Boat Review: Liberty 42

This Liberty sports a very traditional look, reminiscent of the Bertram 31 (the world's best-selling sportfishing boat of all time), with the engine boxes extending out into the cockpit.

Liberty 42 main page

Liberty 42 main page

This Liberty sports a very traditional look, reminiscent of the Bertram 31 (the world's best-selling sportfishing boat of all time), with the engine boxes extending out into the cockpit. The reason for this design aspect has nothing to do with giving the boat a "retro" look. Rather, Liberty Yachts President Joe Corvelli says that "with an almost 21-degree deadrise at the transom and such a wide beam, setting the cabin lower - on the stringers - also makes the center of gravity much lower. Plus, even though this 42 qualifies as a flybridge boat, the captain can be in the cockpit much more quickly with a mere three steps down than when having to climb a 10-foot-tall flybridge ladder."

Another benefit he didn't mention shows when you open the engine boxes. Unlike in the engine room on most 42-footers, you still find plenty of headroom in which to work around the engine. The hatch access provides virtually complete engine access both inboard and outboard. You can even reach the custom outboard battery boxes with no problem. Still, I say virtually complete access because to work on the dripless stuffing boxes, you'll need to remove the exhaust manifold. Corvelli rightfully claims that the new, oversize fish boxes take up space that could have gone to stuffing-box access - a compromise he chose since the dripless stuffing boxes rarely need maintenance.

And even though the classical-looking Liberty 42 doesn't openly flaunt the advanced technology that went into it, you can certainly feel it when you push the throttles up. Of course, a pair of 800-hp MAN engines with Hynautic power steering and Glendinning electronic controls go a long way toward maximizing the performance of the Liberty 42. Couple the controls with George Von Widmann's Integrated Exhaust Hull Structure - an underwater exhaust system that balances the exhaust for zero back pressure - and this 42 gets up and goes quite nicely. The result provides a very quiet and efficient power package.

Underway, the slightest turn of the wheel at idle speed brings instantaneous response. In fact, this boat runs beautifully at just the right harbor speed on one engine at idle and still remains very responsive. It drifts almost directly beam-to the wind with gentle transitions to its moderate roll moment. The wide beam-to-length ratio successfully counterbalances the comparatively deep-V deadrise (20 degrees) at the transom to make drifting comfortable, stable and balanced in a beam sea. Get up and run in a 4-foot beam sea and you'll find the ride rock-steady and bone-dry - we didn't get one drop of spray on the enclosure.
The Liberty 42 spins like a top and backs down at 6 knots in reverse, though it doesn't want to follow a straight line when traveling at that speed and direction. Turn the wheel hard over at cruising speed and you can execute a 180-degree turn in about four boat lengths.

SPECIFICATIONS****LOA 42'0" BEAM 14'10" DRAFT 3'6" WEIGHT 26,000 pounds FUEL 470 gallons WATER 125 gallons MAX POWER T 800-hp MAN BASE PRICE On requestLiberty Yachts Riviera Beach, Florida 561-842-2261 Once back in the calmer waters of the Intracoastal, our top speed hit 39.5 knots while turning 2,350 rpm - the boat cruises at 30 knots while spinning a leisurely 1,895 rpm. To enhance the Liberty's performance, Corvelli built it with a cored bottom consisting of 1 1/4-inch-thick CoreCell, 1-inch CoreCell in the topsides, 100 percent vinylester resins throughout, and Divinycell cored decks and Tri-bulkheads. In fact, the only wood aboard - the fine veneer joinery - weighs next to nothing. Liberty builds the entire interior of Tri-Cell composite with fine wood veneer - even the granite countertop has been shaved down to a 1/8-inch sliver and then bonded to aluminum honeycomb. They even faired and painted every nonveneer surface with Awlgrip.

Belowdecks, you'll find a double berth on an electric ram in the forepeak with storage underneath and additional storage in surrounding lockers. In fact, you get storage under every seat, step and floorboard on the Liberty. L-shaped settees frame the dinette just aft. The head stands to starboard with a handsome, separate curved shower stall. The head also boasts an opening window for natural light and fresh air. The galley features all the normal top-end accessories, including two Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers and two freezer drawers.

The cockpit sports a beautiful solid-teak cap rail with no break for the tuna door, a Murray Products fighting chair, huge fish boxes, engine vents under the covering boards, and storage for rods, gaffs and mops in cabinets under the gunwales. The generator - situated against the transom in the lazarette to keep the noise away from the living quarters - hides under a hatch with a waterproof gasket to prevent any water intrusion from the cockpit deck. Liberty prides itself on building boats without a single hole in the hull sides. Everything drains into manifold boxes that empty out through the transom. Those who believe in reviving billfish before releasing them will particularly appreciate the easy reach to the water when bending over the gunwale.

Liberty Yachts may not be the biggest or most famous custom builder, but the quality and innovation coming out of this shop stacks up well against anyone out there.