INSIDE EDITION. Getting to the bow is done with ease-just check out the requisite cockpit steps, wide sidedecks, and sturdy grabrails and you'll see what I mean. But the 500 Express also offers access through the windshield, which is split and hinged on its port corner, near the companionway. Going forward, whether to cleat a springline alongside, deploy fenders, or drop the hook using the windlass foot switch, is safe and easy. Simply put, this side walkthrough arrangement is unique.
Just as unique is the transom setup, which provides a threesome of amenities: dinghy handling, seating, and bulk stowage. Step out onto the extended swim platform and flip open the transom cap: a davit ($22,714) is revealed for easy launch and load of a small boat. Below the davit lid is a recessed area that forms a four-person bench, complete with cushions, plus drinkholders and a stereo remote. This lid opens the lower stowage compartment. Stand up and lift the seat lid. Stowage for fenders and lines as well as power and water inlets are inside.
The cockpit sports a cool U-lounge, a section of which pulls out from inside the transom to create a sunpad. The wetbar incorporates an electric grill ($1,607), and the table features a folding top, which I found convenient. Now take a close look at the table's pedestal: Its socket features a collar that prevents the pedestal from going out of round. This solves a common problem: After the table has been leaned on a few times, the pedestal becomes oblong in cross-section and no longer fits tight, and the table wobbles.
THE FIRE DOWN BELOW. I woke up without the benefit of an alarm clock, as light streamed in through the six windows-vertical port lights, really-installed in the master stateroom. Window treatments are standard, but I'm so used to aft cabins being cave-like that I didn't think to close them the night before.
The mattress proved comfortable to sleep on, though I kept bumping my head on the valance overhead, which looks great but overhangs the berth too much. Showering was easy in the master head's wide and tall stall. I was also impressed with the cabinetry in here, which is real grain-matched cherry veneer. Now check the hanging locker. It has a shelf positioned at mid-height that has a section cut out of it. This allows you to hang long items, say a sundress, alongside shirts and still have a shelf.