— By Capt. Patrick Sciacca
— July 2003
One Classy Cruiser
|This heartland vessel blends the best of flying-bridge and express motoryachts.|
The combination of two great products or ideas has proven successful time and time again. Remember the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter? It led America to the tasty Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which has endured as a snack staple for decades. On a slightly more impressive scale (at least more impressive for noncandy fans) has been the combination of car and truck in the form of Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which are supposed to combine the comforts of a sedan with the sightlines and stowage space afforded by a truck.
Cruisers Yachts has taken a page from the automobile industry handbook and built what it says is the nautical equivalent of an SUV. The boat is called the 4550 Express Motoryacht, and she debuted at the 2003 Miami International Boat Show. Shortly after her coming-out party there, I was invited to stop by Fort Lauderdale’s Pier 66 Marina and give the prototype a look-see and wring-out.
The 4550’s dual appearance is the result of the Cruisers’ design team “just kind of brainstorming,” says Don DePouw, vice president of marketing for Cruisers Yachts. The team’s synapses must have been firing fast and furious, as the think tank came up with some neat features. On the practical yet aesthetically pleasing side are two sweeping scoops that sit near the port and starboard corners of the transom. While they make for a sleek and attractive design element, they also direct air aft underway to break up exhaust that might otherwise sweep up and over the back of the boat. When I ran the 4550, I found the scoops were effective, with no fumes to be found.
And you don’t want mephitic odors hanging around the cockpit, especially when you see how much emphasis Cruisers put into making this area the place to be while cruising with compadres. On a typical motoryacht, the flying bridge might have some seating forward of the helm and perhaps a lounge to port or starboard, with the cockpit crowd far and away. But Cruisers’ hybrid approach enables the cockpit and bridge deck to be one large entertainment area. All the way aft in the cockpit is a large benchseat for three or more, and an aft-facing seat for two keeps guests sitting at these areas within earshot. But that’s not all. Just forward of that aft-facing seat is the helm station with seating for the captain and first mate. To port there’s even more seating in the form of a J-shape settee. Of course, to minimize trips below decks for beverages, a standard wet bar, ice maker, and refrigerator are just aft the settee. This is a great layout for those who like to entertain alfresco.
But if the weather becomes a bit much, the party doesn’t have to stop, because for an additional $9,286 the 4550 can be equipped with an optional hardtop, acrylic enclosure, and wing doors to protect the cockpit and bridge deck. (A bimini top is standard.) Our test boat had the hardtop, and as test day proved a bit breezy (winds about 15-plus mph out of the southeast), I found it helped reduce unwanted wind. I suggest getting this option, especially if you cruise in cooler climes.
This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.