Specifications
LOA 54 ft., 3.5 in.
Beam 15 ft., 6 in.
Draft 3 ft., 8 in.
Displacement
Fuel 500 gals.
Water 150 gals.
Engines Triple Volvo Penta IPS 600 D6
Base Price as tested $1,595,588
Standard Equipment
Triple Volvo Penta IPS 600 D6 diesels, Kohler diesel generator (15.5 or 13.5 kw) w/sound shield, fly-by-wire steering and IPS joystick, air conditioner/heater, central vacuum, Raymarine E120 display and depthfinder, Volvo Penta color engine monitor, refrigerator/freezer, microwave/convection oven, 2-burner stove, electric grill in cockpit, hardtop w/power sunroof and more.
Optional Equipment
Bow and stern thrusters w/batteries, fuel-conditioning system, extended hydraulic swim platform, washer/dryer combo, sofa sleeper, Premium Raymarine package, dishwasher, electric helm seat, teak or synthetic easy-care teak in cockpit and on swim platform, and more.
Builder
Cruisers Yachts, Oconto, Wis.; (920) 834-2211; cruisersyachts.com
West Coast Dealer
Silver Seas Yachts, San Diego, Newport Beach, Sausalito, Calif.; Phoenix; (877) 349-6582; silverseasyachts.com

Blackfish Marine, Vancouver, B.C.; (800) 796-8081; blackfishmarine.com

Cruisers 540 Sport Coupe

Posted: April 1, 2013  |  Boat Type: Express Cruiser

Fulfilling the need for speed and the urge to be the host with the most

By: Mike Werling

When I was a kid, being pulled behind a 16-foot Bayliner (or something similar), I envisioned a much bigger boat doing the pulling — and instead of riding on a dirty old tractor tire inner tube, I was suavely skiing with a pretty girl to either side. The exact nature of the “cool” boat is lost to the mists of time, but as I was testing the Cruisers 540 Sport Coupe, I had a flashback. This definitely could have been the boat of my youthful daydreaming.

It is sleek while at the same time looking strong and sturdy. The pointed bow leans forward, anxiously awaiting power from the triple Volvo Penta IPS 600 D6 diesels, which provide a combined 1,305 hp. The hull stripe, which looks either bronze or silver depending on how the light hits it, starts low at the transom and moves upward to the point of the bow. The hull windows — three larger ones and three smaller ones on each side — lean forward to match the bow angle. Meanwhile, the windshield, which integrates with the hardtop, leans way back to keep the profile sleek. It’s at the perfect angle for reclining with a good book — for someone who’s about 12 feet tall.

Viewed from aft, the 540 presents a raised profile. The swim step, which can be ordered with a hydraulic option for raising and lowering, is the best way to board the vessel. Stairs to either side lead to boarding gates and the cockpit. Between the gates is the transom console, which is tall and rounded. A bench seat folds out of the aft face of the transom, to give passengers an aft-facing view. (That’s where my adoring legions would have sat and watched me in my youthful memories.)

Aboard

On the cockpit side of the console is a settee that seats two comfortably. But the settee has a trick up its sleeve. It can swing to port and join with the J-shaped settee there, creating one large gathering spot around a high-low table. Across from that is a wet bar with countertop space, a grill, a sink and a refrigerator. The optional high-low TV is housed in the wet bar, too. It’s a nice complement to the galley, which is below. And everything except the transom settee is under the hardtop, which has a big power sunroof.

Up a step is the forward cockpit, where the captain will find a comfortable perch on a soft chair with a flip-up bolster. Our test boat has the optional power captain’s chair. The starboard-situated helm is a modern-looking mixture of black, silver/gray, mocha and wood. The dash has room for two 12-inch displays and the Volvo Penta 7-inch color engine monitor. It also houses all of the gauges, switches, engine controls and the IPS joystick. From here, the captain has complete control of the vessel, as well as a good all-around view.

The captain won’t be alone in the upper cockpit. No, there is a second captain’s chair and a J-shaped settee to port that can seat three or four folks. If it’s just a couple out for a cruise, one of them can lounge on the settee, because there is a reclining aft-facing seatback built into the long portion of the settee. Whoever isn’t driving can lean back and chill.

