Hey There, Big Shot!
Cruisers, tugs, catamarans, and even center-consoles are maxing out the speed, luxury, and creature comforts that buyers desire.
What distinguishes a "boat" from a "yacht?" In the boatbuilding industry, the Europeans call just about every vessel a yacht. Here in the U.S., the latter is a more highfalutin term, typically used by nonboaters, that perpetuates the myth that all boaters are millionaires (which we know to be far from the truth).
Outside of the 100-plus-foot "megayachts" and "superyachts" owned by billionaires and displayed at megaboat shows, like the one held each November in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — "No boarding without an accompanying broker, thank you!" – recreational boats are best categorized as small boats (let's say, less than 30 feet) and big boats.
The trend is not what you may think of when it comes to big boats. Namely, a 40- and 50-foot center-console with outboard propulsion is becoming more common each year. Heck, HCB, the luxury brand from Hydra Sports, markets Estrella, a 65-foot(!) center-console that sleeps five. With its 16-foot beam and 65,000-pound weight, it's powered by a quintet of Yamaha 425s or Seven Marine 627-hp outboards.
That may be an extreme example for big boats, but manufacturers are turning out a variety of high-quality boats in the 40- to 55-foot range — and more and more of these boats are forgoing diesel inboards for gasolinepowered outboard power plants. Boaters are comfortable and confident with today's ultra-engineered outboard — their reliability; ease of operation; and quiet, smooth nature.
Beyond the power plant, what are buyers with more-than-average disposable income looking for in a boat? In short, everything.
"We're seeing larger and larger boats being built with the focus on entertaining rather than overnighting. This is a trend that we've seen for some time in the industry, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down," says Paul Kuck, Regal's product development and marketing director. "Even larger cruising boats are being purchased by owners who do not have the intention to overnight on them. This was simply not the case 10 years ago."
Matt VanGrunsven, marketing director for Cruisers Yachts, says his customers' punch lists vary depending on their geographic region. "In some areas they're used as floating condos. Other areas, as a day boat and it's kept at their home. While some areas are big into exploration and weekend overnights," he explains. "Overall, they want joystick maneuverability, a functional main deck for entertaining, and comfortable accommodations belowdecks for overnights."
On the other hand, Scout Boats' customers have a more focused use in mind.
"Our customers want performance, quality, and class with the ability to fish it hard," says sales and marketing director Alan Lang. "They want to be able to take the boat places other comparable diesel inboard boats can't go, and they can get there in half the time, comfortably and safely."
However you like to boat, there's a big boat out there for you.
Cruisers Cantius 46
Cruisers Yachts added to its Cantius line of sporty, luxury boats with this 46-foot model specifically designed for relatively inexperienced boaters, maybe with young families, to take the helm. "It fills a need," says Dan Zenz, vice president of sales at Cruisers. "We're seeing so many first-time buyers as well as people trading both up and down in size. It's the perfect vessel, whether you're looking for a way to entertain on the weekends or embark on extended travel adventures."
Accommodations include a full-beam master stateroom amidships, forward stateroom, two heads, and plush carpet throughout. The single-level main deck has walnut interior wood, hardwood floors, sunroof, and large patio doors that fully open to a cockpit with aft L-shaped dinette seating with opposed bench seating, transom grill, and powered sun awning. The galley includes refrigerator/freezer, electric stove, and microwave/convection oven. The foredeck features a sundeck with integrated U-shaped seating, chaise lounge, and optional shade. Cruisersyachts.com
This year, Regal introduced its largest outboard-powered boat, the 38XO, which is based on its inboard-powered 38 Grand Coupe. "For those looking for a traditional cruiser, we know a lot of our customers will really love the outboard propulsion, especially in coastal markets," says Paul Kuck, product development and marketing director. The sport coupe follows the trend of large glass saloon doors that open fully to seamlessly blend with the cockpit.
The galley combines with the cockpit's outdoor refreshment center that makes for a versatile mealprep station. Like others in the emerging trend of inboard cruisers reimagined with outboards, the swim platform features wings on both sides that wrap around the outboards. Belowdecks are a master cabin amidships, and stateroom in the bow, which share a separated head and shower compartment, so two people can get dressed simultaneously. Regalboats.com
Palm Beach GT50 Open
Australian luxury yacht builder Palm Beach has followed its popular GT50 Salon Express by figuratively tearing the roof off. The result is the GT50 Open, built on the same hull with the same propulsion package, but with an open main deck plan for passengers to soak in sunshine and sea breezes.
