The newest big-water fisherman from Brand B...

It was Bimini in late February, with total sun, temperature in the high 70s, the standard crystalline Bahamian water, and there I was wheeling about in Bertram's newest, the 43 Convertible. I grudgingly admit, this wasn't the worst assignment I've had.

The 43 Convertible is the third in the "new design" series which started with the 37 and 50 Convertibles (Bertram 37 tested September 1986; 50 tested September 1987). If you're keeping score, the 43 is the replacement for the 42. Dead rise angle is 17.5 degrees (the 50 is 16.4). The big differences between new 43 and old 42 are greater beam and wider, flatter chines. These changes are designed to retain the Bertram soft reentry while giving more stability in the trough and keeping the boat drier. I believe the goals have been achieved.

This was hull No. 1, with the usual newest boat factory name of Moppie. From all appearances, it could have been hull No. 25; it's amazing how good the first pass can be. Like the 50, plenty of high-tech construction (end-grain balsa above the waterline) and fabrics (uni- and bidirectional cloth). Everybody must keep their boats light, with the emphasis on performance that, rightly or wrongly, is so prevalent today.

I missed the eastbound Gulf Stream crossing, being busy with a project for next month's issue. A group of boats ran across in what I call Victory at Sea conditions. Even the Bertram, I am told, had a wet and woolly ride. Smaller boats (thankfully not in our group) had windshields broken, canvas washed away. I'm really sorry I had to fly over, guys, honest.

But I found enough lumpy water during a two hour photo shoot on a windy day and the eventual Stream recrossing to be able to pronounce the Bertram 43 just fine in open ocean conditions. I rode it under conditions that would cause a lot of people to turn green, but it took nary a drop.

What this means is that the Bertram is really quite dry, even though when it gets really awful, no boat is truly dry. The 43 also had a gentle reentry, as I would brace for the crunch that never came. Yes, there was some rolling, but nothing unusual. A successful design and a clear improvement, always nice to see.

The hull is all new, and so is everything else, including the super structure. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I find this an exceedingly good looking boat. Very clean and uncluttered, with the primary graphics supplied by the two black stripes outlined in gold (best seen close-up); the effect is indeed one of high style. Note the grab handle at the fore corner of the house; it's painted white, so as not to break the line. It's almost a shame to add the tower and riggers, but then this is a sport fish, and the Pipe Welders tower offers its own form of beauty.

Performance

Carrying a good load of fuel and water, most available options, five persons, full cruising gear (the captain and mate live aboard), spare props and shaft, and the huge tower, the 43 topped out at 33.9 mph (29.5 knots). With about the same heavy load, the 43 crossed from Bimini to Miami at 2100 rpm in under two hours. There are a few speed freaks who always want more, but I consider the performance fully satisfactory. No engine options are offered, and in my opinion none are needed. The acceleration is good, with a solid throttle response.

Fuel consumption hovers around the 0.6 statute mpg, meeting expectations. The only measured value where I'd like to see some improvement is the sound level, with a measured 90 dB at 2100 which means possible-but not-easy bridge conversation. We didn't measure cabin sound levels, but subjectively these were quite low, with easy conversation possible (sliding door closed).

Bertram 43 Convertible Performance

Cockpit and Foredeck

Transom door, 29-inch opening. Padded coaming is standard. A plush Murray fighting chair (optional) was the proud centerpiece. Clever, fold-down steps port and starboard make for civilized cockpit arrival (positive latch in stowed position). In addition to the conventional rodholders (optional), this boat had a pair of striking holders installed (for non-fishermen, this is a pivoting holder with oval coaming opening, allowing the fish to be struck before the rod is picked up- but I'm sure we can all agree that their appearance, too, is striking).

Some fairly expensive optional bait center hardware was in place: a livewell cabinet to starboard, a bait-freezer/baitrigging station to port (including sink and stowage); together these totalled about $11,000. A sturdy nine-step ladder leads to the bridge; two steps, total height 17 1/2 inches to the main cabin. Undercoaming cleats are 12-inch. There are two pairs of 10-inch spring cleats.

