Over the past year, Our team has reviewed nearly 100 boats. We have our list of favorites, but this isn’t our list, it’s yours. These were the most popular (and searched for) boats on pmymag.com in 2020.
10: Axopar 37 XC
“The Adventure Company” shows why they’re attracting all walks of life.
Head on over to Axopar’s website and you’ll see they’ve undergone a change. A reimagining more than a rebranding, there’s no bones about it: The Finnish company is now in the business of adventure. Whether it’s a couple bikes strapped to the hardtop or a fast dash to the nearest crag, the co-founder, Jan-Erik Viitala, seems to be positioning Axopar as the Jeep of express boats. And customers seem to be following suit.
This year, Axopar was granted the National Marine Manufacturer Association (NMMA) award for customer satisfaction, a program that collects data directly from dealers. While this speaks more to customer relations, it doesn’t hurt that their boats—like the 37 XC seen here (XC for cross cabin)—are competitively priced. They’re also geared towards performance, prioritizing low fuel consumption even at higher speeds. What jumps out to me is the 37’s cruising range: At 26 knots, it burns 16.5 gph, with a range close to 350 miles, according to test data provided by Mercury
Marine. “This is one of many reasons the boat gains interest amongst your readers,” said Viitala.
That includes two of my good friends in Portland, Maine, who tell me they look to take ownership of their very own 37 sometime this year. Greg and Jen, I can’t wait to visit. —Simon Murray
9: 48 Wallytender X
Meet Wally like you’ve never seen it before—and that’s saying something.
The first four reasons why the 48 Wallytender X was so well-received at last year’s Miami show are plain to see in the above photo. The outboard market continues to be white-hot here in the States, and increasingly abroad as well. Marry that horsepower with a metallic blue hull and enormous fold-down gunwales, and you have a recipe for a modern-day Miami Vice. But to me, what makes this boat even more tantalizing is her back story.
For nearly 25 years, Luca Bassani has built out-of-the-box—no, scratch that, out-of-this-world—yacht designs. Go ahead and Google the Wally 118; I’ll wait. After all those years Bassani was looking for a sea change by way of an investor. Early last year that dream was realized when Italian super-power Ferretti Group acquired Wally.
With Bassani continuing to contribute his design genius, but with the added benefit of the deep pockets of Ferretti Group, a new Wallytender 48 was created and launched.
The first of the new X-series of 48s we tested overseas was powered by 480-hp Volvo Penta IPS 650s. That power package allowed this newcomer to hit 34.2 knots in 2- to 3-foot seas. A major aid to that speed is the generous use of carbon fiber found throughout the build.
Based on our sea trials, the boat’s warm reception in Miami and the impressive search traffic this boat garnered, we believe this is just the start of a long and happy marriage between Wally and Ferretti. —Daniel Harding Jr.
8: Pershing 7X
This newcomer to a popular size range proves that details matter.
I have a confession: I’m surprised to see this model crack our top 10 this year. Not because she isn’t sexy; she is. Her silver paint scheme, racy lines, a 50-knot top end and Italian styling make Pershings the envy of boaters around the world. The truth is, though, this model is more refresh than a truly new build. Still, landing in the heart of the market and replacing a wildly popular Pershing 70 means that this boat demands attention.
One area that the 7X really differentiates itself is on the scale. Thanks to a generous amount of carbon-fiber construction she is nearly 8,000 pounds lighter than her predecessor. When you take that savings and add 354 hp, well that’s just not a fair race.
Other advances come via widened side decks and the now-signature wings. She also sports larger windows belowdecks to shine a whole new light on her two- or three-stateroom layout.
Added European Editor Alan Harper: “Needless to say, the fit-out borders on opulent: Nubuck deckhead linings and striped walnut veneers compete for your attention with Armani Casa bedspreads, Casamance cushions, Dedar Milano fabrics and curtains from Pellini Nautica. This is production boat building, Italian style.”
A proven line, improved styling, improved economy and top-end speed. I guess it’s no surprise this boat was popular after all. —Daniel Harding Jr.
7: Sunreef 80
This powercat offers a profusion of layouts and an aura of romance.
