Day boating may be fun, but cruising overflows with potential. If you love it, pretty soon you’ll get what boaters call “two-foot-itis ”; it’s the need for just a little bigger boat. In fact, boat sellers love this little bug and often count on it for their next sale. Here is what three to five more feet get you, so just maybe you can buy the boat of your dreams the first time.
28 Feet: Bayliner 285 SB
Cruising really begins with boats in the 28-foot range. They’re still small enough to be towed or stored on your property, yet big enough to overnight aboard. Bayliner’s 285 pairs a slimmed-down forward berth with a convertible Corian-tabled dinette and makes the midcabin berth an actual stateroom, meaning a real bulkhead and door, not just a curtain. That brings sleeping capacity to six, although in this size range, a couple (and maybe the kids) would truly be most comfortable for a weekend. The same holds true for living amenities, such as freshwater capacity. Cruisers in the 28-foot range offer adequate capacity for short trips, but generally not extended stays. The Bayliner 285 SB will tote 28 gallons of water.
Contact: Bayliner Knoxville, Tennessee; 360- 435-8957; bayliner.com
Class Advantage: Many stay within a beam of 8 feet 6 inches, and a 28-foot cruiser is still small enough to tow with a full-size vehicle.
Specs: LOA: 28'7" Beam: 9'11" Displacement (lb.): 8,056 Fuel Capacity: 89 gal. Max Horsepower: 380 Range at Cruising Speed: 142 nm Berths: 6
Price: $96,305 (with MerCruiser 350 Mag)
Gotta Have: Swim platform extension adds welcomed socializing space.
Another Option...Larson Cabrio 274
Larson opts for a more traditional V-berth, and the cozier midcabin berth is best left to the kids. The adults will likely enjoy a more comfortable night’s sleep forward. larsonboats.com
32 Feet: Cobalt 323
Boats in the 32-foot range, like the Cobalt 323, step up to twin engines, but they’re still mostly the familiar gasoline stern-drives, which allow you to navigate shallower waters. Twin engines make for easier docking, which is good, since a 32-footer is beyond reasonable towing size. Additional footage provides real space. Some manufacturers use it to allow a small family to weekend. Cobalt chose to make the ultimate day boat. Its expansive, single-level cockpit — featuring plush wraparound seating and a six-speaker stereo system — is complemented by a couple-friendly double berth, head and minimal galley below. Step aft and you’ve got a large swim platform, perfect for hot summer days. The 32-foot cruiser class offers excellent levels of versatility.
Contact: Cobalt Boats Neodesha, Kansas; 800-468-5764; cobaltboats.com
Class Advantage: While actual sleeping capacity isn’t much more than on a 28-footer, a larger cockpit and cabin provide more daytime fun for a larger crew.
Specs: LOA: 32'10" (w/o swim platform) Beam: 10'7" Displacement (lb.): 12,300 Fuel Capacity: 174 gal. Max Horsepower: 860 Range at Cruising Speed: 217 nm Berths: 2
Price: $266,577 (with twin MerCruiser 496 Mag MPI)
Gotta Have: Bimini enclosure provides comfort and protection, rain or shine.
Another Option...Rinker 310 Express Cruiser
Offers some nice touches, including an aft cockpit lounge that converts to a sun pad, an optional cockpit grill and a skylight that opens up the cabin. rinkerboats.com
37 Feet: Four Winns V375
Cast off in a 37-foot boat, like the Four Winns V375, and you’ll be less subject to rough seas, thanks to 15,000-plus pounds of displacement and a deep-V hull, which smooths the ride. You can still get the familiar stern-drives in this size range, although it is on the cusp of the size for which pod-drives and joystick controls become common. Roominess continues to increase in the 37-foot class. Check out the expansive helm area and the adjacent cockpit in the V375. It is equipped with a refreshment center that includes a sink and a choice of either a refrigerator or ice maker and is housed under a cabana hardtop with full enclosure. The V375’s standard deck plan offers curtained enclosures. Step up to optional bulkheaded staterooms for added privacy.
Contact: Four Winns Cadillac, Michigan; 231- 775-1351; fourwinns.com
Class Advantage: Say goodbye to cramped berths. In this size range, the midcabin berth becomes a true second cabin.
Specs: LOA: 37'0" Beam: 12'0" Displacement (lb.): 16,500 Fuel Capacity: 230 gal. Max Horsepower: 640 Range at Cruising Speed: 210 nm Berths: 6
Price: $336,476 (with twin Volvo Penta 5.7 GXi)
Gotta Have: MerCruiser Axius or Volvo Penta sterndrive joystick for docking ease.
