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USA builder Silverton says its 36 Convertible is America’s top-selling flybridge convertible. JOHN ZAMMIT gets the scoop on the simple crowd-pleasing cruiser

Silverton 36 Convertible

"Nothing connects family and friends like boating." That phrase is so very true and it's the slogan used by Discover Boating, a national campaign to grow boating in America where, we're told, there are 22 million households that fit the profile of typical first-time boat buyer, 4.2 million current boat owners, and 3.3 million previous boat owners. Not a bad set of numbers, eh?

In a market that big, any manufacturer that lays claim to be at the top of the heap in terms of sales has to be impressive. Enter Silverton, which says its 36 Convertible is not just America's top-selling flybridge convertible but also the most popular model in the company's 41-year history. Naturally, with that boat now available in Australia, we're keen to see what all the fuss is about.

Our test boat was straight off the ship and hadn't been completely kitted out. The electronics and anchor gear weren't attached, in fact, all that had been done was strip away the protective plastic and attach the bimini and marlin board. But we were understandably keen to get aboard.

After putting her through her paces, I understand why she's such a big hit in America. The boat is family friendly, well fitted-out, with just the right mix of show-and-go. And she's pitched at a price to attract first-time boaters and those looking to trade-up from trailerboats.

Powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS 400 D4 (300hp) diesel engines with IPS pod drives and fitted with joystick manoeuvring, the Silverton 36C was nimble, quick and easy to dock. Not only first-time boaters, but anyone who has ever tried to berth a boat at close quarters will appreciate the intuitive nature of the joystick system and the ease with which you can manoeuvre a boat like this.




Stepping aboard, the first thing you notice is the easy access from the cockpit to the flybridge. Forget narrow ladders, here there's a wide, moulded staircase - something of a signature Silverton feature - with handrails making it easy for family of all ages. Back in the cockpit, a sliding door leads into the saloon where you soon appreciate why this boat is so popular for hanging out.

At just under 38ft overall, the 36C is a high-volume, super-sized cruiser. I've seen other boats from America with as high a freeboard, but here the designers have been clever - moulding the hull to the conventional height of the stainless steel rubrail, before incorporating a step in the deck that lifts the effective freeboard and volume without a blocky look.

Expectedly, the saloon has all the comforts of home: a built-in entertainment unit housing the TV/DVD/CD stereo system, a dinette to port with wraparound Ultraleather seating, and a sumptuous sofa settee opposite that easily converts to a double bed. A large forward windscreen and opening side windows let in loads of light, there's plush carpet, and a cherry timber décor that completes the sophisticated look.

Stepping down, the large galley has everything a wannabe master chef could possibly desire such as full-size upright fridge/freezer, Corian bench tops, stainless steel sink with flick-mixer tap, electric hotplates, microwave, abundant storage and easy clean Amtico flooring.




The accommodation includes a master stateroom with a queen-sized island berth that lifts to reveal storage, plus drawers, hanging space and access to an en suite bathroom that features Corian benchtop, designer tapware and an electric head. The en suite can also be accessed from the companionway, off which is a second two-bunk cabin. Interestingly, there's a separate shower stall to starboard that I thought was a bit of overkill on a boat this size. But on reflection, I guess the benefit is that if someone was having a shower others could still access the head, which might be handy when crowds are aboard.

This boat handles well, I noted, while driving from the single station in the flybridge. The hull is surefooted and responsive when thrown around at speed in the tight confines of the Broadwater for an action sequence for our land-based photographer. The flybridge is a tidy setup, too, with twin bucket helm chairs, adjustable fore and aft with lift-up bolsters, before a dash with an average amount of mounting space for electronics, engine-monitoring screen(s), radio, fuel gauges, engine controls, the joystick, rocker switches, and so on.

Behind the helm is a U-shape lounge with space for an optional table. On the anchor, the helm chairs swivel to join in the socialising. The optional bimini had four-sided clears with zippers, making the flybridge suitable for all-weather cruising.