One of my guilty pleasures is reading Clive Cussler’s maritime thrillers, and I gotta say, the Sunreef 80, a truly immense powercat with a reported top speed of 24 knots, a 14-knot cruise and genuine ocean-crossing potential, is certainly up to the panoramic seafaring standards Cussler is famous for.
Indeed, I have no trouble imagining the author’s hero, Dirk Pitt, standing at the starboard-side helm station of the 80, with a far-flung, adventurous destination ahead and the giant tender garage chock-full of mini subs and commandos. Not only does the physical size, complexity and luxury of the 80 contribute to its romantic nature, so does the place where Sunreef builds its power and sailing cats: the old Gdansk Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, a historic shipbuilding city.
The sheer interior volume of the 80 provides layout alternatives galore, particularly within the two ample sponsons. More specifically, most owners will probably opt for a main-deck arrangement that features a master suite up forward, with a berth looking out upon a “bow terrace.”
The perfect retreat for a two-fisted sophisticate like Mr. Pitt? Yup, and there’s even a “spa pool” on the flybridge, just in case a heroine drops by. —Capt. Bill Pike
6: Boston Whaler 405 Conquest
This versatile cruiser marks the builder’s second venture into the 40-foot market.
Few builders have cemented the same brand loyalty as Boston Whaler, with many boaters establishing their sea legs from behind the helm of a 13-footer, experiencing the joys of outboard power for the very first time.
The 405 Conquest is the builder’s second model larger than 40 feet, and it bears little resemblance to those open skiffs of our youth. Dubbed the “SUV of the Sea,” this fish- and family-friendly vessel sleeps six and can be outfitted with an electric cooktop or a 40-gallon livewell—or both—to suit her owner’s specific needs.
Standard power comes from quad 300-hp Mercury Verado outboards, a slight increase in power from the single outboard affixed on the 13-footer. But options abound, and however you choose to outfit this versatile vessel, she is sure to evoke the sentimentality of those long-gone summer days. —Carly Sisson
5: Intrepid 477 Evolution
“Fast and furious” perfectly describes this intrepid newcomer.
Intrepid Powerboats is famous for sizzle. And not just because of the company’s high-performance cachet. The mélange of fishboat and fastboat has always sported an innovative streak as well. And hey, the new 477 Evolution is a fine example.
Not only does this big speedster have two eminently usable staterooms (each with plenty of ambient light via hullside windows), a somewhat exceptional feature in a walkaround of this size, she also has an equally exceptional fold-down, hydraulically actuated hullside door to port with handle-equipped ladder. Cool for diving, swimming or whatever. But the door also stands in nicely for the absence of a conventional swim platform, which is obviated, of course, by the engine setup at the transom—either triples or quads.
Brand choices include behemoths from Yamaha, Mercury or even a phalanx of Suzuki’s 350-hp dual props. Top speed with four 425-hp Yammys on the business end of the 477 is a rousing 59 knots, according to Intrepid. Cruise speed: 43 knots. Would we expect anything less from this fast-and-furious builder? Heck, no! —Capt. Bill Pike
4: Regal 38 SAV
This center-helm design fills the needs of anglers and cruisers who have a passion for playing on the water.
For the first time ever, Regal Boats cracked our Reader’s Choice Top 10. How’d they do it? Simple, the company listened to its customers.
When owners requested more outboard options and bigger boats that can wear a lot of hats on the water, Regal delivered the 38 SAV—a perfect mix of cruising attributes in a very fishable, open design.
With an 11-foot, 11-inch beam, the boat offers a surprising amount of space on deck, at the helm, in the cabin and in terms of storage. The layout includes tons of seating with four helm seats (the two outer seats swivel to face backwards), a bench behind the entertainment center, another bench on the transom and more seating in the bow. You can carry 15 passengers comfortably.
A hydraulic-powered deck lift reveals a Seakeeper, genset, batteries and enough storage for lots of water toys. The air-conditioned cabin houses a queen-sized berth forward and a mid-cabin convertible settee. There’s also a full head with separate shower. More than enough room to sneak off for the weekend. And powered with triple 300-hp Yamahas, the 38 tops out at 45 knots.
This vessel caters to active boaters who like to do a bit of everything. It definitely lives up to the SAV acronym, which stands for Sports Activity
Vessel. —Charlie Levine
3: Silent 55
With solar-electric propulsion and luxury accommodations, this cat silently cruises towards a greener future.
