Merritt 88 Skybridge Review

A unique design hits the water from a world-famous boatbuilder
The Merritt 88 cruising across the open waters, leaving cresting waves in its wake.
The new 88-foot skybridge combines fishing functionality with long-range travel luxury. Steve Momot / AH360 Photography

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With a very successful run of 86-footers, Roy Merritt of Merritt’s Boat & Engine Works in Pompano Beach, Florida, thought it was time for a refresh and a few updates for which he is well known. Utilizing the hull mold for the 86, lengthening it a little over 2 feet, and adjusting the house and cockpit, it’s amazing what seemingly slight additions can do to the boat.

The first of the new ­88-footers was a classic open bridge with a full tower for a multiple Merritt boat owner. The second 88-footer is also built for a multi-Merritt owner and ­features a towering skybridge set atop an enclosed bridge, a first for the storied builder. Other builders have proved the benefits of the skybridge, and it was only a matter of time before the concept was “Merrittized.” Along with her experienced and knowledgeable owner, Roy Merritt and his team pushed ahead to develop a skybridge that would fit the style and look of the boat, as well as have maximum ­functionality for fishing.

Helm and Skybridge

With the massive size and ­volume of the 88, the skybridge is a great platform for comfort, fishing and safety, alleviating the need to climb a tower with such a high elevation. The enclosed bridge—with its helm seating, lounge and other amenities—offers total comfort for long-haul travel. I’m a tower lover, but this enclosed bridge/skybridge combination on the 88 makes all the sense in the world for a serious travel operation. It offers the ultimate in comfort while still having the tower height elevation and giving you a full console with all the pertinent gear comparable to any open-bridge design.

The skybridge helm overlooking a beautiful clear sky and greenery.
The skybridge helm contains all the necessary electronics while offering an incredible view. Steve Momot / AH360 Photography

The skybridge features excellent 360-degree visibility and a full complement of vessel controls, as well as a Furuno Omni sonar controller, three Seatronx 19-inch displays, two helm chairs, a bench seat forward of the console, a molded hardtop with Hooker Electric teaser reels, and a wedge aft with two Garmin 12-inch screens and a 12-inch Furuno screen for viewing while looking aft and keeping an eye on the spread. There are two Bluewater Chairs helm chairs at the console and a bench seat forward of the console. The deck and lounge seats are covered in GatorStep, a flooring and decking material that alleviates having a full set of cushions to blow around. Nice touch.

The enclosed bridge features Merritt styling and a classic teak interior with an abundance of air conditioning, a full yacht-grade helm, and a dash forward with a twin bench seat to port and starboard with storage under and a helm seat centerline. Aft of the helm cruising seat to starboard is an L-shaped lounge with storage under and a stone-covered table, offering a great seating area. To port is a stone countertop with a sink and storage under, plenty of outlets for charging devices, two refrigerator drawers and four storage drawers—all finished in Merritt’s satin-varnished teak.

Several displays built into the helm of the Merritt 88. Wood panels surrounds the instrument boards.
The enclosed-bridge helm contains additional electronics, all in climate-controlled comfort. Steve Momot / AH360 Photography

The dash has a yacht-grade feel of electronics, and all ­vessel control systems are within reach of the helmsman. MTU engine gauges and the ship’s system controls are all placed neatly and conveniently at the helm. There are four large screens to display the various navigation and fishing information with two 22-inch and two 19-inch Seatronx sunlight viewable monitors. The screens display the Furuno black box NavNet TZtouch cartography, Furuno DFF3 TruEcho chirp echo sounder, Furuno DFF3D multibeam wide-angle 3D sonar echo sounder, Furuno CSH8LMK2 85 kHz Omni sonar and FLIR M364C dual payload stabilized thermal IP camera with night vision. There is also a Garmin GPSMAP 8700 multifunction processor with a Garmin GSD-26 echo sounder, a SiriusXM weather module, a satellite compass, a Furuno Navpilot 711C/OB-OPT autopilot, a Furuno class B FA70 AIS, two Icom M605 VHF radios, a VSAT broadband and a Starlink satellite system.

