53 — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — January 2001
The Best of Both Worlds
|Part 2: Cavileer 53 continued|
The saloon floor is made of Nidacore instead of plywood, which provides considerable weight savings and excellent soundproofing. The golden-teak interior on this 53 was an attractive dark wood, but I felt it made the saloon a bit dark. A maple interior is optional, and having been on a 53 that has it and seen how the maple opens up the saloon space, I'd opt for the lighter wood.
Accommodations below include three staterooms. At the base of the steps and to port is a guest stateroom with over-under berths. Kids will probably snatch this room first. A large, full head with shower to port connects to the VIP stateroom forward. Both rooms are brightly lit with hatches above. The starboard master has its own head with shower, and both the master and VIP feature aromatic cedar-lined closets.
If you're planning a long-range run, you'll appreciate the standard washer and dryer to port between the guest stateroom and the VIP. However, anglers will probably want to inquire about utilizing that space for more accommodations, for the entire area here feels a bit small. That's because while a typical sportfishing boat's beam is about one-third her LOA, the Cavileer 53's beam of 16'6" comes in about a foot and a half below that mark. The relatively narrow configuration, along with a fine entry, provides superior seakeeping and a fine turn of speed but does sacrifice some interior volume.
No matter what your plans may be for your 53, the construction of this boat will appeal to you. In executing the Dave Martin hull form, DiDonato emphasized light weight. He changed Martin's original laminate specs from fabmat to stitchmat, noting that stitchmats are stronger per pound--and more expensive, too. The stringers are Divinycell wrapped in glass, also to save weight. In fact, DiDonato says he's removed between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds from the boat's original design. The hull sides are cored with end-grain balsa for the same reason, but the 53's hull bottom is solid glass to emphasize strength.
Both cruisers and anglers appreciate good foredeck access, but if either has to maneuver forward on the 53 in a hurry, the trip could be tricky. The side decks measure only eight inches at their narrowest point (amidships), leaving my 10 1/2-size shoes just enough room between the cabin sides and thick toerails. The handrail below the flying bridge, however, helped me maneuver forward with security.
Whether dragging baits or heading for the next gunkhole, the heart of the 53 is her engine room. Our boat's housed two 800-hp Caterpillar 3406Es, standard power. Two 900-hp DDC-MTU 8V Series 2000 DDECs are optional. The Detroits come in about 688 pounds heavier than the Caterpillars, but their ZF gears are lighter than the Twin Disc gears that come with Caterpillars, according to DiDonato, which in turn brings the boat in with either engine option at about the same weight. Either way, the 53 comes in at 52,500 pounds, about average for boats of this size and type. Still, DiDonato predicts an additional two knots with the larger engines.
The starboard engine is completely accessible. However, to access a good portion of the port-side one you must scurry over the top of the Onan 17.5-kW genset. This size genset is a bit of overkill for a boat this length, but a smaller unit probably wouldn't save that much space. Moving the existing unit about two feet aft would help, but at the expense of access to the back of it.
No matter what powers your 53, Martin's hull combined with DiDonato's tweaking offers one helluva ride. With her 850-gallon fuel tanks near full, full water, and four passengers, our test boat sped smoothly across a nearly flat ocean and felt solid under foot. She topped out at 34.2 mph while barely leaving a wake, a good sign of an efficient hull form. Later during my acceleration tests in flat water, the 53 hit just under 37 mph. Our boat also reacted quickly to the wheel, making comfortable, accurate turns.
Standing at the centerline flying-bridge wheel, I enjoyed excellent sight lines. The view of the cockpit was good despite a 24-inch flying-bridge overhang. The optional Caterpillar Engine Vision monitoring system was easy to read in the daylight and had an impressive full-color display. The Teleflex hydraulic steering and Glendinning controls were as smooth as the ride. On top of all that, you won't have to feel alone up here. Seating forward of the helm can easily accommodate eight, and for entertaining there are also a refrigerator, icemaker, and sink.
Turning the wheel back over to our captain, I sat back and thought about this multitasking boat. If you're the angler and your family likes to cruise, she can easily wear either hat. If you want to run her straight as a cruiser, fine. Turn her into a battlewagon, go for it. In fact, for all the work DiDonato and Cavileer have put into the 53, maybe it's time for you to take her for a spin and integrate yourself with this boat.
965-8650. Fax: (609) 965-7480. www.cavileeryachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.