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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Silverton 33 Convertible

I wasn’t expecting to be impressed with the appearance of Silverton’s new entry-level 33 Convertible when I hit the docks behind the Silverton dealer Sundance Marine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida—a couple of computerish drawings I’d seen a week or so before had made the little two-stateroom, one-head cruiser look plump, maybe even a tad chunky. So when I actually caught sight of her for the first time, moored among some bigger but stylistically similar siblings (Silverton builds several convertibles these days, up to 50 feet LOA), I put the breaks on the ol’ Sebagos.

“Now that’s a pretty sight,” I said to Capt. Rich Murray, the Sundance rep walking along with me. We both stood there for a moment, admiring the 33’s faintly aquiline sheer; her perfectly proportioned, welded-stainless steel bowrails with high, forward-raked stanchions; and her beefy but decidedly unchunky profile. Compared to the scads of compact cruisers today that resemble radically curvaceous piles of whipped cream, the 33 offered a little angularity and a straight style line or two.

I cranked her up from the helm station on the flying bridge while Murray remained on the dock ready to toss off the lines at my signal. Then, once her optional 375-hp Crusader 6.0 HO MPI gasoline inboards had warmed a little (with the boat still secure in her slip), I tried bumping the mechanical ultraflex, single-lever throttles/shifts into and out of gear, forward and reverse.

This is SOP for me. Prior to hitting the trail in an unfamiliar vessel (or a familiar one, for that matter), I like to engage the transmissions briefly to assure myself I’ve got workable propulsion before I get myself into a dicey situation in a wind-blown channel or fairway.

The results were mixed. The otherwise solid-seeming control was so tight I had trouble getting out of neutral without substantially overshooting idle, a circumstance that had me goosing the Crusaders when I didn’t want to. Nevertheless, once Murray had dealt with our mooring lines and hopped onboard, I eased our test boat out of her slip without too much trouble and idled off down the fairway toward the inlet at Port Everglades.

Sea conditions in the Atlantic were rougher than heck: Waves barreling down from the north averaged four to six feet, and winds were gusting to 25 knots and higher. Yet my test boat did virtually everything I asked of her, zooming up sea, down sea, and side sea with the gusto that typifies her Donald L. Blount and Associates hull form. Her SeaStar hydraulic steering felt smooth, her optional Gioia Sails enclosure kept us dry, and the vinyl-upholstered, foam-over-polyethylene seats (Prefixx-treated to resist UV damage and mildew) were substantial enough to add comfort to the ride.

Recording test data called for creativity. While Murray and I had no trouble snagging a full register of radar-gun speeds going down sea, reciprocal up-sea runs at top end and just below proved too raw and rambunctious to produce accurate numbers and acceleration curves. So, because up-sea and down-sea speeds in open water had registered near equally for lower-rpm data points (and because scheduling issues nixed doing the sea trial at any other time), we decided to go with down-sea numbers alone for 3500 through 5000 rpm and polished off the rest in Port Everglades’ Bar Cut.

Running attitudes were fairly high, particularly at 3500 rpm, although fully amenable to trim tab adjustment, and although the two-way-average WOT velocity of 35.6 mph we measured seemed pretty darn fast considering the two-to-three-footers prevailing in the cut. I let Murray return our 33 to her slip, given the tight-adjustment of her engine control (and the close proximity of several glistening sisterships), and the young fellow did a fine job. After tying up, we toured our test boat from stem to stern, turning up a host of features I was pretty darn surprised to see onboard an entry-level cruiser with such a comparatively low, price—a base price well under 200 grand.

The first few appeared in the engine room, accessed via a couple of hatches in the saloon. They included loomed, harnessed, and color-coded wiring (with stranded-copper wire and tinned connectors); optional Buck Algonquin internal sea strainers; engine mounts through-bolted into a stringer system of ‘glass-encapsulated, pressure-treated, lifetime-guaranteed (against rot, delamination, insects, etc.) Inland plywood; and a gutsy hull-to-deck joint sealed with foam-filled butyl tape, a polyurethane marine adhesive, bolts on six-inch centers, and fiberglass tabbing where possible.

The rest caught my eye once we’d entered the conventionally laid-out interior, with its upper-deck galley/saloon/dinette area and, below, its master stateroom forward, guest stateroom to port (with stand-up dressing area and hanging locker near the door), and shower-curtain-equipped head to starboard. Features included finely crafted, nine-ply birch cabinet drawers with solid-cherry fascias and chuck-and-bore corner joints; buttery, top-notch Ultraleather upholstery; plush, short-nap Scotchguarded carpeting; and a practical finish overall that’s both appealing and easy to take care of.

“So whattaya think?” asked Murray once the tour was over. We were walking away, with the boaty but stylish Silverton 33 Convertible just a few steps behind.

“Hard to believe you get all that,” I replied, jabbing my thumb over my shoulder, “for a base price of just $189,900.”

For more information on Silverton Marine, including contact information, click here.

This article originally appeared in the March 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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