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Maxum 4600

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Maxum 4600 1998

Boat builders come and boat builders go, but Maxum cometh. Maxum Marine is the Everett, Washington  small boat builder that was  recently acquired by the Brunswick Corporation, parent company of SeaRay and Bayliner, under their U.S. Marine Division, which formerly was in the business of building smaller, more -- shall we say, "economical" boats out on the west coast. Maxum has now been reinvented as the saying goes, with a great deal of their production now shifted to the east coast. Reports are that it was the company's intention to convert Maxum into a builder of mid-sized, medium quality boats. Not a bad idea considering the large gap between the top and bottom end boats that drives so many buyers to the Taiwan market.

I was scheduled to perform a new boat survey on this one for a client who had made the appointment a week in advance. When I arrived at Reel Deal Yachts in Coconut Grove, the dealer informed me that the customer had not yet signed a contract and was still  haggling over price. Stunned, I called the client for an explanation of why he sent me out to do the survey, he stated, "I never told you the deal was on." There are always a few sweethearts like this around, a doctor no less. If you ever wondered why surveyors often ask for cash in advance, this is the reason why. Dave Dorsey, the broker from Reel Deal Yachts, was kind enough to let me look her over anyway for this review. Many dealers flat out say "no" when I tell them what we're up to. But when you know you have a good product . . . .

Maxum 4600 1998

This is the first such example of recent production that we have seen, and a fairly pleasant introduction it was. We are always skeptical of trendy designs, mainly because fashion is so often  the cover story for a sad tale. Not here, although the design is certainly trendy enough for the most enthusiastic modernist. What first struck me was that, generally speaking, racy design wasn't getting in the way of practicality too much, as is so often the case. If you've read some of our other reviews, you know that we come down pretty hard on designs that compromise passenger safety.

Well, there is certainly nothing unsafe about getting around on the decks of this boat as, indeed, it looks as though the designers were quite careful about this. It is easy to move around on without conspiring to send you to the hospital, or worse. I could quibble about a fairly obvious trip hazard up on the bridge where there is a nasty little step-up to the extended hard top. But I won't. Without getting into a lot of detail, because there are other points I want to cover, I will just say that the overall exterior design is intelligent and well thought out, with few compromises over safety.

The bridge helm layout gives you only just enough space to mount some of today's much smaller electronics -- but not enough for someone who wants a good Furuno radar or large CVS. They call it a "sport yacht," so that apparently means that its not intended as a serious cruiser. While it could come close, it falls down in a few areas like this. So, too, with the tiny simulated wood steering wheel that one would not want to have to hold on to for very long, especially fighting a following sea. While we didn't get to see it out of the water, its pretty clear that the hull has a very shallow vee that won't help you out much in less than ideal conditions. That's too bad, because this would generally make for a nice cruising boat for two couples or a small family.

The layout is equally smart in most respects. You may have a bit of trouble with the size and layout of the guest stateroom which, about the best you can say for it is that it is a sleeping space. Definitely good if you have kids, because the starboard stateroom is sort of down and around the corner, partly tucked back up under the dinette, where you're a lot less likely to hear whatever it is that kids do at night to wake you up. Its not such a good place to put your mother-in-law. The traffic pattern is excellent: you can run from one end to the other without falling over everything. My kind of design. The galley-in-salon layout, with dinette opposite, makes pretty good use of available space. This boat is set up with built-in furniture with the nicely curving settee to starboard and adjustable center table, which is really about all you need. Loose furniture in small boats is a pain anyway, because you're always moving it around in order to get at things. You won't have to do that here. You can entertain or feed six very comfortably, with a galley that we think is most adequate, even for some serious cooking. I rather liked the comma-shaped galley bar that is almost like an island.  Although there is too much floor space here, where its counter space that you need the most.

You don't buy a 46 boat in order to constantly be bumping into things, knocking your head, barking your shins and bashing your elbows because some fool tried to cram a palace into 46'. Your aging body will be well cared-for with this boat.

Also, the limited use of dark stained mahogany paneling is a nice touch, accenting a lot of whites and light grays, including imitation marble (Avonite) counter tops. Tasteful without going over the line into tacky glitz, but I thought the sculpted, dropped headliner islands were a bit much, too reminiscent of a 1950's Miami Beach hotel. Even so, the design works. The two heads are more than adequately sized, and we particularly like the full fiberglass liners which makes for keeping things clean and holding water damage to a minimum. The master head has a most interesting tub that is only half-open, sort of like a sports car cockpit. But hey, it works if ya gotta take a bath! You may, however, have a bit of a problem with a small water heater. The fit and finish on the interior is nearly flawless.

