500 Express — By Capt. Patrick Sciacca —
|Part 2: The 500 Express offers sleek styling, a warm and voluminous interior, good range, and liveaboard comfort.|
Now eating, watching flicks, and doing cocktails is great, but eventually everyone will want to venture outside and take in the sea air. For your guests, there’s a lounge across from the helm seat to starboard as well as a dance floor-like space in the cockpit and a U-shape lounge to starboard. A standard wet bar, U-line refrigerator, and ice maker across from the lounge ensure no one goes thirsty. My test boat also had the optional Force 10 electric grill for a little barbecue action. A hardtop and enclosure are standard here and offer welcome relief from blinding sun or bad weather.
For the helmsman, the starboard-side helm station features Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic power-assist steering, single-lever Volvo Penta electronic controls, and a full array of optional Raymarine electronics (see specifications). Kydd Marine’s Dennis Smigiel, who accompanied me on the test, started up the 500’s standard 675-hp Volvo Penta D12 diesel V-drives. These engines are accessed though a centerline cockpit hatch, and the engine room offers space reminiscent of the master stateroom. I was able to just about stand up (I’m 5'7") and reach over the powerplants. This should make working here a breeze. Outboard access is equally plentiful, and all hoses and wires here are labeled.
With the engines warm, it was a short run to Jones Inlet where I recorded a top speed of 42 mph with a fuel burn of 71.6 gph at 2330 rpm. The 500, which has a modified-V hull form composed of a solid fiberglass hull bottom and balsa-cored sides, ran at a comfortable cruise of 35 mph at 2000 rpm with a fuel burn of 47.4 gph. This gives the 500 a range of 332 statute miles at cruise speed, surely enough for a New York to Maine jaunt.
The inlet was slick calm during my wheel time thanks to a Bermuda high, so I gave that power-assist steering a workout with several hard-over and S-turns at cruise speed. The 500 responded quickly, and aside from the smooth wheel, her agile handling could be attributed in part to the boat’s “nose cone struts,” which decrease turbulence, provide clean water flow to the props, and reduce cavitation. My test boat also maintained a respectable running angle and clean sightlines forward, with one exception: Between 1500 and 1750 rpm her trim angle hit 6.5 degrees, obscuring the view forward until she got over the hump. The view of the compass was also obscured, which, Cruisers told me, is being corrected.
I had a couple of other issues with this prototype vessel. The first was a hardtop devoid of handrails, although Cruisers says there will be handrails on the production version. I also had a tough time getting my 5'7", 165-pound frame through the opening foredeck windshield. Cruisers says that on production models the walkthrough will be widened by eight inches to ease the transition forward.
While Cruisers may be in the process of tweaking a few things for the production line, the 500 Express remains a boat that offers sleek styling, a warm and voluminous interior, good range, and liveaboard comfort. So if you’re a weekender or voyager looking for a patch of peaceful water in a spacious setting, this just might be the vessel to get you there.
Cruisers Yachts Phone: (920) 834-2211. www.cruisersyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.