Heading out of the Gold Coast Seaway into building 1½ to 2m seas, I zipped up the clears assuming we were about to get wet. Then I wound the Silverton up to 3000rpm, at what I estimated would be about 20kts cruising speed (the engines max out at 3500rpm and without electronics there was no speed indication) and headed straight into it.

I was surprised how well the boat handled the conditions and how dry she stayed. We got little, if any water over the bow and it was only when I swung the 36C around with the sea on our forward quarter that we copped a bit of spray. But it was much less than I expected. No matter what we threw at this boat, it took everything in its stride. 

Back at the dock I lifted a floor hatch in the saloon and was surprised to find the engines located forward, where you would otherwise find conventional shaft-drive motors. Jackshafts connect the engines to the pods housed back under the cockpit floor. I was told it was a matter of weight distribution. This doesn't seem to be an issue for most other manufacturers and I think that here they've missed an opportunity to free up a heap of space in this area. Even so, everything is relatively easy to get to: batteries, fuel filters, water separators and the Kohler 4.5kW generator. While it's a bit squeezy outboard of the engines, they've managed a neat installation.

The pods are accessed via a separate hatch in the cockpit, which was traced by padded coamings and featured a fish-prep station with built-in sink and chopping board. There was an in-transom baitwell/storage area with both fresh and raw-water outlets. The flybridge slightly overhangs the cockpit and provides some weather protection over the entrance to the saloon, as well as fishing-rod storage. Indeed, you can see the Silverton is appealing to all people.

While there were some minor things that could be improved, overall, a young family wanting a floating getaway with all of the comforts will be right at home. The boat can also be used by dad and his mates chasing the big ones, while on a big-city waterway she flaunts a lot of bling for your buck. In fact, it's hard to imagine a better way to stay connected with family. And I'm sure you'll have no shortage of friends.








Since 1969, the New Jersey-based Silverton Marine Corporation has produced a range of cruisers, sportsboats and motoryachts from 33 to 52 feet. But the Silverton 36C stands out as America's best-selling flybridge convertible, the yard says.

Given the standard inclusions and price, it's no surprise. The boat is well suited to young families and as a comfortable fishing platform with the optional Fish Pac. With a keen price including IPS and joystick docking, the Silverton 36C should be a serious consideration by first-time family captains and their clans.



SEA TRIALS        

Twin Volvo Penta D4-300 diesel engines, with full fuel and water onboard. GPS-measured average figures.

699 (idle) / 4.25kts / 0.05lt/nm
1000 /  5.55kts / 0.07lt/nm
2000 /  8.5kts / 0.34lt/nm
2600 /  16.35kts / 0.3lt/nm
3000 /  21.9kts / 0.26lt/nm
3500 /  27.6kts / 0.27lt/nm








Volvo Penta IPS 400s; Joystick; Kohler 4.5kW generator; air-conditioning; radar arch; enclosed flybridge bimini; cockpit wetbar; swim platform; Ultraleather; dinette and sofa fabric; electric windlass; vacuflush head; convection microwave oven; cockpit coaming; carpet runners; Fish Pac; fresh and raw-water washdown; Garmin GPS 12in touchscreen, radar and autopilot




$450,000 w/ twin Yanmar 315hp shaft-drive engines




Material: Fibreglass
Type: Monohull
Length overall: 11.46m
Draft: 0.99m
Dry weight: 8414kg
Fuel: 1083lt
Water: 356lt
Holding tank: 140lt
Berths: 6




Make/model: 2 x Volvo IPS 400 D4
Type: Four-cylinder diesel
Rated HP: 300 (each)
Displacement: 3.7lt
Weight: 780kg 




US Yachts,
Festival Pontoon,
2 Murray Street,
Darling Harbour, NSW
Phone: (02) 9281 4422
Fax: (02) 9280 1119




The Silverton is typical of a lot of conveyances from the USA. As with Yankee cars, they seem to cram in as many creature comforts as possible. While the 36C felt slightly crowded to me, I can see why she has such broad appeal. The boat aims to keep everyone happy. Coupled with her easy handling and seakindly ride, she's inviting for old and new salts alike.

Find Silverton boats for sale.


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