The Bertram 800 exited the Miami River heading for Government Cut in a 15-knot southeast wind. The wind-against-tide scenario at the harbor mouth stacked up seas of four to five feet. We ran straight into them with impunity at 27 knots, playing that hull like a trump card. Offshore, the stakes were raised and we found six- to eight-footers at a period of three seconds. The 800 took the trick there too, with an abundance of comfort and style.
It’s times like our test day that make you be glad someone invented the enclosed bridge for convertibles. And if there’s a tweak to that type of boat, Bertram has done it: The company remains one of the iconic names in offshore fishing. The Bertram 31 is still the most successful fishing boat worldwide, with more in use than any other marque. The Bertram 54 stands as one of the all-time-great offshore fishing machines. Now the Italian parent corporation, Ferretti, has joined with naval architects Zuccon International and marine engineering teams at Advanced Yacht Technologies to create the Bertram 800. True to the Italian influence, the styling has a more Euro feel, while the interior has evolved so much that the owner of a 54 would not even recognize it. The upshot: The 800 is exceptionally seaworthy but has that yachtie feel.
Let’s put it this way: I noticed the difference from many of the fish boats I ride as soon as Bertram’s factory captain started the engines. The 800 is very quiet, thanks to the buffer of crew’s quarters aft of the engine room and the underwater exhaust.
As we’ve seen, though, quiet doesn’t necessarily mean timid. The 800 tracks beautifully down-sea and trim tabs offer a range of adjustments. She also does pretty well sitting still: Drifting beam-to the obnoxious waves, the Mitsubishi ARG (anti-rolling gyro) system beneath the engine room sole dampened the roll dramatically.
Our test boat seemed to turn tighter to starboard than to port. Of course, she doesn’t spin like a Bertram 31 hooked up to a fish, but she works just fine when you anticipate your needs, especially with the added kick from the Side-Power bow thruster. She also backs down perfectly, and again, the bow thruster lets you walk the boat sideways very handily, making docking a breeze.
Bertram squared off the aft corners of the 800 for increased cockpit space and improved stability, and of course, her considerable beam makes for a pretty stable ride at cruise. The solid fiberglass bottom acts as the base for the Divinycell-cored topsides, an integrated liner and foam-cored stringer system.
As you’d expect on a sport-fisherman this size, everything feels big, and the obvious place to start is that huge cockpit. The mezzanine sits at nearly hip height when standing on the cockpit sole — many mezzanines reach only mid-thigh level. I like the L-shaped settee to port that acts like a chaise, augmented by a straight settee to starboard. Bertram lets the owner design the combination of refrigerators and freezers beneath those mezzanine seats. There’s a day-head just inside the salon door. The livewell in the transom has a big window into the cockpit so you can check on baits, and it also looks like an aquarium, right down to the illumination for night viewing. The Contour fighting chair from Release Marine is an excellent choice for the offset mount — its elegance matches that of the new Bertram 800 flawlessly.