Davis 70 Convertible

A convertible proves that a legendary Carolina builder has found a home in New Jersey.

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The Davis 70 Convertible is the latest launch from Davis Yachts, the venerable North Carolina brand that has found a new home with the New Jersey-based Egg Harbor Yacht Group. Egg Harbor has been carving out a niche for itself in the production and semi-custom market, and the new 70 propels the builder into the world of large custom convertibles.

Part of the Davis celebrity is linked to the equally respected drawing board of veteran marine architect Don Blount. "We had designed all of the Davis fiberglass hulls for rough water and the 70, whose hydrodynamic design I consider the most refined we've done, was the culmination of 15 years of experience and development," Blount said during an interview.

While the familiar sharp entry, striking Carolina flam, and dynamic profile are evident, a major design component that can't be seen is found below the transom. Blount drew the Davis 70 with tunnels, thus allowing the big boat to have a draft of 4 feet, 6 inches. The same boat with a conventional bottom draws a full foot more. "The tunnel design initially started with some of the smaller boats whose owners required the shallower draft to keep them safe and underway in the often skinny waters of the Bahamas," said Blount.

There is something else, however, that the tunnels provide besides the benefit of a shallow draft. "The tunnel design allows us to place the engines, a major weight component, in a position so as to achieve the optimum center of gravity," said Blount. He added that because of the ability to move the powerplants longitudinally without increasing the shaft angle, the result is a better sea boat along with added performance. "This allows the props to operate at a more efficient placement relative to the flow of water."

I had the opportunity to verify his claims during a sea trial this past summer in the calm offshore waters of Margate, New Jersey. (Too bad it wasn't a few weeks later as the remnants of Hurricane Hannah would make those same waters a bit more interesting.) Spooling up the pair of 1,825-horsepower Cat C32A diesels to 2000 rpm resulted in a smooth and rock steady 28.4 knots. It was exhilarating to feel the big boat get out of the hole and track straight and true. Throttling back to 1800 rpm produced an impressive 25.9 knots. However, at wide-open-throttle I noticed the Davis 70 did not make the specified rpm, posting instead 2230. "Right from here, she's going into the yard to have a look at taking some pitch or diameter out of the 36-by-45, six-blade wheels we're turning," said Davis CEO Bob Weidhaas who, along with Egg's marketing director Bob Hazard, was on board. "We're also going to have a look at the shape of the tunnels and if necessary, tweak them a bit too."

With Weidhaas at the wheel, I was able to have a look around before we headed for the dock. The Davis 70 is all about size. The air-conditioned bridge features a vast helm console with the kind of space that allows both captain and guests to get maximum enjoyment whether cruising, hooked up and fighting a big fish, or simply hanging out after a day on the water. There's plenty of seating forward and stowage compartments for fishing gear. This 70 had the full EZ2CY enclosure but an enclosed bridge is also available. I found the sightlines forward a little flawed, and even when standing on the raised helm platform, had difficulty seeing the bow. Admittedly, I'm under the six-foot mark, but if this were my boat, I would rework the helm setup. "Being a custom boat, we can configure the bridge any way an owner or his captain wants," commented Weidhaas, adding that helm and seating placement are flexible, and an aft steering station and a remote control to drive the boat from anywhere are available. Some other neat additions on this boat were hydraulically operated outriggers and radio antennas.

As you would expect, the cockpit is fish-ready with all the requisite boxes, coolers, live well, lockers, mezzanine, compartments and accoutrements associated with the business of big-game fishing. But a step inside, through the electrically operated salon doors, shows how this custom Davis 70 was taken to a whole new level.

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The salon and galley area, utilizing most of the boat's 19-foot, 6-inch beam, occupies one large open space. While the salon offers an inviting L-shape settee and table to port, it is the galley's impressive granite-topped centerline island that commands the attention and is the obvious gathering place for all après fishing or cruising activities. The area is replete with cabinets and undercounter refrigerator and freezer units. There is a dinette on the forward bulkhead. Large windows surround the area with plenty of ambient light and there are ample LED lights in the overhead for additional illumination.

The living accommodations sport a four-stateroom, three-head layout including the centerline, forepeak VIP, starboard guest quarters, port crew or guest stateroom, and amidships master.

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Finally, the engineroom proved to be a well-designed and carefully thought-out space with plenty of working room for the hands-on owner or skipper to take care of all critical maintenance, including that of the air-conditioning units.

Since becoming part of the Egg Harbor Group, Davis Yachts will surely continue its heritage with boats that are not only built to take the punishment often faced while chasing horizons, but provide luxurious and comfortable accommodations as well.

Davis Yachts, (609) 965-3877; www.buddydavis.com