Made In America
The hard-charging Cantius 46 from Cruisers Yachts showcases a contemporary interior, a sporty turn of speed and a certain all-American, small-town mystique.
Shortly after I’d stepped aboard Cruisers Yachts’ Cantius 46, I noticed a small, dollar-sized American flag device affixed to the transom bustle, just below the hatch that conceals the drawer-type Vitrifrigo reefer. The refrigerator, along with a Kenyon electric grill that tops the bustle, constitutes an alfresco barbecuing station, situated along the leading edge of the PWC-ready hydraulic swim platform.
The flag device seemed unique—in fact, I couldn’t remember seeing anything quite like it before, at least on a new boat from a stateside manufacturer. And, in a way, it seemed rather telling, too. Cruisers Yachts, after all, is owned and operated by a medium-sized, privately-held firm—KCS International—located in Oconto, Wisconsin, on the western edge of Lake Michigan. And, if there’s anything I’ve learned from all the boat-testing trips I’ve taken to the Cruisers facility over the years, it’s that Oconto—with its nicely kept lawns, meticulously maintained homes and flags flying on the Fourth of July—is about as close to a red-white-and-blue, all-American small town as you’re likely to find in these United States.
Gallery: Cruisers Cantius 46
“What’s with the flag device?” I asked Cruisers Marketing Director Matt VanGrunsven, who’d stepped aboard right behind me.
“All Cruisers Yachts are 100 percent made in America,” he replied. “Our manufacturing facility here in Oconto is the only one we have in the world. And we proudly put the American flag on the transom of every yacht we build.”
VanGrunsven’s tone was muscular. It seemed to say that the vessels Cruisers builds today share a certain mystique that years ago, indeed decades ago, hallmarked virtually all of American boatbuilding.
“Let’s take a look at the engine room first, Matt,” I suggested. Over the years, I’ve decided there’s no better way to gauge a boatbuilder’s commitment to quality control than by giving said builder’s machinery spaces an up-close-and-personal look.
The Enormous Room
As soon as I’d dropped through a hatch in the 46’s cockpit and eased down a stainless-steel ladder, I was faced with a conundrum of sorts—smack dab in the midst of the ER there were two large, green, undeniably Swedish diesels close-coupled to IPS units. Which, of course, did not precisely jibe with the 100-percent-made-in-America thing VanGrunsven had just mentioned.
“Looks like a 435-hp Volvo Penta D6,” I observed, patting a green charge-air cooler affectionately but opting to push the point no further. Let’s face it—these days, if an American builder wants to offer joystick-enabled pod propulsion in a mid-range express cruiser—and joysticks and pods are presently very popular—the big dog is Sweden’s Volvo Penta.
I scanned the rest of the ER. It was truly enormous and the potential for elbow-roomy access was obvious, not only to dipsticks and fuel and oil filters but to the boat’s Duracell maintenance-free batteries on a shelf to starboard; her Bennett trim tab pump and its components (also to starboard, aft); her large-capacity Fireboy GA auto/manual fire-extinguishing system overhead and, to port, her big 13.5-kW Cummins Onan genset.
I made a few measurements. Between the mains, the span was well over 3 feet—easily the widest engine-room walkway I’ve seen on a mid-range express boat in years. Moreover, clearances forward and aft of the engines were equally ample and the passages outboard were at least 2 feet wide. And while the stoop headroom was just 5 feet, 6 inches, I had no trouble getting around.
Ultimately, though, it was the many, seemingly small details that announced the American-made charm I was looking for. The inkjet-labeled, spiral-wrapped electrical harnesses on the forward firewall, for example, had obviously been custom-made—there were no sags and no extra wires balled up and hidden away. And all electrics were daisy-chained with top-notch AMP connectors although in the bilge, waterproof, aviation-grade Deutsch connectors held sway.
Then there were the robust, solidly-sourced basics. Beefy bronze sea strainers for the main engines, the Cruisair air-conditioning system and the genset all came from either Buck Algonquin or Groco—both reliable stateside companies that have been around for years. Massive ball valves for the genset’s Georgia-manufactured gas/water separating Centek muffler came from Buck Algonquin as well. And, instead of painted ply, the inwale-mounted shelves for the batteries and the genset were composed of strong, aluminum-cored, carefully drilled-and-tapped, molded fiberglass.
