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45-50' "cruisy" sport fish or "fishy" flybridge cruiser

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by incoming, Apr 19, 2021.

  1. incoming

    incoming New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2021
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    Location:
    Deale, MD
    Yes, another boat recommendation thread. But they can be fun, right?

    TL;DR - I'm considering an upgrade from my Bertram 38 convertible. Looking for recommendations and "stay aways" in the 45'-50' range, budget under $500k. Yes, I know this will put me in the range of older boats that will require maintenance and cautious selection.

    If you get annoyed by long posts, you can stop reading now. If you want the details, here you go:

    Family of 4 with two growing girls who are getting a little cramped in the small bunkroom of our Bertram. About 75% of the time is cruising the Chesapeake bay with some striper fishing mixed in. However, we don't like being stuck at the dock when the conditions aren't ideal, and we appreciate knowing our boat will get us home no matter what the conditions the bay can throw at us.

    We've also done many trips to VB, a trip to Hatteras, and even a trip to Marathon and back. When "vacationing," we like to fish offshore, but generally aren't going on overnight trips or anything too hardcore. That being said, once again, we want a boat we are comfortable in and will get us home. Our Bertram crushes medium+ period head seas and aces following seas but doesn't like, in particular, short period beam and quartering seas (does any planing boat?). It doesn't slam, it just corkscrews a bit. Same thing during trolling - and i have no room to fit a seakeeper.

    Rarely get a chance to do guys-only fishing trips, but when we do, i generally push the boat a little harder into tougher conditions because i'm ok making my buddies a little green. If the girls get sick or scared, that might be my last fishing trip with them...

    I expect our boating for the next ~5 years will be roughly the same. My wife and I are both full time execs - so when we get out on the boat, we want to enjoy it and we can't always pick perfect windows. I have reasonably solid mechanical skills and have maintained my 38' bert with 8.3L cummins largely myself. I wouldn't mind paying someone else to do the work, i just have not found anyone reliable and available enough to suit my expectations.

    Here's my wishlist:

    Musts:
    -flybridge with good sightlines, and seating for 4 to 6 people to have a drink and talk, vs. everyone just facing forward.
    -solid build quality
    -good rough water handling - especially in 3-4' short period chop (chesapeake bay, albermarle/pamlico sound, nearshore atlantic about 50% of the time, etc). Has to be at least as good as my 38 Bert, ideally a step up. We are pretty careful with weather, so i don't anticipate us getting caught in a gale, but we have to be able to make way comfortably in small craft advisory conditions. We just don't have enough time to wait for perfect weather.
    -At least two good sized staterooms. A 3rd stateroom would be amazing and would trade having the 2nd and 3rd staterooms being small to get the girls room to bring a friend or two along.
    -Reasonable fishing accommodations. Do not want a tower - would rather be able to squeeze under bridges. Good size cockpit, outriggers, livewell - the basics.
    -Good engine room layout. I must be able to safely get to everything on the engines that could reasonably be owner-maintained. I'm not expecting standing headroom on a sportfish in the engine room, but i've got to be able to get to the outboard side of the engines and i'm 6'2 225 lbs.
    -gyro stabilizer (seakeeper, etc) or room to fit one (realize getting a boat of this class with one already on will be tough in my price range - i don't mind adding it later, but i'm pretty sure this will unlock many more fun family fishing opportunities)
    -No IPS
    -Tender davit on the bow - or room to fit one

    Wants:
    -as above, 3rd stateroom would be nice
    -A 3/4 enclosed flybridge would be amazing. I use to have an express and I can't believe how much i miss windshield wipers. We find ourselves in rain in the ICW and bay frequently and it sucks trying to navigate in busy traffic areas seeing through rain soaked isinglass.
    -25-30kt cruise would be great. Don't need 40, but 18 isn't going to cut it
    -would be nice to keep to a 0.5nmpg fuel burn at efficient cruise speeds. That's a little less than twice the fuel burn of my bertram, which i can get my head around
    -would love Cat power. I'm scared of mans. Is that stupid? I really would like to do as much as possible myself. Scared of $50k or whatever 1000 hr service.
    -Galley up
    -Classic - would love a boat that someone will want to buy a few years down the line once the kids head off to college and our needs change.

    Given this, and my price range - i'm very conflicted. The Riviera enclosed bridge offers everything we'd want, but i'm very concerned that the rough water performance would be a step down from my 38 bertram. Can i trust the reviews that say the boat is "built for australia" and plenty solid for our needs? Isn't adding 10' and all the weight and beam that comes with it likely to be a net benefit, and maybe a seakeeper will help where the hull falls short comfort-wise?

