Bertram 670

Ferretti-owned Bertram sticks to its American roots with the 670 Convertible.

Last fall, Bertram Yacht CEO Don Jones stood before a packed news conference at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show. In a sincere Tennessee drawl, he laid out the goals for the new 670 Convertible, then promised she would make her debut less than a year later, at the 22nd annual Bertram-Hatteras Shootout. Such promises are easily dismissed, as boatbuilders often fail to achieve their goals for a new launch by the scheduled date, but that would not be true with the 670.

This summer, the Shootout crowd stirred around the new Bertram flagship, which the company delivered on time and void of the many issues that can plague a first hull.

"It's important for us to get out here," Jones said, proudly reaffirming Bertram's future as a dominant force in the convertible market.

Better still, the launch was exactly what Jones promised back in Ft. Lauderdale: a four-stateroom, four-head layout with a 37-knot top speed that offers more volume, a bigger cockpit and better fishability than the competitors, all within an updated exterior that still looks like a Bertram.

We didn't get a chance to fish the 670 during the Shootout, but she is definitely designed to raise big catch. Her 194-square-foot cockpit is among the largest in her class and rivals those aboard larger convertibles. As owners should expect aboard a serious battlewagon, the cockpit has a prep station, a freezer, a removable fishbox and an optional live bait well in the cockpit sole. An attractive, full-height rod locker stows nine outfits, and cockpit scuppers and exit ports are designed to dispel water quickly when backing down.

One of the 670's most unique features is a spiral staircase from the cockpit area to the flying bridge. Sure, spiral stairs are gaining popularity on a variety of convertibles, but the 670's are hidden behind the rod locker so as not to hinder the boat's profile. Teak steps keep feet firmly planted. I walked feet-first down from the flying bridge with both hands full and felt completely stable. The staircase is in the same position on the enclosed bridge model, which allows bridge entry through an aft door. This differs from the common staircase placement in the saloon, with bridge access from the interior. Bertram's approach is good. You may have to poke your head outside, but a floating staircase does not compromise the saloon.

The flying bridge is well thought out. Helm and companion chairs are on a raised platform, affording a 360-degree line of sight. It's easy to imagine backing down on a marlin with your back toward the bow, working the single-lever controls. To assist docking, a remote station can be outfitted on the helm area's port side. Hull number one's retractable dashboard easily absorbs her $116,000 worth of electronics and lets the captain alter the dash angle to reduce glare.

A U-shape settee forward of the helm can accommodate 10, with a wet bar and barbecue to starboard. The painted nonslip on the bridge was a little on the slippery side, something that can be easily remedied.

The 670's engineroom houses 1,800 hp MTU 16V 2000s that should be easy to service on all sides. The strainer and filters are also placed for easy service and spot checks. Access to the twin 23kW generators abaft the engines should be painless for routine service, and the generators can be removed through the cockpit for major work. This is a nice attribute, even if you want to remove the machinery solely for engineroom cleanup and a paint job. Hull number one's wiring and plumbing were neatly harnessed, with planned runs instead of a hodgepodge of connections. Gloss-white finish reflected the fluorescent light to create a sterile atmosphere.

I have worked on boats that required several trips to the prop shop and many meetings of the minds to hit their target speeds, but the 670-with a full tower-performed damn close to projections on her first sea trials. We hit a top speed of 32.6 knots in less than 10 feet of water (shallow water tends to suck boats down and reduce speed). After our departure, Bertram discovered and replaced a faulty injector and recorded a top speed of 37 knots, also with the tower. Expect the 1,800 hp MTUs to provide a cruising speed in the low 30-knot range, exactly what Bertram projected. Hull number two will have 2000 Series Detroits.

An important element of any fishing machine is her bow wake. The 670's running strakes are positioned to push the white water aft and out, easily displacing any bow wake. Her 10-inch chines provide good lift, and the sharp entry means she should be a good sea boat-a trait for which her siblings are known the world over. Prop pockets allow a shaft angle of 13 degrees, keeping draft to a Bahamas-friendly 6 feet. Below the waterline, the hull is solid glass with cored sides and deck for weight reduction.

True to the convertible mandate, the 670's interior is as impressive as her fishability and performance. I counted 16 people in her saloon during a reception, none stuck in passageways or on top of one another. The area is a marvel that juxtaposes openness, intimate areas and floor space. For example, I was surprised to see a full-height refrigerator/freezer (in addition to Sub-Zero drawers) angled to enhance the interior, not block the eye. A portside settee is divided with two comfortable club chairs at either end. To port is a full-service bar with ice maker, beautifully crafted of cherry and more like a flowing sculpture than a piece of furniture. An aft window allows a view of the cockpit.

Perhaps most noteworthy about the 670's interior, however, is that it contains four staterooms and four heads, a function of maintaining the beam far forward on the yacht. The forward passageway is a little narrow for my taste, but something had to give, and designers helped the aesthetics in this space with wall panels of horizontally oriented leather.

No such treatments were needed in the master stateroom. It is a full-beam space with a walk-in closet, a vanity and a head with two sinks. Forward, a double stateroom to starboard has twin berths. A double stateroom opposite has over-and-under bunks, plus deck access via a ladder, making the cabin a logical choice for crew. The VIP is forward with a queen-size berth, an entertainment center and enough stowage for T-shirts and evening wear.

After stepping off the 670, I noticed Jones walking through the yacht with Norberto Ferretti, head of Bertram's parent company, The Ferretti Group. Pen and paper in hand, they were looking for ways to improve future hulls, even minor details such as changing the location of a light switch.

"Evolution is now," Jones said as they moved gradually out of sight.

That type of thinking, paired with more thoughtfully designed products such as the 670, should keep Bertram around for at least another four decades.

Contact: Bertram Yacht, (305) 633-8011; fax (305) 634-6161; www.bertram.com.