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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Egg Harbor 50

I drove over the two-lane bridge to Somers Point, New Jersey, a quaint, 16-square-mile waterfront town just seven miles south of Atlantic City, and thought that I'd gone back in time. I cruised along the narrow streets and listened to waking gulls warble, breathed in the sea air that envelops this intoxicating place, and watched the harbor-side tackle shop and restaurant workers flip the faded-orange door signs to "open." I decided that this seaside hamlet would be a great backdrop for this day's boat test. Why? Because the Egg Harbor 50, a boat with both a modern look and layout, has the same salty appeal as this 300-year-old town.

In contrast to the narrow and quaint streets that lead to the Egg Harbor Yacht Club (ironically Somers Point was once called Great Egg Harbor), the 50 is both beamy and boastful. In fact, her beam is 16'11"; however, her Michael Peters-designed hull still possesses a fine entry. The hull bottom is similar in design to the one Peters drew for the Cabo 40, according to Egg Harbor, in that she's got a modified-V and her fine entry transforms to 16 degrees of deadrise at the stern. This moderate aft section provides a stable platform when underway or when sitting on the drift, as was later evident during my sea trial.

Her design is supported by stout construction with a solid-fiberglass bottom. Divinycell coring is used in the hull sides to add rigidity while keeping weight respectable. The 50 is listed at 56,000 pounds (full load, wet), which is comparable to several other similar vessels I've tested. Her solid nature and efficient hull design should help provide a comfortable ride in all but the most deteriorated conditions.

Unfortunately the sea state on test day was of little consequence for the 50. A light 10-mph easterly was putting just a one- to two-foot chop on the water, which the 50's bow pierced in fine fashion while her optional twin 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18s propelled her to a top average speed of 42 mph at 2270 rpm. At a 2000-rpm cruise, the 50 glided along at 37 mph. If you take into account her 1,050-gallon fuel capacity and a 78-gph fuel burn at cruise, she easily has the ability to fish the canyons with room to run elsewhere if the bite's off. How does a 446-mile range at cruise speed sound?

In addition to an impressive turn of speed, I found that she maneuvered as smoothly as she accelerated (see acceleration curve). Credit that to her Teleflex hydraulic power-assist steering and Glendinning single-lever electronic controls, which have a well-defined but not excessive detent. Both the steering and controls are housed in an attractive optional Palm-Beach-style, high-gloss pod. Sightlines from the helm were great in all directions whether I was standing (I'm 5'7") or sitting at one of the teak-accented Murray Brothers helm chairs (Murray Brothers is owned by Egg Harbor).

The 50 is constructed almost completely in house except for stitching of fabrics, and one of the impressive in-house pieces is the flying-bridge hardtop—specifically its welds. This is some of the cleanest work I've seen. It really isn't just a structure for supporting a fiberglass top but an aesthetically pleasing and blended piece of equipage. It's just as pleasing to the eye as the artistically curved aluminum flying-bridge ladder, which has a graceful and soft arch. Word has it that Egg Harbor Yachts' owner, Dr. Ira Trocki, had a hand in its design. I guess this is where his plastic surgery background came into play, as everything about the 50 has a contoured look and feel, yet she maintains a rugged battlewagon appeal.

The high-end quality and look of the 50's hardware is also evident in her high-gloss teak interior. Teak is this builder's wood of choice, and when you see the cleanly finished, grain-matched cabinetry and bulkheads you understand why. Teak makes the saloon (with 7'2" headroom), galley, and dinette and the three staterooms and two heads below feel as comfy as your house.

For a personal touch in the port-side master stateroom, which has an astounding 8'3" headroom, there's a hand-etched headboard mirror. This one had a leaping marlin with New York City as the backdrop, as this boat was going to Staten Island.

But like any boat, nothing's perfect. Both great and not-so-great attributes are juxtaposed in the 50's engine room. First, the great: fiberglass stringers that are 41?2 inches wide and stand about 201/2 inches high. Beefy. Next, spacious walkaround room for both engines, even with the standard 15-kW Westerbeke genset forward of the starboard engine. But with all this impressive space planning, the engine room lights were put right on centerline. While I had nearly standing headroom (remember, I'm 5'7"), damn if I didn't clip almost all of them with my noggin. I say move the lighting fixtures off to the sides, corners, or anywhere but between the engines.

Aside from the ER, I felt her in-cockpit 67"Lx191/2"Wx161/2"D fishbox was small for a limit catch of Allison tuna and sizeable mahi-mahi and all the ice required for cooling these fish. Egg Harbor says it offers an optional transom "killbox," and if you're planning to use your boat for hardcore meat-fish-type offshore excursions, I'd go with it. Otherwise you're set with the standard tackle center, tuna door, bait freezer, optional flying-bridge rocket launchers, and optional Lee double-spreader outriggers. I'd also go with a full-length bowrail. It'll make transiting from the cockpit up the side decks much easier and, of course, safer.

I concluded that the 50 is efficiently set up to run deep, right out of the box. In addition, with some personal touches like the full bowrail, side-deck handholds, and that killbox, she's ready for some serious bluewater, big-game service.

As I stood on the docks of the Egg Harbor Yacht Club and looked back at the 50, salt water on her sleek, bright-white hull reflected the high-noon sun. Gulls were still shrieking, and nearby boaters—you know, the real salty ones with the khaki hats with gold anchors in the middle and more rods than rod holders onboard—passed by and waved that hello that boaters do. And I thought to myself, yeah, the 50 may look modern and run fast, but she, like this town, is an old salt at heart.

Egg Harbor Yachts
(609) 965-2300

This article originally appeared in the November 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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