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Silverton 45 Convertible

I was sitting on my boat at my hometown marina in Freeport, New York, when a voice called out from down the dock, "Hey kid, you gotta see dis" in a distinctly Brooklynese tone. It was the captain of a Silverton 48 Convertible dubbed Caribbean Queen. The boat was spending the summer in my marina, and since Capt. Joe and I had exchanged hellos and shared dock talk over the season, he was inviting me onboard to see his boat. I took him up on the offer, especially knowing that I had an upcoming sea trial on Silverton's prototype 45 Convertible just a few days later, and this would give me a good opportunity to understand the look, layout, and philosophy behind this New Jersey builder's bigger boats.

The 2003 48 was impressive. I especially liked the electric panel behind the flat-panel LCD TV, to starboard just as you enter the saloon from the cockpit. I simply flipped up the TV, and there it was. I also liked the galley-up, large dinette to starboard, and L-shape Ultraleather settee to port. In addition, the 715-hp Volvo Penta D12s were housed in an engine room that gave me stand-up headroom (I'm 5'7").

After spending about an hour onboard listening to the captain praise the virtues of this 48, including how he ran her in six-plus-footers from New York City to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last season without issue, I was ready to see what her new little sister had to offer. That is if you consider this 45-footer, which bridges the size difference between Silverton's 42- and 50-footer, little.

The minute I spotted her at the docks of New York's Tobay Beach Boat Show, I was struck by the 45's lines. Her wraparound windshield allows light to flood into the saloon, narrowing at the sides and accenting the raked flying bridge and curvaceous pilasters, which are equipped with sturdy stainless steel handholds. They not only complement the boat's lines, but they come in handy when transiting the two 15-inch steps from the cockpit up to the side decks. And there's another handhold under the flying-bridge overhang, a detail that makes me suspect a well-versed boater had a hand in this vessel's design. Silverton added more handholds along the flying bridge and a bowrail that was thigh-high on me and starts just forward of the house. Consequently, you're never left without something to hold onto. Combine this with an aggressive molded-in diamond nonskid, and you get a secure feeling maneuvering around all points.

Her build is just as sturdy, as she's comprised of a solid-fiberglass hull bottom with balsa coring to add rigidity, and her modified-V hull (12-degree aft deadrise) was well matched to her optional 715-hp D12s. On the flat-calm backwaters behind Tobay Beach, my 45 got up to plane in about 15 seconds and topped out at 39.7 mph at 2360 rpm, according to my radar gun. At this speed she burned 71 gph. When I dropped her down to a comfortable cruise of 2000 rpm, the 45 hit an average speed of 32 mph while burning 46 gph. That's admirable fuel economy, and if conditions allow, you can cruise at that speed for 382 statute miles.

So the 45's got the range and build for transiting north for the summer and south in the winter, as well as doing weeklong cruises to your favorite ports of call. If you're going to make those kinds of trips, you'll need a comfy, homelike interior layout, and to that end Silverton offers a standard sit-and-melt-into-it, L-shape Ultraleather settee that's immediately to port upon entering the saloon via the cockpit's hefty sliding door. The living area is on one level while the galley is up, just forward of the settee, and complete with standards such as Sub-Zero under-counter 'fridge and freezer, Tappan microwave, and three-burner EuroKera electric cooktop. All countertops are Corian, which is durable and easy to maintain, and as with the 48, the dinette, which seats five, is opposite. One difference from the 48 is that electrical panel and TV. The standard TV, a 26-inch Sole LCD, is in a similar spot, aft in the saloon and to starboard. On the plus side, it retracts for easy stowage. However, unlike the 48, the electrical panel is located at sole level. You have to kneel down to flip breakers on and off. I surmised the reason was less bulkhead space compared to the 48. While I understand the space constraints, I'd like to see that panel come up to eye level.

As efficiently as the saloon/dinette/galley is set up for cruising and entertaining, so is the below-decks area for catching Zs. The forepeak master features a queen island berth and en suite head. There's room for all your traveling clothes in cedar-lined closets that flank the foot of the berths as well as in overhead stowage compartments. This room, like all the staterooms and spaces related to this boat's interior, sports rounded bulkheads. Not only does this look offer a smooth transition from one space to another, but it also maximizes available room in the 45's 15'4" beam.

In addition to the master, just aft to port and starboard are guest staterooms. The port stateroom is offered with twin berths that can be filled in to make a single full-size berth. Access to the day head is also from this stateroom. The starboard-side guest stateroom features an athwartships berth for two and also houses the optional GE stacked washer/dryer. The closet here has a clothesline but no space below to hang jackets, pants, dresses, etc. I'd sacrifice the washer/dryer in lieu of more space to hang longer clothing.

Space allocation is well done below decks; however, this doesn't transfer to the engine room, which is tight even for my 160-pound frame. Let me clarify. The space between the engines allowed me to turn between the big Volvo Pentas with ease, but access to the top of the engines is about two fists high. On the inboard side of the port engine, oil filters and the like are readily accessible. But on the starboard motor, they're outboard, and because I had to kneel to get around in this space, I had to crawl over about a 15-inch-wide space to the outboard side and squeeze between the hull and the engine to access the filters (see above). By contrast, on the 48 the filters were mounted on the aft section of the starboard engine, which is easily accessible. Being that the genset is here on the 45, that was impossible. Still, it seems those filters need to be as accessible as those on the port side.

Another thing I noticed here is that the two I-beam engine bearers are mounted through the fore and aft ER bulkhead with six heavy-duty bolts per side. And the bearers sit several inches above the stringers. While I'm used to seeing the bearers also secured into the stringers, Silverton says that this is a tried-and-true build method it's been employing for nearly eight years. The advantage, says the builder, is that it's easy to accommodate different engine sizes by simply adjusting the mounts fore and aft on the beams. It also reportedly reduces build time, and when you're cranking out 500-plus boats per year, that's important.

Taking into account that this was a prototype vessel, I'd say Silverton has done a good job with the 45, combining performance, style, and livability. And with so many 42 owners out there and the 50 being a bit of a big step up in size from the 42 for some, the builder has a boat that I think should successfully bridge the gap between those two models. In fact, she should help owners graduate into a boat that offers more room and more comfort and that should ultimately translate to even more fun on the water.

Silverton Yachts
(877) 863-5298

This article originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.