With conventional shafts turning the props through V-drive transmissions, Meridian's 441 won't make the same speeds or net the same fuel efficiency as similar boats powered by pod or tractor drives. But the 441's conventional propulsion has other merits. The aft placement of its V-drive configuration allows space for a utility room beneath the salon. Although it's large enough to serve as a crew stateroom, I envisioned using this space to stow four bikes, a deflated dinghy and outboard, six deck chairs, spare props, cases of beverages, and more -- invaluable to boaters who spend lots of time onboard.
The ease of docking argument proffered by pod proponents is largely muted by a new docking system installed aboard the 441. Called "Total Command," this integrates engine controls with bow and stern thrusters. Use a joystick to move the boat in close quarters. It doesn't provide the diagonal movement you get with pod drives, but it precisely delivers orthogonal (fore, aft, port, starboard) motion. Even so, twin inboards, especially diesels, are easy boats to dock, and may especially appeal to those who've been around the dock a few times.
If you run aground, the shear-off feature of pods and tractors protects you and your boat better than con-ventional shafts and rudders. But most groundings aren't usually catastrophic, and fixes involving conventional power are relatively inexpensive and easier because parts and service are more readily available.