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Review: Bertram 70' Skylounge Sportfish

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  1. Bertram 70' Enclosed Bridge Sportfish
    Evolution, Italian Style.

    Review by Loren Schweizer​

    Bertram’s new flagship, the 700 Enclosed Bridge, marries superb Euro-styling
    with a gutsy hull built to take you in supreme comfort where the seas run wild.​

    While their boats have always been marvels of engineering, stoutly constructed, and styled with a crispness of line that has defined the marque over the years, Bertram reached the point where they decided it was time to kick it up a notch: not radical change for change’s sake, but rather an evolution in styling, an evolution in form & function—thinking outside the box--to build the future Bertram, without altering the basic DNA of what had brought them this far.

    It was the collaboration between Bertram and Ferretti, a great American boatbuilder combining with an Italian firm renowned for it’s passion for boatbuilding excellence, that has led to this latest Bertram uber-sportfisherman, the 700 Enclosed Bridge. From the reverse sheer of her bow to the declining freeboard aft in the cockpit, her lines are taut, and the trailing edges of the deckhouse and flybridge hardtop suggest spoilers on a racecar. The hull side window and smooth sheerline transition serve as reminders that this new Bertram represents the future.
  2. The 700’s smaller brothers, the 570 and 630 models, trace their lineage to the 54 Convertible, which was introduced in 1981 and set the sportfish world on fire: hotrod-fast, stable in a beam sea at fishing speeds, and just the epitome of excellence in rough water hull design. The 54 gained six feet in length and, maintaining the 17’11” beam (same as the current 570), became the new 60 seven years later. That branch of the family tree ended with the advent of the 18’1” beamed 630. The story gets interesting after the Ferretti Group (the third Italian owners after Investco and Verrazzi Group) purchased Bertram Yacht in 1998 and came out with the 67 Convertible, a completely new design. That 67 was lengthened to 70 feet and is featured here.
  3. The beam has grown to 18’8” and those wide chine flats pioneered on the 54 are retained in this new hull. The evolution in hull design adds two lifting strakes per side and shallow prop pockets. The rough water performance is what you’d expect given the amalgamation of her predecessors and Ferretti’s offshore racing designs—the 700 can be likened to the proverbial knife going through butter. This is the sea-going equivalent of... "there is no substitute". While it is decidedly difficult to design an enclosed bridge for any convertible without it appearing boxy or otherwise ill-suited to the overall look, Zuccon International, the main designer, hit a homerun with their highly-styled version. Molded into the hardtop are dedicated flats onto which domes, radars, and other necessities can be mounted.
  4. Gianni Zuccon, the designer for the new 700, was sent to South Florida to spend a more than a year in absorbing the vagaries of the U.S. market; what works, what doesn’t, and what evolutionary form the next boat needed to follow. According to Jose Millan, Bertram’s New Product Development Director, Bertram was viewed as being a robustly-built boat, but overly complex. For starters, while the old 54/60 had no less than four fuel tanks, the new 700 makes do with…one. This is made possible by placing that tank in the center of buoyancy of the hull; the 700 floats on her lines no matter the fuel load, which, when full, is a tick over 2000 gallons and serves to separate the owner’s stateroom from the heat and sound of the engine room.
  5. While the older boats were built with plywood bulkheads & stringers and otherwise conventional methods that had been used for years, this new 700 sports Corecell PVC vacuum-bagged bulkheads and heavy-duty structural foam stringers capped with unidirectional E-glass (the stringers that support the engines are nine inches wide with one inch thick steel plates embedded within; the motors are bolted down with hardened steel bolts), plus Knytex and honeycomb partition bulkheads. The keel is formed of structural foam and encapsulated by 30 laminates of various high-tech fabrics. Borrowed from the Ferretti offshore powerboat racing technology is the use of hull ribs: these square-in-cross section athwartship scantlings traverse the hull sides down to the keel. Overkill? At over 38 knots at the wave-dance, maybe not.
  6. Missing from these photos are the beefy inch-and-a-half aluminum aft deck rails & stanchions. Sightlines from the aft control station are superb. If you have an eye for detail, you will undoubtedly notice the exterior hand rail that traverses the length of the salon window and is indented almost flush into the ‘glasswork even as it curves aft and down to mid-pilaster. This detail, all by itself, says volumes. Inside and out, there abounds styling that no one but the Italians can do so effortlessly.
  7. At the top of the enclosed bridge stairwell is a foul weather threshold: a relief in the bridge sole comprised of a few square feet of nonskid mahogany (with a drain, no less) where, if you just came up from the cockpit or in from the aft bridge station in your wet foul weather jacket, you won’t be dripping all over that light beige carpet. This enclosed bridge is particularly light and open-feeling due to the vast expanses of light-colored fabrics and carpeting, and no less than twenty overhead halogens augmenting the 360-degree windows.
