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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Altima 45 Euro Sedan

It wasn’t until I piloted the Altima 45 Euro Sedan up Fort Lauderdale’s New River that I began to appreciate this vessel’s close-quarter-handling characteristics.

For those not familiar with the New River, it’s a heavily trafficked waterway—both by commercial and recreational vessels—about the width of my thumb and as deep as a pothole, with several blind turns, bridges, and other nautical challenges. While running this “fast trawler” (she combines a passagemaker look with motoryacht speed), I encountered two tugs spinning a 100-foot-plus mega- yacht, two large, I’m-not-budging sight-seeing vessels, countless meandering bowriders, and a couple of push tugs and barges. Oh, the boating joy. Truth be told, I was anticipating a maneuvering mess on the congested route, but the result was quite the opposite. The 45’s optional 425-mhp Cummins QSB5.9 diesel inboards (380-hp Cummins are standard) and torquey 2.5:1 ZF transmissions worked in concert with the 26x25 four-blade wheels and oversize rudders to allow this vessel to cut and spin on the proverbial dime. (I later found out from Altima President Frank Sciortino that he’d replaced the original rudders with ones about five-inches longer.) The optional Side-Power bow and stern thrusters came in handy, too.

While there was an occasional upwelling of mud under the 45, which has a 3'11" draft including a six-inch-deep keel (Altima’s larger models—the 56 and 61—sport a 26-inch-deep one), she can obviously handle some pretty skinny water, making her ideal for operating in the Florida Keys and Bahamas.

Her modified-V hull form, which comes from the naval architects at For Sail located in China (where the 45 is also built by the Activa yard), features about 12 degrees of transom deadrise. (Upcoming 68-, 77-, and 61-foot Altimas will feature hull designs from Bill Prince and Tom Bray.) With a fairly relaxed two- to three-foot sea state in open water, my test boat easily made two- to three-boat-length turns at WOT (2800 rpm) without excessive outboard heel, and the power-assisted SeaStar hydraulic steering was real-time quick, too. Since these diesels are set to run at 3000 rpm at WOT, I wondered if some prop work may be needed to maximize this boat’s speed, efficiency, and to perhaps remedy the 300- to 400-rpm drop incurred during those turns. (After the test, Sciortino called to inform me that the props and hull bottom were suffering from barnacle growth. He added that after a diver cleaned the boat, her motors ran flawlessly at full rpm.)

The term “fast trawler” is accurate for this vessel as I recorded her top average speed at 22.1 mph while her motors consumed 42 gph. This provides owners with an operating range of 295 statute miles based on her 625-gallon fuel capacity, which takes into account a ten-percent fuel reserve. Dialing the Cummins back to 2500 rpm resulted in a comfortable cruise speed of 16.8 mph, a 30.4-gph burn, and a 311-statute-mile range. For long-distance voyagers, the 45 offers nearly1,000 miles of non-stop boating at 1500 rpm and 10.7 mph. At this speed, the engines eat a miserly 6 gph.

This boat’s ability to operate as a moderately fast day boat as well as a long-range cruiser hints at her versatility, which you can also see in her layout.

Sciortino explained that 45 is a semicustom vessel and can be arranged in myriad ways as long as the structural bulkheads aren’t moved. For instance, my boat featured a saloon with an L-shape settee to port and a U-shape galley just forward of that. Some of the galley’s stowage cabinets were 20-inches deep, but if you don’t need cavernous stowage, Altima can shorten the galley and extend the saloon area (or vice versa). You could even switch sides for the settee and galley, change the seating shape altogether, extend or reduce counterspace, and the like. While my boat featured satin-finish African cherry veneer bulkheads and cabinetry, teak is a no-cost option.

The same versatility is available with the below-decks accommodations. My 45 featured the standard layout, with a forepeak master stateroom and a guest stateroom with a pull-out double berth aft and to port of it. Each room has an en suite head with the guest’s also serving as the day head. Since the guest head is a wet one (no enclosed shower), I wonder if the wood-veneer door facing inside it could be affected by consistent exposure to water. The guest stateroom can be made into an office for cruising couples and/or liveaboards. Sciortino says of the two-dozen-plus boats Altima has built to date, about 80 percent of them have an onboard office.

However you outfit her, the 45 is built tough with a solid fiberglass hull bottom; Airlite PVC foam core is used in the hull sides and superstructure to add rigidity and save weight. All total, her dry weight is 39,000 pounds. (By way of comparison, the Ocean Alexander 45 Sedan is listed at about 33,100 pounds and comes standard with 380-hp Yanmars and 500 gallons of fuel. Interior layouts are nearly identical.)

From a build, ride, and arrangement standpoint, Altima hit the mark, but I also found things that could stand improvement.

I noted that the diesel fuel fills were cleverly concealed by small doors in the cabin’s superstructure. However, the water fills in the cockpit deck protrude to the point where someone could bang a toe. These should be concealed, too. In addition, the trim-piece seal on the sliding-door to the saloon was spot-welded, which had caused what appeared to be small gouges in the metal frame. This weld should span the height of the door and be ground down and polished to a clean finish. Sciortino agreed and assured me that this would be done on future models.

Last, while the lazarette is spacious, the engine room, with 4'4" headroom, is confining. There’s no access to the outboard sides of the engines due to the saddle tanks flanking them. (Racors, however, are located aft of the motors and outboard and are easily reached.) The oil-exchange system was mounted on the inboard starboard engine bed—extending over each side of it—which leaves room for someone to catch a leg or foot on the hose clamps and fittings. That said, the engine stringers looked beefy and were covered in substantial stainless steel caps.

Despite these admittedly minor criticisms, the Altima 45 is solidly built and the layout makes the most of available space. She’s also safe to move around on, thanks to 14-inch-wide side decks and 26-inch-high bulwarks with 134" stainless steel handrails easing transition fore and aft. A molded-in stairway to the flying bridge features a gradual incline and is an attractive feature for those who are done with climbing up and down ladders. The area up top offers great sightlines in all directions and is also a relaxing spot for entertaining with seating abaft the helm and to port.

In an environment where affordable midsize boats seem to be disappearing as fast as rainforest frogs, the Altima 45 fills an important niche. At $792,000 she’s a total package that offers owners the ability to put their stamp on her, provides long-range cruising capability, has all the comforts of home, and drives as smooth as a Cadillac—even up the New River.

Noteworthy: Central Vacuum

The Altima 45 Euro Sedan has a nicely finished standard teak-and-holly sole, and the last thing you want to do to is track abrasive sand and dirt across it after a day on the hook by your favorite beach. Enter the NuTone CV350 central vacuum system.

The unit is standard equipment and is stealthily mounted to a bracket in the lazarette. It operates on a dedicated 120-volt/15-amp circuit and sports overload protection as well as built-in low-voltage protection.

According to NuTone, the vacuum’s six-gallon capacity enables it to clean spaces of up to 3,000 square feet, so there’s plenty of room in the bag for any beach sand, cookie crumbs, etc., that accumulate on this boat.

In fact NuTone says this central vacuum, which features a steel housing with a white polyester finish, should require emptying only about twice a year. Even better.


Altima Yachts (954) 547-1011.

This article originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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