With the skybridge, there is no need for a bridge aft-deck console. The 88 enclosed bridge features a comfortable settee to starboard along the aft bulkhead, while a single seat is to port of the offset door, both offering an excellent view of the fishing spread and surrounding waters.

Cockpit and Salon

Heading down the ladder to the expansive mezzanine, there is an L-shaped lounge with storage to port with a teak armrest on the starboard end that has a flip-up lid housing exterior air conditioning, a stereo and security-system controls. A high-low table creates a social lounge on the mezzanine with an ample overhang.

The mezzanine has the engine-room entry along the centerline, with a combination refrigerator or freezer, a freezer and a livewell/ice bin outboard to port. Starboard of the engine-room entry are the steps up from the cockpit, a fridge or freezer combination, and a livewell/ice bin outboard. All these units are massive, offering incredible storage for bait and food for long-range travel.

The interior salon cushioned with light grey fabrics and stained wood finishes.
The salon is simply massive, with room to entertain a dozen or more guests. Steve Momot / AH360 Photography

The cockpit is noticeably larger than the 86, with a hatch over the Seakeeper on the centerline forward of the Bluewater Chairs rocket launcher/chair. Lazarette access is aft of the chair and offers access to all steering components, bilge pumps, livewell pumps and the aft end of the Seakeeper. A classic oversize tuna door with a secure latch is to starboard of the livewell.

Moving inside, the salon is huge and open, featuring a U-shaped settee with storage under to port, another settee with storage under to starboard, and a large-screen TV in the aft starboard corner. A dinette is to starboard across from the galley. There are six Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers for this boat, another nod to long-duration travel. Typically, there would be four refrigerators and two ­freezers, but with the massive cockpit freezers, the owner chose the extra refrigeration in the galley.

Forward of the galley is the pantry/electrical-equipment control room to port and the stairway to access the ­staterooms and the crew quarters with a private captain’s quarters, two bunks and a shared head. Moving forward, the master stateroom is to port with a king bed and storage under, cedar-lined hanging closets, an en suite head and a guest stateroom with over-under bunks forward of that. To starboard is a laundry closet with a washer and dryer, a guest stateroom, also with over-under bunks, and a shared head with the port guest stateroom. The VIP with an en suite head features a queen island berth with storage, two cedar-lined closets and overhead outboard storage.

The clean, crisp white engine room of the Merritt 88.
The engine room is home to the 2,600 hp MTU V16 2000 series engines. Steve Momot / AH360 Photography

Engine Room and Performance

The engine room is a work of art, with twin 2,600 hp MTU V16 2000 engines, twin ­40-kilowatt Kohler generators and a host of equipment, including an Alfa-Laval fuel separator, a pair of watermakers and Spot Zero. All the ancillary pumps and equipment are neatly mounted with easy access for future service. There is nothing dainty about the way Merritt’s rigs its boats—everything is oversize and robust to eliminate breakage and reduce service issues as much as possible.

With her longer bottom, the 88 performs better than the 86 with the same power. Cruising along at 1,850 rpm at a 71 percent load and making 30 knots, it burns 150 gallons per hour. Slipping along at 2,100 rpm at 80 percent load, it is doing 36 knots and burning 200 gph. Wide open at 2,450 rpm and 100 percent load, it hit 41.5 knots with a full load of gear, people and fuel on the way in from fishing.

With her advanced-­composite epoxy, Kevlar, carbon fiber and Corecell construction; yacht-grade interior appointments; elegant finishes; proven rough-water ride; and that Merritt pedigree, the 88 is another leader on the fishing grounds and a statement to the builder’s commitment of uncompromising detail and execution throughout.

Read Next: Meet Roy Merritt in our exclusive interview with the legendary boatbuilder.

Merritt 88 Skybridge Specs

  • LOA: 88’
  • Beam: 21’2”
  • Draft: 5’6”
  • Displ: 153,000 lb.
  • Fuel: 3,900 gal.
  • Water: 500 gal.
  • Power: Twin MTU V-16 2000 2600 HP
  • Gear/Ratio: 2.75/1
  • Propellers: 6-blade Michigan Wheel
  • Paint: Axalta
  • Climate Control: Dometic

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