  8. The L-shaped settee (with it’s own storage beneath) & footrest is raised off the bridge sole so no one misses the action. No need to go below to fetch a cold one with a wet bar, icemaker & refrigerator within reach. A flat panel screen flips down from the overhead across from the settee. The aft door to the outside station is offset slightly to starboard, where the controls are. Either for control during docking or backing down on a billfish, this Bertram 70 might just offer the best visibility of any comparable Enclosed Flybridge on the market.
  9. Big guys will appreciate the 6’8” headroom and beefy Pompanette helm & companion chairs on this bridge. The view out either side, as well as down to the bow pulpit—and beyond—is spectacular. The intermediate windshield mullions are mercifully thin and those three pantograph wipers will make short work of any spray that reaches these heights. The two overhead opening hatches (with sliding sun screens) mark about nineteen and a half feet off the water. The airconditoning capabilities (plus windshield defrosters) up here are quite ample as might be expected in a boat whose chilled water system totals 84,000 BTUs.
  10. Three Simrad displays dominate the instrument panel landscape, and yet there is more than ample space for any imaginable navionics. Bertram offers ‘basic electronics’ as standard, by the way, including a bow thruster. It’s nice to have a choice of mounting electronics either on the angled face or the horizotal flat. The wheel is smallish because the hydraulic steering is power-assisted and, let’s face it, most folks practically run up to their home docks on autopilot. Single lever ZF (because Zahnradfabrik Friedrichschaffen supplies their excellent 2:1 gears to MTU) electric throttles/shifters offer the side benefits of trolling valves and synchronizers.
  11. The salon has a masculine, gentleman’s club feel about it: two armchairs and an L-shaped sofa (with storage behind) surround a stylish cocktail table in a squared-off arrangement that is softened by a tapered window line that negates any stodginess. The light beige fabrics, carpeting, and padded vinyl window accents provide a bright contrast to the African mahogany joinery. Mahogany is not only very ‘50s-‘60s retro, but it’s depth of grain, under multiple coats of glossy varnish, appears almost 3-D. The overhead handgrab running fore & aft allows for an easy traverse of the salon whilst in a seaway and has been standard-issue by Bertram over the years. As evidenced by Ferretti’s attention to detail, a concave fiberglass molding runs the length of the rail keeping finger smudges off the overhead vinyl and exemplifying the form/function seen throughout the rest of the boat. The side windows are frameless and non-opening, hence leak-free. For those desiring an angled Euro look, a Plan A salon/galley/dinette arrangement is available.
  12. A personal visit is needed to experience just how spacious this salon really is: it’s about twenty-five feet from one end to the other, and headroom is 6’10” with an eight inch step up to the forward section by the galley. There is a 42” LCD screen in the starboard aft corner which, when integrated with FT Nav Vision, will give you the instant status of all onboard equipment & liquid capacities, all without leaving your comfortable perch. The overheads are by WhisperWall—vinyl sections are drum-tight and the locking tracks obviate the need for velcro strips. The aft window is large and it’s low beltline offers a wideopen look out to the cockpit action. It is also frameless and is designed for easy removal to allow for major items onboard to be swapped out. Soft patches in the salon sole were added for any major machinery repairs. Across to starboard, just outboard of the salon door, is the seven-step circular stairwell leading to the enclosed bridge.
  13. The American-style Plan ‘B’ galley shown here is U-shaped and achieves near-Holy Grail status with it’s work triangle placement of stove/oven-sink-Sub Zero undercounter refrigeration drawers. Opt for the Euro Plan ‘A’ galley if you prefer a full-sized refrigerator jauntily angled in the aft corner. Either way, lengthy granite countertops tie everything together, including a trash compactor, and Fisher & Paykel dishwasher.
  14. While a cherry sole is standard, teak & holly—as shown—lends a traditional look. A plentitude of overhead halogens plus a huge side window sheds light on what’s for dinner. The overhead cabinetry conceals a microwave oven as well as storage for the standard plates, cups, flatware, and stemware. Mighty upscale. The African mahogany joinery is first-rate and solid, as evidenced by the dovetail joints in the drawers.
  15. Within easy plate-passing distance across from the galley is the U-shaped dinette with double pedestal table. Sight lines out the window are quite good due to the raised sole, relative to the salon further aft. This architecture also helps to separate the galley/dinette and salon into two distinct living areas and noticeably adds a feeling of expansiveness.
  16. A six-step companionway leads down from the galley area to the accommodations passageway, slightly offset to port-of-centerline. Turn aft, and down three steps is the full-beam master stateroom featuring… windows! On the starboard side, this non-opening curved rectangular aperture stretches from the aft bulkhead to just aft of the head partition. For the worrywarts, tucked behind those twin mullions near the center, are 2 X 6 structural foam supports glassed in to the hullside to keep rogue waves and sea monsters out. Well-muted A/C wafts from valance vents. Headroom is 6’3”. There is ample drawer storage port & starboard and a largish hanging locker to port. Just flew in with suitcases? There is a dedicated space for them as well under the cabin sole at the foot of the berth, and there is underberth storage as well. The light beige wall vinyls & carpeting blend well with the mahogany and it’s liberal use of bull-nosed edges.

