Let's face it: For most owners of express cruisers, cruising means day boating. And day boating means having room for the crew to spread out, as well as amenities galore. Four Winns V408 fulfills the long day on the water mission, plus it can serve as a weekend cottage. The V408 is a "big" 40-footer. Its enclosed hardtop with electric sunroof offers a high-end patio sunroom wherever you drop the hook. It has an accommodation plan that's ideal for entertaining. And it's full of standard conveniences. Looking for a 40-something express cruiser built for the way most boaters really cruise? Read on.
The V408's lines are low and sleek. The look is clean and modular. There's just enough edginess and detail to delight the eye. Check out the recessed circular deck hatches, which are centered within annular skylights. Take in the accent shadows created by the sharp edges of the integral radar arch. Gaze down the after edge of the top to the chromed engine intake vents. These look cool, and above the sheer, they protect your engine from spray. Aboard my tester, Four Winns carried the broad, red painted bootstripe out and around the swim platform like the edge band of a custom table.
Aft, the sheer remains straight, instead of diving in a droopy arc to the waterline. This keeps the hull-to-deck joint far above the waterline and less susceptible to leaks, especially if you accidentally bump a piling. It also provides more interior volume. Why? Because, basically, the lower the sheer, the shorter the hull. Shorter hulls need taller decks to achieve adequate freeboard. For structural and molding reasons, tall decks angle inboard. An inward lean of several inches per side can substantially narrow the usable cockpit and cabin space. A 6" reduction on a 40' boat is a loss of 20 square feet.
Chaparral's 400 Premier ($614,667, powered like my test boat) increases space by adding sponsons above the waterline forward. The design gives the 400 Premier the largest forward cabin available in this size cruiser, allowing, among other things, for the inclusion of two standard heads. Of course, you can add a second head to the V408 for $6,154 and get a solid bulkhead that creates a completely private aft stateroom in the bargain. Two heads are great for extended weekends with a large crew sleeping aboard. But for day cruising, I like V408's standard cabin plan.
Without the second head and bulkhead, the open area of the V408's cabin is large and flowing. The aft "cabin" in this arrangement is open to the salon and fitted with a five-person L-shaped settee that converts to a berth for occasional guests; there's a curtain for privacy. With the curtain open, those seated can see the TV and converse with others sitting at the convertible dinette or gathered at the galley. The plan also lends a greater sense of openness to the cabin. What's more, Four Winns took pains to ensure that the words "cave," "claustrophobic," and "confining" will never come to mind while you're aboard. Large fixed hull windows and a multitude of skylights, hatches, and ports let in plenty of sunlight that's well reflected by the decor. Blond wooden doors -- the master stateroom pocket door sports eight opaque panels -- and blond flooring are anchored by a white headliner and ivory and beige bulkhead coverings. Glossy, medium-toned base cabinets house stainless-steel refrigerator and freezer units. The countertop is black faux stone with a stainless backsplash. All of this provides visually exciting contrast. Geometry is also used to enhance space. The head bulkhead and the short leg of the L-shaped galley counter are curved to the same radius. The pedestal socket in the sole supports a return -- a temporary section of clear Lexan, making the L-shape counter a U and adding 2' of length to the counter.
All of these amenities combine to make the V408's cabin ideal for entertaining. There should be a shelf installed in the corner bulkhead galley cabinet to make its space more usable. Also, the height from sole to the header of the stateroom door is only 5'10" -- a concession to the flat, albeit highly functional foredeck and low slung profile. Headroom within the stateroom is as generous as any similar boat.
A Hole in the Roof
Topside, the V408 features the only standard electric sunroof aboard a boat with an enclosed hardtop built in the U.S. The French-built Jeaneau's Prestige 42 S ($481,329, powered like my test boat) also has one. While running, the twin 370-bhp Volvo Penta IPS 500s delivered smooth, quiet power, and the deadrise and stout construction of the V408 provided smooth, quiet progress through the water. I throttled up and an acre of blue sky opened overhead. I could smell the water and taste the salt. A refreshing flow tousled my hair -- or would have if I hadn't just gotten a crew cut. It felt nice. Even at the 35-mph top speed, it was a breeze, not a blast. The electric sunroof is more convenient than a unit that opens manually. These things are hefty and handling them while underway can be a tough maneuver.
Since it was introduced on V Series cruisers in 2007, the standard electric grill located at the transom has become something of a trademark for Four Winns, and it makes great sense. It keeps smoke and grime from collecting under the hardtop and places out of harm's way a hot appliance for partiers using the peninsula wetbar in the cockpit. There's a standard fridge and icemaker inboard of the transom door for drinks, too. Order the transom table ($538), which installs on a portable mount, to provide a work surface while grilling. And if you get lonely, the aft lounge's backrest slides forward electrically, allowing guests to sit facing aft, beside you as you toil over the flames.
Bored with that, they can lift the lid of the fender stowage compartment in the platform and check out the local marine life -- its bottom is clear plastic. The V408 is the first express cruiser I've ever been on that features a standard look box. Of course you could don a mask and fins. But then you'd get wet and have to exert yourself. Aboard the V408, such experiences occur by choice, not happenstance.
MSRP: Standard power - $587,031 Test power - $612,308
Contact: 231.775.1343 www.fourwinns.com