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Cruisers 48 Cantius

The new Cruisers 48 Cantius combines the climate-controlled comfort of a sedan bridge with the sporty handling of an express cruiser.

February 25, 2011

Cruisers 48 Cantius

In regions like the Great Lakes, the Northwest and the subtropics of the Southeast, time on the water can be curtailed by either the short summer season of the north or the sometimes unbearable heat of the south. This is especially true if you have an express model with just one helm open to the sky. The designers at Cruisers didn’t waste time scratching their heads before they developed a gorgeous solution for comfortable cruising in the sweltering heat or withering cold. And it’s available in their latest, the 48 Cantius express cruiser.

It was spitting rain under a blanket of fog as I stepped aboard the 48 at its Oconto, Wisconsin, berth on Lake Michigan. Instead of having to unzip curtains and fumble through them, my host tucked his fingers into a notch on the aft sliding door and slipped it aside, opening the salon to the teak-rich cockpit. When I walked inside, instead of being shrouded in murky eisenglass, I was invited into a bright and open salon with a short step to the bridge deck to starboard and a comparable step to the dinette to port. A portside lounge and a starboard wet bar made this the central gathering place on board, whether the salon was opened or closed to the aft deck.

John Viestenz, my host, clicked the door shut behind us with a fingertip, and, though the uncomfortable weather was shut out, our crew was enveloped by the majesty of the waterway, with a 360-degree view so inviting it was like we were still participating in the outdoor experience, not escaping it. Heat was not needed but it was available, as was air conditioning, for perfect climate control. Ducts at the helm and console, along with those strategically arranged around the salon, allowed for tuning the indoor temperature to perfection.

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We called this the helm salon for lack of a better way to distinguish it from the main cabin below. In the helm salon, a dark wenge sole and woodwork accents contrasted beautifully with the bright eggshell vinyl upholstery. Well lit by the 360-degree glass enclosure, the area was a contrast between light and dark — sky and water — with a feng shui-like harmony all around.

At the helm, we had a perfect view of our surroundings with no blind spots. Even when we were fairly hard over, our view to the inside of our turn was preserved — at a time when you’d expect the hardtop to dip down and obscure the surroundings. A dual helm seat left room for a companion, and instrumentation was well-positioned so we had no difficulty in monitoring engine systems and also found it easy to adjust or select screens on the chart plotters. Ergonomics were good, letting us sit comfortably, one hand on the throttle and one on the helm. Stand-up driving was accommodated by the flip-up bolster.

Here’s the trick that made the salon so inviting. Forward of the helm, instead of installing a large dash panel before the windshield — a huge expanse of wasted space — the Cruisers design team opened this area up to the second salon below. That too followed the dark-wood motif in the floors and cabinetry, but so much light came in through the windshield above and from the portlights that the space was well-lit even without additional lighting. Incredible options for entertaining abounded on the 48 Cantius, thanks to the open layout.

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Would the 48, with all its glass and hardtop, feel confining on a summer day? Not at all. Slide the cabin door aside and touch a button to open the sunroof and welcome in light and air. You can even open a window on the windshield to further improve the open-air feel. We’ve seen this airy arrangement on sedan bridges before, but never integrated so well with a sunroof and hardtop, and rarely as well done on an express cruiser.

Would it have been nice to open that sunroof even more? Yes, but that would have interfered with wiring and the radar array. It also would have been nice to slide the port and starboard windows open, but the curved styling of the glass would be lost. And, with the climate-control possibilities and the option of opening the windshield for a breeze, we were more than content with this innovative design.

Belowdecks, there is a full galley with a nearly home-size refrigerator, a microwave and an abbreviated stovetop. All of it is set in a granite-look counter with a large stainless-steel sink with state-of-the-art faucets.

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The forward stateroom is big and features a queen berth. Convenient to it are a vanity, head and shower. A hatch above gives good natural lighting, supported by portlights on either side. Entry to the master is aft of the salon stairway. Inside, 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom and another queen berth pamper the owner. A larger en suite head offers stylish fixtures and comfortable space, even with the door closed.

Under way, the Cantius was a beautiful machine, integrated with Volvo IPS drives that included digital throttle and shift and silky-smooth steering. Acceleration was steady, and stepping to plane gave us very little bow rise for a cruiser this size. The position of the IPS drives, forward of the trailing edge of the running surface, make this possible. In addition, props are turned forward, getting a clean bite on undisturbed water. Both drives spin individually, and in a turn, the engine inside the circle steers at a tighter angle, adding to the stability and maneuverability I experienced.

Stepping around outside the boat, we found wide footing from stern to bow and ample nonskid surfaces. Should one need to manage the anchor windlass from the bow, there is plenty of flat deck space for good footing. We mentioned that the handrails along the salon roof fell just short of the points of entry, and Viestenz let us know that Cruisers already had plans to set new rails with more convenient positioning.

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Ending the tour in what is usually a cramped engine room can be anticlimactic. But on the Cantius, there was surprisingly generous walk-around space and headroom. Access to the outboard side of the engines was convenient, and practically everything could be serviced while standing.

As we stepped over the 48’s enormous swim platform to disembark, Viestenz mentioned that it could be enhanced with an optional hydraulic lift for tender or PWC launch.

By designing the 48 Cantius to be comfortable, practical and fun in the extreme, Cruisers has created a stylish vessel with international appeal.

LOA: 46’8″
Beam: 14’6″
Draft: 3’6″
Displ.: approx. 32,000 lb.
Deadrise: 14 degrees
Fuel: 400 gal.
Water: 80 gal.
Engine Options: 2 x 370-hp Volvo D6 500 IPS
Engines Tested: 2 x 435-hp Volvo D6 600 IPS
Price as Tested: $916,820

Cruisers Yachts, 920-834-2211; www.cruisersyachts.com.

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