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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Tiara 4200 Open

It was a cold, mid-November, I-should-have-stayed-in-bed morning when my plane took off from New York's Kennedy airport amid mist and fog. I was on my way to Fort Lauderdale to do a "turnaround" of Hull No. 1 of Tiara Yacht's 4200 Open, which meant I'd test the boat all day and head back to New York that evening. I was feeling grumpy about the winter and thought this trip would only remind me of what I'd be missing for the next several months. Little did I know that the 4200 would leave me with some breezy, palm-tree calm to help me endure another season in the tundra.

Arriving in Fort Lauderdale, I stepped off the plane and immediately felt the warmth of the 85-degree air and enjoyed the view of bright blue sky. The cold, gray morning behind me, I felt the grouch within melt in the same way that infamous Grinch had his change of heart. I was in warm weather and going for a boat ride. It looked like it was going to be a good day after all.

I met up with Tiara's marketing manager, Rob Everse, at the Marriott Marina, and he wasted no time starting the optional twin 700-hp Caterpillar C-12 diesel inboards (535-hp Cummins QSM11s are standard). On startup I saw no smoke, and I'm sure the patrons having their breakfast on the dock just a few feet way appreciated the cleanliness of these electronically controlled powerplants as well.

With a bulkhead lying ahead and larger boats surrounding the 4200 (complete with anchors hanging out), our end slip was a bit tight. However, Everse, a skilled helmsman, demonstrated the maneuverability of the 4200 in close quarters. Pushing the standard Teleflex hydraulic controls forward, the 27x37 four-blade Michigan wheels bit the brackish water, and the 4200 exited the slip with purpose. A simple adjustment of the starboard shifter to reverse and port to forward, and the 4200 spun out of her berth effortlessly. I'm accustomed to the ease of finger-flipping electronic controls, so I'd recommend the optional Glendinning electronic controls, which run $13,750. This may seem pricey, but the benefits are worthwhile.

The ocean was flat like a checkerboard, so I can't attest to the 4200's seakeeping in a swell or a chop, but I can say that she made a top speed of 39.9 mph at 2300 rpm. I was impressed by her speed, and at WOT the Cats ate a respectable 70 gph, giving the 4200 Open a 232-NM range. At 2000 rpm, the 4200 easily made a 34-mph cruise while burning 48 gph and providing a 288-NM range.

The 4200's sweet speed comes courtesy of big power and light weight, but don't think for a second that Tiara skimps on construction to achieve speed. She has a hand-laid solid fiberglass hull bottom, and from the chine up she's balsa-cored for reduced weight and added stiffness. Composite stringers are integrated into the hull for even more strength. This combination keeps the Tiara 4200 Open lightweight at 28,000 pounds (dry).

My one issue with the 4200's running at WOT is that my decibel meter read 93 dB-A at the helm (65 dB-A is the level of normal conversation). That's not surprising given the fact that the Cats sit right below the helm, but the area was loud for my taste. An inspection of the engine room, which has access via a door in the cockpit to port, later revealed that these powerplants are a snug fit for the space. Although inboard access is adequate, getting outboard on these engines to do work is tough.

Everse offered me the 4200's traditional Teleflex destroyer wheel, and as I sat in the standard double-wide electrically adjustable—fore, aft, and vertical—helm seat, my transition from gray grouch to grinning captain was complete. Playing with the helm seat like someone who's never sat in one before, I went up and down repeatedly to find just the right setting. (Well, maybe I went up and down once or twice just for fun.) Seat adjusted and ready to run, I pushed the 4200's throttles to wide-open, and she sprinted up and down the coast. I noticed some air in the steering, which Everse also noted, and this caused some slippage in the wheel. The boat still handled well, even on hard-over (albeit wide) turns at WOT. I also tried to fill her cockpit with water while backing down quickly, but her reverse transom resisted, and what little water did squeak through the well-positioned, molded-in transom door was evacuated in rapid fashion.

Sightlines at the helm were excellent at all speeds, even with some bow rise before planing. The seat's adjustable nature enhanced viewing, but the newly designed composite windshield frame gets most of the credit here. The fiberglass frame is smooth and unobtrusive, unlike some more traditional aluminum windshield frames.

The 4200's helm is well thought out, with the electronics console located so you can glance and pilot simultaneously—no head bobbing. The console is positioned so you don't have to look through or around the wheel at the displays. By simply looking forward, your eye can catch a view of the screens while also taking in the view of what's ahead. Just below the console, switches for the horn, wipers, tabs, and engine synch are within arm's reach. To starboard of the helm seat, fuel level, battery level, and rudder-angle gauges are easily read on the fly.

"Look natural" must have been Tiara's motto when constructing the 4200's bridge deck and cockpit. The L-shape lounge, just aft and to port of the helm, features a glove-like fit for guests to enjoy the ride and keep in close contact with the captain (and, of course, the standard wet bar just abaft the helm). The cockpit's aft-facing benchseat blends into the area, and a tackle center is optional here if you wanted to fish your 4200. Don't worry about losing the seat, as another benchseat folds out from under the transom.

One thing I didn't care for in the cockpit was the optional lockable rod stowage. I had difficulty getting my finger under the latches to open them, and the positioning and curve of the lockable covers allows water to run down the rod holders and collect at the covers' base near the screws. Everse later told me that there are typically two drainage holes here and that our boat would be corrected.

Like the wide-open feeling on the bridge deck and cockpit, the below-deck accommodations are airy and expansive. The lounge to port converts into a berth for two and is a great place to view the standard 22-inch flat-panel TV to starboard. The back of the lounge forms a Pullman berth for one more. To starboard, the galley featured the optional teak-and-holly sole (teak is standard). I liked the teak and holly, and Everse says most customers go for this $1,140 option. The interior was all standard teak, but honey ash veneer is also available for $5,850.

The head, just forward of the galley, has access to the saloon, and a second door leads to the master forward, which features a pedestal berth and innerspring mattress. A 13-inch flat-screen TV is also here. Two-zone air conditioning, a 16,000-Btu unit in the saloon and 6,000-Btu unit forward, kept below decks just cool enough to remind me it was about time to catch that flight home.

Maybe it was the vitamin D from the sun shining down on me all day or the fact that I had just spent time on a flat-calm ocean running a power-packed, sloping-sheerline, multipurpose express cruiser, but I didn't even notice the torrential rain when my plane landed in New York that evening. My mind was focused on an endless day at the helm, running over South Florida's teal-tinted water. After all, endless days are what boating is all about, and it's what Tiara Yachts has provided with the 4200 Open—at least for this reformed grouch.

Tiara Yachts
(616) 392-7163

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

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