Prestige was so confident in their 460 that they loaned it to us for the summer so we could put the boat—and ourselves—through the ringer.
I’ve sea trialed and been aboard at least a dozen Prestige models over the years, and thought I had a good handle on their design briefs. I understood the company’s focus on center of gravity, their systems installation process, their desire to give every inch of usable space back to the owner. I knew what had changed over the brand’s 30-year history and what had stayed the same. I’d watched as their displays at the major boat shows grew every year and how the company steadily earned market share. I thought I was a good student on the topic of Prestige Yachts and what they were all about.
I thought wrong.
Colleagues and I—along with former and current Prestige U.S. Presidents Paul Fenn and Nick Harvey—picked up a brand new 460 from Staten Island, New York and took her for a shakedown cruise. Destination: Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers.
Cruising by Lady Liberty felt like the most appropriate way to begin this French-built boat’s journey in the land of the free. Free: That’s the word that best describes how I felt about out impending summer-long test of the Prestige 460. Sea trials, even deliveries on a new boat, can feel limiting. Surrounded by company captains, brokers and engineers, we do our best to put each boat through the ringer, while at the same time not leaving fingerprints on the stainless or slipping on factory-fresh carpet in booty-covered shoes. It’s all very formal, which always strikes me as odd when it comes to testing a vessel that’s built for fun in the sun.
Feeling teak beneath my toes with a wide-open float plan ahead of us, I knew that, for better or worse, the Power & Motoryacht team was going to find out what this boat was made of.
As summer in New England is known to do, days melted into weeks. Like with a fistful of sand, the harder we squeezed, trying to hold onto summer, it only slipped away faster. The editorial teams of Power & Motoryacht and Soundings loaded the boat down with gear (to produce the Gear Guide on page 50) and pointed our bow to Martha’s Vineyard—an iconic destination home to both Kennedy lore and seafaring history. Over the course of the next five days we would test the boat, a pile of gear and our ability to live and work together in close quarters. Was the 460 up for the job, and, more importantly, were we? It was time to find out.
After taking on fuel and water (isn’t it amazing how those chores seem to take 10 times as long when you’re about to embark on a cruise?) we transited the Connecticut River and as Billy Joel sang, “Charted a course to the Vineyard.”
It was the type of morning that memories are made of. Each member of our crew took a shift at the helm, and conversation flowed easily. The autopilot did most of the work, except when we needed to slalom around a lobster pot (I was thankful for the IPS 600s’ responsiveness). We pondered life’s big questions, like why the hell can’t they paint lobster buoys orange? White lobster pots feel like a cruel joke.
It took a fair bit of joystick jockeying to battle building winds and a ripping current, but once I got the thumbs up that we were secured to our mooring in Vineyard Haven, I let out a long exhale. (Even on a bluebird day, there’s always a bit of anxiety that bubbles up when cruising with colleagues.) I was handed a cold beverage and felt my blood pressure do a nose dive as I admired the vista. It was a scene that deserved to be immortalized on canvas in a gallery.
Gallery: Prestige 460
Our team settled in around the cockpit, chatted and took in our surroundings. These trips can be a lot of work (it’s okay if you don’t believe me) but this was one of those pinch-me moments when you can’t quite comprehend that this is a work day.
Despite the blissful backdrop and a lethargy that comes from swallowing lungfulls of fresh, salty air, there was a storm of discomfort brewing. The question of sleeping arrangements promised to douse us with torrential awkwardness.
Our female colleagues sought shelter on land in one of the many affordable AirBnbs while the rest of us prepared to draw straws. Before a truly epic rock, paper, scissors tournament could begin, Executive Editor Jeff Moser showed his true colors by volunteering to crash in the crew’s quarters—an optional space aboard that I was skeptical many (read: any) American owner would opt for. It was a superb storage space but a living space for anyone over the age of 12? Not so much. Moser never complained, and in fact seemed to relish his little air-conditioned sanctuary complete with a head. He would volunteer to stay in there the next few nights. No one fought him for it.
Otherwise, the 460 had accommodations aplenty for our crew. A full-beam master and forward VIP with surprisingly wide-parting scissor berths offered options, as did the salon sofa, which would have rivaled the master berth in terms of size if our boat came equipped with an optional high-lo table and filler cushion.
The next morning, after requisite coffee and pancakes ashore, it was time to begin gear testing. We sorted and divvied up dinghy outboards, dry bags and one highly coveted, bright orange Seabob. It was at this point that one of my favorite features on the 460 rose—or rather, lowered—to the occasion. The hydraulic swim platform descended at the push of a button so that we could go from high and dry to knee-deep submersion in seconds. This is not a new feature in our industry, but it was my first experience extensively using it. It seemed as though twice an hour we were raising and lowering the platform to begin another test or to just cool our heels. With the right waterproof chair, it could turn any bay or cove into an infinity pool par excellence. It didn’t take much imagination to see how families with young children could use this space to cool off the youngsters who were still learning to swim.
As day two faded into days three and four, the need for our team to break off and find some space to ourselves to take a phone call or an aspirin began to manifest. The 460 was up for that challenge. Not including the staterooms, we could steal away to the bow lounge, salon or the relatively massive flybridge (with the hardtop option in our case). Following a healthy dose of alone time, there was always a group test or video review to jump into.
After a couple days enjoying Vineyard Haven, our crew was itching for a change of scenery and a—shall we say, livelier—nightlife. We dropped our mooring and sprinted around the corner of the island to Oak Bluffs. The sun was beginning to set and traffic in the harbor was coming and going. When I finally spotted our slip against the bulkhead, it looked tighter than the lid on a pickle jar. It was time to put the IPS, and my courage, to the test. In almost every situation the flybridge helm is the steering location of choice for its best-in-class visibility around the boat. The only time it’s not is when backing into a slip; this revealed that visibility on the starboard quarter was limited. Going forward, I would dock the 460 from the lower helm, which had excellent visibility around the boat and was aided by an electric window to starboard that let me keep an eye on our line handlers.
The next morning our crew would break off and begin finding ferries back to their families and land-based obligations. A skeleton crew would enjoy the run back to the river.
Much like on our trip over, the seas were flat, and the sun glinted off the water. It was the kind of summer day us northerners dream about in December. I thought I knew a lot about Prestige Yachts before this trip. But much like forming a friendship, it only really happens when you have shared experiences (or staterooms). I mentioned that to my boss, Group President Gary DeSanctis, as we made our approach to the Connecticut River.
“It’s really rewarding to see people growing into their roles and getting to experience something like this,” he replied. “It wasn’t a one hour test: we lived on here, we ate on here, we showered on here, we cooked on here. This was our home for five days with five to seven people and that’s no easy feat. The boat and the team really proved itself.”
I’ve had time to reflect on that trip recently. With winter looming on the horizon, I realize those summer days in the Vineyard aboard the 460 allowed me to learn a lot about the team that produces this magazine and about the Prestige brand. I returned with more respect for both. I didn’t think that was possible.
Prestige 460 Specifications:
Displ.: 27,366 lbs.
Fuel: 328 gal.
Water: 106 gal.
Standard Power: 2/370-hp Volvo Penta D6-IPS500
Optional Power: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta D6-IPS600