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Prestige 450 Flybridge

Just Right

A short cruise onboard the Prestige 450 Flybridge proves that good things really do come in small packages.

Watching our small wake play with the murky water as we meandered down the ICW, I imagined what it would be like to own the boat I was on. What if this wasn’t a boat test, I wondered, but instead the start of a fun weekend on the water? In my mind I got comfortable  on the sunpad, began to take off my shoes and get ready for a nap (I’d been testing boats since sun-up), and that’s when Power & Motoryacht Executive Editor Capt. Bill Pike interrupted my train of thought. 

“Hey Chris, why don’t you have a little fun with her,” he said, as he handed over the helm of the new Prestige 450 Flybridge. We were holding station, waiting for the Camino Real Bridge to open, after making our way down a particularly picturesque stretch of the ICW towards the Boca Raton Inlet. We’d picked up our ride for the afternoon in nearby Deerfield Beach, along with Ray Pessel and Mike Stutt of InterMarine at Marina One, guys who have been dealing the Prestige line for a little more than two years. 

As I settled in at the helm on the flying bridge, Pessel, seated on the large sunpad to starboard alongside Stutt (well, Stutt was a bit more sprawled than seated, and man did he look relaxed), suggested I play around with the Volvo IPS pods while we waited for the bridge. “It’s all about nice, slow control of the joystick,” he said, “but once you get the hang of it she’s really smooth. Of all the joysticks, I think Volvo is the best. You can take this boat up to a restaurant and pull on and off the dock sideways.” While I can’t attest to the latter portion of his statement due to a lack of readily available waterfront establishments, I can attest to the first part—boy, was the handling smooth. With a little work on the joystick, the nimble 450 sidestepped and turned like she was taking part in a line dance. 

We made our way under the bridge, skirted along the outside of Lake Boca Raton, ducked under A1A (which we cleared with room to spare thanks to the 450’s 17½ feet of vertical clearance), and headed for the ocean. She managed the stacked 2- to 3-footers in the inlet with ease. There wasn’t so much as a shudder from the boat and up on the flying bridge we stayed dry despite occasional bouts of spray.

Once we were out in open water we pointed the bow south and started putting the 450 through her paces, although cruising offshore in the South Florida sun, with a light 10- to 15-knot breeze pushing rolling 1- to 2-footers across a cobalt sea, it was easy to forget that I was there for work. The 450’s twin 435-horsepower Volvo Penta IPS600 engine package gave us a two-way average top speed just north of 30 knots with a fuel burn of approximately 45 gallons per hour. Dialed back to around 20 knots, she cruised beautifully, responding quickly and assuredly to the helm. She turned a circle with a diameter of about four boat lengths. As we ran her about I was reminded of skiing the bowls at Vail as we carved big S-turns up and down the coast. She cornered smoothy, showing no signs of slide, transfer, prop blowout, or excessive heel. 

On our way back to the dock I turned the helm over to Pike so he could put the 450 back in the stable, a tight little slip at Marina One. Negotiating shallows, an assortment of other boats, and a decent bit of current, Pike backed her into the slip with relative ease. Prestige hit the boathandler’s sweet spot with the positioning of the joystick at the upper helm, by the way—it’s just far enough to the right of the steering wheel and throttles so you can easily manipulate it whether you’re left-handed or right-handed, and whether you’re facing forward or aft.

Once we had the 450 tied up we headed inside to get a feel for what the boat had to offer. “Seems like she’s got a cheery interior,” Pike said as we entered. And it was cheery indeed. Even in the shadow cast by a nearby boat-storage shed, the 450’s saloon was bright, thanks to large windows all around and a light color scheme, and with the windows near the helm open and the saloon doors open as well, the space really did seem to bring a good amount of the outside indoors. 

Better Boat: Helping Hand

One nice part about buying a new Prestige is that all of the boats come with a VesselVanguard subscription for tracking onbaord maintenance. “Boat ownership is complex enough as it is,” says Donald Hyde, CEO of VesselVanguard. “Boats have all of this sophistication and multiple independent systems with no backbone connectivity that structures the information. That’s what VesselVanguard becomes—the connected backbone by which all of this information is ready to be seen at glance any time you want in one easy interface.” This allows not only the owner but a dealer’s service department to know what needs to be done and when. Think about it like an alarm clock for servicing your boat—just try not to hit snooze. 

The L-shaped galley is aft, convenient to the cockpit and the dinette forward to port in the saloon, and features a two-burner Kenyon range with sink and counter space for meal prep, a Vitrifrigo refrigerator and freezer, and a Fridgidaire microwave. While not huge, the galley seems in line with the type of cruising you’ll likely be doing on the 450—she might not have room to provision for a 14-day expedition, but she’s got plenty of stowage for light meals and snacks during a weekend aboard. 

Forward, alongside the helm station, is a companionway that leads belowdecks to the amidships master stateroom. Again, large windows and lightly colored soft goods made the space feel naturally bright. Headroom accommodated my 5-foot 10-inch stature, with just a little bit of a stoop needed to reach the sunken walkaround queen berth, which is situated athwartships, taking full advantage of the 450’s 14-foot beam. A flatscreen TV, Pioneer speakers, hanging lockers for stowage, and an en suite head round out the area.  

Before leaving the master, we checked out what at first appeared to be a large hanging locker at its after end. Opening it gave access to the boat’s main electrical breaker panel, not an area for stowage as we originally thought. But it also showed us something else. Every boatbuilder has strengths and weaknesses. Being part of the Groupe Beneteau family, the Prestige line is manufactured by one of the world’s largest players. This allows the company to produce a sound, well-constructed boat at a reasonable price. All in all, when it comes to Prestige, you get a lot of boat for your dollar. And while most all of the places on the boat had a high quality fit and finish, there were a few areas, like that faux hanging locker (with simple latches instead of more expensive, complicated hardware) where economic choices have been made. But hey, such choices aren’t going to affect your onboard enjoyment in the least. 

We checked out one more space before going back up top. The VIP, accessed by going farther forward, has a versatile island-queen berth—it scissors into two twins, great for cruising with kids. The VIP also features access to the dayhead, and concealed nicely along the passageway that leads from the companionway was a Splendide washer and dryer unit. Throughout the interior, all features, from light switches to washer-and-dryer access, were clearly labeled.

Access to the engine room was through a hatch in the cockpit sole.  Pike and I climbed down the removable ladder and found a decently sized engine room for a boat with this LOA. The area wasn’t cavernous by any means, headroom was seated or stooped, but you could access the main components (the engines, the Cummins Onan generator, the electrical components, the fuel filters, etc.) and move between the two power plants without embracing your inner Gumby. Other areas were a bit tight though—the Marine Air air-conditioning unit was a bit cramped toward the rear of the area, which might make servicing or replacing it a bit of a challenge. Nice features we noticed were the amount of space between the IPS units and the space overhead, making service and daily fluid checks simpler, and drip panels under the engines, making it easier to spot leaks and keep the area looking tidy. 

Standing on the dock, I gave the Prestige 450 Flybridge one last glance as the sun burned down in the sky behind us reflecting in her windows, and I imagined walking to my slip and seeing her there. Sure, she’s not some long-range cruiser that’ll take you from the Sea of Cortez to Puget Sound, and if you’re looking for a boat loaded down with varnished teak, look somewhere else. But, if you’re in the market for a well-built, economically priced cruiser with nice accommodations that also happens to be a real pleasure to drive, a Prestige 450 Fly bobbing in your very own slip might be just right.

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This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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