"Our customers are looking for efficiency, ease of use, and fun," says Mark Richards, founder and CEO of Palm Beach. "The GT50 is designed to be owner-operated with easy-to-use systems and minimal maintenance."
The vacuum infusion construction with carbon fiber makes for reduced weight and lighter fuel consumption than most 50-footers — 24 gallons per hour cruising at 25 knots, according to Richards. The amidships social area has an L-shaped settee to port with dining table, while a straight settee to starboard adds to the gathering space. Forward is the command station with helm and companion seats, while a pair of additional forward-facing companion seats are positioned to port. A carbon-fiber windscreen wraps around the area. A portable sun awning provides shelter when needed. Palmbeachmotoryachts.com
Scout 530 LXF
Scout Boats made its name building high-quality sportfishing center-consoles, but over the years they've steadily grown their 25-footers to its new flagship, the 530 LXF. This "mega centerconsole" is really a blend of a high-performance fish boat and cruising yacht.
Technology permeates the 530 from its carbon fiber epoxy-infused double-stepped fuel-efficient hull on up. Standard features include a Seakeeper 6 gyrostabilizer, glass helm enclosure with electronically sliding windows both port and starboard, 15kW generator, 16,000 BTU air conditioner/ heaters in both cabin and helm area, electric sliding sunroof – even heated helm seats and back seats. Options include Scout's patented bow camera, electronically actuated articulating rod holders, and SureShade integrated retractable aft awning. Standard C-Zone digital switching technology ties the tech array together.
All of the luxuries you'd expect are here, from ultraleather upholstery, private stateroom forward with enclosed separate head and shower, both with skylights; private aft berth; a dining table and couch that convert to a single berth; and an overhead saloon skylight with automatic sliding shade. This is another outboard-powered big boat, ready for four, five, or even six engines. With that power, the boat can top — ready for it? — 70 mph! Scoutboats.com
Ranger Tugs R-41
Pacific Northwest-based Ranger Tugs has carved out a niche for its "mini tugs" that maximize every inch of space in its compact cruisers. But since its first 21-footer, Ranger has grown steadily up to its new flagship, the R-41. And with length comes beam, enough to make the spacious, light-filled saloon the heart of the boat. L-shaped seats both port and starboard — each with a table — offer plenty of room to dine and entertain. An aft galley includes a three-burner stove and oven, double-basin sink, microwaves, and three refrigerators. The open cockpit features rotating transom seats and an integrated hardtop.
"The outside of the boat still has our tug characteristic that owners like, but once you get inside, there's nothing tuggy about it. We have a modern style and feel inside," says Jeff Messmer, vice president of Ranger Tugs/Cutwater Boats.
A deep swim platform features a safety railing. At the helm is a full suite of Garmin electronics and joystick docking for close-quarter maneuvering. Ranger Tugs makes great use of space, and the port settee lifts to reveal a washer and dryer with extra storage. The flybridge helm also includes joystick maneuvering, along with ample seating and an electric grill. Below is a spacious, private master stateroom with flatscreen TV/DVD player and an aft stateroom.
"Our philosophy is to put everything on the boat that we think people would want, as standard," Messmer says. Rangertugs.com
Beneteau Monte Carlo 52
The Beneteau Monte Carlo 52 luxury cruiser replaces the Monte Carlo 5 as a longer, beamier, more streamlined version, but it loses none of the creature comforts or amenities. The flybridge powerboat is notable for the amount of natural light that floods the interior, with large wraparound windows all around the spacious saloon and its wide-open layout.
The galley aft, with grill and sink, connects with both the cockpit and saloon. The raised pilothouse comes with a full galley and bench seating port and starboard with a large table along the port seating. The new beamier hull opens up the owner suite and two cabins, which also feature large windows that create a bright, airy feel belowdecks. A large foredeck sunpad features a lifting backrest. Beneteau.com
Step aboard the new Lagoon 40 catamaran and marvel at just how much room there is. A dozen guests in the cockpit is an easy, relaxed gathering with plenty of elbow room. Those widely spaced hulls make maneuvering around the docks easy, too; there’s a 29-hp (optional 40-hp) Yanmar diesel saildrive in each hull, so with one ahead and one astern, the boat spins on a dime.
The mast is set well aft so the boom’s shorter, the mainsail is smaller, and with an electric winch close by the helmsman, singlehanding is a distinct possibility. The mast aft also allows for large foresails; a solent is standard, but most buyers will shell out for the optional 700-foot Code 0, a real mile-eater in light to moderate winds. Offered in three- or four-cabin layouts with two to four heads. Cata-lagoon.com/en