Something interesting about the 540 SC is in the windshield. The boat has narrow sidedecks for forward access, but the best way to get to the large sunpad on the bow (which can be optioned as a recliner) is via the big walk-through in the windshield. One of the sections of the windshield swings open, and it’s large enough that most adult-sized humans can easily pass through it. Up a couple of stairs, through the opening and two steps will put you in sunbathing nirvana.

Even though the cockpit areas are surrounded by the hardtop and the enclosure, the area doesn’t feel constricting. Windows all around let in light. There is only a zipped-in wall aft, so when that is removed, things open up. And when you open the sunroof and the windshield walk-through, air moves through like on an express boat.

Between the captain’s chair and the settee/lounge is the entry to the belowdecks accommodations, and it’s surprisingly roomy, with standing headroom even for a big guy like me. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, you have a C-shaped settee, with two small tables instead of a single big one, to starboard and the galley to port. Dark wood cabinets, tables, doors and the sole are offset by white headliners, light countertops and upholstery (Cruisers calls it light oyster or mocha) and stainless appliances.

Forward is the guest stateroom, which has a queen bed, a hanging locker and private access to the second head, which doubles as the day head. Aft — under the upper cockpit area — is the full-beam master, and it is an owner’s retreat. A queen bed is centered in the space, butted against a bulkhead that is padded and decorated as a headboard. Three port windows on each side let in light and air. Two hanging lockers provide plenty of room for clothes, but one of those is sacrificed if the optional washer/dryer combo unit is chosen. A TV is built into the forward bulkhead, and a bench settee is under the port-side hull windows. The private head includes an electric head, a separate shower stall and a vanity.

Performance

Test day in San Diego was beautiful, so Silver Seas Yachts’ Rick Young and I were in no hurry, but the boat was — at least when we encouraged it to be. We went speeding past USS Midway and looked around for any traffic. Seeing none, we decided it was time to cut some patterns in the water. First a hard turn. Then a hard turn in the opposite direction. Then a figure 8 or two or five.

The big boat handled like a much smaller one, leaning slightly into the turns and taking them with hardly any loss of speed. Even during a lock-to-lock maneuver, my hand-held GPS unit showed a speed drop of only about 1.5 mph. It really is a fun boat in which to cut from left to right and back to left. Crashing through our own wake caused only the slightest bump, that sharp bow slicing through easily.

When I said we went speeding past USS Midway, I meant it. We hit 40 mph for a second or two, but 39.7 mph was our consistent reading at the Volvo Pentas’ 3500 rpm WOT. At that speed, the engines were burning a combined 66 gph. Dropping the rpm to 3000 gave us a speed of 30.4 mph and burned 42 gph, while 2500 rpm yielded 22.7 mph and 33 gph. At about 2200 rpm, right around 18.5 mph, the boat was on plane. Once we got there, we were able to back off a few hundred rpm and maintain plane.

Interestingly, for a planing boat, it’s pretty efficient at slow speed. With all three engines engaged, the 540 burned 8.9 gph while running at 9.6 mph, so it was getting better than 1 mpg at trawler-like speed. Not that you’d want to run a boat like this at that speed for long, but if you had to, you could do it economically — say for that long run out of Newport Harbor.

Belowdecks at cruising speed was quiet and smooth. I sat in the master stateroom for a while, taking it all in, and the sound of the water gliding past the hull was louder to my ear than the engines, and they’re just on the other side of the bulkhead. At the helm, Young and I were able to converse normally for the most part, raising our voices a bit at top speed.

As I sat in the captain’s chair and on the lower-cockpit lounge, I could see how this boat would be an entertainment platform, something Young said most 540 SC buyers are looking for. A dozen people could easily mingle on the three settees and two captain’s chairs. Drinks and food would be close at hand on the wet bar. Music would be cranking from the stereo system, which can be controlled via remote control from the transom. And non-invitees would be staring jealously from the dock and other boats.

Posted By: On: 10/31/2013

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