    Lucky is the owner who finds himself ensconced on the plush, almost king-size, inner spring mattress berth…and who wakes up to a sunshiny view. A pair of nightstands and side mirrors flank the berth’s padded suede headboard and across is the entertainment system with it’s 26” LCD TV + Bose 3.2.1 sound system. Notable in the ensuite head to starboard are the classy side-by-side sinks in the marble vanity, the grande-sized shower stall (equipped with a teak seat), and the high-end Mitsubishi mirrored overheads— expensive polished stainless steel with none of the funhouse-effects that plastic mirrors offer.
  17. Typical throughout the boat, the heads feature teak soles and the aforementioned mirrored overheads which really do make the space seem larger. The Tecma toilets are Italian, utilize freshwater to keep odors to a minimum, and require a two-stage (there are directions) flush which, I was assured, leaves no trace.
  18. Claustrophobes will love these multi-faceted half-inch thick Plexiglas shower stalls. Note the robust Italian hinges; piano hinges are so last decade. The teak grating hides the drain as well as footprints. This VIP head’s light & bright ambiance is augmented by the opening hatch in the overhead.
  19. The Very Important Guests will be properly pampered with a queen-sized pedestal berth that even has hullside steps for the vertically-challenged to climb up onto the comfortable innerspring mattress—a nice touch that is still finding it’s way into sportfishing boats of this size. There are a pair of swing lamps for reading on the forward bulkhead, which notably lacks a door to an anchor rode locker, since this is a watertight bulkhead. Outboard storage lockers complement the nicely-sized & cedar-lined hanging locker; there are drawers under the berth as well. As would be expected, the overhead hatch is the largest one on the foredeck and bug & privacy screens are provided. The TV is a grander 20” LCD version and the entertainment system includes an MP3 player. The ensuite head is offset aft to port and, similar to the master head, the shower stall includes a teak seat.
  20. The starboard cabin is well-suited for those guests who packed too much stuff: there are side-by-side twin berths, each with storage beneath. A nightstand with drawer, upper outboard lockers, a hanging locker, and a four drawer dresser with shelf allow room for it all. They didn’t have to pack sheets & pillowcases, because Bertram supplies those for every stateroom as standard. Lighting is 24VDC or 120VAC, depending on the mood, and there is an overhead opening hatch for added light & fresh air, if desired, and a sliding privacy screen if not. The ensuite head is just aft and, similar to the other guest accommodations, entry is via a pocket door.
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