44 Convertible — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— October 2002
The Reel Deal
|This 44 Convertible lets her performance do the talking.|
While walking the docks at the 2001 Norwalk International In-Water Boat Show with compadre and PMY boat guru Capt. Ken Kreisler, I noticed a 40-something-foot sportfisherman that had a shapely, sleek profile, rounded tumblehome, and wide flare. I hadn't seen this boat before, so I asked Kreisler, "What's that one?" We both shrugged our "I dunno" shoulders. She had a slight resemblance to some custom Carolina boats, but she was assuredly a production model. A little investigating gave me my answer. "A Luhrs 44? This doesn't look like the Luhrs I'm familiar with," I thought. But it was the Luhrs I would soon test.
I went into that test not sure of what to expect, having heard lots of conflicting scuttlebutt about the quality of Luhrs' boats over the years. My barber Vin, who bought a 32-foot Luhrs new in 1972, swears by his boat and still runs her three days a week. He wouldn't trade her for the world. This kind of brand loyalty explains why the Luhrs name has been so visible for more than 60 years. I also read several surveys of Luhrs' models built during the early 1990's that were good and in which the surveyor noted strong hulls and a good finish. However, I'd also heard some chatter about mid-1980's models that were less than flattering.
So whose word should I take? Well, I figured I'd take mine when Chip Shea, marketing director for Luhrs, invited me to test the 44 and decide for myself. After all, anyone can talk about how a boat is built, but in the end your own eyes tell you best. I met up with Shea at Northside Marine in Stuart, Florida, on a steamy 90-plus-degree late-July day with humidity to match. The weather was intense, but so was this boat.
On entering the engine room, which had kneel-down headroom and walkaround access to the optional 635-hp Cummins QSM-11 powerplants, I liked what I saw. The 44 sports beefy fiberglass-encapsulated foam stringers and transversals, which rest on a hull bottom comprised of one-inch-thick solid fiberglass. In addition, there are two standard crash pumps here, a nice safety feature.
The construction seemed high-quality, too. The 44's hull sides are cored with CoreCell foam to reduce weight. To enhance the structure's strength, the hull-to-deck joint is glassed in where possible and also mechanically fastened. Luhrs uses balsa core in the standard hardtop, once again to keep weight down. Yet even with these measures, at 33,500 pounds (dry) the 44 is no featherweight. I consider that a plus--when I'm in deteriorating conditions, I want weight to punch through the waves.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.