Carver 53: Change where you're at - By Stuart Reininger

FOLLOWING THE FINAL BATTLE OF THE American Revolution at Yorktown, the defeated English troops marched into history under furled flags reportedly whistling "The World Turned Upside Down.'' The song was in recognition of the fact that the extraordinary bad happened. The rules had forever changed. The straight and narrow path of life had lurched into a hairpin tum. It's a simple, catchy tune. I always hum it when I'm confronted with something beyond my comprehension. But not long ago, I felt like calling in the New York Philharmonic for a full orchestration of that revolutionary piece.

I'm talking about my recent confrontation with Carver's new 530 Voyager Pilothouse-- a sleek, Euro-styled, voluptuously curved, immaculately finished, incredibly detailed and well-equipped motor yacht. A Carver. A Carver? That paragon builder of Midwestern slab-sided sensibility is telling us something.

Carver 530 Voyager Pilothouse Test ResultsOh, I shouldn't be that surprised. Carver has done this before. Last year I tested the company's new 350 Mariner (Nov. '96) and was blown away by its up-to-date curvaceous lines. But I thought that was an aberration-a singular revolt against a staid image. But with this Voyager, that image is obviously marching off under furled flags. The world turned upside down.

The essence of the change at Carver is most evident in the Voyager's pilothouse where the skipper sits in solitary splendor. The overhead console and dash instrumentation is easily seen and reached from the single, deeply-upholstered, multiple-position Captain Kirk-like helm seat. The seat, of course, also swivels 360 degrees. This allows an all-around view as well as full socializing range for the skipper to chat with crew and guests seated on an equally plush curved sofa adjacent to the helm seat.

HARBOR VIEW. Aft visibility when backing down, a major complaint with inside station yachts, is no issue here. I was able to eyeball the port aft corner without moving from the seat. To see the starboard angle, I just worked the controls standing. Either way, no problem. Of course, you can get megayachty and opt for a video monitoring system ($5,695) that will show grainy black-and-white pictures of the aft deck -which you can see in real life anyway- and the engine room. Although somewhat more meaningful than a Baywatch rerun, I can see no reason for a video-monitored engine room unless you're using the place as a holding cell for rebellious crew members. The instrumentation and alarms should pick up any problems long before you'll see them on a screen. Save the money and put it toward a bow thruster ($13,495) instead.

As a matter of fact, unless you berth in a tsunami-prone tidal pool with a lawyer as a slip-neighbor, you probably won't need the thruster, either. The 530's hydraulic steering and four-bladed Michigan 32" by 37" props contribute to maneuverability and handling that's rare in a boat of this size and heft.

The 530 handled 4' to 5' seas in a 20-knot breeze on the waters off New York's Staten Island, as if born and bred there. There was none of the bow steering off the wind or the mushy pounding these big fellas are prone to.

Among the more pleasant aspects of the boat was the conversation-level silent running and the livability below while underway. Yes. It's plush below. But those benefits are usually experienced at the dock and are to be expected in this kind of luxury liner. Life belowdecks underway on most boats, however, resembles a scene from The Exorcist. Not here. Even in the bouncy conditions of New York's Raritan Bay, the noise level and motion below were eminently livable. In fact, a couple aboard, potential customers of Staten Island Yacht Sales, the Carver dealer that hosted our test, slipped below and reported that the accommodations underway were as comfortable as their bedroom back home.

FLOATING CONDO. That couple obviously leads an upscale lifestyle. The 530's three-stateroom, mega-headroom, tinted window, cherry-wood-lined, intelligently laid-out interior reeks of the good life. Top points? The pedestal-mounted, innerspring- mattress-equipped, midships-located owner's berth. That master stateroom also leads into a humongous, with-room for-all-you-need head with a shower and tub. The forward guest stateroom, equally proportioned, is as large as many masters in this size boat. A head and stand-up shower are also included, of course, but less the tub. One compromise: Slide back a cherry panel inside this stateroom and there's your washer/dryer. I would like to see them in their own space.

Problems? The sliding midcabin door that opens up onto the sidedeck on our test boat didn't close properly. It runs on a curved track with close tolerances that could create problems. Our boat was the prototype, and Carver says the defect will be ironed out in production boats.

In keeping with the livability-under-way concept, the U-shaped galley is designed so that a cook will be well supported in case of a lurch. But that's it. There are no handholds below. None. Install them and you'll have the best of all worlds.

GEARHEAD CITY. As far as the engine room, where our test boat's standard twin 437-hp 450C Cummins diesels live, it can't get much better. Accessed from the aft deck through an easily lifted hatch, there's enough room down there to hold a soiree. The sole is coated with an industrial-grade diamond-type nonslip, and a bright red Craftsman toolbox is bolted to the forward bulkhead. You fill it.

There are two ¾" plywood aft bulkheads where the battery charger, a lot of wiring and the Oil-X-Change-R oil change system ($1,020)-one of the best on the market-are mounted. But I have an issue with those bulkheads. They need to be secured in a sturdier fashion. The aluminum L-brackets that should have held them to the overhead weren't fastened at all. That's an oversight easily rectified but is still problematic. A stronger support system that will eliminate any movement or vibration when underway needs to be devised. I kicked that around with the Carver representative onboard as well. The next boats off the line should have strengthened bulkheads.

While we're talking strength, the 530 incorporates an all-time first for Carver for it's solidly glassed, as well as through-bolted and adhesive-bonded hull-to-deck joint. Add that to its all glass-24-oz. woven roving-hull layup, balsa-cored deck, and 110-structural-wood molded glass stringer system, and you're talking offshore battle wagon quality.

At a retail price of $565,095 with the Cummins, the 530 is more than competitively priced. For an additional $129,825, you can go for the gold-twin 680-hp MAN V-8 diesel inboards. A close base-boat comparison is the California-built Navigator Yachts 5300 Pilothouse Sedan. With its standard 370-hp Volvo Penta T AMD 63 diesels and 13.5kw genset-the standard genset on the 530 is the 9kw Kohler, the 13.5kw is a $4,220 upgrade the Navigator lists for $582,513.

ls the 530 revolutionary? Absolutely. But it's still undoubtedly a good, solid, reliable, Midwestern-built Carver. My world is still turned upside down, however. I don't know what Carver will come up with next.

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This review/article originally appeared in Boating Magazine, December 1997 and is written by Stuart Reininger. For more great boat reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.boatingmag.com/subscribe-to-boating-magazine