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 Bertram 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 Bertram 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 Bertram 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 Bertram 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 Bertram 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 Bertram 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.
Bertram has done a great job of finishing not-so-obvious areas too — such as the lazarette, with its wide-open access to through-hulls and steering gear. One change that I would love to see Bertram make: The on-deck fuel-fill cap sits in a depression, ostensibly to help keep any overflow from escaping, but fueling up in the rain means all the water runs down the deck and collects in the depression — then could run down the fuel pipe into the tank.
Entry to the engine room is via a circular stairway coming down from the centerline cockpit hatch. At the base of the stairs are a head to port and a crew’s berth to starboard. Beyond the transverse bulkhead and crash door, a raised center walkway with a blue-backlit Bertram logo hides the pair of Mitsubishi ARG gyro stabilizers. (The whole engine room can be bathed in blue LED light.) The engine compartment has standing headroom, but it’s also very easy to get outboard of the engines. Glendinning shore-cable handlers are on each side abutting big battery-bank boxes. Twin Kohler 30 kW generators hide in a separate space beneath the cockpit.
The side and foredecks are well executed with one exception. The handrails end about four feet too soon, leaving a no-man’s land where you have nothing to grasp while making your way to the bow. Bertram engineers are already working on a fix.
Bertram designers provide prospective owners with some interesting choices for the interior of the Bertram 800. Our test boat had a galley in the forward starboard quarter of the salon while a full dining table with seating for six occupied the port side. On this boat, a private cabin just forward of the galley accommodated a chef or nanny, but Bertram also offers that space as a pantry or for other stowage. Or opt for the country-kitchen-style galley where this cabin disappears in favor of a wide-open galley with a full-width windshield. Even with the cabin, the interior of this Bertram is light and airy.
Opposite the day-head in the salon, a semicircular stairway gives access to the enclosed flying bridge — more secure than a cockpit ladder. Bertram skybridges seem to look better the larger the boat gets. It fits this hull beautifully, rather than looking like an add-on. I also like that you can benefit from the elevated viewpoint without needing to climb a slippery tuna tower. The enclosed bridge is where the Bertram’s seaworthiness and handling are most apparent. Bertram chose Pompanette’s Platinum series helm and companion seats.
An aft helm station is located on the overhang outside the centerline door, affording an excellent view of the after half of the cockpit. But there’s no direct cockpit access from there — the helmsman must go back inside and down the interior staircase.
Descend the stairs at the forward end of the salon to find the accommodations. Bertram customizes every boat’s master stateroom — owners can shape it to their needs. In-hull portlights dispense with the cave-like feeling common in the midship masters of many convertibles, while electric drapes provide dockside privacy. Other accommodations include two en suite double staterooms, the starboard with double berth. The port stateroom has twin berths and is a great spot for fishing buddies along for the trip. The large guest stateroom in the bow has an island berth and private head. An alternative layout puts three single berths in the bow, giving owners choices to best suit their needs. The guest staterooms capitalize on what is often dead space to provide superb stowage.
I admit that I have never been a Euro-styling fan. But the Bertram 800 takes the best of that clean design and couples it with the performance of its marque. It’s a winning hand.
Displ.: 185,240 lb.
Fuel: 3,000 gal.
Water: 400 gal.
Deadrise: 12 degrees
Engine Option: 2 x 2,000-hp MTU 16V 2000 diesels
Engines Tested: 2 x 2,400-hp MTU 16V 2000 diesels
Base Price: $6,216,787
Bertram Yacht, 305-633-8011; www.bertram.com