Cruisers Yachts 477

The new Cruisers Yachts 477 raises the bar for livability and performance.

Cruisers Yachts 477

RAKISH RIDE: Arched side windows and super-structure curves align for unforgettable elegance.

Visionary thinking is alive and well at Cruisers Yachts. With the introduction of its new 477 Sport Sedan, Cruisers designers, engineers and craftsmen have put the industry on notice that it's out to set new standards for luxury, performance and beauty afloat. That's what you'd expect from this Oconto, Wisconsin, and Wilmington, N.C., based company that, in the past 10 years, has successfully fused the concepts of express cruiser and motoryacht into three innovative express motoryacht designs while simultaneously expanding its growth in the express cruiser market.

Three years in the making, the new 477 Sport Sedan blends well-known Cruisers' features with what boaters have asked for in focus groups around the country: a comfortable living environment afloat, luxurious amenities and satisfying performance under way.

Good visibility is paramount in this new design, whether you're watching the watery world go by on the flying bridge, dining or relaxing in the saloon, or waking from a good night's sleep in the cabins below. Twin captain's chairs and a very large L-shaped bench with table on the bridge all have marvelous 360-degree views. Positioned behind a swept-back windshield that's high enough to protect even tall owners and arched side windows that protect the crew from cross-bridge gusts, seated guests will enjoy the open air without being buffeted by it. The futuristic hardtop has an inset skylight for views above, hatches for ventilation and sturdy welded supports that echo the curves of the cabin sides below and suspend it firmly without any apparent movement. Two side-by-side sunpads abaft the bench seat feature prop-up end panels for reading, lounging and napping.

For maximum visibility and control at the helm, two optional Raymarine displays flank the sport steering wheel at a level easy to sweep, with Volvo electronic engine-system readouts and gauges dead ahead. Trim tab and electronic engine controls are just to the right, with the Raymarine autopilot and VHF radio within easy reach. The console is molded gray, finished in a slightly stippled pattern that prevents glare on the inside of the windshield. The 477 Sport Sedan I tested had outlets on the upper edge of the console for the optional bridge air-conditioning and reverse-cycle heating system.

Driving the 477 Sport Sedan confirms Cruisers' reputation for performance and good sea-keeping qualities. Spin the wheel with your fingertips and the 477 will answer with tight, nicely banked turns that leave you with a sense of complete control. This hull planes quickly, goes where you point it and doesn't wander from the desired track thanks to its aggressive modified-V hull and stepped chines. It's huge fun to drive with Volvo's 575 hp D9 V-drives in the wide engine room aft, and is likely to be more so when the Volvo's IPS drive systems are installed.

Behind the dramatic sweeping arches of the cabin sides, any guests in the saloon, dinette and galley are afforded views comparable to that on the flying bridge. The glass aft bulkhead opens on-and offers views of-a large cockpit with steps down on either side of a bench to an oversized swim platform that is stout enough to hold 1,000 pounds of your favorite PWC or RIB and cradle. To make launching easier, Cruisers offers an optional lift cleverly hidden in a panel atop the transom and includes large transom lockers to house fenders, docklines, hoses and more. A Glendinning shore power-cable reel system is standard-another nice touch that acknowledges the convenience and quality Cruisers customers really want.

By bundling the entertainment center-a standard 20-inch LCD TV and five-disc CD/DVD home theater, plus a locker below for the optional wine captain, the master electrical panel behind a beautiful door and a glass-front liquor locker-all in the starboard aft corner of the saloon, Cruisers' designers maximize the spaciousness and visibility available in this very open interior. The traffic pattern is unimpeded from the cockpit to the forward cabin, and the 6-foot, 6-inch headroom in the saloon is a boon for tall owners.

Two levels of side windows, and three panels forward, complete the 360-degree sweep, giving guests standing or sitting below wonderful views of surrounding waters. Seating choices are plentiful and varied, from the buttery smooth Ultraleather-covered Flexsteel incliners to port and starboard sofa sleeper to the raised dinette. Once you go below, you'll find generous natural light and ventilation available in the master stateroom forward, via four opening ports and an overhead hatch, plus six opening vertical ports illuminating the midships guest stateroom.

According to Don DePouw, vice president of marketing at Cruisers Yachts, the accommodations layout will change slightly from the prototype I boarded earlier this year. To accommodate an additional hanging locker and dressing table, the portside head will lose its separate shower compartment. Access to the guest stateroom and the main saloon as a day head will remain unchanged, and the private head compartment to starboard will continue to serve the master stateroom exclusively.

Living well and eating well go hand in hand, so Cruisers designers paid close attention to surveys and their own considerable experience to create a galley that is at once attractive and easy to work in. Karadon solid-surface counters topping rich cherry cabinetry encircle the chef on three sides, providing ample working and serving surface, in addition to supporting a two-burner electric stove at the forward end, a storage nook for the standard coffeemaker and two deep stainless sinks topped with Karadon covers at the aft end. Beneath the stove, the microwave is set into the face of the cabinet at just about waist level-a good use of space that keeps the counters open. The refrigerator and freezer are separate units, set under the counter that faces a fabulous side window-you'll enjoy the view of your favorite anchorage while checking to see if the pasta is al dente-with space left in between for an optional Fisher & Paykel dishwasher. And while I'm on the subject of options for living well, the 32-bottle wine captain would seem to have an edge over the available trash compactor.

If this sounds like much of the under-cabinet stowage is gone, fear not. Besides the lockers under the sinks, there's a hidden dinnerware locker in the curved portion of the cabinetry near the centerline. And beneath the sole of the saloon, you'll find a voluminous storage area large enough to hold a low-silhouette washer/dryer, boxes of food and drink to sustain a week's cruise, the tools and hoses for the standard vacuum system and maybe even a folding bicycle or two.

From its dramatic profile to its highly livable interior, clearly the folks at Cruisers have gone all out to bring you an innovative sport sedan with performance to please the entire family. Fit and finish on the yacht I inspected and tested was top flight, and it's clear to me that Cruisers Yachts has a new hit on its hands.

Contact: Cruisers Yachts, (800) 743-3478; www.cruisersyachts.com