Author: Zuzana Prochazka
Versatile isn’t a robust enough word to capture the 2013 Cruisers 45 Cantius and its many hidden and not-so-hidden features. As I walked through the yacht, and Rick Young of Silver Seas Yachts showed me one convertible element after another, an old infomercial featuring the Chop-O-Matic by Ron Popeil flashed in my head: “It slices, it dices! But wait, there’s more!” And indeed, there was more and more, until it became clear that in a world where boats are sets of compromises, the 45 Cantius is the multitool of watercraft and really not a compromise at all.
The 45 Cantius is the newest design from Cruisers Yachts of Oconto, Wis., a company with a 100-year history of boat building. With this new model, the designers tossed out preconceived notions and started with a clean sheet of paper as they melded the best of a sedan and an express boat.
Young described the 45 Cantius as “an all-around boat,” because his next three prospects for the model are completely different kinds of customers. One is downsizing from a 63-foot Ferretti to an owner-operated model; one is upsizing from a 34-footer due to growing kids; and one is a new boater whose confidence was boosted by the pod drives that make docking a breeze.
“This boat works for all sorts of people,” Young said. “The guy heading to Catalina for a yacht club rendezvous, the couple that wants to entertain a party of 12 on the bay or as a second home for anyone flying in from Arizona.” It does seem that this model can morph into whatever boaters are looking for.
I stepped aboard via the extended swim platform, which is about a foot longer than the standard version. It has a hydraulic lift, so you can easily load a dinghy, or you can lower it to water level to form a “teak beach” that will draw some jealous looks in the anchorage. It’s a $47,000 option, but the fun and safety it provides for guests, and especially kids, will be worth it.
Steps to port brought me through the wide transom gate to the cockpit where the versatility show started in earnest with the seating arrangements. The transom seat forms both a forward- and aft-facing double, which also lifts to reveal a large storage space below for fenders, lines and toys. At the touch of a button, the seats electrically unfold to form a sunpad with split backrests, so two people can lounge facing forward, aft or one in each direction.
If lounging is the order of the day, but sun exposure is not, another button extends the overhead Sure Shade awning, which is so nicely integrated into the hardtop it’s completely invisible until it’s extended. It covers the entire cockpit, so it can be used regardless of the weather, and at $6,000 it’s another expensive but worthwhile option.
The entire aft bulkhead is glass, but three-quarters of it opens to bring the outside in. The swing door is to starboard, and the half-height hinged window to port lifts up and turns the galley counter into a cockpit bar. The arrangement opens up the flow of air, light and conversation, and it ties together the two areas of the boat. An optional Kenyon grill, a refrigerator and an ice-maker complete the feel of an outdoor galley without duplicating the indoor one, similar to some large express boats.
I stepped inside, and from the door I could see all the way forward and out to the bow. The light inside was impressive, with acres of large windows all around and a 6-by-6-foot sunroof overhead. It was hardly like being inside at all. The sunroof, which is standard, opens electronically to bring in more air than any hatch possibly could but also has a sliding shade that covers it entirely. Triangular pop-out wings at the sides of the windshield funnel air in and reminded me of the smoking windows of “Mad Men”-era cars.
The U-shaped galley to port is very functional, with a sink, a microwave/convection oven, a two-burner cooktop and a half-height side-by-side Nova Kool refrigerator and freezer. Another feature here that ties the various spaces of the boat together is the standard flat-screen TV that faces the interior or swings out so people in the cockpit can watch a movie. Across from the galley is a sofa with recliner footrests, some overhead storage and a well-organized electrical panel.
Forward and to port is a U-shaped dinette, which also serves as companion seating for the helm. If there is a complaint about the boat’s design, it’s here, because the removable table is cocktail sized — in fact, nowhere aboard can four people sit for a comfortable dinner with room for enough place settings. Perhaps a larger folding table could be designed.
The helm to starboard is compact but very efficient, with space for twin multifunction displays, a VHF, Volvo’s engine display, an autopilot interface, toggle switches, gear shifts and the pod-drive joystick. Everything is within reach, and the visibility is excellent all around with the small exception of the aft port corner, which is obscured by the galley counter. From the twin seat, the helmsman can talk to anyone all the way back to the cockpit, so socializing and crew coordination are easy.
