Boat Review: Merritt 78

Merritt's Precise boasts style without sacrificing fishibility.

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Thanks to the elegant design and top-notch finish work the craftsmen at Merritt's produce on a consistent basis, it could be argued that every Merritt that comes out of the shop is a "boat of interest." The yard's newest vessel, the 78-foot Precise, proves interesting even when measured against Merritt's already demanding yardstick.

In addition to being Merritt's largest boat to date, the strikingly blue Precise also is among the first on the water to utilize the new DDC-MTU 2000 series engines. These 1,800-hp monsters feature sequential turbocharging that produces powerful acceleration and a vee configuration that cuts back on vibration and noise.

At her top end of 2,250 rpm, the Precise skirts along at 36 knots, drinking 180 gph. At a 1,900-rpm cruise, she reaches just over 30 knots, burning 100 gph. With her fuel capacity of 2,700 gallons, a more moderate cruise of 1,600 rpm, 23 knots and 60 gph would provide a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles.

Running this boat is a pleasure, thanks to a teak helm pod that runs nearly the full width of the bridge. Loads of seating means seclusion will never be a problem, thanks to the three helm chairs and L-shaped lounge. Close-quarters handling of the Precise is simplified by a bow thruster, whose joystick control is positioned at knee height for hands-free operation. A second set of controls is also available on the forward face of the flybridge for situations in which additional forward visibility is needed.

In the 195-square-foot cockpit, fishing amenities abound. An insulated fish box is plumbed to an Eskimo shaved ice machine, and a large freezer to starboard will easily hold even the best day's catch. In the bulkhead lockers are a refrigerator, bait freezer and bait-prep area.

The interior of the Precise is simple elegance, with teak woodwork accented by recessed gold trim. A traditional dining-room table and chairs and furniture that looks like it came from a showroom floor give the Precise a feel more like that of a home than of a boat. Down below, the master stateroom features a king-size berth with hydraulic rams that reveal cedar-lined stowage areas. Each stateroom has individual television sets with satellite controls, and the crew's quarters offers access to the engine room.