The Carver 450 Pilothouse: Two equally usable helms offer owners a clear perspective on four-season fun. Twin Cummins 450C diesels hustle the 450 Voyager to a top speed of 28.3 knots. Swim platform side extensions divert exhaust gases into the wake slipstream and provide extra girth and gunwale protection when backing into a slip.
Beyond styling, the 450 also shows engineering smarts like frameless windows and a 2,000-watt inverter/charger system
I don't expect much in the way of performance when the subject is traditionally-styled motoryachts. Accommodations and lots of cushy features, sure. Lots of hustle and kindly manners in tight quarters? Not really.
So I wasn't truly prepared for what happened when I pegged the throttles on the Carver 450 Voyager Pilothouse motoryacht on Anchor Bay outside of Harrison Township, Michigan. With twin Cummins 450C diesels, one of three pony upgrades delivering the shove, this new motoryacht quickly rose out of the hole and kept on going until the GPS stalled at 28.3 knots. Throttled back to an easy chat of 2100 rpm, the boat motored along at a comfortable 20.5 knots with flying bridge sound levels at 82 decibels. At 2400 rpm, the Carver cruised at 24.9 knots with barely a hint of more engine noise thanks in part to an efficient exhaust system. Pick a spot between these throttle settings and you're in cruise control.
Although the 450 Voyager comes with a pair of 330B Cummins as the standard power, I'd pass on this package. These engines are rated at 315 hp and I'm not convinced they'll provide the necessary zip cruising yachtsmen need. Even if you opt for the $8,000 upgrade for the 370B Cummins with 355hp, I'd be concerned. Motoryachts gain weight rapidly in the form of people, gear, dinghies and auxiliary outboard motors. A flying bridge enclosure and accumulated bottom growth will kill more horses. And although the test Cummins adds $31,600 to the bottom line, that figure represents less than 10 percent of the base price. It's money well spent.
Twin Disc electronic controls are standard and the choice is a good one, especially when you add the optional ($2,500) synchronizer to keep the beat in tune. The single levers travel effortlessly and a light indicates when the gear shifter is in neutral, although I had no problem hearing the engine go into gear. Steering is Teleflex SeaStar and a tad on the loose side for my taste with 6½ turns lock-to-lock. The tilt wheel makes running the boat standing with the wind in your face or seated in the adjustable helm chair a win-win situation. A companion seat and a two-place settee to starboard mean good company for the operator.
The upper helm is framed with a wraparound windshield that diverted the chilly October morning breeze. LCD digital tachs and Beede combination engine gauges are right where you need them and there's plenty of space to flush mount cruising electronics such as radar, plotter, depth sounder and radio.
Aft, the wet bar, table and lounge keep the party going and the cockpit overhang accommodates a dinghy and optional ($9,895) davit.
Chased from the flying bridge by the weak sun, which was no match against the brisk Michigan air, we repaired to the lower helm station to sample handling from below. On some yachts, the lower station is an afterthought, which is a mistake because when the weather sours or it's just damp and chilly, running the boat from below is less taxing and stressful. But when the lower station is given short shrift by the design team, a lack of visibility and ondeck access becomes a bothersome liability.
This wasn't the case with the 450. I settled in the six-way power adustable Flexsteel helm seat and never left my place for the duration of the test. Narrow windshield support frames expand the view ahead, and to port and starboard. The helm is flanked by a sliding door for quick deck access to the starboard side. Major electronics, including a video monitor, go in an overhead panel while instruments nest in a raised pod above the tilt wheel. Order the optional autopilot and the seat can be fitted with a joystick control in the armrest.
To port, a wraparound lounge covered with UltraLeather material accommodates three passengers, or is an excellent perch for spreading out a paper chart. Air conditioning and defroster vents keep the inside of the windshield clear and there's enough of them so air flows gently rather than blasts you in the face. I was so comfortable sitting at the lower helm that I never got up even when backing into the slip. Between the broad views through the sliding glass saloon door and side windows, as well as an assist from Capt. Terry Brennan, who was watching the transom, platform clearance as the stern closed in on the bulkhead, there simply wasn't any need for me to move. When I shut down the engines, I realized that the lower helm makes the 450 a boat for all seasons.
