I am impressed by Tiara Yacht’s Q 44 for a variety of reasons, including the fact that, rather than cruise in the wake of perceived demand, this boat sets out on a course of its own. That’s big stuff, especially when one considers that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and most boatbuilders gush with praise for their competitors.
The Q 44 is unique in many ways. Read along and find out why I think the Tiara Yacht Q 44 deserves the “adventure yacht” moniker its makers bestowed upon it.
Any boat ready for adventure must possess the ability to handle rough, open water in a confidence-inspiring manner. Tiara Yachts built the Q 44 using the same bluewater hull-design features one will find incorporated into the builder’s vaunted Open series of offshore fishing boats, many of which I have personally trialed. As such, I can attest that the Q 44 delivers the goods. It tracked better than I had anticipated for such a beamy boat. Running into the waves, the ride remained open-top-coffee-cup comfortable in 4-foot seas up to about 25 knots of boat speed. Visibility forward, aft and abeam is excellent, and especially good for an IPS-powered boat. Boats with these drives often turn so sharp and lean so hard that it can be difficult to see where you are headed without looking out through an overhead hatch during turns. But the businesslike geometry and placement of the windows and windshield conspire to provide an excellent view from the helm of the Q 44, regardless of course or speed. Close-quarters maneuvering with the Volvo Penta IPS joystick proves as reliable as ever.
If I have a complaint about running the Tiara Yacht Q 44, it is the fact that the throttle levers blocked the trim-tab switches aboard my prototype test boat — a glitch Tiara maintained it would correct in production models.
Twin 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS 600s powered the Q 44. These delivered a quiet, smoke-free ride and proved efficient, posting a range of about 300 miles throughout the cruising rpm band. Such long legs ensure the Q 44 will get you there while the ride ensures you arrive ready for adventure.
As important as ride and range are to a vessel billing itself as a vehicle for adventure, the ability to carry the equipment used to fulfill the mission is just as important. Tiara has fitted the Q 44 with a rack system atop the deckhouse that provides for secure carriage of bicycles, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. I can’t say exactly how many boats I’ve seen sporting a kayak or bike held down with a bungee cord and what appeared to be spare clothesline — and looking like the waterborne equivalent of the California-bound Okies in The Grapes of Wrath — but it’s more than a few, and it’s very un-seaman like. If offshore fishing is on your agenda, the cabin top is fitted with flats for adding outriggers. Diving, shooting skeet, enjoying large inflatable recreational devices … whatever is part of your adventure regimen, the Q 44 offers what Tiara refers to as a cellar to stow all the accouterments. This space is accessed via a hatch in the port side of the sole near the helm. Stepping down and in, I found there to be plenty of room for gear, storage or general boat supplies.
While the Tiara Yacht Q 44’s ride, range and stowage solutions provide security and organization for equipment, the boat’s layout allows for easy deployment and enjoyment of that gear. The cockpit, helm deck and side decks are all on one level, which represents a big component of this ability. There are no steps to navigate while shouldering gear ashore or while carrying a small boat aft until you reach the hydraulic swim platform, which, in effect, becomes a teak beach for launching paddle craft (or any small boat). This single-level arrangement makes myriad mundane boating chores, such as anchoring, docking and cleaning, a snap, which should go without saying to those who know boats.
Adventure, of course, can simply mean taking the boat to a great spot. Once there, the Q 44 offers the ability to socialize outdoors better than most cruisers its size. The single-level walk-around decks, huge aft cockpit and hydraulic swim platform form the environment. This is populated with a range of features, such as the jump seat and sun pad on the bow, and the so-called “kitchen island” in the cockpit. This last feature is some 6 feet long, topped with a faux stone counter and cutting board, and fitted with a sink, hot and cold running water, a refrigerator/freezer and a grill. Also, a fore- and aft-facing lounge converts to a sun pad while two cockpit L lounges are served by teak tables and convert to sleepers. There is an optional Plan B layout intended to suit anglers that opens the cockpit and includes a livewell.
Belowdecks is a delightful space, bedecked in Wenge wood and teak, into which sunlight floods through a variety of fixed and opening orifices. I was impressed by the innovative scissors berth that can be spread open to create seating or pushed together to form a berth, as your needs require. There is a microwave and refrigerator here, of course, and a large TV. And serious cooking can take place topside at the kitchen island where odors and mess create less of a problem. The separate head and shower arrangement is a great idea, and each is located aft and behind its own door. To confirm, this boat will sleep four passengers — two belowdecks and two more on the convertible L lounges located topside.
The True North Yachts 50, 38 and 34 Outboard Express (about $380,000; see Boating June 2015) are outfitted for adventure and touted as such, and all are either larger or smaller and lack walk-around decks. That leaves Tiara’s Q 44 standing alone atop a category of one. It is a must-see.