BOAT TEST: MARITIMO C53 SPORTS CABRIOLET

By: DAVID LOCKWOOD

Presented by
  • Trade-A-Boat

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A new era of better-finished production cruiser has arrived. DAVID LOCKWOOD tests Maritimo’s C53 with outsourced designer interior and pod-like performance with shaftdrives

BOAT TEST: MARITIMO C53 SPORTS CABRIOLET
Maritimo C53 Sports Cabriolet

I sashay down the gangway and greet snappily dressed David Stewart, who is keen to showcase his designer skills. His Midas touch starts with a new outdoor lounge dressed with plush ivory cushions that's recessed into the transom, overlooking your imaginary anchorage out yonder, atop what was formerly just a plain white fibreglass tender-garage boot.

The aft-facing lounge would have to be one of the best seats in the house. Then Stewart lifts the swabs to reveal the concealed (optional) barbecue, sink and top-loading fridge. Once lunch is done, after you have offloaded your guests, the cushions can be snapped back into position and you can finally kick back with a sundowner, while taking in those rousing views. Switch on the underwater lights, a nice option, and the fish will join you.

We range up the moulded transom steps and the cockpit calls even louder. There's now fixed furniture, at last, that removes the need to store, retrieve and assemble loose folding chairs and table. And the new lunch table, well, it has been upgraded with leather inlay, matching leather-clad grabrail, and integrated wine storage. Another bottle? Voila!

All this befits the very intent of Maritimo's C53 Sports Cabriolet.

Whereas Maritimo has garnered a strong following among the serious cruising offshore clique who prefer shaftdrives to pod drives, who partake in coastal musters to places like the Whitsundays, and usually fancy the company's Motor Yachts, the Sports Cabriolets are more about pleasureboating near home. And doing it comfortable in surrounds that are commensurately chic. Herein the motive for the makeover.

 

 

GREAT ENTERTAINER


The outdoor decks on the C53 are generous and the boat is geared towards entertaining on a single-level open-plan layout. There's also easy launch and retrieval of your tender and water toys via a garage, while abundant glass keeps those inside connected. After which, the three-cabin layout with amidships stateroom is home.

But the C53 isn't pod driven. Maritimo's patriarch Bill Barry-Cotter says he can derive exactly the same efficiency and economy using his refined shaftdrive setups. "We sell very few pod-driven boats, 90 per cent of our buyers have had five or six boats before. We can do as well as [Volvo Penta] IPS in shaftdrive and even go down an engine size," Barry-Cotter told us. And with twin thrusters on this boat you have pod-like manoeuvrability anyway.

Meanwhile, he's putting the emphasis back on fit and finish to appease the high-end market, those discerning, educated and seasoned boaters who are still prepared to buy new boats. He's not worried about price any longer and instead his R&D focus will fall on refining production techniques, fine tuning layouts, and creating interiors with wow factor. Evolving the engineering and further prop work will follow.

 

 

INTERIOR DESIGN


One on hand, Stewart's changes are momentous for Barry-Cotter, who hasn't engaged an interior designer to create boating bling before. "We respect his influence. It costs a bit more but people are prepared to pay for it in the present market," Barry-Cotter explains.

On the other hand, this is just the top of the iceberg and, we forecast, a taste of what's to come after Stewart is given more freedom of expression and a longer rein. If you're wondering what he's capable of, Stewart recently completed a custom Nordhavn 76 interior for vitamin king Marcus Blackmore that is in keeping with world-class superyachts.

This is tacit recognition that good interior design matters almost as much as the nuts and bolts and price these days. Barry-Cotter says he has a lot of different models in the range and will now weed some of these out and concentrate on refining the cream. Indeed, this is the upside of the GFC - production boats are getting more attention than ever before.

Maritimo's immediate charter is to deliver a more refined boating experience. It's got the engineering and hulls right - indeed, this 'new' Sports Cabriolet 53 is essentially the same boat below the waterline as the previous Sports Cabriolet 50 -  but is now evolving the deck, living spaces and accommodation. The yard has thought about how people use their boats rather than focussing on a purely production process.