The air conditioners are located under the dinette and berths up forward. We generally don't like that because of the noise, but in this case they were quiet and could not be heard. With all those padded vinyl sidings, overhead and upholstery, its quite hushed inside. With those large, sloping forward windows, there is definitely going to be a problem keeping this boat cool under the tropical sun, not to mention what the ultraviolet light will do all the nice wood and fabrics of the interior. We can appreciate that up north, those windows, more like skylights, are really nice. In the south, some kind of window treatment is definitely in order here.

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We think the salon layout is superb, especially if you don't like small, confined spaces. Here you can see how open, light and bright it is, although keeping it cool in the south definitely becomes a problem.

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This pretty nifty galley set up could stand some improvements for serious cooking, but altogether is not bad. There's really more floor space here than needed. Notice the completely unobstructed traffic lanes.

El cheapo, crapola hardware and fittings are mercifully kept to a minimum. And what isn't needed, you don't gratuitously get just for the sake of it being there. We praise such things as quality aft deck lockdowns, know to old salts as "dogs," all chrome bronze through hulls above the water line, and no aluminum except for a piece of trim on the bridge coaming lower edge. (Has the insane trend of aluminum railings finally ended?) Everything else is stainless  with only a random piece of plastic here and there, mainly the cockpit lights. Its got a real door in the transom instead of the typical pipe frame gate. Various and sundry storage lockers are the rage of the age, and you've got plenty of them on this one, too: fender storage, shorepower, deck shower, foredeck anchor storage, cockpit deck bins, etc. These have chromed zinc handles, though.

One thing you won't like are the weak bow railings which are best described as flimsey. The stanchion bases are far too small, badly designed, and they are already bending.   Maxum needs to correct this.  Unfortunately, the problem is that they molded the deck to fit the shape of the stanchion bases, and those mounting bosses are too small, so any fix would require a change in the deck mold. Oops!  Its about the only serious flaw we found. Stomping around on the decks, they everywhere seem solid. No deflection and well supported.

The bridge has too much upholstery for my liking, particularly considering that the seat cushions are attached to solid panels that appear to be plastic and not plywood (Yea!). They were already being stood up on edge to let the water drain out. The model we looked at had a Bimini top and full enclosures that worked out fairly well, but this does not keep water off things that shouldn't get wet. The only thing that is sensible is to have removable cushions that you can remove, stack up and cover when not in use. That's far easier and faster than trying to put a full bridge cover on, a feat which is so cumbersome most people stop doing it after about the first 6 months.  Then their upholstery goes to hell. Nor do we understand the radar arch, steeply angled aft, that will aim radar emissions straight at your head if you install the scanner there.

We were told the the hull sides and decks are  balsa cored, but the brochure says "CoreMax," one of dozens of new core materials that we aren't familiar with. We did note that there are very large hull side stringers running full length, so you won't have floppy hull sides that break the deck joints open to cause unrepairable leaks. The house sides and bridge coamings are not thin and flimsy like in so many boats. The window frames are painted aluminum, and look to be fairly strong. Didn't see any problems there. The cabin door, also painted aluminum frames, is a vertically curved affair that slides surprising well, although the screen door does not. Painted frames are fine as long as the metal was prepped right. If not, they will corrode badly and only time will tell.

Like most boats of this era, they don't give you much access to the inner hull, which is not too cool if you poke a hole in it. Bearing in mind that this is a "price" boat, what little we can see looks acceptably good. The deck is bolted to the hull, as it should be, and the joint is glassed over everywhere we could see except the transom in way of the swim platform. There is also plenty of bulkheading, so we wouldn't worry about tortional hull twisting to wreak havoc with the structure, especially the window seals. Overall, the fit and finish work is good.

The main power options are Cummins in-line diesels, and considering the flatness of the hull bottom, these low torque, high power output engines should do just fine as far as speed is concerned. But they are not workhorse diesels and this is not a long range cruiser, either, so you'll want to go easy on them unless you want to be supporting Mr. Goodwrench. Its never a good idea to squeeze a lot of hoursepower from a small block engine. From the looks of it, you might not have any problem getting Cat 3208's in there, although you'll surely loose some accessibility with V-8 engines.

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To give you an idea of how big it is, this shot of the lazarette was taken without a wide angle lens. We don't know what that canvass covered thing in the foreground is.

