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May 07, 2013

Bertram 540

Preference for Excellence
Courtesy Bertram Yacht

Although many quotes could describe the Bertram 540 Convertible, one rings particularly true: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.” Aristotle said that more than 2,000 years ago, unwittingly — and perfectly — describing the evolution of the iconic Bertram 540.

One merely has to look at the history of this iconic brand to realize the importance of the company, not only in the development and refinement of sport-fishing boats, but in the continued advancement of the design as well.

From its self-confident beginnings in the early 1960s, when that first 31-foot Bertram pushed itself to the forefront of the boating community’s awareness with a record-setting run and win in the Miami-to-Nassau race, to its present brand-spanking-new Merritt Island facility, Bertram Yacht has learned and refined the art and skill of boatbuilding by continually paying attention to what it does best.

The 540 takes its pedigree from the decades its predecessors have spent on the sport-fishing circuit, with many of the lessons and designs learned while dealing with unpleasant conditions. Tournament anglers fish when they have to.

Her lines, courtesy of the collaborative effort between Bertram and Zuccon International, are in perfect proportion to her length and 17-foot beam. The soft sheer easily carries the elegant look of the boat’s profile from her pulpit to the transom. And your eye has no trouble following the curve of her black mask back to those oversize side windows and then up as her tower rises above the 160-square-foot cockpit.



Courtesy Bertram Yacht

Things can change once you get on board the 540. That’s because the boat can be configured in just about any way its owner may want her. For example, my test 540 had a fairly traditional interior layout, with a couch to port, a large flat-screen TV in the aft starboard corner, the galley forward and to starboard, and a dinette area opposite.

In another arrangement, the galley location is swapped with the seating area. To add an extra layer of innovation to this option, Bertram installed a large, electrically operated aft bulkhead window that replaces the usual fixed one. This gives the owner the ability to open up that salon space to those seated on the cockpit mezzanine. There was even a request for a portside galley down layout, as this prospective owner did not need the stateroom on that side.

As far as living accommodations go, the 540 offers a three-stateroom, two-head boat with a forepeak master to starboard and a twin cabin to port. (The twin and forepeak share the second head.) I found the quarters roomy and comfortable with ample storage areas and pleasing decor throughout.



Of course, being a Bertram, the 540’s business end is exactly what one would expect aboard a competitive sport-fishing boat. With the aforementioned 160 square feet of working space, you could put together the best fishing amenities to suit your needs, including the requisite top-of-the-line chair or a stylish leaning post. You could outfit the boat with an array of rocket launchers or in-gunwale rod holders, and there is comfortable mezzanine seating and a host of in-sole boxes, a large transom door and gate, freezers, ice makers, coaming padding and a long list of optional equipment. Want to dress things up a bit? Try the teak coaming and opt to have the exotic wood put down on the deck as well.


Engine Room

The engine room boasted a pair of optional 1,676 hp CAT C32s — twin 1,224 MAN V-12s are standard, with 1,360 MAN V-12s being yet another available engine option. A pair of 15.5 kw Cummins-Onan gensets (one is standard, and there’s the option to upgrade to 23 kw) also live down below. You can easily access the engine room through a cockpit door, and you get two hands on anything that needs servicing. In addition, Bertram allocates added space for watermakers and an anti-roll gyro system.