Boat Tests

Black Pearl 46

She didn't look like a cat, but I quickly concluded that her ability to jump, run, and land on her feet were signs of a nimble and acrobatic feline. No, I didn't come across a predatory panther on the African plains, but I did take a ride on Black Pearl Marine's 46 sportfish catamaran that made this monohull diehard reconsider his position on fishing platforms.

I spooled up the 46's

SJ Violator 54

I'd just returned from fishing the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, when I got a call to test a new 54-foot, custom cold-molded sportfisherman. After having spent a week looking at almost every conceivable custom battlewagon on the planet (370-plus boats fished this tourney), I was feeling jaded. I doubted I would find anything truly special about the S&J Violator 54 that would help the

Riviera 33

What do you do if you're no longer an entry-level boater and are now looking for a small convertible? Or if you're an express-cruiser owner ready for something different? Or maybe you're an offshore fisherman with a center console who wants a better ride and more creature comforts? If you happen to fit into any of these categories, what you might do is have a look at the Riviera

Pacific Mariner 85 Pilothouse

Okay. Let’s get a couple of things out of the way right off the bat. First, you’re likely to wonder a little when you check the specifications for the Pacific Mariner 85 Pilothouse Motoryacht shown here. I kid you not: The standards list is so extraordinarily lengthy and replete with aristocratic brand names that it reads like a Russian novel. Second, if you’re the type to read fine print, you’re

Nordhavn 43

For me, stepping aboard a Nordhavn is like going to school—I always learn a few things. Maybe that’s because, due to the constraints of this job, I’m not a bluewater cruiser. But the people who design and build Nordhavns are, and you see it in their boats. These little ships are full of neat systems and solutions that could only have been conceived by people who’ve actually made long,

Meridian 341 Sedan Bridge

Docking’s a big deal to me, mostly because back when my wife and I were living in Connecticut and I was struggling to learn how to dock midrange cruisers, parking the darn things scared the livin’ daylights out of me. Not that merely driving out of a slip engendered fear—I seldom experienced difficulties going straight ahead. It was close-quarters maneuvering that gave me fits. I can still

Azimut 75

If you ask ten boaters to write a list of what makes up a great boat, chances are you will get ten lists with few common factors. Moreover, those shared elements will likely differ in importance. For instance, I enjoy bare-bones sportfishermen, but my friend Tom D’Angelo craves home-like accommodations aboard his boat. However, every once in a while, a vessel that blends an artful design with a

Silverton 38 Sport Bridge

Some boatbuilders concentrate on perfecting a boat’s performance, while others are all about creating an eye-catching interior design. There are those that focus on giving a smooth ride, and even more are fixed on striking exterior lines. To me, it’s a combination of all these elements that helps give one builder an edge over its peers. However, there are also the intangibles that can put one

Ocean 46 Super Sport

In the early 1980’s, Ocean Yachts gave naval architect Dave Martin a task: design a hull that would be seakindly and quick. How quick? The goal was 30 knots on the top end with twin 450-hp Detroit Diesel 6-71TIs. Martin’s solution was a planing-hull form that measured 46 feet LOA and transitioned from a 24-degree deadrise forward to three degrees at the transom (more on this later). He met the

Pershing 62

They named the company after the missile, not the general, and you can see why. In more than 20 years there hasn’t been a Pershing motoryacht that wasn’t fast, sleek, and powerful, and the 62 upholds this tradition. Sometimes, the marine equivalent of a tactical nuclear weapon is the best tool for the job.

It was on a late-September morning at around 1500 rpm that this analogy somehow

Shannon 38 SRD

When I first asked designer/builder Walt Schulz what his motivation was in designing the radically different hull form for the new Shannon 38 SRD, his answer was disarmingly candid: bad knees.

Apparently sensing my perplexed reaction, he launched into a more complete reply. His company, Shannon Yachts, has been building sailboats for some 30 years and powerboats for almost 20 years. His

Mainship 34 Trawler

Automotively speaking, I’m just a tad different. My way of getting to a specific address in a town or city in a car, for example, continues to hew closely to one I glommed onto years ago in Tokyo, where addresses are not sequential—I simply go to the general area and drive around until I find what I’m looking for. Not the most efficient way to get places, of course, but enjoyable. And sometimes

Cruisers 400 Express

When I was a young boy, I loved going to the circus and seeing the clowns. One of my favorite memories was seeing a dozen of them pile out of a tiny little car that seemed no bigger than a golf cart. How could they pack so many people in such a small space?

