Longing for a bigger boat? A stretched out LOA with a beefier beam delivers plenty of room for innovative amenities and luxury.
Boat envy is nothing to be ashamed of, and it's certainly nothing new. Look, we all love our boats (for the most part), but be honest: Have you ever met a boater without a wandering eye? There's a reason why the term "moving up" is so commonly used in dealerships coast to coast.
Four Winns Vista 375
The standard 8-foot, 6-inch beam — perfect for trailering — is where most of us live quite happily. But a funny thing starts to happen to the beam when a boat stretches to 28, 30, 40 feet: Layout options and creature comforts expand exponentially. Cramped interiors start resembling luxury condominiums, with air conditioning a given, along with home-sized cooking and dining areas, plush comforts below decks to escape for sleeping, or watching live TV — and plenty of room on deck to roam, lounge, fish, or entertain — maybe all at once.
It's OK to long for that pristine 50-foot cruiser three slips down — the one so big it has to be parked on the face dock. That beauty is something to strive for, and maybe one day it will be yours. Either way, anyone who's toured a big boat at a show knows how much fun they are to explore.
All In One
"Whaler is well-known for our fishing series — Montauk, Dauntless, and Outrage — but we're going in a different direction here," says Will Rogers, director of large boat sales for Boston Whaler, which introduced its Realm 380 at the 2018 Miami International Boat Show.
The new Boston Whaler Realm line (the 350 was introduced a year ago) has elements of a center-console, bow rider, and cabin cruiser — yet, it's not any of those — all rolled into a stable, smooth-riding 38-footer chock full of amenities.
"One of the key things we've seen over the years as these center-consoles have grown, the owners are starting to overnight in them because they now have the comfort to do that, with larger air-conditioned cabins below, so the youngsters can go below, relax, take a nap," Rogers says. As center-consoles have grown in size and proliferated the new boat landscape, they're evolving from the stripped-down pure fishing machines of old. Sure, it can still handle fish blood on the cockpit deck for a fishing trip on Saturday, but it had better be clean for that family cruise on Sunday.
Formula 430 SSC
Formula's new 430 Super Sport Crossover offers nearly 40 linear feet flowing on one continuous level from bow to stern. The 430's trademarked SmartZone concept optimizes space, with the layout set up for lounging in the open bow, entertaining in the saloon, and fishing in the cockpit.
Scott Smith, Formula's marketing manager, says he's seeing a shift, "from cruisers you can take out for the day and raft up at the sandbar, to day boats you can dock at your cottage and overnight when you want to: "Leisure time is getting tighter, and family trips are shorter."
Bells & Whistles
The real star power to big boats goes beyond just size. It's all the cool features and amenities. It's safe to say all of these yachts come with state-of-the-art electronics, propulsion systems, and luxurious appointments. That's why their price tags typically start around $750,000 and go far beyond (with some exceptions, read on).
Beneteau Gran Turismo 50
Beneteau's new power flagship, the Gran Turismo 50, available in either hardtop or sport fly design, takes amenities to the next level with a built-in retractable sun visor in the hardtop and opening side windows to transform into an open boat. The flybridge version has a second helm station and a dinette that transforms into a solarium. The aft bench turns into a chaise lounge with a remote control that lowers the backrest and raises the footrest. A tender garage is reached via the optional hydraulic submersible swim platform.
"Above the trend of uniqueness, our customers are looking for smart and efficient boats where they can combine the best comfort, volume, and travel experience at accessible pricing, says Jean-Francois Lair, sales director for Beneteau.
Jeanneau Prestige 460 S
The Prestige 460 S Coupe also features a hydraulic swim platform and large retractable sunroof, plus a large sliding glass door aft that opens the interior to a spacious cockpit, where an L-shaped cockpit seating design transforms into a large aft sundeck. An optional rear galley with electric transom grill is located for cooking on the swim platform.
How To Navigate The Greatest Shows On Earth
Boat-show season," the time when most national and regional boat shows are held, generally starts in October and ends in February. Many of the smaller regional shows are held at marinas or inside convention centers and can easily fill a lazy day of browsing. By far the two largest shows in the country, the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in late October, and Miami International Boat Show in February, are so vast they can take several days to absorb. Here are some smart tips to make the most of your boat-show experience.
Dress comfortably. You'll walk miles, so comfortable slip-on shoes are best for getting on and off a lot of boats. Most dealers ask that you remove shoes before boarding. Wear loose-fitting clothes, avoid dangling jewelry, pack light, and bring your own water, hat, and sunscreen.
Attendance cost. Tickets typically range from $12 to $35, depending on the venue. BoatU.S. members get special discounts at many shows (visit BoatUS.com/Tickets). Most shows host a "VIP Day" before the show opens. These special-admission tickets are more expensive but often well worth it. Crowds are lighter, with more serious buyers. You'll get more attention from dealers on these days, and unhurried tours of the boats.
Security. Especially at the big Florida shows, expect a screening at the entrance. Your bags will likely be scanned and/or inspected. Lines back up during the opening rush.
Getting around. Most shows divide boats by category — dayboats, cruisers, fishing, sailing, sport, etc. Every show will have a brochure with detailed floor/dock-layout map. Larger shows have free-download apps for their specific show.