Stewart, an avid sailor, says he's making the boats less traditional (read stick-built) but not at the expense of utility. In fact, the number of grabrails has been increased. There are now fiddles on the galley counters, while storage has been ramped up. Collectively, these add up to a less generic and more personal onboard experience.

Meanwhile, the C53 is an interesting Maritimo for the fact in its previous incarnation, the C50, it somehow slipped through the cracks. In fact, it's the only Maritimo we haven't tested in the past five years. The upside is that our tardiness has resulted in a better boating experience than would previously have been possible.

 

 

POWER PLANTS


Our demo boat is powered by a pair of 715hp Caterpillar C12 engines, upgraded from the standard 670hp Volvo Penta D11s, spinning flat-running shafts and Teignbridge five-blade props. The race-bred power steering underscores the sporty handling. You can rip the boat around off the wheel in a tighter arc than a shaft boat. Handling is akin to an IPS-driven boat, although engine noise levels in the saloon are slightly higher since the CATs are under the saloon floor.

Engineroom access is through a hatch at the aft galley. In typical Maritimo fashion, there is plenty of servicing room, at-a-glance inspection of the Racor fuel filters and coolant bottles on the forward bulkhead, with batteries in boxes outboard. When it's full, the single polypropylene watertank to port helps counter the weight of the generator, fitted with optional water separator, opposite. Power comes from a substantial 17.5kW generator and combo 24V/2000W Mastervolt inverter. Engine vents are inboard in the walkarounds with washable membranes.

The C53 comes standard with a hydraulic boarding platform perfect for immersing the kids when not launching a jetski, that is, in addition to the 10ft tender with 9.9hp in the garage. Standing on the semi-submerged platform, you can cook on the transom barbecue and not worry about fat splatter. The usual swimladder, hot/cold shower and optional cockpit floodlights and speakers are nearby.

Sunbrella fabric is used for the cushion covers - otherwise buttoned atop the amenities centre - that are best kept inside if cruising in heavy weather. Once anchored, an inspection hatch into the garage lets you retrieve fishing rods, fenders for the raft-up, and so on without lifting the entire lid. That said, the actuator is pretty quick and garage access is a feature of the C53.

 

 

DECK PARTY


The new fixed cockpit furniture includes an L-shaped lounge where you want it, under the extended rear awning and facing back to shore. It will cater for a family of four or two couples but could seat up to eight with additional deck chairs. Not by chance is the positioning of the electric (albeit slow) window back into the aft galley for ease of service.

Meanwhile, there's a Vitrifrigo fridge and icemaker within arms reach of your cockpit lunch setting, while glass and bottle storage is immediately inside the opening saloon doors alongside the main AC/DC breaker panel. An optional second set of cockpit throttles came with the boat to assist with shorthanded docking.

If not crew tending lines then cruising couples and teenagers will appreciate the walkaround decks. They lead to a Euro-style circular sunpad traced by grabrails that, along with good deck space, invites the party forward. Or enjoy some quiet cocktails at sunset while nose-to the sea breeze.

Hardware includes a trusty recessed Muir windlass, self-stow stainless steel anchor, oversized cleats, stylish fairleads and, above the hardtop, a mast that was home to the Simrad radar dome and TracVision TV. Meanwhile, optional side-opening windows let you converse with the captain at the helm, while also directing fresh air indoors in addition to that which pours through the electric sunroof.

 

 

DRINKS SALOON


Nowhere is an aft galley more suitable than on a single-level entertainer. On the anchor, aft window down, you can play Masterchef and make light work of lunching. Underway, on a champagne cruise, you could still feed finger food to those seated on the saloon lounges. In passagemaking mode, you don't have to go far to grab a bite or drink.