Yup, Architectural Digest!
My tour of the 46’s interior was an eye-opener. First off, the layout of the salon seemed straightforwardly conventional, with an L-shaped galley at the rear on the port side, a starboard helm station forward (with two Garmin 12-inch MFDs, a bolster-equipped, extra-wide seat and both binnacle and joystick-type engine controls) and, in between, two long opposed lounges. The lounge to port, by the way, was two steps higher than the starboard lounge, and so offered loftier sightlines but also restricted headroom. I bumped my head the first time I sat down.
The belowdecks spaces seemed pretty conventional as well. There was a large master aft, a VIP forward and two en suite heads in between, each with its own ample shower stall. The full-beam width of the master was welcome, for sure, and somewhat unusual for the 40-plus size range although I wondered whether the uneven elevations of the overhead (6 feet, 3 inches at the entrance, 5 feet, 6 inches at the end of the berth and 4 feet, 10 inches directly above the berth) might prove occasionally inconvenient for a future owner.
In the end, though, it was the ‘look’ of the 46’s interior spaces that helped me fully understand—yeah, the layouts are undeniably conventional, both topside and below. But in addition, the styling of the entirety is strikingly, even aggressively, modern. The best example of this, I’d say, is the crisply rectangular, startlingly white, baseball-stitched upholstery in the salon. Created in-house by Cruisers, the stuff was as smart and timely as anything you’ll see between the covers of Architectural Digest these days. And belowdecks, the subtly controlled shapes of the berths and other furniture created a residential effect that was equally with-it, while simultaneously avoiding the sharp corners that can cause trouble in a seaway.
We sea-trialed our test boat out of the Galati Yachts facility on the north end of Old Tampa Bay with a wicked north wind hammering the lowly start of an incoming tide. Because these conditions made the shoreside waters super-skinny, I took a pass on dockside maneuvering. A pricey grounding was well above my pay grade, I figured, and well beyond the extent of my insurance coverage.
Galati skipper Nester Beyley, however, had no problem extricating the boat from her slip, while dealing with broadside zephyrs, a ripping current and shallow water. And he was able to get us safely down the long channel that leads from the Galati docks to open water without incident, despite a few heart-stopping moments when our depth sounder registered zip.
Conditions south of Gandy Bridge were challenging. Frankly, at first I wondered whether we’d actually be able to fully sea trial the 46 without snapping off an antenna. Speed runs southbound, with the steep, short 4-to-6-footers behind us, were exhilarating. But charging back north, with very little flare in the bow to subdue spray, certainly gave our big, Roca pantograph windshield wipers a workout.
Nevertheless, we completed a full trial. The average top end I recorded was a sporty 30.9 knots. Tracking seemed good, both up sea and down. Turns were broad and running attitudes maxed out at 6 degrees—fairly high for a planing boat—possibly because we had no trim-tab indicators at the helm, an issue VanGrunsven said Cruisers would address in the future. Without them, it was impossible to tell whether our tabs were giving us full travel or not.
Once we’d finished the run back to the barn, Beyley had no trouble returning our test boat to her slip, despite ongoing pressure from the elements. While helping him out with the stern lines on the swim platform, I had occasion to shoot one last glance at the small, American flag device on the transom bustle, now completely frosted over with salt. Yup, the Cantius 46 from Cruisers indeed emanates from a made-in-America, small-town thing and her interior nicely mixes convention and modernity. But hey, she’s a hard charger, too. No doubt about it.
Test Conditions: Seas: 4-6 ft.
Load: Fuel: 150 gal. Water: 98 gal.
Cruisers Cantius 46 — Final Boat Test Numbers:
65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.
Cruisers Cantius 46 Specifications:
Displ.: 37,000 lbs.
Fuel: 360 gal.
Water: 100 gal.
Test Power: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta D6-IPS600s