Here's another boat we happen to like. Solid
construction and good design are the reasons why. Designed by Harry
Shoell and bearing the name Bertram-Trojan, Inc., this particular
hull comes in two styles, the convertible and the express. And one
of its more outstanding features is the ultra wide beam (16-3) combined
with a moderately deep vee, it is a better sea performer than its
smaller International series cousins. At 35,000 lbs, her weight
in our view is just about right, neither too light nor too heavy.
Fitted with a pair of 750 HP Detroit Diesel 8V92TI's,
she's a speed demon. Unfortunately, our example model was rather
poorly maintained and an engine problem prevented us from completing
a sea trial, so we didn't get to find out how fast she really goes.
Figure a good 24 knot or better cruise. At that power rating, we'd
also be inclined to detune the engines a bit, going to smaller injectors
to extend engine life and get a little better fuel economy.
Unlike the smaller International models, this hull
is completely balsa cored. We found very good access to the internal
hull that revealed excellent construction detail, including all
that is necessary to create a reliable balsa core that won't become
water saturated (so long as you don't go making any holes in it).
The stringers in this boat are Harry Schoel's unique fiberglass
I beams and are massive, so this hull is quite stiff. After 11 years
of an obviously very hard life, no faults were found other than
a blistered bottom, which is odd considering that most of these
boats don't blister. Why this one did, we'll never know.
taken with non distorting lens.
For most people, the word "convertible"
is immediately associated with "sport fisherman." In Florida,
at least, this is not the case, for this style yacht is very
well suited to tropical cruising as well as fishing. Some of its
virtues are the very large and open cockpit that is low to the water,
much desired for water sports for the ability to walk straight from
the cockpit onto a swim platform through a transom door. Another
is the high bridge that affords good visibility for navigating in
clear, shallow, but reef-strewn tropical waters where the ability
to navigate your way around reefs by sight is critical. Another
is a generally easier bridge access over a motor yacht. And finally,
the lack of an excessive amount of window glass is necessary to
cool the interior in climates where the temperature remains above
90 degrees for at least half the year.
The down side is that for cruising, this 44 footer
is comfortable for two couples, but not three. Then, again, 6 on
any 44 footer can be a bit much for days on end. But you can load
her up with 10 or so for a cocktail cruise with ease. The very large
bridge will hold 6 with comfort, more with a little elbow rubbing;
10 on any boat bridge this size is a crowd. Between bridge, cockpit
and salon, she'll easily hold 15.
Two double staterooms are adequately sized, each
with an equally good size head and shower with partial fiberglass
liners. The layout is sensible, permitting ease of movement without
clashing doors or silly bottlenecks. The designer obviously knew
what he was doing. The large U-shaped galley is one of the more
outstanding features. It has plenty of counter space, as well as
storage cabinets, featuring a large double basin stainless sink
and an under-counter Subzero reefer/freezer combination with 24
cubic feet of interior space. Although the galley is down, it is
only separated from the salon by a counter divider which makes both
galley and salon feel considerably bigger than they really are,
not that either are actually small. Both are more than adequate.
The salon has a forward L-shaped settee as most
late model Bertrams and other convertibles do, with a fixed hi-lo
table. The layout of this is great since the table does not take
up the whole area of the settee so that 3 people can sit here with
ease for just relaxing without feeling like you're in a movie theater.
Very sensible. In addition to which there is room for two swivel
chairs and the two little bar stools at the port side counter. We
really don't find many boats this size where six people can come
in and find a place to readily sit down and have a conversation,
but this is one of the few.
We also liked the layout of the master stateroom
that has a large, irregular shaped, almost queen sized berth with
large side tables, as well as a bit of floor space. The hanging
lockers are a bit small, but at least there are two of them. Each
head has a private stateroom entrance, and both heads are more than
adequately sized. Very nice indeed.
The engine room is a bit cramped, but at least
there is a decent center isle and most important stuff can be reached,
with the exception of the engine fronts which are almost hard against
the forward bulkhead. All-in-all, there are few serious complaints
here. One super big complaint is that the salon air conditioner
is installed under the bridge seating which is fiberglass and has
only two 6" plastic ports for access. To service these things,
you'll have to cut the seating out to get to them!!! Bad, really
The cockpit has those huge, deep in hatch storage
boxes that require two people to remove them. There are aluminum
fuel tanks under the deck which is designed to be removable. The
tanks appear to be installed properly, so no problem there.
This model was fitted with the optional pipe frame
hardtop with overhead electronics cabinet. Overall, the bridge is
very well laid out and the ergonomics are great. No cramping or
bottlenecks at all. Typical of all high quality boats, you find
things like the bridge windscreen attached to a stainless tubular
handrailing, both to make it good and solid, and also to make sure
that people have something to hold onto other than a piece of plexiglas.
It's the little things like this that add up to make for a nice
boat. Eliminate the unimportant stuff and make sure what is needed
is there. PTL.
Some costs were saved in the form of plastic plumbing
-- probably that cheap stuff over which there was a huge class-action
lawsuit -- that breaks frequently and needs to be replaced, as well
as a few other odds and ends. The water and other pumps are decidedly
el cheapo units that need upgrading, as are a few other items
below decks. The old SeaLand vacuum head system is junk and should
have been replaced long ago. Altogether she needs about $5 G's in
systems upgrades to bring her up to the standards of the rest of
the vessel. (Always something to bitch about.)
So how is she holding up after 11 years? Actually
very well. This particular boat was not well cared for, but it still
looks good despite the neglect. However, the gel coat is not great
stuff and it does need a paint job. Unlike many late model boats
where the molded parts are designed for cheap, easy assembly, and
have ugly caulking joints all over the place (that turn dirty and
dark), you won't find one of them here.
It's almost completely devoid of those crappy,
low quality parts and fittings that we find so often nowadays that
deteriorate rapidly and turn your big investment into a costly eyesore
in a few years. You know the old saw about having one good shirt
than 5 cheap ones? Well, this is a prime example of that philosophy.
In fact, if you remove all of the add-ons, this is a pretty plain
Out of the box, this was not a high priced boat,
with the MSRP at only $475,000, although a lot of things that would
be standard on a Bertram were optional. With a current asking
of $300,000 after 11 years, this boat proves once again that good,
solid design and sensible materials selection is the key to value.
Of course, this is what you'd expect from a boat with the name Bertram
attached to it. And that's what you get.
"reviews", not surveys, and bear no resemblance to our survey
reports. We do not publish
the results of the surveys that we perform. Please note that the purpose
of these reviews is educational, to help you discern the differences in
quality among boats generally. They are not offered as a means to help
you evaluate any particular boat builder. We have no other reviews than
Posted April 9, 1999