Electronics. Take cellphone pictures of your boat and nav station so the salesperson will have an idea what you're looking for, and your installation. If you plan on fitting, say, a new chartplotter into a spare spot on your dash, take a few dimensions along so you'll know if the unit you're considering will fit.
Homework. A productive show starts at home. Narrow the list of boats you're most interested in. All shows provide a list of exhibitors, and (often free) seminars on their websites. Before you go, dig into the manufacturer's websites to learn boat details. Think about a list of questions about the priorities on design and accessories you're most interested in, including specifics on warranties, servicing options, and any training options. Be prepared with a good sense of your financial abilities, including what it will cost to insure your new pride and joy.
Getting the best deal. "Special boat show price" signs are seen at every show, and the discounted price can be significant. Dealers offer that price "while the show lasts," but the reality is they want to sell boats, so they will hold that price for serious buyers ready to move. As a further show-only incentive, many dealers will include significant "packages" of products you'll need anyway, which could include gear such as electronics, dock lines, life jackets, or extended warranties or service contracts.
Tiara Yachts' C49 Coupe, like all of these yachts, is designed for entertainment, and laid out like an open-design luxury condo with 360-degree panoramic windows all around, including a large retractable window integrated into the hardtop. A single entry cockpit maximizes seating. Hardwood and designer fabrics dominate the interior. When the weather is right, open the sliding aft saloon glass door, framed by windows, to connect interior and exterior to take in the sea air on a rear cockpit lounge seat finished in exterior grade Ultraleather. A portside aft-facing seat and high-gloss adjustable teak table add to the ambience of the open-air cockpit. Accommodations for up to six guests await below deck.
Tiara C49 Coupe
The cabin on Formula's 430 Crossover provides "a completely residential experience" with 6-foot, 6-inch headroom, a fully appointed lower galley, dining lounge, enclosed head, and stateroom sleeping aft. The U-shaped lounge is deep and spacious, accommodating friends for dinner or light entertainment at a wood table that hinges up for a larger surface or lowers for sleeping, all at the flip of a switch.
"Today's daycruiser probably has more cruising features than the performance cruiser had when I started in this business back in the late 1980s," Smith says. That includes the wine cabinet and 32-inch HDTV with soundbar and Blu-ray player.
Go The Distance
The bigger the boat, the bigger the fuel tank. Sure, you'll still burn a ton of fuel compared to the small boats, but the technological strides made in fuel-efficient engines over the last decade is dramatic. Beneteau's Gran Turismo 50 has twin 172-gallon fuel tanks. With standard twin 435-hp Volvo IPS drives and the builder's patented Air Step 2 planing hull, this vessel delivers an approximate fuel burn of 33 gallons per hour at an optimal cruising speed of 25 mph.
"We designed a boat to be versatile entertaining a large group of guests comfortably on the main deck and also provision for proper comfort and space commensurate with a 50-plus-foot yacht," says Lair, of Beneteau.
Boston Whaler 380 Realm
Boston Whaler's pitch for the Realm line is they will take you, "beyond the horizon and back." The 480 Realm, with its 450-gallon fuel tank, delivers an approximate fuel burn of 44.5 gallons per hour at an optimal cruising speed of 35 mph.
The Prestige 460 S boasts a 328-gallon fuel tank that delivers a 280-mile range at 29 mph, burning about 28 gallons per hour.
Big boats are not just for cruising, as with the Canyon 456 from sportfishing icon Grady-White. "This was the way to go for the owner who has worked up in size through the Grady line and now wants something larger and with more styling," says Shelley Tubaugh, Vice President of Marketing.
The large center-console is "more spacious, technically sophisticated, and more richly appointed than any other outboard sportfishing boat," Tubaugh says. Its 14-foot beam is, by far, the widest in its category and also the largest unsinkable boat of its kind.
With ample seating, including a sunpad at the open bow, the family can relax there while others cast lines off the stern.
Grady-White Canyon 45
Grady's exclusive Sea Command Center helm features four electronically adjustable seats with rich upholstery, stainless supports for the armrests, and fold-down footrests. CZone digital switching technology enables one-touch control of onboard systems including power, electrical, lighting, heat and air conditioning, and even seacocks.
A standard Seakeeper gyrostabilizer keeps the boat stable in offshore rollers and the standard Yamaha Helm Master system with Set Point parks the boat where the fish are biting. With quad Yamaha 350 Outboards, the 456 has a 31-mph cruising speed at 3,700 rpm, and a fuel burn rate of 0.65 mpg, for 48.1 gph.
Value to be found "Big boats" is a term relative to the size of your own pride and joy. That doesn't mean they are all "yachts" either. Four Winns, which is now owned by Beneteau, made its name with deckboats and small cruisers, which it has increasingly stretched in size over the years. Its new flagship is the 37-foot Vista 375, which packs a whole lot of bells, whistles, and fun into a $391,769 base price tag.
Start with the most popular comforts: air conditioning/heating, flat-screen TV, galley with stove, microwave, and icemaker or refrigerator, Sunbrella camper canvas, premium sound system, hardwood flooring, hot/cold freshwater washdown on the swim platform, and enclosed head with separate shower. Power options encompass Volvo or MerCruiser — from twin 260s to twin 350s — each with joystick control. Running with twin 350 at 3500 rpm (about 32 mph), fuel burn is 25 gph.