BOAT TEST: BERMUDA RANGE

By: Phil Kaberry


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Whether you enjoy fishing, skiing or simply floating about in the sun with a can in your hand, there’s a boat in Bermuda’s fresh new range for you. Phil Kaberry reports.

BOAT TEST: BERMUDA RANGE
BERMUDA RANGE

 

NEW BERMUDAS OFFER BANG FOR YOUR BUCK


Mercury Marine has moved production of its Bermuda aluminium boats in-house. Previously built by Queensland's Ally Craft, the Bermuda range will now be produced alongside Mercury's premium Savage aluminium boat marque at its new Melbourne factory.
What this means for Bermuda is greater quality control, a more focussed marketing effort, a chance to revamp the model lineup completely, better access to modern boatbuilding equipment at the Savage plant, greater economies of scale in terms of production/buying power, and the use of the construction techniques that have given Savage its reputation for quality.
Bermuda has already released a number of completely new models, and the resemblance to the Savage brand - physically rather than cosmetically - is apparent. It's fair to say that some of the new Bermudas share hulls with some Savage models, but there are major differences that will clearly separate the two brands.
It's easy to pick the distinctive tapered bow, high clinker sides, wide gunwales and integrated boarding platforms made popular by Savage.
Put simply, Bermudas (while boasting good hull design and construction) will offer fewer bells and whistles, a plainer aluminium interior and fewer options than their top-shelf stablemates. Packaged up with Navman sounders and
pre-rigged for Mercury or Mariner outboards at the factory, Mercury Marine is able to offer the Bermuda range at a more entry-level price point.

 

 

MEET THE PRESS


While the entire Bermuda range will be tweaked and refined to offer something for everyone - from the family-oriented cruising boater to the serious fisherman - the marine media recently had a chance to check out five of the latest models on the water.
The smallest (and most affordable) of the bunch is the 420 Regatta, which was presented sans paint but with canopy, Navman sounder and optional four-stroke 30hp. It remains to be seen what dollars Mercury will put on the package; but as is it was, the boat seemed well built and put together as an entry-level rig.
Next was the 450 Island Coral - a neat little family runabout with a 50hp oil-injected two-stroke, extruded sidedecks, comfortable helm chairs and Navman sounder. It's worth mentioning that most of these boats feature sliding rear lounges that relocate to the centre of the cockpit so anglers can sit and face backwards over the stern - bound to be popular with snapper anglers.

 

 

BEACH ON HEAT


The largest of Bermuda's forward-control runabouts was the 540 Island Beach, which is suited for larger families or anglers that like fishing offshore.
While the interiors are fairly plain, that's not to suggest they're shoddily put together - the marine carpet is neatly fitted, there are wide sidepockets under big extruded gunwales, polyethylene underfloor tanks on the larger models, nicely moulded fibreglass helm and passenger control consoles and spacious cockpits.
There was a dearth of grabs about some of these boats, however, and the windscreens needed to be more strongly braced (on some models presented for testing, anyway); and for models like the Island Beach, a grabrail tracing the screen so you can stand up and drive when out to sea was necessary but not fitted.
Some boats were fitted with Mercury's SmartCraft engine gauges, while others had nice-quality analogue numbers. There were also things like trim gauge and hour meter, which not all boats in this price range have.
Some models also benefit from Mercury's upscale flush throttle binnacle, which made for neater installation and smoother gear shifts. Mercury is looking at making this a standard feature.

 

 

ODYSSEY MAN OUT


Bermuda's flagship bowrider, the 540 Sea Odyssey, was also on the water. It offers plenty of boat for your money, with a big beam to maximise internal volume, a very smart finish, cool moulded dash and a good spread of gauges for the driver.
Like all these new hulls, the boat has plenty of get-up-and-go and a smooth, quiet ride in the calm conditions. It responded eagerly to the throttle and trim gauge, and the most comfortable part of the boat is in the front two pedestal seats.
While it's neatly trimmed, the rear lounge and bowrider pit won't win any ergonomic awards: one major difference between this 5.4m hull and the Savage 5.4 is that the Bermuda has aluminium topsides and not a fibreglass moulding, which means more square edges and a more angular interior in general.
But Bermuda has used the interior space wisely, and it represents good value for a large family who might not be able to afford a Cobalt or Four Winns of roughly the same length.

 

 

START SPREADIN'...


The big news is the improved finish of these boats. Paint and decals were pretty much irreproachable, carpets and cushions fit nicely, the engine rigging and wiring looms looked to be neat and heavy duty (hydraulic steering is necessary, in our opinion, on boats with engines more than 90hp - a listed Bermuda option) and the fittings are of acceptable if not affordable quality.
Standard inclusions like Navman sounder and radio, a three-year hull warranty, pre-rigging and options like canvas and hydraulic steering make these boats more attractive to buyers.
If you can sum up these new Bermudas in a few words, it would be neatness and value. No, they aren't floating palaces, but they've been designed well (improvements could be made to increase comfort in the bowpits, though), built properly, are factory fitted and make an easy-to-enjoy packages for
first-timers on a budget.
For more information or to locate your nearest dealer, contact Mercury Marine Australia, tel 1800 114 800 or visit www.mercurymarine.com.

 

 

Originally published in TrailerBoat #187

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