By Chris Landry
Express Delivery (part 2): Ellis, Chaparral, Sabre, Cruisers
Today's express cruisers offer creature comforts and a comfortable ride, and can be set up for fishing or just relaxing when you get there.
Part 1 of this story described the evolution in modern express cruisers, and looked more closely at models by Everglades and Ocean Master. Part 2 continues with a detailed look at the Ellis Patriot 36, Chaparral 400 Premiere, Sabre 42 Express, and Cruisers 470 Sports Coupe.
Ellis Patriot 36
The semi-displacement Ellis Patriot 36 was born after singer/songwriter Billy Joel hired Ellis Boat Company, of Southwest Harbor, Maine, to build an express fishing boat that melded design and styling elements of Down East lobster boats, Carolina sportfishermen, and yachts built by Huckins and Rybovich.
Joel’s Patriot, Argos, was launched in spring 2008. Since then, Ellis has sold two more. Both are scheduled to be completed this year. Ellis is a custom builder, so the vessels differ in layout, equipment, power and performance.
The addition of the Patriot to the Ellis fleet just sort of happened, says company president Don Ellis. “Mr. Joel came up with a sketch of what he wanted,” says Ellis, whose father, Ralph Ellis, founded the company with Raymond Bunker in 1945. “And as it went back and forth, I started to like the roundness of the exterior. It went away from my traditional roots. My father and Raymond would have never gone for it.” Both the trunk cabin and the hardtop have rounded leading edges, rather than the square shapes of traditional Down Easters.
Joel’s ideas for the bridge deck impressed Ellis even more. With its center console and wraparound seating, the skipper is literally the center of attention. “When my father built boats, most of [the owners]had captains, so the concept of including the captain in the mix wasn’t a consideration,” says Ellis.
As Ellis’ fondness for Argos grew, Joel encouraged him to build more. “He said, ‘I think you could sell some of these,’ ” says Ellis.
The Patriot uses the same hull as the Ellis 36 Express Cruiser, a classic Down Easter powered with a single diesel. A single 670-hp Cummins diesel propels Joel’s boat. But the customer can choose virtually any type of power plant for the Patriot. One of the two Patriots in production will have twin 550-hp sterndrives. “The drives are MerCruisers, but the engine is a Corvette engine, if you can believe it,” says Ellis.
Joel’s boat is an open design with a pair of fighting chairs bolted to the cockpit sole. Other than that, the cockpit is pretty bare. The bridge deck is raised, so everyone has a good view outside the boat. Plus, the windows are large. The console tilts forward for excellent access to the diesel.
The cabin is accessed though a centerline companionway. The galley to port contains a two-burner electric stovetop, stainless-steel sink, refrigerator, microwave/convection oven, and teak drawers and cabinetry. The headliner consists of several removable panels, so the entire surface does not have to be removed for repair or cleaning, says Ellis. The V-berth is more than 7 feet long on each side. The portside galley and a hanging locker are across from the head and shower. On the stern drive boat, the owner has opted for a bar instead of a galley.
Argos was built with stitched fiberglass fabrics and a vacuum-bagged core of Core-Cell PVC closed-cell foam. The two new Patriots are being built with the same materials and methods, though the builder will use solid glass if the customer wants, says Ellis.
The Patriot’s standard equipment includes sound-reduction decks and exhaust systems (called the Ellis “Silent Service”), hydraulic steering, wash-down system, windlass, bow thruster, compass, fathometer, speedometer, 120-volt shorepower, and VacuFlush head. With its semi-displacement hull and a horsepower range from 480 to 670, the Patriot 36 will cruise anywhere from 13 to 32 mph. Joel’s cruises at 32 mph, with a top end of 37 mph. The sterndrive boat may very well reach 45 mph, says Ellis. A single 480-hp Yanmar will power the other Patriot in production. That boat should top out at around 30 mph.