Foredeck access is good, but with tower and riggers in place, movement requires additional caution. Very clean foredeck, with full nonslip surface. Single large hatch (master stateroom), with screen. Two 12-inch bow cleats, two chocks. An optional 12v no-wildcat Ideal windlass ($4,725) was installed, as was an ACR remote twin-bulb spotlight ($2,350), which the Captain says is the best he's ever used. All railings, ladders, cleats, and handles are anodized aluminum (tower too, of course). The bow railing is 1 3/8 inch. Aluminum is the hot act these days, with some buyers going so far as to order boats without stainless parts; they then install their own aluminum choices (note that Bertram already uses aluminum). The reason for it's popularity is the low maintenance required to keep it looking good.

Social Climbing

Climb to the bridge and find Pompanette slide/swivel helm and companion seats standard. On this boat, varnished- seat Murray models were installed. The layout is rearward-located helm, overlooking the cockpit. Forward of the helm is a wide (86-inch) bench. A clear venturi windshield shields the passengers.

The instrument console structure is a three-faced wraparound design like the 50, meaning very nice. Each large, identical section has a hinge-up clear cover for weather protection. Lots of electronics installed here, but listing would be of slight interest, as Bertram is always testing new makes and models, and in any case these will be buyer's choice. (Okay, okay, here's the list. Furuno radar, Robertson autopilot, Northstar loran, Standard VHF, SEA 322 SSB, Simrad CRT depthfinder, AquaMeter digital tachs, Brookes & Gatehouse digital depth, speed, and temp with individual remotes.) The main story is that there's lots of room and installation is relatively easy.

I don't mind climbing to the tower station while at the dock. I haven't tried (and am sure I wouldn't like) this station in any kind of sea. I always feel I should be on oxygen or something, but the view is certainly spectacular.

Machinery

There are three Cruisair reverse-cycle air conditioning units with fancy digital thermostat controls which use a cockpit outside temperature sensor in their operation. I noted some box fans used for better room-to-room temperature balance- quite unusual. The battery charger was a Raritan Crown II 40-amp unit; on this boat, an optional second unit was installed. (See Under the Hatches for more on the mechanical side of things. )

Hook up either 230v or I I 5v 50-amp shore power. Everything on the boat runs on 115. Say again? That’s right. A monster transformer steps down the 230 to 115. Note that if you hook up to 115 you can’t run everything on the boat at once.

The transformer also gives isolation transformers of former years, only the two hot lines are isolated; the ground wire is straight through. I’m told this design is called a ‘’polarization transformer.’’ I’ll buy that. For Quicksilver galvanic protection, the 43 has a Quicksilver galvanic isolator which lets a.c. pass on the ground wire but not d.c. So no impressed-current corrosion. Trust Bertram, this is the way it needs to be. They’re not spending a lot of money and hanging a 200-pound box of goodies at the after end of the engine room just for luck. You haven’t seen this kind of thing before? Aluminum boats use them, as well as huge, custom yachts. Only the highest quality builders use this type of electrical hardware in boats the size of the 43.

Under the Hatches

This time most of the hatches are in the cockpit- three of them. Midships (swing the fighting chair out of the way) is the 8kw Onan generator. Smaller hatches port and starboard give access to battery banks, mufflers, and other minor items. Battery boxes include full covers. which themselves feature a hinged lid for battery service- no accidental shorts here. The hatches each feature a pair of halftwist. cam-lock T-handles and soft foam gaskets.

The main engine space is reached through a forward-centerline main cabin hatch, light and easy to remove. Drop down into the " anteroom" and you have a/c compressors to starboard, chargers on the bulkhead to port, and room to move to either side of the 6V-92TA propulsion engines. There's also good access to the Allison M-series transmissions at the other end. Not walk-around height, but you don't have to crawl, either. You walk mostly on the very bottom of the hull, without a formal walkway. Gives more headroom, and is still dry. Very satisfactory for a 43-footer. Behind the partial after-bulkhead are two fiberglass fuel tanks; on the bulkhead yet farther aft (open to the engine space) is the big shorepower transformer .

Note that the turboed and aftercooled 6V-92s are now designated DOC, for Detroit Diesel Corporation. GM sold the Detroit Diesel part of Detroit Diesel Allison (ODA) to Roger Penske. Only the name has changed; the hardware is the same good stuff, with more on the way.

Huge seacocks and strainers (no gate valves anywhere); huge fuel lines; huge Dahl fuel filters (generator too). Everything looks oversized, but perhaps that's because I've been seeing undersized hardware on certain other boats. In any case. it looks like a Bertram down here, and that's good. There's an automatic Halon system, as well as a manual Halon extinguisher (plus the usual dry chemical types scattered about). The hullsides, bulkheads, and overhead are covered with Mylar-surfaced sound insulation material. Pretty much what a Bertram buyer has come to expect.

