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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Carver 560 Voyager

The Long Island, New York, marina where I keep my boat has many slips occupied by Carvers. Some are sedans and others are motoryachts, but all have something in common: owners who desire all the amenities of home as well as comfort for family cruising. It’s a blend that Carver has mixed well for many years. But even so, the builder is always upgrading and revamping its boats. Carver’s latest launch, the 560 Voyager, which comes from the same hull mold as her 570 Voyager sistership, takes the builder’s pilothouse series to a higher level of layout, functionality, and finish. After recently testing the 560, I figure it won’t be long before I see one in my marina.

Heading down the docks at the Ship And Sail dealership in Kemah, Texas, I immediately noticed the 560’s full-height, curved, sliding cockpit door. It was a nice look, but the layout behind the door was even sweeter. Unlike the 570, which features barrel chairs and a TV cabinet immediately to port, the 560 sports a U-shape dinette here that could easily seat eight. There’s an additional lounge directly across for a few more guests. Both the lounge and dinette seating are made of buttery-soft, caramel-tone Ultraleather. A retractable 32-inch Panasonic plasma TV replaces the bulky cabinet-style one from the 570; additionally, on the 560 it’s just forward of the amidships galley.

That galley has received some noteworthy upgrades, too. The countertops on earlier Voyagers were made of Karadon, according to Dave Foulkrod, president of Ship And Sail, who added that granite is now standard on the 560. Black galaxy granite (other colors are available) is also used for the galley sole and provides an upscale look.

Like the countertops here, the appliances also received an upgrade. The 570’s refrigerator and freezer have cherrywood faces, while the 560’s Sub-Zeros have a more contemporary-looking brushed stainless steel look. Your guests will admire the galley’s appearance, but it’s functional, too, equipped with a standard three-burner Ceran cooktop, a Panasonic microwave/convection oven, a Cuisinart coffee maker, and an optional Broan trash compactor.

Obviously much has changed in the saloon and galley from the 570 to the 560. However, the three-stateroom, two-head layout below decks remains the same. There’s a full-beam (15’4”) master stateroom and en suite head amidships, a forepeak VIP, and a third stateroom aft to port of the VIP. Kids and/or adult guests can share the second/day head to starboard, just aft of the VIP. One aesthetic upgrade is Carver’s use of sapele pommele inlays on the cherrywood doors, dressers, and countertops. The inlays pleasantly accent the high-gloss cherrywood.

But the 560’s interior wasn’t the only area to get a makeover. Some of the exterior modifications included switching the swim platform from an integral one to a hydraulically operated system, enabling you to easily launch a tender or PWC. A davit on the flying bridge is optional. Carver also added two feet to the 560’s cockpit, which resulted in a 69-square-foot space that allows room for transom seating. It has additionally allowed designers to reduce the angle of the stairway leading to the flying bridge. And don’t worry about sun-sensitive guests, because the flying bridge has been extended a couple of feet, so the added overhang will keep most of this area shaded.

Also up on the guest-friendly flying bridge is a U-shape lounge with table aft and to port, the place for an alfresco lunch or full-on barbecue when you take into account the wet bar and optional Nova Kool refrigerator and Jenn-Air grill to starboard.

So do any of these changes have any effect on the 560’s performance? To find out, Foulkrod and I ran this cruiser from the upper helm out onto Galveston Bay to shake her down. This bay is shallow—it averages between eight and ten feet deep—and a steady 15-knot wind provided a short chop across the water. Despite the conditions and the fact that we were running sans trim tabs, the 560 made a respectable top speed of 36 mph with her optional twin 675-hp Volvo Penta D12 EVC diesels at 2330 rpm. (PMY recorded a 36-mph top end on the 570, which was powered by twin 635-hp Cummins QSM11 diesels.) At 2000 rpm she ran at 30.1 mph. The 560 has an 800-gallon fuel capacity, and with her fuel burn averaging 42 gph at cruise, it provides a range of 516 statute miles, more than enough to run to the Bahamas for a weekend or head down the ICW for a spell. Now, while I think the D12s—the largest available option for the 560—are a good fit from a power perspective, they come at a price. When I did my inspection of the engine room, which has 4’11” headroom, I noted port and starboard outboard engine access was hampered by the freshwater and holding tanks. It’s not an easy place to work.

The 560’s speed runs were in the books, and Foulkrod offered me the wheel. I pushed the single-lever Volvo Penta electronic controls forward and ran the 560’s warped-V hull form without tabs towards the chop. I soon discovered that her solid fiberglass hull, which transitions from a 23-degree deadrise forward to a 12-degree deadrise aft, didn’t appreciate the head-on course at top speed, and she took a couple of smacks on the chine. Part of that is probably because the 560 carries much of her beam well forward to maximize interior volume, and that means a blunt entry. I added some tab to get her nose down, and it helped smooth out the ride. In addition, I found the 560 was slow to react to hard-over turns at cruise speed. Her Teleflex SeaStar hydraulic steering was smooth enough, but it took several boat lengths for the two 29x32.2 four-blade ZF New Foil props and modified spade rudders to really bite and do a turnaround.

Although the helm here is well laid out and has clean sightlines forward, the view aft is naturally obstructed by the large overhang. Were I buying this boat, I’d order Carver’s optional video monitoring system for a clear view in this direction. Two cameras with monitors at the flying bridge and pilothouse helms give you views aft and of the engine room. Our console hosted a full array of Raymarine electronics (see specifications) as well as controls for the Volvo Penta bow and stern thruster, which provided quick spins in close quarters.

Down at the lower helm, sightlines forward were clear, and an overhead electronics console provides room for a couple of ten-inch monitors and video monitor. I found the aft cockpit camera valuable for getting a good look at the swim platform during stern-to docking, since you don’t have to look back through the saloon. The video setup adds a sense of security in tight areas, especially if a couple is handling the boat.

While the 560 Voyager’s running bottom is the same as that of the 570, Carver has made some impressive upgrades in layout and materials for its latest launch. In addition, the 560 is quick and economical. So if you’re looking for a comfy family cruiser that is elegant without being overstated, then the 560 Voyager might just be your next ride.

Carver Yachts
(920) 822-1600

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