Part of Brunswick’s new line, the Meridian 411 makes a splash.

What the world needs is another boat company. At least that’s what the folks at Brunswick Corporation decided a year or so ago when they formed Meridian Yachts, a new company within a corporate family that also includes Sea Ray, Bayliner, Maxum, Hatteras, and Sealine. Meridian’s initial product lineup will include seven models ranging from 34 to 58 feet, including pilothouse, sedan, and aft-cabin configurations. We tested one of the first models to be introduced, the 411 Sedan, just a few days after Meridian’s August debut at New York’s Chelsea Piers.

The biggest question on my mind was, “Why?” Why would Brunswick form a whole new company instead of just adding to one of its existing brands? The reason, I gather, stems from its expressed commitment to “leave convention behind” and to solicit “fresh thinking” focused on “serious boaters” seeking “spaciousness, function, and durability in a traditional style.” That’s a tall order. In addition, forming a new company would avoid any preconceptions associated with Brunswick’s existing models.

The next biggest question on my mind was, “How well did Brunswick achieve those goals?” The short answer is, surprisingly well. Launching a couple of new models in a year is challenging enough, but launching a whole product line in that time frame is truly daunting. For the long answer, read on.

One feature Meridian is especially proud of is an optional integrated control system of electric bow and stern thrusters called D.O.C. (Docking on Command), which is intended to take the strain out of close-quarters maneuvering. Seeing as our test boat was docked at an inner slip with impossibly tight access, I was pleased to know she had the system and impressed by how well it worked. Mounted conveniently on the dash panel, the control looks a bit like a rotary switch: a long, slender knob, proportioned like a hull. Nudging the front end of the knob to either side activates the bow thruster, while the back end of the same knob similarly controls the stern thruster. Twisting the knob sends the bow to one side and the stern to the other, rotating the boat in her own length. Pushing the knob directly to either side activates both thrusters in the same direction, moving the hull sideways; intuitive, and very effective.

Meridian 411 Performance SpecsI was equally impressed by the 411’s performance in open water. Twin 370-hp Cummins diesels had us skimming across the shallows of Long Island’s Great South Bay at better than 31 mph. And despite the 15- to 20-knot winds, she was surprisingly quiet, at WOT registering only 74 dB (65 dB is the level of normal conversation) on her open bridge with the bimini up and no side curtains in place. The major source of noise was a rattle from the open hatch at the top of the bridge-deck stairway. Closing the hatchway eliminated the problem.

Outside Fire Island Inlet, a northwesterly breeze had kicked up the ocean only a foot or two in height, stacked atop a low, rolling offshore swell. The 411’s uncomplicated modified-V hull was smooth and predictable at all headings and throttle settings, and despite a slightly high trim angle of six or seven degrees (without trim tabs), she offered good sightlines from the bridge. After a couple hours at the wheel, I especially liked the convertible-bolster helm seats that flip up, offering seating comfort with standing visibility.

I also liked her engine room. Raising the molded stairway to the bridge revealed a second set of steps that led down to the engine room, landing just aft of the port engine. From there, one more step down between the inboard longitudinal stringers gave four feet of headroom in a clear space that’s at least 30 inches wide between the engines. Dipsticks, through-hulls, and strainers were all easily accessible. Only the engine-mounted fuel filter on the starboard side presented a challenge, located as it was on the outboard side, where fuel tanks took up about two feet of the beam on either side. To help keep the 411’s profile low, the engine mounts were located between the stringers rather than on top and secured to hefty through-bolted angles.

Good as the engine room access was, even better was the day hatch in the saloon sole that allowed quick checks on all systems without the hassle of raising the bridge stairway. And for real convenience, engine fluid fills led to small access hatches in the sole, so oil and coolant could be topped off without having to step outside, though steady hands and a drop cloth are both strongly advised.

As I took in all the features of the saloon, it dawned on me: The interior space is huge for a 41-footer. (Yes, her overall length is 46 feet, but that measurement includes her generously sized swim platform.) The saloon has two large facing settees, a folding cocktail table that can be placed in front of either, and a complete entertainment center with a Sony flat-screen TV, Surround Sound system, and a U-Line ice maker just inside the sliding glass cockpit door. Forward, there’s a spacious galley to port and a full-size U-shape dinette to starboard, and for added versatility, the dining table drops to form a double berth or can be removed and stowed in a built-in cabinet. Not surprising, there are stowage spaces galore throughout the interior.

What did surprise me, though, was the voluminous space in the midcabin. Using part of the space beneath the dinette seats above, the midcabin offers 70 inches of headroom along the starboard side. Along either side of the athwartship berth to port, there is 50 inches of headroom, and (for versatility, again) removable filler cushions convert the berth into either a double or two singles. There’s stowage beneath the mattress and in a small settee, and there’s not just one, but two large hanging lockers.

Needless to say, my expectations for the master stateroom’s accommodations were heightened, but alas not fulfilled. It was roomy enough, with a big centerline berth that offers access on three sides. But stowage was disappointing (a small hanging locker, another half-height locker, and two drawers beneath the berth) compared to the midcabin. If this were my boat, I’d co-opt one of the big hanging lockers in the midcabin.

There’s no doubt the 411’s amenities are substantial, and her construction specifications are equally impressive. She’s been engineered using finite element structural analysis models and built with cored composite materials. Her hull-to-deck joint is a shoebox style, bonded and through-bolted every six inches. My only gripe is that corrosion had already begun to appear on her stainless steel deck fittings. Not a serious problem, merely an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise impressive debut.

Base price: $320,165 with 2/370-hp Mercury 8.1L gasoline inboards
Optional power: 2/420-hp MerCruiser 8.1L gasoline inboards, 2/270-hp Cummins 270 diesel inboards, 2/330-hp Cummins 330 diesel inboards, or 2/370-hp Cummins 370 diesel inboards
Standard equipment: molded swim platform; telescoping ladder; transom door; radar arch; saloon entertainment center; Nova Kool refrigerator/freezer; 2-burner electric cooktop

SPECIFICATIONS
LOA: 46'0"
Beam: 14'2"
Draft: 3'9"
Weight: 25,000 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 400 gal.
Water capacity: 150 gal.
Test engines: 2/370-hp Cummins 370 diesel inboards
Transmission/ratio: ZF 80A / 2:1
Props: Nacashimi 24x26 4-blade
Steering: Teleflex hydraulic
Controls: Teleflex hydraulic
Optional equipment on test boat: 11.5-kW Onan genset w/hushbox; 47,000-Btu 4-zone CruiseAir reverse-cycle A/C; D.O.C. (Docking On Command) control system; bimini top; Raymarine RL80C radar/GPS/plotter and ST6001 autopilot; Glendinning Cablemaster
Price as tested: $482,018

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL MERIDIAN YACHTS CURRENTLY FOR SALE IN CALIFORNIA

This review/article originally appeared in Power & Motoryacht Magazine, November 2002 and was written by George L. Petrie. For more great yacht reviews, visit their website and subscribe at: https://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/uncategorized/subscribe-power-motoryacht

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