If you want to get a real feel for what’s going on in the economy these days, try testing boats. One of the less glamorous but more enlightening aspects of this job is meeting with the folks on the front lines who sell boats and marine gear and services, many of whom own their own businesses. While bureaucrats and academics debate whether the current economic milieu is a downturn, a recession, or worse, these people will define for you in clear, declarative English the real health of the U.S. economy. And what they’ve been telling me over these last few months sounds like a very bad case of the flu.
So when I pulled up at the Heritage Yachts office (one of three) in Long Beach, California, in late July, I was prepared for another dose of gloom. Imagine my surprise when owners Tony Duni and Don Ross told me that their business was actually pretty good. What, I thought, is going on here? Had the economy turned around while I was sardined into that 737 on the runway for three hours? Had the Governator managed to recapture some of The Golden State’s gold?
The explanation turned out to be much simpler: "We have the right boat for the times," enthused Duni. The boat he was speaking of is Mainship, (Heritage also carries a line of sailboats), which, he explained, is not only competitively priced but also fuel-efficient, a highly desirable trait in this the age of five-buck-a-gallon (or whatever it is by the time you read this) fuel.
His enthusiasm is well placed. Just look at our test results. If you can manage a light touch on the twin electronic Teleflex controls--say, 1500 rpm--the standard twin 440-hp Yanmars will push you along at nearly 10 mph while sipping just 3.2 gph. That works out to 3.1 mpg, making the 45 a veritable 40,000-pound floating Prius, at least at this speed. Nudge those sticks all the way to 2000 rpm (12.4 mph) and you still get a mile per gallon. Efficiency like that explains why Mainship calls this a Trawler. But unlike a true trawler (i.e., with a full-displacement hull form), the 45 can get out of her own way. A semidisplacement running bottom lets her top out just shy of 26 mph, at which speed you’re admittedly down in not-so-remarkable 0.60-mpg territory. How she manages to offer both speed and efficiency is actually pretty simple: flat aftersections that convert thrust into forward movement. She’s also got hard chines (unlike a true trawler), which supply the lift needed for double-digit speeds and which should provide good initial stability if not the seakindliness round-bilge designs are famous for. My stability comments are, alas, speculative since the Pacific on test day could barely muster a roll. Were I to contemplate a long-term relationship with this boat I'd thoroughly check out that issue since, as you can clearly see in the accompanying photos, the 45 is rather tall for her length.
Indeed, in looking at this boat’s profile, you might wonder, as did I on approaching her, why they made her superstructure so darn high. The principal answer is headroom. She’s got it in spades, even in her amidships engine room, where a four-foot vertical clearance means you can actually work on the tops of the Yanmars--which are V-drives no less. (This is in contrast to so many manufacturers who, lusting for that sexy low profile, put the overhead within inches of the engine, forever earning the opprobrium of diesel mechanics everywhere.) Something I did not see much of in the immediate engine space was acoustical insulation, which obviously means this boat is loud--or so I thought. Turns out my decibel meter never broke 80 dB-A, even in the saloon at cruising speed. How Mainship achieves this is something of a mystery to me but surely those Volkswagen-size mufflers outboard of each engine have something to do with it. And so must those funky exhaust outlets under the swim platform (see "Spotlight on: Underwater Exhaust," this story). They’re a new and--excuse me--weird take on underwater exhaust, but they not only keep things quiet, they virtually eliminate the dreaded station wagon effect in which exhaust gets sucked back into the low-pressure area in the after part of the boat (like the cockpit) and forces everyone to move inside and close all the doors and windows.
Another surprise for me was the 45’s generous fuel tankage: 777 gallons. Here the trick is two tanks mounted roughly at engine level that gravity-feed a third "day tank" that sits right on the hull bottom. The day tank is nearly cubical because the bilge is so shallow throughout the engine space due to the low deadrise. In fact, there’s not much more than a gutter by the time you get to the lazarette. But the flat bottom also permits the standard dual diverter valves (which allow the engines to draw from the bilge) to be mounted up high and in easy reach. All in all, it’s a pretty roomy and workable space (the 11-kW Kohler genset, which will be standard in 2009, is to starboard, aft in the lazarette) with one exception: lighting. The two small 12-volt lamps here, one above each engine, simply cannot properly illuminate an area of this volume--especially if you’re looking for a leak or loose connection.
Small could also describe the aft cockpit, whose sole (containing the engine hatch) can be unbolted rather painlessly if you need to pull an engine or genset. At 4'7" long the space cannot reasonably accommodate more than a cocktail table and two small chairs and stands in contrast to the three-foot deep swim platform, 1'4"-wide side decks (accessible from a standard lower-helm door), and wide bridge stairway. Why the short cockpit? I’d venture to say the ten-foot-long saloon is the explanation. With just a convertible sofa to port and two chairs and a too-small (1'10" by 3'6") table to starboard, there’s lots of room to move around. A dining bar lies forward and to port, and although it’s a bit low for comfort, its height makes it easily reached from the galley. To starboard the standard lower helm is elevated, both to provide excellent sightlines all around and headroom in the guest stateroom beneath. The other stateroom is the V-berth master, with an en suite head with tub.
A two-stateroom, two-head layout makes the 45 perfect for short-handed cruising, another reason she’s right for the times. Indeed, a boat designed for a mature cruising couple that’s conscious of today’s high fuel prices--how can she miss?
For more information on Mainship visit www.powerandmotoryacht.com/mainship/.
This certainly doesn’t look like any underwater exhaust system I’ve ever seen. In fact, it looks a little Rube Goldberg-ish. But it definitely works. This picture shows the outlets at rest; when the boat’s on plane the outlets are still submerged roughly the same amount. Outlet positioning on the transom is obviously the key. You get some bubbling at idle but nothing objectionable. And no moving parts.
Bose 3-2-1 stereo w/ CD/DVD player; double cockpit doors w/ screen; opening center windshield; under-sole galley stowage; Corian counter tops; L&G microwave oven; coffee maker; Everware laminate for galley sole; three-burner Princess electric stove; 2/Vitrifrigo refrigerator drawers and 2/Vitrifrigo freezer drawers; Raymarine 215 VHF
11-kW Kohler genset w/ soundshield; central vacuum; 2/Quiet flush MSDs; LCD TVs in saloon and master; oil-change system; internal sea strainers; 3-zone MarineAir A/C; windlass w/ remote; freshwater washdown; 3-burner propane stove and oven; bimini top w/ enclosure; bridge stereo; Summer Galley; bow thruster; dripless shaft logs; Raymarine radar, autopilot, chartplotter, and 2/E-120 displays
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/440-hp Yanmar 6LY3-STP diesel inboards
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF 2801 V-drive/2.558:1
- Props: 26x24 four-blade nibral
- Price as Tested: $575,240
This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.