Merritt 86 Bree Boat Review

The new Bree is built to travel to distant fishing grounds and do it in comfort.

April 27, 2017
Merritt 86 Bree Boat Review Courtesy Merritt Boatworks

The latest 86-footer, Hull No. 101, from Roy Merritt is a return to the classic look that made the iconic brand unmistakable. A crisp, white paint job and Bristol teak accents along with her comfortable enclosed bridge, expansive guest-friendly layout and fishing functionality make this rig a traveling and fishing dream boat that is ready to explore near and far waters while being wrapped in comfort and subtle luxury.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
An overhead shot of the Merritt 86, Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd


The five staterooms and five heads aboard Bree embody the boat’s objective: to travel with self-sustainability for extended periods of time. The 2,800-gallon fuel ­capacity gives her a range that will allow her to reach any fishing grounds her owner may choose to explore. The roomy accommodations will also allow the owner and their guests to be comfortable both while underway and back at port. The spacious VIP stateroom forward features a queen-island berth with storage underneath as well as additional space overhead on both outboard walls. It has two cedar-lined hanging closets in addition to private access to the en-suite head with shower.

Just aft to port is a guest stateroom with large over/under bunks and a private en-suite head with full shower. The starboard guest stateroom features a queen berth along the outboard side. There is a head to starboard that can be accessed through the stateroom as well as in the companionway.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Interior cabin of Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd

Aft of the starboard stateroom is a laundry center found behind double doors in the companionway. To port is the master stateroom, which features a king berth with matching end tables and two large, cedar-lined hanging closets on either side of a vanity desk with a mirror and chair. The en-suite head features a stone countertop with a pair of matching sinks, mirrored storage over the counter and an undersink vanity with shelf and drawer storage. The large shower encompasses a molded-in seat offset by the satin-­finished, teak-framed door.

The large crew quarters with over/under bunks is located under the galley and is accessed moving aft via a starboard companionway. This area also houses a massive rod locker outboard with a large closet and a full en-suite head with shower. Access to the engine room is through a watertight door from the crew stateroom; this also allows the crew to access the cockpit area without the need to go through the salon.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Reel storage in Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd

Engine Room

The engine room houses a pair of 1,930 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERTs that are matched to a set of Northern Lights 32 kW generators. As is typical with all Merritt builds, pumps, compressors and the rest of the equipment are readily accessible; redundancy is built in, so servicing equipment is not a dreaded chore. The mounts, hydraulic hardline, and fuel and water runs are precise, neatly laid out and easily accessed. The Seakeeper 35 sits aft of the engine room on the centerline, tucked away in a dry, well-ventilated space. This area will allow for service and offers the ability to remove the unit if necessary.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Engine room of Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd


The massive teak deck in the cockpit is synonymous with a game-fishing arena. The fighting chair/rocket launcher is the focal point, and there is lots of room for a crew to work. A large molded-in fish box is located in-deck along the transom. Just forward of the fish box is a large lazarette that allows excellent access to all of the steering components and other aft‑bilge equipment.

The large mezzanine has numerous useful features for a boat this size. A refrigerated drink box and freezer that can be conveniently accessed from the cockpit are located under the mezzanine deck on the port side of the engine-room access. To starboard is a massive refrigerator/freezer combo box, a dedicated freezer and, located all the way outboard, a livewell/ice dump.

A day-head is located to port up on the mezzanine. A large L-shaped mezzanine lounge is to the starboard-side of the salon door and forward of a teak table. The bulkhead and wings are varnished teak, typical of classic Merritt, to give a rich, detailed look and feel.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Exterior of Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd


The spacious area is highlighted by an L-shaped lounge and a high-low table aft to starboard. To port is an incredible work of art: a teak-covered spiral stairway that accesses the enclosed bridge above. A bar that doubles as the location for the pop-up flat-screen TV is to port. There is also an island counter with three custom teak bar stools.

Around the front of the island is access to all the necessary galley equipment. Across from the galley is a U-shaped dinette that seats five, and there is also a pantry/electronics control room forward of the galley.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Salon of Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd


The enclosed bridge has an L-shaped lounge with storage underneath and a teak table to port. To starboard is a wet bar and storage with an ice maker, refrigerator, and a TV that drops down from the ceiling. The helm is spacious, with a ­comfortable built-in lounge seat on either side of the centerline STIDD helm chair. The dash is beautifully trimmed in teak and features four 18-inch Garmin screens, VHF radios, the joystick for the Cat Three60 precision control system, the Seakeeper control panel, throttles, steering wheel and other control systems.


The beauty of the enclosed bridge is realized when you are underway with its quiet, dry and ­climate-controlled ride. The bridge deck has a bench-style seat and a full helm for the captain to operate the boat from when fishing so he can see the entire cockpit. A full Pipewelders tuna tower with controls and electronics completes this massive machine.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Bridge of Merritt 86 Bree. Courtesy Debra Todd


This 86-footer is also a solid performer. Make no mistake, these 1,930 hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines are strong and push the boat along at a comfortable 27.5 knots at 1,900 rpm with a 68 percent load while burning 138 gph. The load remained the same when the engines were pushed up to 2,000 rpm, but the speed increased to a respectable 30.5 knots with an increased fuel burn of 150 gph.

Bree came on plane easily and handled extremely well at cruise. She is a solid ride and takes the seas superbly with her well-shaped ­bottom eating up any rough conditions. Maneuvering is remarkable for such a large platform: She can spin quickly with her big rudders, power and the location of her engines, which are spread wide. She backs down well without burying her transom and can get after it faster than most anglers can gain line.

Once again, the team at Merritt’s has done an outstanding job building a boat that is not only beautiful but, more importantly, also a well-engineered and well-executed fishing machine with immeasurable comfort and amenities. Whenever I step aboard a new Merritt like Bree, I am instantly reminded why these custom boats are regarded so highly in the industry. They truly are works of art.

Merritt 86 Boat Review Test
Schematics of Merritt 86 Bree Courtesy Merritt Boatworks

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