    Definitely interested in the viking, cabo, hatteras, and ocean offerings in this range. Just lots of mans on those boats, and won't get the enclosed flybridge or likely the 3rd stateroom. Because i will be looking at boats that are at least a decade, if not two decades old,

    Should i be looking at more of a cruising yacht to add basic fishing amenities to? I love Tiara's. Don't much care for sea rays. But besides the riviera, there just doesn't seem to be much out there that is really fishable. Plus i think the lower helms just waste a bunch of space.
  2. wiredup

    wiredup Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2016
    Messages:
    48
    Location:
    va beach
    So, I offshore fish out of VB and cruise the bay. In that price range you will find the typical production boats that will work. Ocean, Viking, Hatteras. My father had a 48' Ocean. Good layout for the money. The CAT 3196's were not good motors though, vibration problems. Resale is tough, but you can get into a bigger one 52,56 early 2000's for a good price.

    Viking is very popular with so many boats they have pumped out. With having bluewater in Hampton, there are alot of vikings in VB. You could get into a nice 2002 or so 52' (my father had one of those as well) for your price range. 3 staterooms. Good quality, lots of support. Mainly MAN engines. Resale is tough because of so many boats out there.

    You could look at a 50' Hatteras as well from early 2000's. Cat powered. Very solid boat, good support, not as much as Viking though. Newer ones will cruise as fast as vikings. Pre 2000 boats will be much slower cruise.

    I would not consider a Riviera in this area. I don't think they ride as well nor have the range. I would also stay away from enclosed bridge imo. Harder docking and maneuvering. And not as good for when you are fishing.

    I would also look at the largest vessel that is quality and fits in your budget. You would hate to get a 45' ocean lets say, then find how cramped it can be.

    All 3 will get you home, Hatteras with the best ride. I have had 2 hatteras' and a bunch of custom boats. Feel free to ask away. Good luck!
  3. alvareza

    alvareza Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
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    107
    Location:
    Scituate MA
    Might want to check out later Oceans. A 46 or 50 from ‘04 to ‘07 will fit your budget. Many came with 825hp Series 60 engines some with Cats. A few 50s have 1000hp Cat C18s. 3 staterooms, galley up and a decent dry ride.

    We have an ‘07 46 and boat much as you describe with the addition of 2-3 canyon trips a year. We have a Seakeeper, it’s a game changer. My daughter actually likes to go on short fishing trips now.

    We will often head out with small craft advisory weather. There are many more nice half days than perfect days on Massachusetts bay. The main weakness is heading straight into 4’+, need to slow down or steer a few degrees to one side or the other to avoid ponding.

    We cruise at 25kts and .39 NMTG. Top end is 32kts.
  4. incoming

    incoming New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2021
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    18
    Location:
    Deale, MD
    Thanks - great thoughts. A couple of follow up questions:

    To the point of "going as large as I can" - it doesn't seem like the purchase price for used boats in this range changes much with the size. I can only imagine that's because the real limitation is operating cost. Can anyone speak to the upkeep/operating cost difference between a 45-48' class sportie and a 50-53? Is it basically linear? In terms of engine size, is there a "step function" in there where ordinarily user serviceable engine components/filters/etc get too big and unwieldy for a single person to handle? Similarly, I've never used a captain and don't want to except maybe in specific situations. is there a big difference in handling a smaller boat in this range vs. a larger one?

    Second - you guys seem to be confirming my inclinations relative to Rivieras. Wondering to hear from people who have been out on one of their ~50' SF models in rougher conditions?

    Finally - if i skip the enclosed bridge - does anyone have a solution for being able to see in the rain? I polish the panels like crazy, have tried a bunch of different products, but nothing seems to do the trick like a gold old fashion set of windshield wipers...
  5. ranger58sb

    ranger58sb Senior member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    Messages:
    562
    Location:
    Chesapeake Bay, USA
    I've been reading about MAN diesels recently... and I've seen favorable service-cost comparisons to other brands at similar sizes.

    One common thought is that you can indeed do most of the work yourself... and parts and the occasional hefty service cost aren't as intimidating as you might think, in fact parts not really more expensive than Cats or Volvo or whatever.

    An expensive service example might be the "A1" (cooling system) service on the V8-900 CRM engines. This is removing and cleaning aftercoolers and heat exchangers and so forth. That one could be around $16-20K, but up here on the (low salinity) Chesapeake wouldn't likely be necessary as often as the MAN service guide recommends, maybe every 4 or even 5 years vs. every 2 years in the guide. (This told to me by the MAN dealer/tech in Punta Gorda.)

    Somebody else here (in another thread) was comparing those kinds of costs to equivalent size Cats, sounded close to same-same. And we had Cummins 450Cs in our last boat, off-engine aftercooler service required every 3 years...

    Also, looks to me like most of the cost is in labor, and if you remove the hardware yourself that could maybe save some buck$.

    Bottom line, I suspect if you find a boat you like -- but with MANs -- it could be OK for your purposes, maybe not necessary to automatically strike it off your list just because of the engine brand.

    FWIW, I've been shopping on a model that comes with MANs... and the more common outcome is that the present owners haven't ever heard the words "engine service"... and I suspect that's maybe the more problematic issue with MAN diesels.