As touched on, the Corian counters now house small fiddles whose leading edge, at belt-buckle height, hopefully won't chip over time. Teak floor adds to the utility, as does a decent square sink and top-loading garbo. We noted one 240V GPO at the galley but a second one is opposite at the wetbar, so you can boil water, make toast, recharge your phone simultaneously. Cooks will head straight for the upright fridge-freezer then the pull-out corner pantry, call the four-burner cooktop and/or combo microwave oven into service, and end up loading the dishdrawer dishwasher. Bravo for the water gauge where you can see it.

Actually, there is a half-step up to the carpeted saloon on this boat but it's negotiated intuitively. The one big, firm, U-shaped lounge to port wraps around a dinette that can seat eight, opposite a pop-up television in a cabinet behind the helm seat. The leather and stainless steel trim on the table is a nice touch, but the lids granting access to the wine storage were too tight to open. The boat was prepared at the 11th hour for Sanctuary Cove boat show. As with previous Cabriolets, views out the glass from the lounge are outstanding.

 

 

DASH WITH PANACHE


Two details are worth noting next: the air-conditioning ducting is oversized to give a designer effect, while the excellent automotive-style dash flaunts new trick stainless steel fixings. No more screwheads. The Bose speakers are the cube types despite the availability of some discrete recessed flush-mounts. Maybe they want you to notice the Bose, which otherwise hides in a cabinet under the helm seat?

There was a dedicated mounting place for the twin Simrad 12in screens and autopilot, twin CAT engine panels, Lectro tabs, spotlight controller and VHF. The boat had standard issue bow- and stern-thrusters to make sidling up to a restaurant a breeze. Again, it's nice to see a fuel gauge for at least a rough indication of when you need to refill. Just as importantly, the matt-grey dash should reduce glare when night cruising, while air vents are positioned to cut fog.

 

 

CLEAN SUITES


Stewart has tweaked the accommodation plan, starting with a leatherbound rail in place of the old naff clear acrylic number with internal light that was rather dated. The stateroom immediately to port now has soft-close bedside tables, better blinds over the beautifully big portlight (the bottom edge rubs the wall liner), and other subtle accents including Italian fabric wall liners and sleeker bedding.

The high-gloss teak panelling is all grain matched, but what you might overlook is the cavernous storage under the queen-sized island bed for your carry-on luggage, extra clothing, bootleg and so on. With decent showers (albeit without seats) and Tecma heads, the en suite and communal bathroom are beauties. But the circular hatches don't appear to have insect screens so you can vent them without inviting biting bugs aboard.

Meanwhile, the new forepeak cabin - which now features throughout the Maritimo range - is the result of Stewart introducing cutaways around the teak trim, with leather and Italian fabric feature panels, new drop-down shelves for personal effects, fixed portlights and LED lighting. The boat we tested was rushed through for the boat show so we'll overlook the carpet-lay issue.

Last but not least, the third cabin has a kind of je ne sais quoi something derived from a single bed before a rather delightful picture window framing the vista. If you enjoy your own company, snore, or are tagging along for the ride, this is the place for you. But for the washing machine, older kids might like it to.

 

 

CABRIOLET CRUISING


Wide-open throttle of about 2350rpm gave 31kts on the day. At fast cruise of 2140rpm, we were scooting along at 27.2kts for 210lt/h. But at 1940rpm, 400rpm off top revs, you'll usually find the cruising groove. Here, the C53 made an impression, reeling in the sea miles at 23.3kts for 170lt/h, which is among the best consumption you'll find on any shaft- or pod-driven 53.

All the while the motion was pleasant, a touch of trim tab enhancing up the views on the busy Broadwater and when exiting the Seaway - where surfers paddle like lemmings as though on their final mission. Back at anchor, the boat puts another good foot forward and it's here that your guests, unaccustomed as they are to offshore boating, will luxuriate in the surrounds.

With 800lt of water you don't need a desalinator, but such things are typical of today's discerning new-boat market that commands more than just a keen price and space. With Maritimo upping the interior style, it's bound to attract more would-be buyers to the fold. The evolution is underway and we can only see these boats getting smarter in months to come.