Observing the trend over the past decade to squeeze more and more sleeping capacity into boats, one might surmise that a lot of

Maxum 3700 SY

I’m all for skin treatments like facials, but I’d rather have them courtesy of relaxing experiences at a spa than the continuous pelting of horizontal rain at the helm.

Actually, it felt more like I was being sandblasted. I was steadily pushing the throttles forward on the Maxum 3700 Sport Yacht (SY), getting a sense for how she handled the two- to four-footers stirred up by heavy traffic,

Krogen Express 52

Shhh...

I’m listening intently as the standard twin 440-hp Yanmar diesels on the Krogen Express 52 run up from idle to WOT. You know what I hear? Only the 52’s sharp entry slicing through a one- to two-foot chop on New York’s Long Island Sound. I’m getting a 78 dB-A readout on my decibel meter at WOT (65 db-A is the level of normal conversation). The reason: an efficient Jim and Kurt Krogen

Viking 74 Convertible

Whoever coined the phrase, “Good things come in small packages,” would probably have changed his or her mind had they been strolling the docks of Atlantic City’s Trump Marina one day last summer. For there, among a myriad assortment of battlewagons and other craft, sat the largest convertible Viking Yachts has ever built, the 74. A formidable, eye-catching machine, she’d grown several feet from

Atlantis 55

It’s been two years since Paolo Vitelli, head of Azimut-Benetti, absorbed the family-run Gobbi into his empire. The yard was a successful producer of midpriced sports cruisers, known for its advanced production facilities, but not a force to be reckoned with outside Italy. Vitelli installed Carla Demaria, one of his most senior managers, at its head and gave her a mission to recreate, rebrand,

Fairline Targa 62

Ben and Valentina Bethell only caught the boating bug seven years ago, but since discovering the lifestyle this cruising couple has learned, embraced, and lived it full throttle. After relocating from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Naples, Florida, the duo thought owning a boat went hand in hand with living in the Sunshine State, so they started out with a 15-foot jet boat. That quickly escalated to a 42

Sealine T60

In the week of my visit, the range of tide at St. Helier, the principal port on the pretty island of Jersey, was about 24 feet. An unsettling moonscape of jagged rocks would appear slowly, twice a day, as the water receded—and then just as slowly disappear again as the tide came in. For boat owners unused to displays of nature’s worryingly sadistic tendencies, such tides concentrate the

Vicem 54 Classic

The first time I saw a Vicem was more than a year ago, but that brief encounter made a lasting impression. I was on a trawler with friends making a leisurely trip along the coast of Rhode Island, heading for the Newport Boat Show, when off to the south we spotted one of the handsomest yachts I’d ever laid eyes upon. Like a distant apparition she appeared, a beautiful dark-blue hull gliding

Azimut 50 Flybridge

I found a lot to like about Azimut’s 50 Flybridge. Sightlines from the lower helm are excellent; there’s only a single, narrow mullion in the windshield, and the forward side windows are at eye-level from the helm. The aft side windows are a bit lower, giving guests in the saloon a great view from the plush Ultraleather settees, and affording good visibility while docking alongside a pier, and

Cruisers 300 Express

I love drivin’ boats. Always have. Particularly when they’re even a little bit like the new 300 Express from Cruisers Yachts. Not that the 300’s a guts-and-glory go-fast, with engines high-strung and rebuild-prone. Nope—she’s a bonafide express cruiser, with all the standards that make weekending on the water (or even vacationing now and again) as kickback comfortable as it is fun. More to

Egg Harbor 43

How much difference can one foot make? In football it could mean getting in the end zone for six points vs. falling short for a goose egg, or missing the uprights on a field goal and losing three points that could’ve won the game. When it comes to boatbuilding, one foot can be the difference between a good ride and a great ride.

It had been two years since I tested the Egg Harbor 42 on the

Camper & Nicholsons 42 Endeavour

If a magazine is only as good as its current issue, then maybe a boatbuilder should only be judged by its latest launch. And if that’s true, Camper & Nicholsons (C&N) looks to be in pretty fair shape. The world-famous yacht builder (not to be confused with the yacht brokerage firm of the same name), tucked into a corner of Portsmouth harbor on England’s south coast, is emerging from a

Sea Ray 500 Sedan Bridge

When Sea Ray invited me to do a ride-along boat test on its new 500 Sedan Bridge, the guys said they were leaving from the marina behind the Sanibel Resort at five o’clock in the morning. So I checked into a room at the resort the night before, caught a couple of winks, and wandered out into the dark well before dawn. Luckily, a glimmer of light emanated from the 500, which, for reasons too

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