In the saloon, a/c and heat flows from cherry louver grillage in the overhead. Main electrical breakers are above the television. Additional electrical service panels are in the master stateroom which also features an innerspring mattress, carpeted stowage areas and space for an optional washer and dryer. Lower helm with excellent visibility extends the boating season.
Peer past the deep, wide cockpit with its walkthrough transom door and molded steps to the flying bridge and her interior appears fairly standard. There's an L-shape settee to port with a half-size table that expands to serve four, and a love seat to starboard. Upon closer inspection, the settee reveals a pair of recliners, while the love seat opens to a double berth. The starboard aft corner houses a floor-to-ceiling entertainment system, the only blind spot I observed while running the boat from below. Interior joinery is cherrywood finished with a seven coat process that's as beautiful to look at as it is to touch. Even the window blinds are made of cherrywood, as are the air conditioning louvers that double as valances, proving form can follow function on boats. And good design is continuous in both staterooms which are spacious, private and wear some of the nicest joinery you are likely to see aboard a production yacht.
Many of the amenities and structural components are made in-house, including the stainless-steel railings, seat cushions and frameless windshield systems, which ensures quality control and built-to-fit equipment. By bedding the windshield and windows directly into the fiberglass, for example, leaks and metal frame corrosion are eliminated. There's also a continuity in the color of the solid surface countertops and hardware throughout the interior. Galley fixtures match those in both heads. Door latches and pulls, fiddle rails and even towel holders are carbon copies.
With her generous nonslip, full-length sidedeck rails and overhead grabrails, the 450 is easy to get around on. The side decks are narrow due to the width of the deckhouse, but a pronounced toerail helps keep your feet in check. If you plan to anchor out a lot, order the optional ($5,980) Maxwell windlass which will make handling the landing gear that much easier. Likewise, the engine room, reached through a hatch in the cockpit, can be maintained by an owner/operator with ease.
The Kohler 9 kW genset lives in its own compartment in the lazarette. However, Carver recommends the 13.5 kW light plant when you specify air conditioning and the upgrade is $5,650. Getting around all four sides of the Cummins is a snap. Carver remains one of few companies that continues to equip its main engines with internal raw-water strainers. It's a battle I'm losing daily, so it's refreshing to see this hardware.
Most installations are clean with wire runs in closed races and plumbing neatly cinched. However, I was surprised to see the fuel line hose ends clamped to the Racor 900 fuel filters. I'd prefer hard fittings. And some items, such as the wires running to the battery switch for the genset would benefit if chafe gear was supplied where the cables pass through the fiberglass stringers.
I'd also like to see Carver top the battery boxes abaft the engines with plastic covers to protect passing arms and legs from the terminals. On the other hand, Carver has set up the DC electrical system to provide each engine with a separate 8D battery, plus a third to service the house requirements. The genera tor has its own starting battery. If any battery fails, a parallel switch can be used to jump the others to get things cranking. A battery charger will keep the cells at peak performance while at the dock. But a 2,000 watt inverter also is standard for when you want to silence the genset yet still retain electrical juice co run a few creature comforts, a nice feature in quiet anchorages.
Construction is heady. Stringers and engine beds are fiberglass and the hat sections are tabbed to the hull and bulkheads with knitted material. Five layers of glass form a solid bottom and a vinylester barrier coat should inhibit blistering. Balsa coring is used on the hullsides and decks. The hull-to-deck joint is screwed, caulked and fiberglassed with a sheer board from the inside to handle dock knocks.
Well built, nicely appointed and frisky performance make the Carver 450 Voyager Pilothouse a yacht for all seasons.
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