Another Option...Monterey 360SY
From its racy, low-slung profile to its almost sportscarlike helm station with chrome-on-black wheel, the 360 oozes performance — and backs it up with as much as 860 hp. montereyboats.com
42 Feet: Regal 42 Sport Coupe
This 42-foot Regal and similar cruisers in its class are your entries into the world of “big boats.” Fully enclosed helm decks become the norm, and many are diesel pod-powered boats. Generators and air-conditioners are mandatory, if not standard. Regal’s 42 also offers goodies like an electric sunroof and a walk-through from helm to foredeck. Belowdecks, Regal focuses on generously sized sleeping areas, twin heads, a separate shower stall and plenty of room in the galley. In Boating tests when equipped with twin 300 hp Volvo Penta IPS pods, it achieved a cruising speed of 28.7 mph with excellent 1.36 mpg fuel economy. The trade-off? Long gone are the days of nosing onto a beach. Of course, there’s room to carry a dinghy for that purpose.
Contact: Regal Marine Industries Orlando, Florida; 407-851-4360; regalboats.com
Class Advantage: True privacy belowdecks, thanks to twin, bulkhead-and-door staterooms and possibly even separate heads.
Specs: LOA: 42'4" Beam: 13'0" Displacement (lb.): 19,500 Fuel Capacity: 280 gal. Max Horsepower: 700 Range at Cruising Speed: 298 nm Berths: 6
Price: $665,000 (with twin 300 hp Volvo Penta D4 turbodiesels)
Gotta Have: Electric grill in the wet bar makes your boat party central.
Another Option...Tiara 3900 Sovran
Tiara realizes cruising is often for one couple only and responds with the single-stateroom Sovran. The added space allows for a generous galley and home-theater-style lounge. tiarayachts.com
45 Feet: Sea Ray 450 Sundancer
Set up primarily for entertaining, the 450 Sundancer offers a master stateroom forward in an otherwise open plan that features a media room aft, which can sleep two. No doubt, cruisers in this size category begin incorporating some seriously luxurious characteristics. Take, for instance, the Japanese Shoji doors and solid-wood cabinetry throughout the 450 Sundancer. Occasional guests can draw the curtain and sleep on the convertible queen lounge. And when the party’s over, a couple heading off for the weekend will enjoy the boat’s climate-controlled, three-sided hardtop and its 70-gallon freshwater capacity. Most of all, they’ll find that an open layout like the Sundancer’s makes the boat more livable than one that has been cut up into separate cabins.
Contact: Sea Ray Knoxville, Tennessee; 800-772-6287; searay.com
Class Advantage: Many boats that are big enough to go even with the wind blowing do double duty as entertaining platforms. Open floor plans allow a party of 20 at the dock, and a cruising couple can stretch out.
Specs: LOA: 45'4" Beam: 13'2" Displacement (lb.): 27,205 Fuel Capacity: 285 gal. Max Horsepower: 850 Range at Cruising Speed: 213 nm Berths: 6
Price: $836,029 (with twin 364 hp Cummins-MerCruiser QSB 380 Zeus)
Gotta Have: Cockpit heat/air makes helm deck a climate-controlled second salon.
Another Option...Formula 45 Yacht
Two boats are better than one. Formula’s optional remote-controlled, hydraulic swim platform can carry a PWC for quick trips to shore — or when your crew is longing for a little playtime. formulaboats.com
48 Feet: Cruisers Yachts 48 Cantius
At nearly 50 feet, the Cruisers 48 Cantius, and boats like it, can comfortably cruise a family for a week or a snowbirding couple for an entire season. With large staterooms (the master featuring a queen-size bed), a flatscreen-equipped salon that’s big enough to dance in, a galley that includes an upright refrigerator/ freezer and even an optional washer/dryer, the Cantius is equipped for life aboard. Heck, even this boat’s swim platform is large enough for entertaining. The engine compartment is similarly spacious, as it is in most cruisers in this size class, and it offers easy access to vital systems, with plenty of storage capacity to boot. Finally, the Cantius is a performer, attaining a top speed above 37 mph.
Contact: Cruisers Yachts Oconto, Wisconsin; 920-834-2211; cruisersyachts.com
Class Advantage: This class offers the size, interior space and amenities to hit the spot for two couples on extended cruises.
Specs: LOA: 46'6" Beam: 14'6" Displacement (lb.): 32,000 Fuel Capacity: 400 gal. Max Horsepower: 870 Range at Cruising Speed: 315 nm Berths: 6
Price: $916,820 (with twin 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS 500)
Gotta Have: Optional hydraulic swim platform makes launching your RIB or PWC easy.
Another Option...Sunseeker Portofino 48
Sunseeker mixes it up, offering a double bed in the forward “VIP suite” that swings apart to form two separate, single berths. The Portofino is also offered in either open or hardtop versions. sunseeker.com