From the standard hardtop sheltereing its flying bridge to the flat-screen TV in its salon, Maxum's swank 4600 SCB Limited Edition is like an all-inclusive vacation package. It provides everything you need to get away and have some fun, save for new cruisewear for you and your mate. The only real decision is whether to finance the half-a-mil it costs or simply write a check. Most comparable boats require additional gut wrenching before climbing aboard. Some cost more, but then they include the few standard items that are optional on the 4600 SCB LE. Are these items fundamental to cruising? Does paying more mean you get more?
RUNNING IT. Twin 430-bhp Cummins diesel inboards propelled our test boat to nearly 30 mph at wide open throttle and provided a brisk 27.2-mph cruising speed. Those numbers are almost identical to those we recorded while testing Carver's 450 Voyager ($569,000 powered as our test boat) and a little slower at top end than the 44'-by-14'3" Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge that posted 32.7 mph with a pair of 350-hp gasoline engines. (When powered as our test boat, the 400 Sedan Bridge costs $481,048.)
But top speed is hardly the ultimate criterion when judging a sedan's performance. We place a higher priority on cruising speed and range, both of which the 4600 SCB LE offers in ample quantity. We also like to test for minimum planing speed - that magic combination of power and trim that allows you to stay on top and in control should you get caught in a squall - and midrange acceleration, a healthy dose of which allows you to run with confidence in following seas, particularly breaking inlets.
How'd the 4600 SCB LE fare? Push the standard single-lever electronic controls forward and you'll jump from 15 to 20 mph in 2.36 seconds. That's quick for a boat of this size and type, according to the database we've compiled (our tests are conducted using a radar gun interfaced to a PC running Stalker acceleration software). Minimum plane? Depress the tabs, throttle down to 1700 rpm, and check out your wake: That V-shaped white water spilling off the chines means you're still on top. And at 15 mph, you're going slow enough to take the bumps out of all but the biggest lumps.
TOUGH ENOUGH. Cruising skippers seek security, too. The 4600 SCB LE's through-bolted hull-to-deck joint, rugged 2"-diameter propshafts, and through-bolted engine beds provide just that.
THE HIGHS: Practice your accent: The styling is continental. Solid construction abounds. You'll love the view from the dinette as much as the comfort of the opposing salon lounges.
THE LOWS: Refrigerator latch needs upgrading. Spring for better mattresses. A lower station option would be welcome. Color match or hide the a/c vents.
The cabin, or "house," is molded as part of the deck, and the plywood structural frames are fully fiberglassed to support the sides and "roof" of the house. This allows the cabin and deck to flex together as the boat encounters the normal forces of sea and speed that create torque while underway. Creaks and groans are minimized. So is the threat of premature leaking from windows and ports, which often occurs when the metal frames of these fixtures flex at a different rate than fiberglass. Too much disparate flex eventually breaks the bead sealing the frame and water stains bloom where a pristine headliner once shone. For that reason Carver claims its high-tech frameless window system is superior to framed windows, such as those found aboard Maxum's 4600 SCB LE. This leakage is a real problem within the boating industry and the jury is still out on the best solution. What's important is that the 4600 SCB LE's solid, time-proven construction method addresses the problem and provides durability.
ONE OF A KIND. These construction values are found in the standard version of Maxum's 4600 SCB. The extra $50,000 you'll spend for the Limited Edition model we tested nets you, in addition to the hardtop and standard diesel power with electronic controls, a strikingly different and more luxuriously appointed accommodation plan. Step through the sliding, screened companionway hatch and note the facing Ultraleather settees to port and starboard. As opposed to the typical single U-lounge, these opposing lounges make a better conversation pit. A moveable hi-lo table, a familiar convenience to Sea Ray fans, rises from cocktail to buffet height at the touch of a button. Carpet runners are standard, but instead of button snaps, "lift the dot" snaps were used. The posts of these are sure to spear a bare foot. Maxum says production models will feature low-profile snaps. Check it out.
