Sea How She Runs.
Meridian claims that the 441 tops out at over 33 mph with the larger 474-bhp Cummins MerCruiser diesels installed. My tester's twin 420-bhp QSB 5.9s delivered 30.1 mph at full throttle with four people aboard, the optional hardtop (price n/a at press time) installed, its bottom painted, and fully laden. I wouldn't want more horsepower. The 441 planed readily -- in fact, with less inclination than what I've experienced aboard many pod-powered boats. I'd attribute this to the down-angle thrust delivered by conventional props and shafts. (Note: This same feature is largely what diminishes efficiency and speed once on plane compared to the "flat" shaft angle of pods.) At 22 mph, the engines burned 33.4 gph, producing 0.6 mpg for a range of 257 miles. It held plane at 11 mph, identical to the minimum planing speed I recorded during my test of Silverton's 43 Sportbridge ($654,078 with twin 435-bhp Volvo Penta IPS 600 tractor drives and joystick). That's a great attribute when the wind comes up in your face and you want to proceed in control but without dropping off the crests of waves and slamming. These speeds, though slower than boats powered by pods or express boats of any ilk, are acceptable to me. Why? Because a sedan such as the 441 is about the destination, rather than a means to a destination.
The engine installation is impressive. Thanks to a hatch in the utility room, servicing the fuel filters is a snap. Within the engine room, I could easily check the oil, swap out a bilge pump, change a genset filter, or drain the water heater for winter storage. Electrical connections were neatly routed and sealed. I squawked to Meridian senior personnel about the genset's raw-water seacock, which I couldn't close because its handle hits a bundle of cables. Manufacturing will fix the installation, rotating the valve so that it's fully operational. The 441 sported the first application I've seen of Cummins MerCruiser's Vessel Interface Panel (VIP). VIP moves most onboard engine electronics and circuit breakers to a remote panel, mounted here on the bulkhead. This makes engine electrical troubleshooting easier. It also provides a way to interface the engines with the SmartCraft engine and boat systems control and monitoring system, which allows you to oversee vital functions at the helm.