Inside Story

The main cabin is roughly square, almost 11 feet on a side. Large, ventilated and screened windows port and starboard. An overhead rod rack held 14 rods and reels, but you'll have to install your own hanging hardware. The cabin layout is: after end-ice-maker (Raritan Icer-Ette) and dry bar to starboard, big L-lounge to port; forward end-center to port. The dry bar and galley are set at 45 degree angles in the starboard corners.

The galley features a deep stainless sink, three-burner Princess range (both with covers which add to usable surface area), Quasar microwave (behind an upper door), and a garbage disposal. The entertainment center is also hidden behind doors and includes a 20-inch TV and a 115v stereo. Proton hardware on this boat, Sony planned down the road. Electrical panels along the starboard side, with breaker/switch bezels color coded for type. Few indicator lights are used. A.c. ammeter, but no d.c. ammeter. Frequency meter, always desirable, but not always present. An unusual but useful addition is a “Pump watch" meter, showing total minutes of bilge pump time.

Sub-Zero 6.6 cubic-foot under-cabinet appliances, refrigerator on the galley side, and freezer on the port side. Flexible string valance lighting, draperies with top and bottom tracks. Cabinets between the TV and companionway are attractive, curved-door units. Lightweight, but they need more than the current single latch (which I'm sure they'll get).

The big curved-corner L-lounge, optional on the 50, is standard on the 43. In a way, this is too bad, because it's the only thing I didn't particularly like (the nice hi-lo cocktail table and four short stools are a $2,970 option). The fore-and aft portion converts to a double bunk, and the unit looks good, but I found the seating position uncomfortable. I prefer seating which slants from the front to the rear. This lounge is basically horizontal, and the back is too far away and too low. This is just my opinion, and to my dismay I've found the world at large sometimes doesn't see things as I do. Since I found nothing else to complain about a minor miracle), and a couch is easily replaced, what we really have here is a rather glowing review.

This boat is "2 bdrm 2 bath all mod cons." A snug 22-inch wide center line companionway drops to a short passage way. The guest cabin and guest head are to starboard, the master stateroom in the bow. The guest cabin is tight, with a longitudinal upper and transverse lower (each about 34 by 74 inches and a generous 7 inches thick). A short wardrobe plus several drawers supply stowage. Each bunk has a swiveling bullet light.

The guest head is reached only from the guest cabin. Again tight, the shower area is shared with the toilet. A curtain walls off the medicine cabinet and counter during showering.

The master head is to port of the passageway but is accessible only from the master stateroom (meaning there are no two-door heads). Much more spacious than the guest bath, with a separate shower with door, light, and seat. Both heads have telephone-type showers with water-saving shutoff buttons. Both also have beveled-edge-glass medicine cabinet mirrors (double size in the master). Ceramic sinks (my preference) in each. The toilet fixtures are Galley-Maid. Both  heads have over-mirror frosted panel lighting. Comparing the 43 with the 50 reveals that the most obvious difference is in the compacting of the guest cabin and head, which is a reasonable pace to tighten up.

The master stateroom is roomy, with lift-up hinged cabinets along each hull side and a fiddled shelf beneath. The head door is curved (convex) as is the bulkhead to starboard for the same general feel as on the 50. Large port and starboard wardrobes plus four big drawers beneath the foot of the bed. Bertram describes the mattress itself as queen sized, but the shape is nearly round. I measured 76 by 76 inches, with the thickness an incredible 8 inches (way to go, Bertram). A second TV (this one 13 inch) and stereo system, again standard. Two large brass lamps at the head of the bed; two swivel bullet-lights at the foot.

In Short...

Base price is about $410,000. I noted about $27,000 in options, not including some large items such as the tower, outriggers, and fighting chair. For those who think in tenths (of a million that is) you're looking at about 5 tenths here, give or take a couple of bucks. The 43 is worth every penny.

Bertram has done it again another new model destined for success. Good looking, good performing, and displaying quality wherever you look. Whatever their current loyalties, potential buyers of this size sport fish will have to look at this one. They may end up loyal to their brand (there are other quality boats), but they'd be making a mistake not to check out the Bertram 43 before making that final decision. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW BERTRAM YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Boating Magazine, May 1988 and is written by Dex Hart. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://subscriptions.boatingmag.com/

  • 58' BERTRAM 58 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1980) "BASIC INSTINCT"
    Available

    58' BERTRAM 58 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1980)...

