A master salesman talks Editor-in-Chief Dan Harding into a last-minute test of the Everglades 455CC.
Tom Keane is a master hype man. I cold-called him on a Friday afternoon as Tropical Storm Elsa battered New England. I explained who I was and told him that I was interested in getting aboard the new Everglades 455CC that was stopping at Stone Harbor Marina in South Jersey during the boat’s East Coast tour. He explained that the window of opportunity was tight; the boat was being trucked back to Florida that Monday.
“What I would do if I were you, I’d get in your car right now because I just came back from running the boat in 7- to 8-foot seas and breaking waves and this is the best-performing boat I’ve ever seen,” he said with unnerving conviction. “Come down and see how she handles the rough stuff.”
Those who know me well—or those who knew me briefly in college—know that I’m highly susceptible to peer pressure. I canceled my weekend plans and packed my things. Before I knew it, I was heading to Jersey to roll the dice.
Leading up to this test I’d been on an unlucky streak of testing boats in the most benign conditions. Testing a boat like the new Everglades flagship on a calm day is akin to test-driving a Ferrari in a high school parking lot. I was near giddy with excitement about the idea of heading out in post-tropical storm conditions.
A couple years ago I spent time aboard the Florida builder’s previous flagship, the 435, in the Bahamas and found the boat to be exceptionally beefy and surprisingly spacious. We had about 14 people aboard for a cruise in choppy conditions and it never felt overcrowded or unsafe.
Laying eyes upon the 455 for the first time with Keane, a longtime yacht broker for Stone Harbor (which reps Everglades, Pursuit, Crownline and Sportsman), I noticed it looked substantially larger than her sistership despite only having an additional 4 feet of LOA. A big reason for that bigness is the optional tower that I expect will be popular with the brand’s hardcore fishing owners. Like a kid with a new tree fort, I couldn’t wait to climb up the ladder and check out this space. Overbuilt and beefy is a theme I’ll return to a few more times with this boat, because it’s the best way I can describe the construction. The most impressive part about that tower for me is that it’s a bit of a magic trick. One minute you see it, and five minutes later (with an extra pair of hands to help), you don’t. Gas-assisted struts allow the tower to be manually lowered so the boat can be trailered.
While walking around the boat and admiring the Release seats behind the helm, Keane took a break from retelling the previous day’s Victory at Sea story to let me know prospective buyers would be joining our sea trial. I understood that was likely going to be the case—that is the whole point of the East Coast tour after all—but I selfishly worried that the additional guests would affect my ability to experience the boat. Any concerns I had were almost immediately eliminated. The crew that stepped through the starboard-side boarding door owned an armada between them; these were no tire kickers but real-deal, salt-of-the-sea boaters. Some of the boats the prospects owned at the time of our test included a Robalo, Valhalla, Pursuit, Sunseeker, Donzi, Crownline and Boston Whaler, plus a few I’m sure they forgot to mention. Running the boat was Everglades Director of Big Boat Business Capt. Sean Hickey, who was nearing the end of a month and a half stint of living aboard the 455 as he brought her up the coast from Florida. While navigating to open water, Hickey passed the 4,700-hour mark. I’m the editor of Power & Motoryacht and even I was feeling intimidated by all the experience aboard.
Our crew for the day, besides being extremely experienced, also happened to be some of the nicest people you’ll meet on the docks. At one point I was making notes about how impressed I was with the boat’s proprietary (with Garmin) digital switching system, and how simple it was to use, when prospective buyer Eustace Mita and I struck up a conversation. Mita pointed out a marina we were passing and told me, “When I was 11, I started working there. I wasn’t old enough to get paid but I would clean boats and they’d let me run around in their 20-foot skiff. I would take it out and pretend I was an ocean racer.”
He is still very much a kid at heart. We would later pass his 64-foot Sunseeker on the way back to our slip while chatting about family, sports and religion.
When we finally made our way to the inlet, what I saw almost broke my heart: A nearly flat-calm ocean. My Flight of the Valkyries test would have to wait for another day; my calm streak remained unbroken.
I couldn’t pout for long. A smirk landed on the corner of my mouth as Hickey leaned into the throttles and sent the nearly 30,000-pound behemoth bounding across the sea. At WOT, the quad 425-hp Yamahas allowed the boat to leap out of the water, and the hull allowed her to stick the landing with the grace of a ballerina.
Ever the hype man, Keane told me with a grin: “If you’re on an Everglades and hear rattling, it’s the change in your pocket.”
One-liners aside, he was right: there wasn’t a creak or rattle to be heard. These boats are built heavy, with solid construction.
Two things really got a rise out of the crew as we maneuvered in open water. One was the performance in hard-over turns at full throttle, and the second was Mary Naylor, another Everglades prospect, taking the helm. The only female in the group, she was one of the most expert boat handlers aboard and also an avid angler; she currently splits her time aboard a Whaler in Jersey and a Valhalla in Jupiter, Florida. She seemed impressed, as we all were, by the boat’s grippy-ness—there was not an inch of sliding to be had. The crew was nearly as impressed with her boat handling chops beyond her years.
Despite the calm conditions, we were able to get a feel for the ride as the boat ran into its own wake and small rollers in the inlet. Conversation ensued about how nice the ride was, but also how well the three forward Shox helm seats added cushion to the landing. Mita, who suffers from a bulging disk in his back from sports and
countless hours running at speed offshore, was especially impressed with the seating. It’s the kind of feature that might just prolong his time as an owner of high-performance boats.
Another nice touch I noticed at the helm was that the three forward helm seats have individual, slide-out foot rests that allow boaters of different heights to enjoy superb sightlines. “I had a woman driving who was 5-foot-2, and I’m 6-foot-4, and we both had the same visibility,” said Hickey.
Making our way back to the marina through busy weekend traffic, Hickey drove the boat with the windshield lowered—a standard feature on nearly all Everglades models. I mentioned that he must have enjoyed the added breeze on his long cruise north.
“Yeah, but it’s also especially helpful when navigating at night. Windshields can produce a lot of glare, so I would drive with this open and all that disappeared. It’s a great safety feature.”
We made our way to the fuel dock where everyone but Hickey departed, presumably to get back on the water on their current boats.
As fuel flowed into the single tank—there are fills on both sides of the boat that allow you to fill up twice as fast if the dock has two available hoses—Hickey unwound a little. A month and a half aboard any boat, even a 47-foot bruiser like the 455, can be tough. He
admitted that he’s looking forward to waking up in the same place for a couple days in a row. The life of a delivery captain is not all sunshine and rainbows. He said that the conditions during the previous day’s tropical storm were gnarly but not the worst he encountered; he ran through 8- to 10-footers a couple weeks prior off Long Island.
As he recounted stories of sporty seas with a grin, I could tell part of him was sad that his time aboard was coming to an end. After the kind of year we had in 2020, Hickey got to enjoy being back out in the world reconnecting with dealers, customers and partners.
“You meet some of the best, most interesting people on the water and on the docks,” he said.
I understood the feeling. I was glad to have met some of them during my time aboard the 455 and to get their impressions. I overheard Mita tell Hickey that the 455 was the nicest riding center console he’d ever driven. The rest of our crew echoed similar sentiments. I exchanged info with a few members of our crew so we could continue talking boats.
I may not have gotten the stormy conditions I was hoping for, but I left impressed with the new flagship and gained a few new friends in the process. That’s a good day in my book.
Everglades 455CC Test Report
Everglades 455CC Specifications:
Displ.: 28,000 lbs. (dry)
Fuel: 683 gal.
Water: 100 gal.
Power: 4/425-hp Yamaha outboards
Base Price: $1.4 million