Bonade-whoa! That’s what I had to say after spending the morning on the latest 45 Express Walkaround from Bonadeo Boatworks in Stuart, Florida. This boat is a near-perfect hybrid of center-console and custom sport-fish, with tons of high-end touches combined with outboard power and a 28-inch draft. What a combination!
Larry Bonadeo has been building boats since 2004 and has a reputation for producing well-built custom boats, using the best products and methods available. His hulls are resin-infused with composite structural cores and utilize strong, light materials such as Kevlar and carbon fiber. They are known to be quick and quiet-riding hulls—and quiet is something you don’t always find in the usual production express boat either.
At the famed Sailfish Club of Palm Beach, Florida, Panacea was docked right up front, as if anticipating my arrival. At first glance, you notice her beautiful full tower by Palm Beach Towers, as well as her massive triple Mercury 600-horsepower outboards and generous teak cockpit. I hopped on board, and we soon shoved off with Capt. Jimmy Garner at the helm, heading north toward Palm Beach Inlet.
The largest immediate standout was the full helm enclosure, which keeps the entire helm and forward seating area dry, as well as cool or warm depending on the conditions. While conditions were mild this day, I visited the boat during a much warmer Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and the bridge deck air conditioning had no problem taming the South Florida heat. As you settle into the custom helm seating with teak accents, you can really appreciate the layout. A centered steering wheel sits behind two massive 22-inch Garmin displays; the throttles, joystick and switches are all well within reach. Overhead in the recessed pod is the Mercury Vessel View display, as well as an additional Garmin display. Teaser reels and recessed speakers are tucked away in the hardtop, and a starboard-side flip-up box houses dual VHFs, a Seakeeper display, ignitions, and the generator controls. Forward of the helm is a comfortable bench seat with a neat wet bar, with a sink and hot water located to the port side.
Down the steps and into the cabin, you can appreciate how much room Bonadeo was able to create in just a 45-foot walkaround footprint. A convenient galley lies at the bottom of the steps, featuring a refrigerator, cooktop, sink and microwave. Forward is a convertible dinette that can easily convert into an additional queen berth with the push of a button. Aft is a spacious lounge that also turns into a nice queen berth. There is a full head oriented to the starboard side, with a recessed vertical wine chiller tucked neatly away into the horizontal teak wall just aft of the head door.
The cockpit features mezzanine seating above a freezer/cooler, with a Release Marine rocket launcher on the centerline. A pressurized 70-gallon livewell is located in the transom, and there is an additional 20-gallon livewell located forward. Four 30-amp electric-reel outlets are neatly tucked away, and a side door makes diving or landing a large fish a breeze. Below deck houses all of the machinery, including a Seakeeper 6, a 12 kW Northern Lights generator, an Eskimo ice chipper, and a custom four-pump sea chest to supply the boat’s raw water needs.
I had the opportunity to chat with Capt. Mark Pagano about his thoughts on the 45 Bonadeo. He was on hand to run it during a recent cold front when big numbers of sailfish pushed past the Juno ledge. He described the boat as being quiet and maneuverable, with great finish and attention to detail, explaining how well it ran in the trough, as well as in head and following seas. There was no issue pivoting the boat while they kite-fished during the day. Running Panacea from the tower in 3- to 5-foot seas, Pagano was also impressed by the feel of the tower—everything was within reach—and getting in and out of it felt effortless.
During my sea trial, we had much calmer conditions with 1- to 2-foot seas, which gave us the opportunity to really run the boat at different speeds. At a slow cruising speed, we ran at an easy 34 miles per hour, burning 0.74 miles per gallon. Pushing the throttles up to 4,750 rpm, we saw 45 mph while burning 0.6 mpg. And wide open, Panacea hit 59 mph at 6,200 rpm, burning 0.33 mpg. The Mercury 600s’ power was impressive, and much quieter than I expected. We cruised back home behind the massive glass windshield, completely out of the wind and conversing at a normal volume. How much punch Bonadeo was able to include in this 45-footer proves that it is a true all-around workhorse, and one built to the very highest of standards.
This article originally appeared in the April/May issue of Marlin.