Bertram 50 Express
The Bertram 50 Express may just be the nicest 50-footer you haven’t heard about. That’s partly because the pandemic caused so many boat show cancellations, but there is also a bit of a middle-sibling syndrome going on here that Jan Brady would certainly understand.
The first “new-generation” Bertram launched after Beniamino Gavio, an Italian entrepreneur and owner of superyacht builder Baglietto, purchased the Bertram brand was the 35. That vessel received a ton of attention, with its classic lines harkening back to one of the most beloved sportfishing boats of all time, the Ray Hunt-designed 31 Moppie. The next model Bertram introduced was the 61 Convertible, reminiscent of the 54- and 57-foot Bertram battlewagons that dominated the offshore scene for decades. That boat caught a lot of gazes too.
Then came the 50, and while the boat stands out with its clean lines, iconic Bertram stepped sheer and a long list of available customizations to suit family cruisers or tournament anglers, the 50 Express didn’t receive nearly the same fanfare as its siblings. Further shading the 50 is the latest buzz-worthy Bertram, the 39-foot center console, which is unfortunate, because the Express complements the other Bertrams and fills a hole in the line-up quite nicely.
Bertram 50 Express
Boaters who gravitate to express-style boats enjoy running their vessel without missing any of the action. That’s definitely not a problem on the Bertram 50—the captain is dead center in the helm deck, with great sightlines thanks to a helm chair mounted on a raised platform. There’s also an air-conditioning vent directed right at the person behind the wheel, giving the captain a little extra-special treatment. There are two additional helm chairs for passengers and two L-shaped couches behind the helm, one with a table—there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the ride in comfort.
Owners can choose from an enclosed or open bulkhead. Hull number one was spec’ed out for cruising with a fully enclosed, climate-controlled helm deck. But you never feel cramped thanks to glass windows all around and a large, retractable sky light. When everything is buttoned up, this is a very quiet running area for an express. The Palm Beach style helm pod is solid teak, giving her a classic look with shift/throttle arms on either side that feature built-in bow thruster control. The electronics package includes dual 22-inch Garmin screens and an Octoplex digital switching system, making it easy for the captain to monitor and control the vast array of systems.
Another great attribute of an Express is the immediate access it gives you to the cockpit, and I really love the cockpit on this boat. With 178 square feet of space, your guests can turn this area into an open-air cocktail party or get down-and-dirty with some offshore fishing. A few standout features include a hot/cold pull-out shower hose next to the tuna door to rinse off the salt after a swim, a wing-station with a joystick that makes single-handed docking way easier and a mezzanine tackle center with drawers, tackle trays, a grill and sink. Cockpit sinks often become a spot to store whatever odds and ends you don’t want rolling around, but Bertram provides a cutting board that fits on top of the sink, so you can cut limes or bait and hose it right off. There are also two large in-deck fish boxes, one of which has an ice dump. Bertram installed an aquarium-style livewell in the transom and offers various tower options for those looking to rig this boat to fish.
A hatch between the mezzanine settee and tackle center provides access to the engine room. The steps into the engine room were wide enough that I didn’t need to turn around and step down like a ladder. A Seakeeper 9 is installed aft of the engines on centerline, right where it should be. This hull was equipped with twin MAN 1,550-hp diesels, an optional package. It comes standard with 1,100-hp Cat C-18s. Filters were mounted inboard for easy access.
As we made our way down the Intracoastal, headed for Lake Worth Inlet, we had to put the engines in troll mode using the Quick Shift transmission control to cut down on the wake we were throwing. Once we made it out of the no-wake zone, the 50 quickly came up on plane. The bow rose briefly, just a few seconds, before settling back down and hitting a 36-knot cruise at 80-percent load. This hull featured Zipwake interceptors to raise or drop the bow if needed, but I didn’t feel the need to use them.
Approaching the inlet on a blue-bird day, the prevalent boat traffic had kicked up a washing machine of wakes, but we never had to back off the throttles. The boat made quick work of the chop, and not a single drop of spray landed on the windshield. We headed out into the open Atlantic with 4- to 6-foot swells spaced out at 10-second intervals. Gorgeous conditions for a boat ride. We opened it up and recorded a top speed of 42 knots with 500 gallons of fuel on board. The boat was responsive and light on its feet, capable of hard-over turns and really fun to drive.
We met up with Bertram’s 39-foot center console just south of Jupiter to take some boat-to-boat photos. Running next to the outboard-powered center console opened my eyes as to the speed of the 50. We hung right beside that zippy center console for quite a ways before it started to slowly edge ahead of us.
Heading back to the barn, I started to fantasize about where I’d take the 50 in a perfect world. With an island berth in the master and bunks in the guest stateroom, you could easily enjoy a family weekend away and never need a hotel room. The salon table looks equally perfect for game night, or fresh-caught spiny lobster. The satin wood finish is bright and classic while the galley makes good use of space with lots of storage, a three-burner cooktop and a large fridge/freezer that could hold a week’s worth of vittles. I also appreciated some of the little touches, like pop-up outlets with USB connects for charging devices. Because they recess into the counters, you hardly notice them, but they’ll definitely come in handy.
If I had to pinpoint my single favorite feature of this boat, I’d have to say it was the running attitude. This boat ran like a Bertram should. It blasted through the chop and skipped across the swells. I believe it’s safe to say that the company is investing in the right places and working hard to keep the Bertram name on the pedestal where it belongs.
Bertram 50 Express Test Report
Bertram 50 Express Specifications:
Displ.: 62,000 lbs.
Fuel: 1,236 gal.
Water: 120 gal.
Power: 2/1,150-hp Cat C18; 2/1,550-hp MAN V12
Base Price: $2 million