Forward, the raised dinette, with its faux teak-and-holly sole and solid-surface tabletop, resides upon a dais beneath the windshield. It seats six and provides a glorious view. In contrast, the more expensive 450 Voyager features a standard lower station helm in this location and a dinette with a less expansive view. Sea Ray offers the lower station as an option, something three-season boaters should note.
To port, the galley features an L-shaped counter that's topped with the same black-flecked surface as the dinette, and there's more teak and holly underfoot. It's arranged so that the chef doesn't have her back to guests in the salon. The downside to the arrangement is the position of the refrigerator/freezer. Facing aft, it's more likely to open unexpectedly if the conditions get rough. There's a pushbutton latch to prevent this, but we'd prefer a hook or barrel bolt for added security. A two-zone Bose audio system, DVD player, and flat-screen TV takes care of entertainment. Solid-cherry, gold-inlaid trim adorns all. White air-conditioning vent grates are a black eye on the 4600 SCB LE's chic decor.
The boat's lower deck displays equally good taste as more gold-inlaid cherry accents a fashionable mélange of lamé-accented, earth-toned fabric. We prefer the innerspring mattresses found aboard the 450 Voyager and 400 Sedan Bridge to the foam pads installed on the 4600 SCB LE. Both the master and guest staterooms feature private entry to each of two heads, both of which sport frosted-glass portholes for naturally illuminated privacy. The master head also has the welcome luxury of a bathtub.
ALL-INCLUSIVE? The 4600 SCB LE carries a slightly higher retail price than the 400 Sedan Bridge. But if you factor in the cost of some of the 4600 SCB LE's standards, such as the foredeck sunlounge and wood galley flooring, and then subtract the cost of some of 400 Sedan Bridge standards, such as innerspring mattresses and an oil-exchange system (especially valuable aboard boats like these, where engine access is via hatches in the salon sole), the price difference will soon evaporate. When considering the 450 Voyager's higher price, take note that it comes standard with a bow thruster, Glendinning cable master, 150 gallons more fuel capacity, and a lower station.
LAST WORD. This stylish, sturdy sedan packages all the good stuff you can dream of into one all-inclusive price.
Displacement (lbs., approx.) ............31,200
Transom deadrise ..9°
Bridge clearance 18'0"
Minimum cockpit depth ............2'1"
Max. cabin headroom..6'7"
Fuel capacity (gal.)........418
Water capacity (gal.)........100
Price (w/standard power) ............$499,995
Price (w/test power) ............$499,995
STANDARD POWER: Twin 430-bhp Cummins in-line-6 diesel inboards.
OPTIONAL POWER: None
TEST BOAT POWER: Twin 430-bhp Cummins 450C in-line-6 diesel inboards with 504.5 cid, 4.49" bore x 5.32" stroke, swinging 24" x 22" four-bladed Nibral props through 1.54:1 reductions.
STANDARD EQUIPMENT (major items): Fiberglass hardtop with canvas enclosure; ss anchor roller and chafe plate; windlass; electrically adjustable, split helm bench; Mathers Microcommander electronic controls; trim tabs; flying bridge table, icemaker, and sunpad; wetbar; transom shower; freshwater washdown w/hose locker; 16,000-Btu a/c; TV/VCR combo; DVD player; flat-screen TV; Bose 2-zone stereo system w/8 speakers; 2 enclosed heads w/showers; tub; 2 vacuum-flush commodes; salon icemaker; 2-burner electric cooktop; refrigerator/freezer; convection/microwave oven; canvas helm, seating, and windshield covers; 18-gallon water heater; dripless shaft seals; battery charger; dual 30-amp shorepower w/cords. Of course, if you've got the wherewithal to drop a half-million dollars on a boat, chances are you're going to equip said boat exactly the way you want. And only you can define the difference between a need and a want.