As the Lavey Craft staff pulled the shrink wrap off the 29 NuEra Offshore at the launch ramp in Parker, Ariz., a Powerboat writer joked that the crew must have grabbed a boat from the wrong shop.
Unlike past Lavey Crafts that feature bold use of color expertly done, this 29-footer had a simple paint job. With a white base and black checkers, it was reminiscent of a paint job you would see from a certain East Coast production builder.
After explaining that an overseas customer wanted a reserved paint job, Lavey Craft's Jeff Camire pointed to another surprise in the engine compartment: two Mercury Racing HP525EFI motors.
We like those kinds of surprises and we liked what we found in the Lavey Craft 29 NuEra, a boat that made good use of twin engines.
Since Lavey Craft introduced its 29-foot NuEra more than five years ago, we have only tested the boat in a single-engine configuration. Our testers at times wondered what the stepped-bottom boat with two modestly powered engines under the hatch would be like.
We got our chance, and after our evaluations on the Colorado River, the customer made the right choice going with twin blue motors. The package included the 500-hp big-blocks with Bravo One drives turning Bravo One 15 1/4" x 32" stainless propellers.
"It's a lot more fun with two motors instead of one," said our lead tester. "It tracks a lot better and it turns better with two motors."
The engine package also produced some unbelievable midrange acceleration. Hit the throttles and it takes just 3.9 seconds to go from 30 to 50 mph, and 7.2 seconds to run 40 to 70 mph.
Although the manufacturer estimates the boat can go faster than 95 mph, we were only able to get 92.4 mph at 5,300 rpm.
In 20 seconds the boat was running 83 mph with the engines turning a mere 4,500 rpm. On the top end it required some tab input to correct a mild porpoise. And when the boat encountered large side wakes at top speed, it also required throttle adjustment to keep it settled.
Pull back the throttles a bit and the NuEra has few equals when it comes to slalom turns at 40 and 50 mph. The V-bottom carved nicely and earned top scores for tracking at low and middle speeds.
Lavey Craft vacuum-bags the boat and although it increases the production time, it also improves hull strength. The 29-footer has a full liner—typically reserved for East Coast boats—which allows for all the water to drain from the cockpit.
Although the paint job was made to look like a production boat, it had some distinctive custom features such as the Accon Pop-Up cleats that were set in red powder-painted bezels. The fuel fill had the look of an Indy car with Allen-head screws around the flange.
Other custom touches were the three scoops on the engine hatch to feed plenty of air to the big-block motors. The engine hatch lifts up, taking the backrest of the rear bench, which provided plenty of room to access the motors.
The customer had the builder install acrylic mirrors under the engine hatch to show off the spotless compartment. Wire looms and cables in the bilge were neatly organized and supported with stainless cushion clamps. Trim pumps for the drives and tabs were mounted to the firewall.
The builder also paid close attention to its rigging work at the helm. Removing the panels in the midcabin, wiring was again properly supported and organized, making it easy to service.
In the open bow, the builder designed some angled backrests so passengers can sit facing forward and watch the water while running. For added security, passengers can hold onto the stainless rails on either side of the bow.
Moving into the midcabin, few boats offer as much headroom as the NuEra. One of our test team members, who checks in at 6-foot-5, had no problem sitting in the facing lounges. The lounges were comfortable and the headliner was expertly finished with a gray fabric.
The boat's owner kept the cabin fairly simple by not equipping it with flat-screen televisions or a galley. The only electronic device was the Rockford Fosgate stereo and a 12-volt power outlet. There were no doors on either side of the cabin so that allowed for a free-flow of air.
Out in the cockpit, the driver's station was to starboard. Gauges were from Livorsi Marine and were set in angled red anodized bezels. Lavey Craft used Bluewater Performance mechanical indicators for the tabs and drives, and went with Mercury throttles and shifters.
There were manual dropout bolsters for the driver and co-pilot in case the water gets rough. The observer also can hold onto grab rails situated on the left gunwale and in front of their seat.
Passengers riding on the rear bench also have some options for holding on. The builder provided grab rails for the outside passengers that run from the gunwales to the backs of the bolsters.
Whether customers opt for the 29 NuEra with a single engine or twin big-blocks, they won't go wrong. We suggest first taking the twin-engine boat for a ride because chances are potential customers won't want anything else.
Hull and Propulsion Information
|Deadrise at transom||24 degrees|
|Hull weight||5,200 pounds|
|Engines||(2) Mercury Racing HP525EFI|
|Lower-unit gear ratio||1.5:1|
|Propellers||Lab-finished Mercury Bravo One 15 1/4" x 32"|
|Base retail price||$115,500|
|Price as tested||$172,650|
Options on Test Boat
Upgrade to twin Mercury Racing HP525EFI engines ($37,500), dual-ram hydraulic steering with tiebar ($4,850), cuddy open bow ($4,400), Mercury Racing 280S K-Planes, ($4,200), full hydraulic helm ($2,400), Livorsi Monster gauges ($1,650), Bluewater mechanical trim indicators ($1,500) and VHF dual-helm radio ($650).
|Radar||92.4 mph at 5300 rpm|
|GPS||92.4 mph at 5300 rpm|
|5 seconds||32 mph|
|10 seconds||63 mph|
|15 seconds||76 mph|
|20 seconds||83 mph|
|30-50 mph||3.9 seconds|
|40-60 mph||4.5 seconds|
|40-70 mph||7.2 seconds|
|Time to plane||5.1 seconds|
|Minimum planing speed||18 mph|
Rpm vs. Mph
|At 25 mph||1.5 mpg|
|At 35 mph||1.6 mpg|
|At 45 mph||1.7 mpg|
|At 55 mph||1.5 mpg|
|At 65 mph||1.5 mpg|
|At WOT||1.1 mpg|
|Fuel capacity||110 gallons|
|Wind speed||1-3 mph|
|Sea conditions||6" chop|
For More Information
Lavey Craft Performance Boats
210 Benjamin Drive
Corona, CA 92879