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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Luhrs 41 Convertible

The Luhrs Marine Group’s goals for its 41 Convertible were simple: The boat had to be built to accommodate the offshore angler, but she also needed enough creature comforts so that a fisherman could enjoy a weeklong cruise with his family. Where’d these goals come from? A focus group put together by Luhrs, consisting of boat owners and dealers. My mission: to see if the 41 hit her mark.

A bluewater-capable hull was on the list, and I could think of no better place to see how Luhrs measured up than at its plant in St. Augustine, Florida. The facility employs 400 people who crank out a lot of boats—350 a year, ranging from 30 to 44 feet. Luhrs uses a fast-acting catalyst in its molds to shorten the cure time of its hand-laid, solid-fiberglass hull bottoms (hull sides are Baltek-cored). Generally, a hull (my test boat included) is popped out of a mold after 28 to 30 hours, compared to some builders who’ll leave boats in for five or more days. Marketing director Chip Shea assured me there’s no compromise in build quality as a result of the quick cure time. In fact, Luhrs claims that the high-heat from the catalyst is the reason its hulls have no history of blistering. Maybe that’s why the company backs its boats with a five-year limited warranty covering the hull and stringers.

A clean-looking interior was another item on the wish list, and I’m sure the focus group would’ve been impressed by the half-finished 41 I saw on the line. The reason is that Luhrs has implemented a new modular-build process designed to improve fit and finish, and the 41 is the first model built using these new techniques.

For instance, as opposed to building the interior as separate pieces and then placing them in the boat, which is a time-consuming process, the entire interior is built as one piece outside of the boat. Shea says this makes it possible to pre-rig plumbing, electrical, and duct work and provides a more even finish for the cherrywood interior, since it’s all sprayed at the same time, not in sections. From what I observed, the system seems to work.

Upon examining the 41’s interior, it was obvious that Luhrs has improved grain-matching. My test boat’s solid cherrywood cabinet doors and frames (cherry veneer is used for the bulkheads) appeared consistent and complemented the standard Ultraleather L-shape lounge in the saloon, just to starboard upon entering from the cockpit. The lounge stretches outboard under the side decks and, with the touch of a button, slides out into a berth for two. Rounding out the saloon, Luhrs opted for Everwear for the saloon sole. It’s a faux teak-and-holly laminate that seems durable, and whether you’re cruising with the kids or taking a bunch of guys out for a few days offshore, you’ll appreciate that.

Everwear is also used in the U-shape galley, which is up and just forward of the lounge. It’s equipped with a three-burner cooktop, stainless steel convection/microwave oven, and coffee maker, but the neatest feature is the raised wooden handholds that envelop the standard Corian countertops. Luhrs borrowed this idea from the parent company’s line of Hunter sailboats.

It prevents the need to put screws into the saloon overhead for handholds and keeps dishes from sliding around on the countertops. Not only does it look good, but it’s sturdy. When I tried to shake the holds loose with two hands, they didn’t budge.

When it came to accommodations, the focus group requested a two-stateroom, one-head arrangement with two big berths. I’d say they’d be satisfied. The forepeak master is the centerpiece. To maximize the stateroom’s 6’6” headroom, Luhrs craftily dropped the mattress frame to just 31 inches off the sole, several inches lower than others I’ve seen. The result? Almost four feet of headroom above the queen-size berth, making the stateroom seem bigger (the 15’9” beam helps). That’s right, no more stepping up to bed, you can just fall right onto the mattress at the end of a long day. The guest stateroom aft to starboard is also smartly arranged with a double berth, as opposed to bunks. The single head is just aft and to port of the master and can be entered from the master or companionway. It features a separate sit-down, 26-inch-wide shower stall for two (if you’re friendly) and a VacuFlush MSD.

Now not everyone is a mechanic, but every boat owner will spend time in the engine room, and the 41 has one that’s nearly as spacious as her accommodations area. I’m 5’7”, and I could easily duck and crabwalk around both engines. A shiny fiberglass liner and a fiberglass headliner sandwiched with Nidacore brighten the space, add thermal and acoustical insulation, and keep everything looking clean. It was easy to read the large fuel sight gauge (another focus group request) on centerline just forward of my test boat’s twin 580-hp Cummins QSM11 diesels. Luhrs places all filters and pumps in a room aft of the engine room, with the two spaces separated by a door. Why a door? Well, aside from sound deadening and eliminating any engine-related soot, to keep the fish fresh, of course. Luhrs found that in-deck fishboxes often require tons of ice because the heat from the engines warms the boxes. The door minimizes heat transfer.

The focus group also wanted this boat set up to fish, which explains the two insulated in-deck fishboxes that measure 3’9”Lx13”Wx13”D. It also explains the standard four rod holders, six rocket launchers, stowage for two dozen rods, in-transom fishbox, 37-gallon livewell, bait-prep center, transom door, cockpit freezer, and sink. In addition, my test boat had optional 33-foot Rupp double-spreader outriggers. That, combined with the 85 square feet of usable cockpit that I measured, makes the 41 well suited for chasing big game.

My 41 was rigged for the ocean, but would she give the group the seakindly ride it wanted? I’d have to wait for another day to find out, as I tested her on the slick-calm ICW. On the performance side, my 41 made an average cruise speed of 30 mph at 2000 rpm burning 37.4 gph and an average top speed of 38.5 mph while burning 60.2 gph. However, at WOT the Cummins QSM11s hit 2450 rpm, 150 rpm over rated rpm, so I suspect more pitch is in order for the boat’s 28x36 4-blade nibrals.

I also noticed her Teleflex hydraulic steering was stiff, which Shea told me later was due to air in the system. Other than that, she handled as smoothly as the single-lever Glendinning controls. She made high-speed turns without excessive heel inboard or outboard and took off on straightaways, making her top speed in about 25 seconds. I don’t know if this performance was a request from the focus group or not, but they got it, and it should make them happy.

The 41 was not without fault, however. I found spiderweb-like cracks under the starboard-side rod holder that would need to be rubbed out (Shea told me they were the result of using gelcoat that was too hard). That said, I’d say the 41 accomplished her mission, and while she’s a production boat, the 41 has been custom-built for the masses as requested by the masses. I can only think of one result for such a formula: mass appeal.

Luhrs Marine Group
(800) 882-4343.

This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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