Tiara’s new 5000 Express is proof that beauty is all in the details...

As we slid the new Tiara 5000 Express out of a tight slip at McMachen Marine on Lake St. Clair in Mt. Clemens, Mich., during a late summer trip it occurred to me just how big the boat is when I realized it would be more effective to use one clutch at a time to warp her toward open water. Wedged in between boathouses, like a clam in a shell, the boat needed two 90-degree turns in about 200 feet. The 5000 Express took the bending in stride.

But it wasn't until I maneuvered the yacht onto the wider waters of the lake as we headed toward Port Huron on the St. Clair River that I also recognized a familiarity I was thoroughly enjoying. The boat was fitted with a fiberglass hardtop that's married virtually seamlessly to the fiberglass windshield frame. It felt as though I was operating from an enclosed flying bridge. 

Even with her Alaskan-size foredeck I was comfortable running the boat sitting in the Stidd adjustable helm seat or standing looking over the gray gelcoated glare-free command console, air conditioning or heat just a button touch away. And there's no distortion peering through the windshield. Picking out small fishing boats on the horizon was easy. So was keeping them in view as range decreased. Running angles and noise levels were pleasantly low.

My one concern, however, was the steering. The 22" vertically mounted wheel required 10 turns to go lock-to-lock. The hydraulic steering was smooth enough where I didn't see a need for a power assist, but that many turns combined with such a large wheel made course corrections touchy and slow.

As I approached the welcome dock in Port Huron after a 35-mile steam over flat calm water (my other disappointment since I couldn't sample her in the rough stuff), I had another chance to test the 5000's maneuverability. I was going to dock facing downstream, but as I jockeyed the boat into that position, Capt. Joe Acino, Tiara's delivery maven, directed me to tie up the other way. A few gear changes and it was done. While a bow thruster is a plausible option, you may find as I did that it is not essential. However, I wouldn't rule out the option. Like an anchor windlass and autopilot, these conveniences make boating more enjoyable. But here, the 800 hp 3406E Caterpillars twist 32" x 41" three-blade Nibrals which move a lot of water for rock-steady control. Without engaging the Cat's low-idle feature, I was able to spin the 5000 around and ease alongside the wooden pilings. Confidence builds quickly aboard this boat.

Obsession never looked so stunningly beautiful…

I have come to expect many things from Tiara, such as stellar mechanical systems, comfortable, perfect height seating and user-friendly features.

The 5000 had all this, but this Tiara flagship is not only the biggest boat the company has built but is probably the best boat it has ever built as well. Not only is her mission well-defined (entertaining day boat with overnight accommodations for four, not six or eight), but she sports numerous technological innovations for the builder and still doesn't miss a beat on creature comforts.

To save weight, the 5000 is vacuum-bagged with epoxy resins, which easily knocks off 3,000 pounds compared to conventional polyester resin construction. Using biaxial and quad-axial E-glass laminates, the process affords a lighter yet stronger lay-up for a 60 percent glass to 40 percent resin ratio. To eliminate any possibility of blistering below the waterline, no gelcoat is applied to the bottom.

Instead, Tiara uses straight Pro-Set epoxy which also lets technicians see that the Baltek end-grain balsa core is sandwiched between the laminates without voids or air pockets. Foam-filled stringers also are vacuum-bagged with fiberglass skins and have wood inserts where required for mechanical mounts.

With satin cherrywood, Corian counters and soft leather furnishings, the interior is open and plush in a very understated way. By moving the bulkhead aft, the forward stateroom is roomy and includes a vanity table, built-in TV and private head with stall shower.

Interior parts are built with a tab and slot process, manufactured with a computer numerically controlled (CNC) router. Instead of hard fasteners, the system relies more on the connecting parts fitting into appropriate tabs and receivers, which are then glued together with a structural adhesive. The absence of hard spots means a tighter fit with fewer squeaks in a seaway.

Attention to detail is an overworked phrase in the marine industry, but you can beat the term to death on the 5000 Express and never repeat yourself.

Run your eyes down the sides of the hull and take in the subtle tumblehome at the transom. The 5' long fixed swim platform stows a dinghy or a personal watercraft, and the platform edge carries up the sides of the boat several feet to serve as a low-water rub rail. An optional davit hides in a fiberglass locker at the transom. But the davit also morphs into a passerelle for easy boarding when the stern is to the dock. Built into the transom is a 100 cu. ft. trunk that opens without having to move the dinghy. A long-legged swim ladder stows in the transom platform, but the neatest trick is the recessed grabrail that makes bringing the dinghy alongside a piece of cake. (Finally, something to hold onto). Dual transom doors with clear plex panels for visibility lock with heavy-duty positive catches. A recessed channel at the transom keeps unsuspecting feet from tripping over shore power cords.

Want more privacy or don't want to dock stern to because of the water toys? Order the optional bow shore power cable hookup. It doesn't offer the convenience of the Glendinning power cable recoiler as in the stern, but it expands docking possibilities nonetheless with a pair of 25' cables for electrical, plus outlets for water with quick-disconnect fittings, telephone and TV plugs. The panel is located beneath the foredeck and is easily accessed through a locking hatch. A second foredeck hatch provides access to the deep anchor rode locker.

The engine room is reached by lifting a seat in the cockpit and through a locking hatch on the bridge deck. The 3406E Cats, which provided a top speed of 34 knots, are an upgrade from the standard 660 hp 3196E Caterpillars. I'd go for the bigger engines and the $81K upcharge. Mechanical installations are first rate from the raw-water strainers to the dual Racors on the forward bulkhead.

Twin Disc V-drive transmissions give all the room in the world for getting around the engines, although Cat has made sure daily checks and filters are inboard for easy servicing. Ever obsessing about the details, Tiara includes a built-in spare parts kit that even includes extra light bulbs. I'd prefer if the batteries were not installed under screwed down diamond plate aluminum, but I have to meet the engineers at least halfway since the batteries are sealed gel cells.

The galley demonstrates effective use of space. Brightly polished and beautifully rugged, the welded grabrail resembles a stainless-steel sculpture and doesn’t crowd the area. Equally clever, the combination washer/dryer is beneath the saloon steps.

As inviting as the topsides are for entertaining and day sports, the interior shines with a different agenda. No crowding is the plan here. The forward stateroom has an island berth with an innerspring mattress and a private head. A second stateroom offers twin berths that convert to a double without the need for a loose filler piece. A second head serves the guests and day trippers.

Our test boat had gorgeous cherry joinerwork with a satin finish. It's a very understated look that melds beautifully with the green leather settee and lounge. The dinette, which intentionally doesn't convert to a berth, is topped with birds-eye maple. But I was equally impressed when I discovered dovetail joints on many of the drawers throughout the yacht.

Compared to European boats with high gloss lacquer interiors, the 5000 Express may appear Spartan at first. But unlike European boats which run on narrow beam bottoms and thrive on tight staterooms, the 5000 is a crown jewel that will stand alone among yachtsmen who appreciate comfort, performance and high-tech construction.