Boat Review: Bertram 360

It has been a very long time since Bertram brought a "small" open boat to the fishing marketplace

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It has been a very long time since Bertram brought a "small" open boat to the fishing marketplace - with "small" certainly being a relative term. In my travels, I still see many Bertram 31s - the single most successful fishing boat ever built - all over the world. In fact, the Bertram 31 has the distinction of being the first fiberglass production boat in the industry, introduced at the New York Boat Show in 1961. But put a 31 side by side with a new Bertram 360 Open and you'll never think they came from the same company. Where the 31 had function, the 360 adds form. Aesthetics plays a much larger role in all modern-day Bertram designs, thanks to the romantic creativity of the Italian minds at Euro-yacht-building powerhouse Ferretti.

The 360 comes in two styles: open and express. For the sake of clarity, consider the open the fishing boat and the express the cruiser.

**Interior
**The interior of the 360, though standard in layout, glows with rich joinerwork and fabrics. Obviously being the smallest boat in the family doesn't mean it has to be spartan. Cherrywood veneers over composite bulkheads and top-quality counters and appliances enliven the space. A galley and head (with shower stall) to port, along with an L-shaped settee starboard with a hi-lo table, frame the centerline queen-size island berth in the forepeak.

**Design and Construction
**Bowing to the desires of most modern boat owners, Bertram builds the 360 with a solid fiberglass bottom and cores the hull from the waterline up with Divinycell composite. This not only saves weight and attendant fuel, but also improves stability by lowering the center of gravity. The Euro-style window slashes on the cabin sides consist of frameless, unbreakable glass. Bertram joins the hull to the deck in shoebox fashion using space-age adhesives, along with stainless-steel screws with aluminum backing plates.

**Engine Room
**Bertram offers several choices of power for the 360: Caterpillar C7 diesels in either 420- or 460-hp models or Volvo Penta D9s rated at 575 hp. No word yet whether Bertram will offer Volvo Penta's Inboard Propulsion System on this boat in the future.

You'll find my favorite improvement over the old Bertram 31 at the forward end of the cockpit. I much prefer a raised bridge deck to a pair of engine boxes with a very low overhang. The 360's bridge deck rises on rams for easy access, affording you room to work both inboard and outboard of the power plants. To handle the ship's appliances - along with the hair dryers, curlers, straighteners, blenders, mixers and can openers - Bertram offers your choice of a 5- or 10-kW generator in an exceptionally well-designed acoustic housing.

**Cockpit
**Here's where you find the main difference between the open and the express (besides the optional tower on the open, of course). In addition to the in-deck fish boxes, the 360 open boasts another fish box in the transom (which you can plumb for a second baitwell). You'll also find a bait-prep station with a sink and a freezer in the portside cockpit module, as well as an additional livewell under the aft-facing seat to starboard.

The express version of the 360 - designed more for cruising - features no fishing amenities in the cockpit, and the transom box gets replaced by foldaway seating. With that said, fishing and nonfishing cockpit features are optionally interchangeable between the two models. Other cockpit features on the open include a tuna door with opening cap-rail gate and an optional Eskimo ice maker.

Helm
One reason why the living quarters belowdecks seems so open and airy is that Bertram puts the dinette up on the bridge deck instead of down below. I can vouch for it being more pleasant to dine and socialize abovedecks than below, and with the optional bridge enclosure you can simply scoff at inclement weather while you and your guests sample the latest Beaujolais Nouveau. And air conditioning on the bridge deck assures that you'll be comfortable inside the enclosure even on rainy, muggy days.

I also appreciate the utility of the helm seat. Since I spend equal amounts of time seated and standing while driving, I like the ability to flip up the helm-seat bottom, transforming it from a seat to a leaning post. At the touch of a button, the center section of the curved windshield opens for ventilation.

Yes, I love the old Bertram 31. I've spent countless hours trolling and running in ungodly rough seas in them. But given the choice, I'd take this 360 open over the 31 any day.

- Dean Travis Clarke

Specifications
LOA 39'4"
BEAM 13'6"
DRAFT 3'9"
WEIGHT 28,224 pounds
FUEL 406 gallons
WATER 82 gallons
POWER T 420-hp Cat C-7s
BASE PRICE $389,000

Bertram Yachts
Miami, Florida
305-633-8011
www.bertram.com