Boat Review: Bertram 540

Bertram Yachts recently announced the imminent debut of an all-new 54-footer, the Bertram 540, which the company hopes will be every bit as impressive as her predecessor.

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Ask any group of experienced offshore fishermen what they consider the two most successful offshore sport-fishing boats ever, and inevitably someone will come back with "the Bertram 31 and the Bertram 54!" Over the years, however, Bertram discontinued these historic models - until today. Bertram Yachts (now a division of Italian yacht-building powerhouse Ferretti) recently announced the imminent debut of an all-new 54-footer, the Bertram 540, which the company hopes will be every bit as impressive as her predecessor.

Designers retained many aspects of the older hull, such as the sharp bow entry, long waterline length and deep-V running surface - all factors contributing to the 54's awesome offshore performance. But true to the Italian Ferretti influence, the looks change dramatically. The somewhat boxy lines of the old hull were traded for sleeker lines and more curves. The aesthetically inclined will probably first notice the wraparound window on the cabin front where a solid, blank, fiberglass wall historically resides. In fact, older 54s came with the same windows, but evolution did them in. You'll be amazed at how much ambient light shines through the front glass, transforming the salon from cave to cabin. When combined with the open layout in the salon, the additional lighting and vistas grow the space by an order of magnitude. Lest you worry about safety, Ferretti worked with professional glassmakers to specially formulate the windshield to withstand the rigors of green water coming over the bow.

Bertram plans an initial offering of three MAN common-rail-diesel packages from 1,224- to 1,676-horsepower, which should push the boat to a top speed of 33 to 39 knots and cruising ranges of 29 to 35 knots, respectively.

Interior joinery consists of eucalyptus wood, an unusual choice that provides an elegant richness and enhances the natural light entering the salon. Another feature found on very few boats - an opening window between the salon and cockpit - makes for fabulous fresh-air ventilation and communication. Also unique, since the galley sits all the way aft on the port side, you can pass food and drinks directly into the cockpit. And as we all know, the farther aft in the hull you go, the smoother the ride in a roiling sea. So wouldn't you rather be able to cook in a calmer part of the boat? If you wish, Bertram also offers a helm station forward in the salon, so if you want to get out of bad weather on the open flybridge, you have the option of staying warm and dry inside.

Speaking of inside, the 540's accommodations include a portside guest cabin with two single bunks as well as two cabins with queen berths, one athwartships and the other fore and aft in the fo'c'sle. The port and forward cabins share a head, while the master stateroom to starboard comes with its own private bathroom.

Other innovative elements abound, such as iPod connectivity throughout the boat, underwater exhausts for a much quieter ride and built-in storage for up to 25 rod-and-reel combos. Not enough? Bertram offers an option for more under the mezzanine seating along with tackle storage, a livewell and a deep freeze. A transom fish box also doubles as a livewell or can be plated as an additional freezer.

You'll find in-sole insulated fish boxes on either side of the fighting chair, both larger and deeper than in the original 54s. Do you believe that history repeats itself? Judge for yourself by taking a look at this Bertram's trip back to the future at the 2008 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. - Dean Travis Clarke

SPECIFICATIONS

LOA......57'1"
BEAM......17'10"
**DRAFT......
5'5"
WEIGHT......83,737 pounds**
FUEL......1,524 gallons
**WATER......
225 gallons**
POWER......T 1,224 hp MAN V-12s
**Price......
Price on request**

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