48 Convertible — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— February 2003
|Launching a 48-foot convertible out of the water is almost as much fun as landing it.|
How do you get a 50,000-pound, Jersey-built, 48-foot convertible clean out of the water? The easy way would be with a TraveLift. But as far as I'm concerned, the real answer is to head her right at the six-foot breakers in Absecon Inlet at 26.5 knots. That was how Cavileer Boatworks president, John DiDonato, Capt. Joe Badagliacco, and I did it while testing the flagship 48 Convertible in October.
We had just finished checking speed runs in the flat-calm Great Egg Harbor Bay, where the 48 had registered a strong cruise speed of 33 mph at 2000 rpm and a WOT speed of 39 mph at 2330 rpm, when DiDonato informed me that we were headed down the New Jersey coast to really stretch the 48's legs. "Sounds like fun," I thought. With her speed, the trip would take the 48 no time at all, and it wouldn't tax her fuel capacity, either, as she has a 600-gallon main tank aft and an amidships 150-gallon auxiliary tank, which is tapped via a transfer pump. At cruise the the twin 800-hp Caterpillars burn 60 gph, and at WOT, 82 gph. We weren't planning on a WOT run, so with the 48's main tank three-fourths full and a full auxiliary, the half-hour or so voyage wouldn't even make the gauges flinch.
As we passed behind Atlantic City, I could see the white water of the inlet starting from the left and stretching across the mouth. It wasn't exactly impassable, but I'd definitely call it interesting. Badagliacco pushed the throttles forward and got the 48 up to her 2000-rpm cruise as we headed into the brisk east wind and the walls of white rolling in with the tide. We easily motored through the majority of the head sea, even though the waves were close together and spaced about every five to six feet. With the tabs fully retracted, the 48 ran straight and true, but... Of course, there's always a "but" in a story like this, and ours was coming.
As the 48 sliced through the breakers, she managed to catch one that was just perfect for riding up like a rocket ship off the launch tower. Up and away we went. I began to get that feeling portrayed in action movies where everything goes quiet and in slow motion as you wait for the impact. As the sound of the singing props brought me back to reality, I realized gravity was about to take back control of the situation. We landed in a way I can only describe as big, but there was no bang. There was white water everywhere--heck, it flew up and over the optional flying-bridge hardtop--but there was no spine-jarring, landing-on-the-chine-like pain. DiDonato credited naval architect Don Blount's hull design for the smooth ride, flight, and landing. Upon returning to Mother Earth, I took the wheel and ran the 48 down the coast with four- to six-foot quartering seas. I was able to maintain a 26-knot cruise the entire trip.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.