    Do us a favor. When you get it, don't flaunt it. Men don't buy Bertrams for glitter. For 40 years, they've bought Bertrams because they work, because they're fast and smooth and hold together through hundreds of hours of heavy going without plinkety-dinking apart. [displayForm id=9] Photos and description courtesy: Bertram Yachts

    Do us a favor. When you get it, don't flaunt it. Men don't buy Bertrams for glitter....

    Do us a favor. When you get it, don't flaunt it. Men don't buy Bertrams for glitter. For 40 years, they've bought Bertrams because they work, because they're fast and smooth and...

    $139,000.00
    View
  • 57' BERTRAM 570 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (2005) *LLC* "BAD FISH"
    Available

    57' BERTRAM 570 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (2008) *LLC*...

    The 570 is the perfect infusion of tradition and elegance. The design that combines the legendary ride of the 54 and 60 while adding all of the modern amenities. The tournament designed cockpit offers 147 sq. ft. of fish fighting territory. Equipped with bait center, live well, freezer, and transom fish box, to name a few; this serious sportfisherman will definitely turn heads at the weigh station. [displayForm id=6] Photos and description...

    The 570 is the perfect infusion of tradition and elegance. The design that combines the...

    The 570 is the perfect infusion of tradition and elegance. The design that combines the legendary ride of the 54 and 60 while adding all of the modern amenities. The tournament...

    $775,000.00
    View
  • 54' BERTRAM 54 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1998) "CHIQELIN"
    Available

    54' BERTRAM 54 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1998)...

    The Fifty-Four... Bertram's crown jewel. Beneath the water, the trademark Bertram hull's 17-degree deadrise tames even the roughest seas.  Within the spacious cockpit, a tackle center, live baitwell and 2 fishboxes make a first-class fishing station. Through her many incarnations over the years, the Fifty-Four has maintained a reputation as a true sportfishing vessel. You'll find her name printed in magazines, engraved on trophies, and rolling...

    The Fifty-Four... Bertram's crown jewel. Beneath the water, the trademark Bertram...

    The Fifty-Four... Bertram's crown jewel. Beneath the water, the trademark Bertram hull's 17-degree deadrise tames even the roughest seas.  Within the spacious cockpit, a tackle...

    $471,000.00
    View
  • 50' BERTRAM 50 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1994) "GET REEL"
    Available

    50' BERTRAM 50 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1995)...

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it. The Bertram 50: so confident at sea that she seems to own it. And she has been the sportfisherman by which all others have been measured, because she packs so many bright ideas in such a beautifully fluid form. Like a revolutionary instrument arrangement on the bridge. And concealed retractable cockpit steps. Ingenious tackle stowage built right into the...

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it....

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it. The Bertram 50: so confident at sea that she seems to own it. And she has been the...

    $325,000.00
    View
  • 50' BERTRAM 50 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1994) "GET REEL"
    Available

    50' BERTRAM 50 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1990)

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it. The Bertram 50: so confident at sea that she seems to own it. And she has been the sportfisherman by which all others have been measured, because she packs so many bright ideas in such a beautifully fluid form. Like a revolutionary instrument arrangement on the bridge. And concealed retractable cockpit steps. Ingenious tackle stowage built right into the...

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it....

    One of the best things about buying a Bertram is that no one asks why you bought it. The Bertram 50: so confident at sea that she seems to own it. And she has been the...

    $140,000.00
    View
  • 46' BERTRAM 46 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1976)
    Available

    46' BERTRAM 46 CONVERTIBLE SPORTFISHER (1977)...

    Bertram's 46-foot Triple-Stateroom Convertible represents a major engineering of the company's highly acclaimed 46-foot hull. Her introduction gave a choice of three 46-foot models, the others being the 46-foot "galley down" convertible and the 46-foot yacht. The owner's stateroom to port offers a queen-size berth and a private bath with stall shower. The forward stateroom has a V-berth and direct access to a head. The third stateroom offers...

    Bertram's 46-foot Triple-Stateroom Convertible represents a major engineering of the...

    Bertram's 46-foot Triple-Stateroom Convertible represents a major engineering of the company's highly acclaimed 46-foot hull. Her introduction gave a choice of three 46-foot...

    $89,000.00
    View