 

 

 

(Facts & figures)
MARITIMO C53 SPORTS CABRIOLET

 

 

BEHIND THE WHEEL


Maritimo's hulls are nothing if not slippery, with this C53 planing at 11kts. It also seemed dry, even during sharp off-the-wheel turns, while leaning over only so far. It's a sporty cabriolet. Meanwhile, the 5.2m beam is exceedingly generous - even marina operators comment how wide Maritimos are when looking for a berth - yet the draft of 1.3m points to the low-shaft angles. Together, this give class-leading efficiency, flat running and a good ride, while ensuring clear views from the lower helm. It's just a nice boat to drive.

 

 

PRICE AS TESTED


$1,285,357 w/ twin 715hp Caterpillar C12 engine upgrade and options

 

 

SEA TRIALS


Twin 715hp Caterpillar C12, 1500lt fuel, full water and three people aboard

RPM          SPEED          FUEL BURN          RANGE
700            7.8kts           28lt/h                  752nm
900            9.5kts           38lt/h                  675nm
1100        10.5kts            57lt/h                  497nm
1300        11.8kts            93lt/h                  343nm
1500        16.3kts          115lt/h                  383nm
1700        20.1kts          142lt/h                  382nm
1900        23.8kts          174lt/h                  369nm
2100        27.8kts          221lt/h                  340nm
2300        30.9kts          249lt/h                  335nm
2354        32kts             270lt/h                  320nm

* Official sea-trial data supplied by Maritimo Australia.
Range figures are calculated on 2700lt of fuel, which is 90% of 3000lt.

 

 

OPTIONS FITTED


Satellite TV, Simrad electronics package, Bose AV, décor package, cockpit engine controls, sunpad to for'ard deck, electric barbecue, cockpit floodlights, timber floor in galley (standard is Amtico), opening saloon side window, saloon 32in TV on pop-up actuator, underwater lights, water separator to genset exhaust, and more

 

 

PRICED FROM


$1.2 million w/ twin Volvo Penta D12 engines

 

 

GENERAL


MATERIAL: GRP fibreglass w/ cored decks, superstructure and hull sides
TYPE: Hard chine variable-deadrise planing hull
LENGTH OVERALL: 17m (inc. swimplatform)
HULL LENGTH: 15.73m
BEAM: 5.2m
DRAFT: 1.3m (max)
WEIGHT: Approx 21,500kg (dry w/ standard engines)

 

 

CAPACITIES


BERTHS: 5+1
FUEL: 2600lt
WATER: 800lt
HOLDING TANK: 300lt

 

 

ENGINES


MAKE/MODEL: Twin Caterpillar C12
TYPE: Fully electronic six-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP: 715 at 2350rpm
DISPLACEMENT: 12lt
WEIGHT: Approx 1570kg w/ gearbox
GEARBOXES (MAKE/RATIO): ZF / 2.037:1
PROPS: Five-blade Teignbridge bronze

 

 

SUPPLIED BY


Maritimo Runaway Bay,
Shop 2, 247 Bayview Street,
Runaway Bay Marina, QLD, 4216.
Phone: (07) 5564 2383
Email: nleighsmith@maritimo.com.au
Website: www.maritimorunawaybay.com.au 

 

 

MANUFACTURER


Maritimo Offshore,
Lot 7 John Lund Drive,
Hope Island, QLD, 4212
Phone: (07) 5509 3600
Website: www.maritimo.com.au

 

 

TRADEABOAT SAYS…


Euro styling and Australian utility combine to offer comfort and seaworthiness. But that's always been the Maritimo mix. Now with some interior design tweaks, the boats are even sharper. This is the start of things to come and, with an outsourced expert interior designer on deck, we expect even more exciting changes in the future. Meanwhile, the C53 remains an excellent entertainer and weekender, while retaining the offshore performance of her sister ships. We feel this style of boat will really satisfy a lot of big-city boaters who want to boat locally and partake in the occasional holiday passage. Service and support through the Maritimo dealer network is also enjoying renewed attention, all of which is great for the prospective buyer.

 

Find Maritimo boats for sale.

 


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