Bertram remains one of the most iconic names in offshore fishing – and deservedly so. The Bertram 31 continues to be the most successful fishing boat ever sold, and there’s still a ton of these little fishing machines out catching marlin. Furthering the Bertram mystique, the Bertram 54 stands as one of the classic, all-time-great offshore fishing boats.
Since 1998, the Ferretti group, along with naval architects Zuccon International and the marine engineering teams at Advanced Yacht Technologies, have cooperatively brought Bertram into the 21st century. With input from Bertram owners, the company recently debuted its latest offering, the Bertram 800, to the sport-fishing world. The styling qualifies as more contemporary than you’d find on older Bertrams, and the interior features updates and upgrades that would throw 54 owners for a loop. But this big Bertram still retains the exceptional seaworthiness that brought fame to the brand.
I noticed something different as soon as Bertram’s factory captain started the engines. The 800 is extremely quiet. The buffer provided by the crew’s quarters aft of the engine compartment, combined with the underwater exhaust, make idling and slow cruising idyllic.
As we exited the Miami River heading for Government Cut in a 15-knot southeast wind, as is so often the case here, the wind against the tide stacked up four- to five-foot seas at the harbor mouth. You know a hull design hits the mark when you can’t feel a rough chop like that while running straight into it at 27 knots. Offshore, we found six- to eight-footers at a period of three seconds. Drifting beam-to in those obnoxious waves, the Mitsubishi ARG (anti-rolling gyro) system under the engine-room floor caught up and dampened the roll dramatically. These gyro systems are designed to work best at slow speeds or while drifting rather than at cruising speeds, but the considerable beam of this boat provides for a pretty stable ride at cruise regardless.
The 800 tracks beautifully down-sea, and the trim tabs offer a healthy range of adjustment, so lifting the upwind rail in a beam sea made for a dryer and smoother ride in our test conditions.
Interestingly, this boat turns to starboard tighter than to port. Though it doesn’t spin like a Bertram 31 when fighting a fish, it works just fine when you anticipate your needs, especially with the added kick from the Side-Power bow thruster. The boat also backs down perfectly straight, and again, with the bow thruster you can walk the boat sideways very handily, making docking a breeze.
As you’d expect on an 80-footer, everything about this boat is large. The floor of the mezzanine rises to about hip height when standing on the cockpit sole, whereas many mezzanines only reach mid-thigh level. I like the L-shaped settee to port that acts as a chaise, augmented by a straight settee to starboard. You can opt for whatever combination of refrigerators and freezers under the mezzanine seats that you’d prefer. I also appreciate the day head just inside the salon door, though I’d prefer access directly from the cockpit to avoid fouling the salon carpet.
Besides being able to check the health of your live baits through the big window in the livewell, the lighted well also makes for a lovely aquarium design element at night. I am also fond of Release Marine’s new Contour fighting chair that Bertram chose to put on the offset mount. Its elegance flawlessly matches that of the new Bertram 800.
Bertram does a great job of finishing the not-so-obvious areas too – such as in the lazarette, with its wide-open access to the through-hulls and steering gear. One change I would love to see Bertram make concerns the fuel fill. The on-deck cap sits in a depression, ostensibly to help keep any overflow from escaping. However, it makes it nearly impossible to fuel up safely in the rain, as all the water runs down the deck and collects in the depression – then continues down the fuel pipe into the tank.
Rough days like the one on which we tested the 800 really let you appreciate the invention of the enclosed bridge for sport-fishing convertibles. As the world seems to explode around you, you just carry on high and dry. Bertram also offers a skybridge option that looks better the larger the boat gets – meaning it fits this hull beautifully rather than looking like an add-on. I also like that you can benefit from the elevated viewpoint without needing to climb a slippery tuna tower. Opposite the day head down below, a semicircular stairway climbs up to the enclosed flybridge, so you can reach the flybridge more securely than via a cockpit ladder. Once there, the massive space affords plenty of room in which to entertain without infringing on the helmsman. Bertram chose Pompanette’s Platinum-series helm and companion seats to outfit the bridge.
The aft helm station located on the overhang outside the centerline door affords you an excellent view of the aft half of the cockpit and the entire fighting chair. But there’s no direct cockpit access from out here. You must go back inside and down the interior staircase to get below.
Bertram designers came up with a truly unique interior for the 800. The galley takes up the forward starboard quarter of the salon, while a full dining table with seating for six occupies the port side. We all know that in today’s market, flexibility is the name of the game, and Bertram suggests some interesting layout possibilities. On this boat, a private cabin just forward of the galley accommodates a chef or nanny or can be used as a pantry or other storage. You can even opt for the “country kitchen” style of galley, where the private cabin disappears in favor of a wide-open galley with a full-width windshield. With or without the cabin, the interior of this Bertram is amazingly light and airy. Huge, in-hull port lights – covered by electric drapes – in the master stateroom combat that cave-like feeling common in so many midship masters. As in the salon, Bertram customizes virtually every boat’s master stateroom so that the owners can shape it to their needs.
You enter the engine room via a circular stairway coming down from a centerline cockpit hatch. At the base of the stairway are a head to port and a crew’s berth to starboard. Beyond the transverse bulkhead and crash door, Bertram’s raised center walkway – with a Bertram logo backlit in blue in the floor – hides the pair of Mitsubishi ARG gyrostabilizers. In fact, you can bathe the whole engine room in blue LED lighting for effect if you wish, but of course you can always use regular lights whenever you want them as well.
The engine compartment boasts far more than just standing headroom. It’s also very easy to get outboard of the engines. Glendenning shore-cable handlers on each side abut big battery bank boxes. Twin Kohler 32 kW generators hide in a separate room under the cockpit.
Design and Construction
Bertram squared off the aft corners of the 800 for increased cockpit space and improved stability. The solid fiberglass bottom acts as the base for the Divinycell-cored topsides, integrated liner and foam-cored stringer system. The side and foredecks have been very well executed with one exception: The secure handrails end about four feet too soon, so you have a no-man’s land where you have nothing to grasp while traversing your way to the bow. Bertram engineers are already working on a fix for this. In fact, other than this one small exception that is already in repair, the Bertram 80 provides truly excellent handholds throughout the boat.
I admit that I have never been a Euro-styling fan. But this Bertram 800 is very different: It’s more traditional American yacht design with 21st-century concepts. I am a convert!
Max Power……T 2,600 hp MTU 16V 2000 diesels
Bertram Yachts / Miami, Florida / 305-633-8011 / www.bertram.com
• VEI displays
• Raymarine chart plotter
• ZF electronic controls
• Furuno RD-30 repeater
• Side-Power bow thruster
• Simrad AP28 autopilot
• ICOM M604 VHF
• Exalto windshield-wiper system
• Delta-T engine-room air system
• Power Acoustic 50-watt DVD entertainment center
• Isotherm refrigerator/freezer on flybridge
• PipeWelder hydraulic outriggers
• Sea Recovery Aquamatic reverse- osmosis system
• Charles Industries IsoBoost 1000 SST
• Mastervolt ChargeMaster
• ALGAESEP fuel-cleaning system
• Vanner VoltMaster high-efficiency battery equalizer
• Fireboy fire-suppression system