As I am cut from a traditional weave, it took me more than a few minutes to acclimatize when I first eyeballed the Carver 506 Motor Yacht. Her exterior lines are well placed and thought out, but they are quite challenging. Carver has always pushed the envelope in this regard, tapping the industrial and automotive industries for inspiration amid the sometimes-stale state of marine design. The company wants to build innovative yachts with more accommodation space and features per linear foot.
When viewed in this light, the 506 is an impressive design with an appealing modern approach to styling. Her 51-foot, 7-inch LOA and 15-foot, 4-inch beam are common for a yacht of her type, but within those dimensions, Carver delivers a layout one might find on a 60-footer. She has what is essentially a raised pilothouse, fully enclosed and air-conditioned with a comfortable L-shape seating area and halogen lighting. A helm bench for three faces a simulated burled-wood trim dash, and accommodations for typical electronics are integrated in the design. For a bit of fresh air, the 82-by-60-inch tinted glass sunroof slides open at the push of a button.
The 506's afterdeck, also fully enclosed and air-conditioned, is integrated with the raised bridge. The design allows the captain a view aft as well as direct contact with guests on the bridge and afterdeck. The latter has no built-in seating, but the 118 sq.ft. area will easily accommodate a loose seating group and cocktail table. Wing doors lead to the slightly raised side decks, side boarding gates and bow. A third door accesses the swim platform, which can also be used for boarding.
A sliding stainless-steel framed glass door on the afterdeck leads to the saloon, where the advantages of the 506's exterior lines are revealed. Because of the raised side decks, the usable interior space extends full beam to the hull sides, with tangible effects on roominess. An L-shape sofa is to port, with a love seat-size sofa and twin recliners to starboard. A dining area for four is forward opposite the galley, which has wood flooring and molded, simulated-stone countertops.
The master stateroom is aft and has a queen-size island berth with an innerspring mattress. There is a sink area, as well as several cedar-lined hanging lockers. The shower/tub and head are in separate compartments. Two guest staterooms are forward of the saloon. The forward-most rivals the master, with a queen-size island berth and private head with stall shower. The second guest stateroom has two berths and an enclosed head, but it's a bit cramped and best suited for kids. I would put the washer/dryer in this area instead of in the master stateroom.
The 506's interior is generously finished in cherry. Fit and finish are good, and the hardware, fixtures and fabrics appear first-class.
Carver's 2000 models incorporate a new structural design in which wood is eliminated below the waterline. The laminate schedule is modernized, with multidirectional reinforcements and a vinylester skin coat for blister protection. A matrix of transverse frames and continuous longitudinal stringers is molded separately and bonded to the hull.
Bulkheads are marine plywood. The hull bottom is a solid, handlaid laminate with six layers of triaxial/mat reinforcement. Foam coring stiffens the hull sides (above the waterline), and balsa-core stiffens the decks and superstructure. Welded aluminum beams support the marine plywood saloon sole, and fiberglass liners define the belowdecks accommodations. Carver has dedicated itself to refining construction practices and, to make the point with customers, now offers an impressive limited transferable warranty: seven years on structure, five years on blistering and one year of general coverage on systems.
Access to the machinery compartment is through a hatch in the saloon that incorporates the saloon sole and the steps that lead to the afterdeck. It is a bit awkward to lift, but once the hatch is open, engineroom access is excellent. The machinery area extends the length of the saloon belowdecks, and systems, while scattered, are accessible.
Standard equipment includes an isolation transformer and an inverter, which should please those who cruise areas with questionable shore power or who cruise with doors open in northern climes. Two aluminum wing tanks carry 510 gallons of fuel, a tad shy of what I would expect on a 50-footer, but enough to satisfy most cruising needs. Carver estimates a range of 230 miles at 20 knots.
With twin 450 hp Cummins, the 506 has a base price of $600,000. Significant options include entertainment equipment, a synchronizer and a windlass with chain. Also optional are 13.5 kW or 18.5 kW generators, the latter recommended for boats with the optional air-conditioned bridge and afterdeck. Our test boat-with the Volvo TAMD74Ps and reasonable outfitting, including generator and air-was about $736,000. n
Contact: Carver Boat Corp., (920) 822-1600; fax (920) 822-8872; www.carveryachts.com.