During my youth, in the late 1950s, companies such as Merritt, Pacemaker, Matthews, Ulhrichsen, Pembroke, Jersey Skiff and Egg Harbor were building dozens of cruisers and convertibles not far from my home in Long Island, New York. These days, only a few of those companies have managed to stick around. If the new 43-foot Sport Yacht is any indication, Egg Harbor has not only survived, but flourished.
The company, emerging from its share of tough times, hopes the 43 will provide an enhanced ride, longer range and greater speed. Thanks to her Michael Peters-designed hull, optional 700 hp Caterpillar C12s and a cruising speed that meets the sportfisherman's 30-knot benchmark, I found she does so with a vengeance.
Nothing can spoil a cruise or fishing trip more quickly than the intrusion of personal space, with crew banging into one another in rough seas. For this reason, most anglers shopping for new convertibles have two basic requirements: First, the boat must accommodate an appropriate-size crew, allowing the captain to oversee the command center. The second requirement is a spacious, enclosed saloon designed for relaxation. The 43 Super Sport offers both. Her flat-out, wide-open bridge easily accommodates six. A large starboard-side settee with a one-piece hinged forward seat has enough room for three big guys, with stowage underneath for at least a half-dozen rods in the 50-pound class. The tournament-style helm has a retractable electronics console, and the area forward has additional seating. Helm and companion chairs, which swivel 360 degrees, are by Murray Brothers. Egg Harbor's new in-house metal shop handles the 43's railwork and marlin tower construction.
Two minor criticisms: The small lip on the sole, near the helm, may prove to be a shoe-grabber, and when climbing the ladder, you may bang your head on the second rung of the rocket-launcher. A spokesperson for the company said that for now, the bridge's sole will remain as is. On future versions of the 43, the rung on the launcher will be crowned and moved 3 inches aft.
Headroom in the saloon is 6 feet, 6 inches, and the area's high-gloss teak joinery is solid. Our test boat's custom pullout drawer for rod stowage is a good example of Egg Harbor's willingness to personalize the yacht. Owners have a choice of four décor packages and various layouts. Our test boat had an aft-facing dinette, perfect for grabbing a bite and watching the action, and a settee in the saloon. I found this floor plan more versatile than the other with a full settee, which does not include a dinette, because it offers more space to spread out. Soft panels in the sole provide access to the engines.
At speed, the saloon is comfortable. Underwater exhaust keeps the area quiet, and Peters' bottom ensures the boat stays stable. During sea trials aboard other boats, scribbling performance data can be dicey, especially at high speeds. Aboard the 43, though, my handwriting remained legible, even in 3-foot seas. Her sweet spot was around 1950 rpm. At this setting, fuel burn was 46 gallons per hour, and speed was 281/2 knots.
The 43 has a solid bottom, and her hull sides, deck and house are cored. Her hull is outfitted with prop pockets. She handled tight turns well, backed down true and tracked nicely on a single engine. The only spray we took was a bit of spritz from another boat's wake when beam to the breeze.
Her engines—700 hp Caterpillar C12s, on our test boat—and Westerbeke generator are housed below the saloon. Though headroom here is a bit tight, the area is user friendly and simply arranged. The 32 inches of space between engines should offer more than enough room for you sit on the diamond-plate sole with a toolbox, and the open cockpit door alone will provide enough ambient light for you to work. Wiring runs are bundled well. I was a little leery of inspecting the engineroom so soon after a sea trial, but after just five minutes, the blowers and large cockpit air plenums had suitably cooled things down.
It is hard to not notice that the engines are smack up against the forward bulkhead. Caterpillar assured Egg Harbor that this setup will not create service complications, but Egg Harbor plans to move the bulkhead forward 10 inches on future versions, just to be safe.
The pump room, under the galley and accessed via electrically raised steps leading to the accommodations, may explain the uncluttered quality of the engineroom. This area, 2 feet tall and 61/2 feet wide, houses the air-conditioning compressors, water heater and battery charger, with room for gear. Since I'm slightly claustrophobic, I found the area restricting. A simple solution would be to add an additional hatch in the galley's sole, but that would also compromise the look of the Amtico flooring.
Egg Harbor emphasizes high-quality components, hardware and above-average fit and finish. This is apparent not only in the 43's galley, but in the staterooms and head. Both staterooms aboard the 43 are well appointed, with cedar closets and below-berth stowage. The company can outfit the master with a washer/dryer, as well.
Most owners of the 43 Sport Yacht will want to fish, so I was pleased to see an easy-opening hinged door (rather than the usual pocket door) opening to the 8-foot-deep cockpit. A large fishbox is below the sole, and a small, removable stowage bin beside the fishbox lifts for access to the lazarette. Stowage compartments are on either side of the cockpit, but they're a little shallow for my taste. The cockpit stayed dry even as we backed down into the sea, and all potential knee- and thigh-knockers were mercifully recessed.
The transom is clean-the zinc plate and fiberglass trim tabs are recessed. Only a central drainage system, which empties the fishbox, air conditioning, ice maker and bilge, and two small bypass exhausts penetrate the stern.
I liked the look and feel of the 43 Sport Yacht, which is a fine evolution of the company's existing 42-foot convertible. Her good looks and solid performance should ensure that Egg Harbor, which recently purchased Davis Yachts, propels its tradition onward and upward.