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The engine room is fairly neat with adequate accessibility for maintenance. However, those large cut outs in the bulkhead shouldn't be there.

The engine room is adequately spacious and fairly well done. The generator was placed under the cockpit deck (more about that in a minute) or it would definitely have been cramped. For some strange reason there are no floor boards in the engine room, and there was three inches of water in the bilge. Wow, another one where you have to stand in bilge water! You do get U.L. approved bronze Perko sea strainers and sea cocks, good quality sea hose, bronze and not plastic through hulls above the water line, decent exhaust system materials and properly mounted aluminum fuel tanks, along with your wet feet after standing in bilge water. We were even surprised to find brass transmission couplings, instead of the usual iron. Experienced boaters know the cost of trying to remove a rusted coupling that won't come loose!

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The pump room.  Located under galley and accessible from the starboard stateroom. One could actually get in here to service this stuff except for the poor layout of pumps and plumbing. That's the leg well for the tub at right.

And while all things aren't installed as well as they could be, we generally find little to complain about in terms of safety and general neatness. Mechanically, this boat will be very easy to maintain, a feature that will keep your maintenance costs down. There are four hatches in the carpeted salon deck that make engine access a breeze. Another nice feature are the large, heavy duty Todd covered plastic battery boxes. If you plan to do much of your own maintenance, this is definitely the kind of boat to consider.

However, we are not keen on the fact that there are large cut outs in the engine room aft bulkhead, for the same reason the Coast Guard requires water tight bulkheads on all passenger vessels. Its sort of like fire extinguishers; you don't need them until you have a fire. And you don't need full bulkheads until your hull accidentally gets flooded. Maxum ought to correct this.

The generator, as mentioned (a Westerbeke 15 kw in full sound box), was mounted under the cockpit deck where the rain gutter around the hatch is just a bit too shallow. While the drain scuppers are large enough, the generator will get wet if you hit the deck with a hose, and also probably during a Florida gator gusher. The generator is not standard, of course, but you wouldn't want anything less. There is lots of room down there for servicing everything, although a new owner is going to have to partition off some of the areas for storage if he doesn't want equipment sliding around and fouling his steering gear. The space is large enough to even store outboard motors and other large items.

So how does she shape up overall? We were amazed to hear of base prices prices starting at $295,000.00, and at that price it is certainly a price boat. And with a price like that, the builders have to cut the costs somewhere, yet where they did it is not particularly obvious. Clearly some of the systems are not what you'd want them to be. Such as the manual heads and a rather mickey mouse fresh water pump, and puny bilge pumps. The electric panel has only a voltmenter, no ammeter and the shore power system is a single 250 VAC, with no 125 VAC connectors, so you'll have to invest in an expensive pigtail. Another interesting feature is that they put the battery switches and main circuit breakers into a transom cabinet, although we're not sure how well the top-lifting cover is going to keep water and condensation out of this electrical apparatus. The heat-formed Lucite curved door was already warped and not making a good seal to the gaskets.

You'll find that the insides of wooden (not plastic) drawers are unfinished, as is some of the ash trim within cabinets,  and a few other things we could mention. Such as the drawers not being properly constructed. But such things are to be expected at this price. For the most part, we'd say that Maxum put most of the quality where it counts. Yes, you are going to be replacing some of the less costly systems soon, but as near as we could tell, most of the big ticket items are all pretty good stuff.

We'd recommend that the water and head systems be upgraded before you even take delivery. There's no way that puny water pump will meet demands. Another upgrade that we'd also recommend would be increasing the air conditioning capacity. Northern builders often underestimate how much we need in the south.

We've been looking at boats for a long time, and its not hard to tell when a company is dedicated to putting out a decent product, or is just trying to make money any way they can make it. What we see here shows some integrity, combined with some real expertise, unlike so many other recent offerings on the market. Clearly the people who designed this boat knew what they were doing, and know how to put the right stuff in all the right places.  For the most part, they succeeded. It is a credible effort to produce a decent quality boat, one that we hope points up a new trend in American boat building. While this is a new boat that has not been tried and tested by time, we certainly wouldn't be worried about getting a pig in a poke. If this is your style boat, its definitely worth looking at. 

As to price, is this an introductory price? A loss leader?  Hard to say, but it seems just a little too good to be true, and we can't help but wonder how long the company will be able to hold to prices like  this. There is no shortage of good value for your money with the Maxum 4600.

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