Base price is $550,000. The builder is also offering the Patriot in a 40-foot model. No orders have been taken yet.
Chaparral 400 Premiere
The 400 Premiere takes over as the flagship of the Chaparral fleet. The Signature 350 had been the Nashville, Ga., builder’s largest boat. “We wanted to bring the Chaparral style to yachting,” says Chaparral president James A. Lane Jr. “Chaparral’s expansion into bigger boats is a natural progression, given our history and engineering capabilities.”
Chaparral designed the Premiere to deliver a smooth ride without sacrificing cabin space. The design uses two sponsons built into each forward hull side about a foot above the chines. The sponsons widen the hull and provide the extra volume, and since they’re well above the waterline, they are not a detriment to ride quality. (Boats with full forefoots tend to pound in rough seas.) Chaparral calls this its Wide Tech design, which also is utilized in some of its smaller bowriders.
In the cabin, the end of the queen-size berth in the forward stateroom folds down to increase walking space. There’s enough room for separate head and shower areas in the aft corners of the stateroom. The walk-in shower is on the starboard side and the head is on the port side. A flat-screen television and storage drawers are positioned forward of the head, while a cedar-lined hanging locker is forward of the shower.
Stainless-steel appliances and countertops are matched with wood cabinetry in the galley. Across from the galley on the starboard side is a C-shaped dinette. In addition to a full-size double berth, the midcabin area is equipped with a vanity with sink, a separate walk-in shower and a hanging locker.
Two bucket-style seats are positioned at the helm, as well as a two-person settee that can be used as an aft-facing lounge. The large windshield and side windows allow for excellent visibility. An optional electrically actuated sunroof in the hardtop provides ventilation. The wet bar between the bridge deck and cockpit includes a stainless-steel sink, pull-out faucet, ice-maker and stereo. An L-shaped lounge dominates the cockpit, where an aft-facing settee at the stern folds down and morphs into a sun lounge. Owners have the option of a hydraulic swim platform that can be lowered below the waterline, so you don’t have to move a muscle to get wet.
The foredeck is accessed via side decks, rather than a centerline walkthrough. The sunpad can be propped up to form two settees here. The bow rail is built with a midrail for extra strength. The 400 Premiere is the first Chaparral equipped with pod drives. The boat can be ordered with twin Volvo Penta IPS500s or IPS600s. With the latter, it cruises at 32 mph and gets about 1 mpg. Top speed is 42 mph.
Sabre 42 Express
The 42 is one of four express boats from Sabre Yachts. The South Casco builder also offers 34-, 38-and 52-foot express models.
In 2001, Sabre designed the 42 Express as a traditional inboard vessel, but last year it began installing Cummins MerCruiser Diesel’s Zeus pod setup. At press time, the builder was putting the finishing touches on its 10th 42 with Zeus power. (Sabre has sold 68 with conventional diesels.)
Sabre worked with CMD naval architect Cotty Fay to determine how the Zeus components — 425-hpdiesels, transmission and twin pod drives — should be installed in the 42 Express, according to Collins, the vice president of marketing and sales. What they came up with was a hull insert that provides the flat surface necessary for the installation, he says.
“The impact of Zeus can be seen in four areas,” says Collins, “better maneuverability, increased interior space, a reduction in engine noise, and improved high-speed fuel efficiency.” The pod-drive setup helps the boat better execute its mission of serving as a comfortable long-range cruiser for a couple and two guests for extended cruising, he says. The boat performs equally well with the lower-horsepower Zeus package (425-hp engines) or twin 540-hp setup, says Collins.
Guests can sit in the L-shaped settee that begins on the port side of the bridge deck and extends inboard, or in one of the aft-facing settees in the cockpit. The captain and companion sit in Stidd pedestal seats. After dropping the hook, they can rotate the seats and face their guests. Large forward and side windshields provide excellent visibility. Sabre uses varnished cherry window frames, and the underside of the hardtop is also accented with cherry.