Four steps lead down to the two-cabin, two-head accommodations. The master stateroom is forward with 6 feet, 6 inches of headroom, an island queen-sized berth, an opening hatch overhead, multiple fixed side ports, loads of storage and an en suite head with a large separate shower stall. The second cabin, also called the media room, is a full-beam retreat that serves many purposes. There is a double athwartship bed with a frosted-glass panel that separates it from the second single berth. That berth, however, can also be made up into twin optional loungers with footrests from where you can watch a flat-screen TV on a swing arm. There is also a third single lounge to port.
At first, I thought this is where I’d put the guests or send the kids while I stayed up top. But once I laid back on the lounge, looked out the three large vertical hull windows to my right and noticed the clarity of the TV, which was swung back into its place on the bulkhead, I reconsidered. This might be an ideal place to curl up with a book, and it would be a toss-up which cabin to choose as the master.
The standard features on the 45 Cantius are plentiful and make life aboard easy whether from a comfort or technical viewpoint. A Quick electric windlass on the bow makes easy work of anchoring, and the Glendinning retractable shore-power cord will save your back at the dock. High solid railings lead from the cockpit all the way to the bow on sidedecks a foot wide. It’s easy to maneuver safely and quickly from one end of the boat to the other. Other surprisingly standard features include 40,000 Btu reverse-cycle AC/heat, a multistation stereo and a standard 13 kw genset with an optional oil change system. A washer/dryer combo and a central vacuum system are among the optional conveniences.
We headed out onto San Diego Bay after exiting a tight side-tie with only 2 feet of clearance forward and aft. The joystick-controlled maneuverability of the pod drives allows expert and novice skippers alike to take on the most complicated docking situations with small fairways and crosswinds.
The bay was flat with a breeze around 12 knots. I pushed the throttles forward on the Volvo IPS 600s, which are the upgraded 435 hp engines (standard is IPS 500, 375 hp). With marginal bowrise, the boat popped up on plane and then held steady through any chop I could find or create myself with wakes. The steering was very responsive, and the ride was Cadillac smooth. I noticed that my camera, perched on the varnished table, barely moved. The boat carved into turns like a deep-V hull should, without skitter, hesitation or vibration. In fact, at WOT, we held a conversation at a normal volume even with the aft door and the sunroof open.
Our top speed was 37 mph at 3600 rpm, where we probably benefited from a little tail wind, and burned 40 gph. We cruised at 25.4 mph, burning 27 gph.
The boat will plane around 2200 to 2500 rpm at 13 to 15 mph, depending on load. Once on plane, the boat gets nearly 1 mph. With 362 gallons of fuel, the range should be 250 to 300 miles at a reasonable cruising speed of 22 to 24 mph, plus in-harbor maneuvering when not on plane.
Access to the engine room is via a hatch in the cockpit sole. The engines are accessible from all four sides, although the outboard angles would be a little tight for a large mechanic. Like on all other pod-driven boats, the engines sit farther aft, which creates extra room, allowing, in the case of the 45 Cantius, for the space that became the impressive second cabin. The Kohler genset is up against the transom with the pods on either side. Overall, this is an efficient and workable engine space with room for other features, including a Fireboy fire suppression system.
The 45 Cantius has a base price of $859,000, which includes an impressive list of standard features. Our test boat is decked out with just about every option except teak in the cockpit and came in just over $1 million. The good news is that boat show pricing reduces the price to about $899,000 according to Silver Seas Yachts.
The 45 Cantius nestles into the line between its siblings, the 41 and the 48, but there is little it shares with them in terms of layout and features. Due to its adaptable nature, the game-changing 45 reminded me of a Leatherman: Just when you think you’ve figured out it’s a knife, out comes a screwdriver, a bottle opener or a pair of pliers, and you have a whole new tool. Like a multitool, this boat morphs into something new at the touch of a button or the opening of a door. In a market where buyers want everything über-personalized, the 45 Cantius serves up a smorgasbord of standard features and options that might leave a multitool wishing it could do more.