozens of major and minor systems in need of troubleshooting, calibration, and adjustment once they leave the production floor. Santa Cruz simply hadn't had time for all this before the Oakland show. As a result, on the morning of our departure, we had trouble getting the microprocessor-controlled joystick steering system online until a faulty connection was found. Then I discovered that the tachometer had not yet been calibrated, so the sea trial we had planned for San Francisco Bay had to wait until our arrival at Santa Cruz, where a Yanmar tech would be waiting. Along our route I learned that when pressurized, the freshwater system leaked in several places and that the shaft opening in the bulkhead between the engine compartment and the jet drive had yet to be sound-insulated, so noise was presumably at a higher level than otherwise would be the case.

These and other particulars put me in a rather awkward position--it's impossible to come to conclusive opinions aboard a boat that's not finished. So unfortunately what follows is more of a preview than a boat test.

When you leave out the modern components, her character is strongly reminiscent of classic launches from the 1930's and 40's. Santa Cruz's attention to detail in this regard displays a sincere enthusiast's approach to production building. The styling and finish of the mahogany woodwork and the design and quality of nearly every fitting are consistently faithful to a single clear motif. Stainless steel nav light housings, though automotive in origin, are produced from original 1940's tooling. Grabrails throughout the boat are of the same elegant period design. Even the fluted upholstering of the seat backs is evocative of the right era. The machined stainless steel instrument panels at the wheel, complete with toggle switches custom-made from solid ball bearings, are thoroughly convincing. Were it not for the jarring contrast of up-to-the-minute Raymarine navigational electronics, the helm would pass as an impeccable restoration.

Designer Dave Gerr's lines unite these thematic details. Tumblehome adds classic elegance astern, and reverse sheer puts forcefulness and volume forward. The boat is beamiest toward the bow, giving the below-decks interior surprisingly spacious proportions. A double berth tapering toward the forepeak is to starboard of a small settee that converts to a single berth--a setup useful for a couple cruising with a child. The port-side galley includes a five-cubic-foot Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer behind a mahogany door, a small microwave oven hidden in an elegantly arched cabinet, and an attractive Broadwater ship's stove with two LPG burners and oven. The stainless steel sink is surrounded by a granite countertop cored with honeycomb aluminum--all the richness of polished stone without the weight. The head includes a Tecma electric MSD and integral shower. Stowage is more than adequate for weekend cruises.

Topsides the Coastal Flyer offers a variety of areas to enjoy the ride. Most novel is the mahogany trimmed bow seat, where two can brave the elements in style. The cockpit is open overhead but partially sheltered from the wind by the bridge-deck enclosure, and it's large enough for a set of folding furniture in addition to the existing forward-facing seating split by the transom door. Its wet bar includes another five-cubic-foot Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer and dedicated bottle stowage behind raised-panel mahogany cabinetry.

Next page > Coastal Flyer continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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