Those who design and build convertible-style yachts learned from their customers long ago that next to fishing, nothing is more important than cruising. It was with this wisdom that Silverton secured its niche in this market 32 years ago. The builder's new 48 Convertible is a refinement of the delicate balance between sportfisherman and cruiser.
The 48-footer is the flagship of Silverton's convertible line, which includes 35-, 38- and 42-foot models. While she is designed to appeal to those moving up the Silverton ranks, her outfitting and finish have been ratcheted up a notch.
"Our focus group results suggest that the 48 will be popular with our current customers, however, we are also targeting buyers who are scouting pricier competitors", said Sean Berrie, Silverton's director of design and engineering.
Silverton's demographics suggest these potential customers have owned at least four boats greater than 30 feet LOA and have a pretty good idea of what they like and don't like. To woo them, Berrie and his design team retooled their build process, from the lamination schedule to hardware selection.
"One of our critical goals in this project was to develop a specification that met or exceeded the industry standard", Berrie said. "We adopted several new processes to improve the quality of our structures and upgraded our systems."
A combination of woven roving and mat are used in the hand lamination. The bottom is solid, and the exterior decks and superstructure are cored with end-grain balsa. The hull-to-deck joint is bonded, through-bolted and fiberglassed from the inside (where accessible). A resin-transfer process is used for creating smaller parts.
The 48's machinery space is well organized and well lit. Nonslip walking flats make moving about reasonably easy. Engines are mounted on vinyl-coated steel I-beams, which transmit the engine load to the bulkheads instead of the stringers. Bilges are finished with gelcoat, and the underside of the saloon sole is a vacuum-bagged, balsa-cored composite with a high-gloss molded finish. An emergency de-watering system plumbed to the main engine's raw-water intakes is standard, as is an oil X-Change-R system and a Glendinning Cablemaster system. Silverton even includes a toolbox, just in case.
Performance is the thread that bonds those with a passion for convertible design, no matter their stripe. During my sea trial aboard the MTU/DDC-powered 48 I recorded a top speed of 34.8 knots, remarkable when you consider that it was not so long ago when only custom tournament boats routinely produced such speeds. Indeed, the 48 is the fastest boat of her size Silverton has produced.
This was my first exposure to the 825 hp Series 60 engines, and I was impressed. While they are relatively new to boating, the Series 60s are highway-proven and come with DDEC electronics. The 48 accelerates evenly until the turbos kick in at about 1500 rpm, and then she takes off. From a standing start, the Silverton achieves full speed in 35 seconds. At 2100 rpm and 30.1 knots the DDEC electronics indicated a fuel burn of 64 gallons per hour.
Silverton commissioned Donald L. Blount & Associates to design the 48's bottom.
"We brought in Don to help us develop a new hull form that would be suitable for higher speeds", Berrie said. The result is a modified-V with a sharp entry forward that transitions to a 12.5 degree deadrise at the transom. A chine flat has a slight down angle forward to control spray, and the keel has been eliminated to reduce drag and improve water flow across the bottom. Moderate propeller pockets reduce shaft angles, and the draft is just 4 feet-ideal for poking about the Bahamas.
While our sea trial was in relatively calm water, the 48's form seemed to suit her speed, and I would anticipate a dry, comfortable ride in moderate conditions. Our test boat was equipped with Teleflex hydraulic/power steering-an option I recommend. She maneuvers easily around the dock and is responsive at speed. In fact, she has more than enough rudder to cut tight turns without twisting the wheel hard over. Decibel levels recorded on the bridge appear a bit high, however, the rainy conditions and full enclosure no doubt influenced them.
While many convertible designs follow a tournament theme, the 48's soft sweeping lines and integrated arch/hardtop seem a tasteful blend of a convertible and modern cruiser. In terms of Silverton's design criteria, this is spot-on. Her tournament-style wheel and tiered electronics bays add a fishy feel, but her bucket-style upholstered helm and companion seating is far cushier than ladder-back tournament chairs. The lounge area forward of the helm is larger than those you would find on most convertibles this size. Forget about a booth-style helm enclosure-the 48's hardtop has a full, four-sided enclosure, and the entire bridge can be air-conditioned.
The cockpit is where owners have the most flexibility in terms of outfitting. Serious anglers should opt for the Fish Pak, which includes rodholders, bridge-rail rocket launchers, a cockpit washdown, transom live well, and bulkhead bait prep center with a sink and tackle drawers. I would also opt for the bulkhead freezer. In-sole stowage/fishboxes have removable liners, and the centerline well is plumbed with a macerator. One well can be plumbed to an Eskimo Ice icemaker. Serious cruisers will appreciate the stowage, cockpit shower, and one-piece transom door and swim platform. Cruisers wandering the islands should opt for the freezer, as well. Stowage for rods or cruising supplies is beneath the saloon settee.
The 48's strongest card is her interior. Silverton has mastered the art of bringing shoreside comfort and luxury aboard. Standard amenities include a central vacuum system and innerspring mattresses. The entertainment system in the saloon includes a 27-inch flat-screen TV and Bose sound system. The solid wood, satin-finished cherry interior is accented with high-quality soft goods and European hardware and fixtures. The galley is finished with Corian counters and hardwood flooring. I would opt for the Sub-Zero drawer-style refrigeration.
The main cabin has an L-shape settee with an after built-in recliner, and an open galley and the dinette areas are forward. Curiously, a house-face windshield is standard, and a solid house face is optional. I would choose the latter for the additional cabinetry it affords. Belowdecks, the master cabin has a walkaround queen berth and private head. The forward cabin has a queen island berth and private access to a second head, which is also accessible from the passageway. The third cabin has upper and lower berths.
If you can't decide whether to go fishing or cruising, the 48 Convertible could be the boat for you. Silverton offers a variety of engine options. With 715 hp Volvo D-12s, the base price for the 48 is $731,430. Our test boat, with MTU/DDC Series 60s, electronics and a generous selection of options, totaled $869,000. Not a bad catch in the pricey convertible market.
Contact: Silverton Marine Corp., (856) 825-4117;