Although the marine industry has been increasingly exploring more sustainable propulsion options as of late, electric and solar power have yet to be employed on many long-distance cruising yachts. The Silent 55 is one notable exception, making it no surprise that this silent-running catamaran landed on our list.
Silent-Yachts is a pioneer of solar power, founded by a cruising couple that has logged more than 75,000 miles at sea. Their cruising experience, coupled with their collaboration with Searious Power, an alternative marine propulsion specialist, has culminated into a high-performance bluewater vessel with a low environmental impact.
Twin 250-kW e-motors provide a cruising speed of 10 to 12 knots, and the boat travels at 5 to 6 knots using solar power alone.
With the right drivetrain conditions, the 55 should reach speeds up to 20 knots. Solar energy also charges the 55’s lithium-ion batteries, which have a 210-kWh capacity, and a backup 100-kW Volvo Penta diesel generator that activates when the batteries are low provides peace of mind while voyaging.
Green power does not mean sacrificing luxury accommodations; the Silent 55 is configured to optimize comfort on long passages. Five different layout options are available, offering between three and six staterooms, and there is ample space for entertaining.
The Silent 55 requires little maintenance, and sustainable propulsion keeps operating costs low, but most importantly, it leaves very little carbon footprint, so you can cruise to the ends of earth knowing that you are paving the way towards a greener future. —Carly Sisson
2: Bertram 39
The 39 marks a pronounced shift in the storied builder’s portfolio. And it’s the first of many.
It’s safe to say that the 39 made a big splash at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show, even if attendance wasn’t as high due to the pandemic. That’s because anticipation was through the roof. Bertram hadn’t built a center console in decades, and for good or bad, the modern image has been firmly associated with battlewagons.
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s going to change. The plan is to build nine different models encompassing center and dual consoles from 28 to 50 feet over the next three years. All will be similar in design to the 39, which features the company’s classic deep-V, while a bigger beam (13 feet, 2 inches) and heavier displacement (20,000 pounds) place it as somewhat of an outlier compared to other center consoles in its class.
Of course, those were very much conscious design choices, as Bertram is invested in providing its customers with a smoother ride to the canyons. “This boat is designed specifically to handle all the weight that’s going into it,” said Dan Hamilton, director of product development and program management. “If you don’t bring the beam back, and if you don’t bring the beam out a little bit, you end up with a wetter ride essentially because the hull can’t support the weight.”
To power this newcomer, Bertram has partnered exclusively with Mercury, and projects a top end with triple 450s above 60 knots. We are very much looking forward to putting this one to the test. —Simon Murray
1: Jimmy Buffett’s Custom 42 Freeman
Freeman Boatworks and Merritt Boatworks combine efforts to create a custom sportfish for the music legend.
When deciding on his next fishing boat, Jimmy Buffett decided to go with a 42 Freeman Boatworks catamaran. But Jimmy wanted a pilothouse on his boat, and he wanted it to look sharp. So Jimmy and his captain, Vinnie LaSorsa, approached Merritt Boatworks to build them a custom house. This was not the sort of project Freeman or Merritt typically take on, but the client may have had something to do with that.
The end result is the ideal fishing boat for Jimmy’s needs. There’s plenty of room to fight fish, and the house offers an air-conditioned oasis to escape the weather, complete with a berth forward and full head. The boat came out incredibly gorgeous—the classic lines of the house marry well with the sleek, sexy hull shape of the catamaran.
Last Mango is loaded with custom touches and includes Jimmy’s must haves: shock-absorbing seats, a retractable awning, side hull doors and salon windows that open and close vertically as opposed to sliding (which tend to creep open on you).
Powered by quad 300-hp Yamaha outboards, the boat is surprisingly economical. Not only does she eat up a head sea, she’ll also get .8 mpg at 35 knots. And with 800 gallons of fuel on board, there are no worries about range when canyon fishing.
There is much to love about this boat. The way two leading boatbuilders from very different segments of the market came together to create the vessel is, by itself, remarkable. But it was all because of one man’s vision. Nice to see our readers share Jimmy’s good taste. —Charlie Levine