Side decks lead forward to the classic-looking trunk cabin and the anchor locker, with its standard windlass and ground tackle. The bow rail begins at the step up to each side deck, so you’ll always have something to grab on passages to and from the bow.
The varnished cherry interior and teak-and-holly sole give the cabin a warm, comfortable feel. Sabre has placed the two staterooms at opposite ends of the cabin, which maximizes privacy.
The master stateroom is forward, while the guest stateroom is in the aft starboard corner, across from the galley. (The Zeus engine package requires less installation space, which allowed the builder to increase the guest cabin berth from 45 by 76 inches to 60 by 80 inches.) A single head with separate shower stall and vanity can be accessed via the forward stateroom or saloon.
Price is $679,500 with twin 425-hp Zeus pod drives.
Cruisers 470 Sports Coupe
You could say the 470 Sports Coupe from Cruisers Yachts belongs to a subset of the express cruiser design. Essentially, the express cruiser and sports coupe serve the same purpose: delivering crew and guests to their destination in fast, comfortable fashion. Upon arrival, they can enjoy all the creature comforts of home.
The hardtop/windshield design separates the two types. The coupe’s windshield, side windows and hardtop are one integral unit, with the window framing joining the hardtop on three sides. The conventional express cruiser’s hardtop and windshield are separate units, connected with the aforementioned see-through canvas and plastic panels. With these panels removed, everyone enjoys the sea breeze.
“We’ve evolved and eliminated the canvas,” says Tony Martens, director of product development and engineering for Oconto, Wisconsin-based Cruisers. “The canvas has always been a sore spot for boaters. Now they don’t have to fight with it, and we have the opportunity to climate-control the area.”
The coupe brings a more modern look to the genre, with its aerodynamic shape. It relies on an opening in the hardtop — or a retracting hardtop —for natural ventilation. The first 470 Sports Coupe is scheduled for completion this summer and likely will be on display for the first time at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in the fall. The boat will be offered only with Volvo Penta IPS pod drives. This engine package has allowed the builder to increase the size of the master stateroom, which is under the helm deck. Three hull windows on each side welcome in natural light. And this stateroom will have 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom. A head and separate shower and a vanity with sink are on the port side, while a queen-size island berth is to starboard. You’ll feel even more at home with the optional washer/dryer combo unit and a 26-inch LCD flat screen TV/DVD player.
Moving forward, the port-side galley includes all the essentials and more – a microwave/convection oven, electric stove, large refrigerator/freezer, double sink and a lighted liquor cabinet. A dishwasher, wine captain and trash compactor can also be ordered as options.
The forward stateroom also has an island berth. The head and vanity with sink is to starboard and the shower to port. The head can be accessed via the saloon.
Like the Chaparral, the Cruisers has an aft-facing seat just forward of the swim platform that folds down into a sun lounge. Access the cockpit via steps to starboard. The immense cockpit settee wraps around the port side of the cockpit and extends across the stern. Two tables can be mounted here for dining. To starboard, a wet bar with solid surface, refrigerator, sink and faucet, along with plenty of storage, are standard. An inboard-facing settee extends along the helm deck’s port side. The helm comes with a single pedestal seat or twin seats with flip-up bolsters.
Cruisers will offer the 470 with IPS500s (370-hp diesels), IPS600s (435-hp diesels) or IPS550Gs (375-hp gas). Pricing was unavailable at press time.
Editor’s Note: For more on express cruisers and details on two additional models, read Express Delivery. part 1.
Chris Landry is a staff writer for Soundings Magazine. This article originally appeared, along with with part 1, in the March 2009 issue.
Tags: Billy Joel, Chaparral 400 Premiere, Chaparral Boats, Cruisers 470 Sports Coupe, Cruisers Yachts, Cummins MerCruiser Diesel, Ellis Patriot 36, Sabre 42 Express, Sabre Yachts, Stidd, Volvo Penta IPS, Zeus