    -Chris
  6. wiredup

    wiredup Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Imo, there is not much of a cost difference between an 48 and 53 ft boat. I would say 45-55 are all similar. Then maybe 55-65' are similar. The difference being the number of equipment pieces in each system. Example, a 48 ft boat may have 3 ac compressors, 58' may have 5. The next difference would be engine size. 45-55 often have similar engine option packages, 55-65' have the next size up. Let's say 1000 hp cats on a 50 ft boat, then 1800hp cats on a 60. Obviously, the costs go up on those engines. Otherwise, the systems in place are similar in anything 45' and above, again, just more items in each system bigger you go.

    No difference in handling, in fact easier the bigger as you have more momentum. I own/run my own boats. I have a 60ft now that I run by myself. I have had to learn a lot though.

    As far as keeping curtains clean, obviously maintenance is important. Also, as you get into bigger boats that weigh more, running into seas won't be as wet. Of course controlling your trim correctly is important. Windshield wipers break down often, so not sure how much I would rely on those anyway. The only time I have visibility issues is if a front comes in and causes a monsoon. The few times that happens, I just slow down til it passes.
  7. CaboFly

    CaboFly Member

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    Location:
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    20200620_143451_copy_766x924.jpg 20200906_102201_copy_2016x954.jpg
    I have placed a single wiper on center line on my last two flybridge boats. I have enclosure built with a thicker center panel to reduce inflection at higher cruise speeds so wiper has flat surface to sweep. A must for the light rain and fog we see in the PNW.
    Rickfisher likes this.
  8. KoffeeCruising

    KoffeeCruising Member

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    Location:
    Fl
    For handling: my 2cents is you won’t notice much difference between 40s & 50s. Find the boat with right bones, then add
    -Yacht Controller. Game changer (and marriage saver) to be able to walk to either side or back of flybridge to see everything.
    -Gyro: you can add a Seakeeper or ARG pretty easily to that size boat.
    -Lower Helm/Seeing in the rain... a lower helm works for me even though it eats living space. I rarely use- but in bad weather it’s the right trade off.
  9. GPO

    GPO Member

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    Location:
    West Vancouver, British Columbia
    I would not consider a Riviera in this area. I don't think they ride as well nor have the range. (#2)

    In the size range being discussed, based on all that I’ve heard and read, I’ll accept that Viking and Hatteras are great hulls. Whether Rivieras may not ride as well I cannot say because I have no personal experience running Viking or Hatteras hulls in my PNW waters.

    I do have experience running my 41 Riviera open fly bridge (46 LOA) in sea states with 40 kt winds (Haro Strait, etc.). Putting aside why I was in those conditions, it wasn’t “comfortable” but I wasn’t concerned about safety either. Appropriate boat handling - adjusting speed and heading - and the hull performed.

    My sense is that weather conditions would prompt me to not go before they reached the point where the hull couldn’t handle them. I’ve been told by other more experienced Riviera owners that I’d get scared long before the hull was in conditions it couldn’t handle safely.

    Having said all that, choosing appropriate weather windows regardless of the hull you’re running, makes for a more pleasurable (and safer) experience. Particularly when my better half is on board!
  10. Lunderic

    Lunderic New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2018
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    Location:
    Oceanside, NY
    I purchased an older 53' Viking at the end of last year. I moved up from a Bertram also. I don't yet have a lot of experience with it as its still on the hard getting some work/upgrades. When I brought it to homeport at the end of November I had to cruise 7 hours into a 20-25kt wind and a 3- 4' tight chop and the boat handled extremely well. It tracked very well although it was wet! I was adjusting trim and transferred fuel to rear tank and it got better. The boat has 820 MANs and cruised at 22kts and burned 53 GPH. It has 3 SR 2 head. Handling around the docks wasn't much different than the Bertram just bigger. Based on your original Post I would recommend the Viking (48-53) but you'll need more HP if you want 25-30kt cruise in a 53. I'm comfortable with my cruise and I was looking for 820's since they seem to have a pretty good reputation and are relatively simple to work on. I've purchased filters, belts, impellers and even 20 rebuilt injectors. Prices for parts were more than Cummins but honestly didn't seem out of line in any way. There is plenty of Engine Room space and its easy to walk around both engines with good access to everything.
    Cruising range is pretty good with 1100 gallons of fuel tanks. The salon is spacious. I plan to do several overnight canyon trips, Inshore fishing and of course cruising.
    Good Luck with your search
  11. incoming

    incoming New Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Deale, MD
    Continuing my research...I've started to get interested in the Ocean 52 and the Post 50. It appears these will cruise above 25 kts with modest ~800hp diesels (the ocean with 3406 cats, which look like great engines). I imagine this comes at the expense of "heft" and perhaps some deadrise as compared to similarly sized hatteras and vikings which seem to use larger power plants to achieve the same cruise speeds.

    Wondering what folks think about this tradeoff, and specifically if people have positive/negative experience with the ocean 52 and/or Post 50.