Boat Review: Bertram 450 Convertible

Some people will like the new Bertram styling and interiors while others may not. However, I assure you that the performance and sea-keeping ability of the new Bertram 450 will keep the Bertram legend shining.

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For the past few years, under the august guidance of Norberto Ferretti, Bertram has focused on turning the company around while filling orders for 54s and 60s. It's a tribute to his success that in the past year, Bertram started introducing new models again. Three new boats - a 39, a 45 and a 51 - will all be at the docks at this year's Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. I recently ran the 45 in Miami.

Bertram lovers will be pleased to hear that the 450 performs in the same exceptional way they've come to expect. In 2- to 3-foot seas, the 450 remained dry on every point of sail. Spray blows out just at the flybridge helm position. It boasts unique exhaust ports on each corner of the transom rather than through the transom or sides. I'm not sure how that affects the sound level, but there's no doubt that the Bertram 45 runs very quietly.

Fishing, the 450 backed down at almost 6 knots. Although water does come in through the transom door, it exits almost immediately through very large scuppers recessed in a channel, leaving the deck relatively dry.

Idling at 700 rpm the 450 pulled the baits through the water at 7.3 knots. Drop one engine into neutral and speed lowers to 6 knots. Placing both engines in gear at low-idle turns about 6 knots at 550 rpms or 3.3 knots on one engine.

As you'd expect from a boat with good low-end torque, the 450 gets up on plane quickly (10 seconds) with its 660-hp Caterpillar 3196s. Top speed proved to be 30 knots at 2,335 rpm; cruise is 26 knots.

No matter what the speed, the 450 runs pretty flat - a distinct advantage in a head sea - and carries an interesting blend of Euro-styling and classic Bertram lines that meld quite nicely. In the interior, though, Ferretti's influence becomes more noticeable. You'll notice the difference in the side-by-side berths in the guest stateroom instead of over/under berths to give each bed more room. The salon and galley areas boast more room than many comparable boats because Bertram has used space inside the forward raked part of the cabin that's usually dedicated to dead space or storage.

The most significant new feature is the raised wet-bar area, which resides in space stolen from the flybridge overhang. This not only allows for greater headroom in the guest cabin, but also provides a platform for anyone who opts for the interior helm station. The judges are still out on whether the market will accept the wet-bar arrangement without the helm station.

True Bertram aficionados will quickly point out the similarities between the 450 and the original Bertram 43. The company did base the boat on an extended version of the'43's hull, but there are significant differences, including a whole new superstructure. In the process, the company made a single-piece deck and cockpit rather than the three individual pieces (deck, flybridge and hard top). Molded construction makes the boat stronger and easier to build. Add to that another big construction chan-e ? Bertram has gone back to adding strengthening ribs up the sides of the boat inside the hull, just like the old days.

Some people will like the new Bertram styling and interiors while others may not. However, I assure you that the performance and sea-keeping ability of the new Bertram 450 will keep the Bertram legend shining.

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA 48'3"
BEAM 14'11"
DRAFT 4'4"
WEIGHT 35,280 pounds
FUEL 528 gallons
WATER 159 gallons
POWER 660-hp
CATs BASE PRICE $809,750