This Italian catamaran/houseboat's capabilities go beyond its first impression.
It’s fortunate when I can check out a test boat on separate occasions before I write a sea trial. Such was the case with the Overblue 58, which I first met earlier this year at the Yachts Miami Beach boat show (now the Miami Yacht Show) under sunny skies. A thorough walkthrough of the 58 introduced me to all the features that make this Overblue offering a unique option for a particular boat buyer.
My second encounter was during a brief weather break in Ft. Lauderdale, under gray skies with rain and thunderstorms threatening. Overblue’s director of sales for North America, Harold Del Rosario, had been working hard to get me aboard, which wasn’t an easy task due to the vigorous rainy season and an active owner who had been cruising at every opportunity. We did finally get off the dock and into the ocean to get a real feel for the 58 as well as run some performance numbers.
At first glance, most noticeable is Overblue 58’s unique profile. With a broad house structure, a bullnose bow and an extended flybridge deck, it emanates the vibe of a houseboat. But with twin hulls, it’s more akin to a catamaran. Well, it’s solely neither, but rather both. Let me explain.
Overblue’s reps enlightened me at the show: The builder’s concept took an empty space, placed a metaphorical person in the middle and built the yacht around him. Conceptually, it should work; in actuality, it does work. All the living space is on the main level, like on a houseboat, including the staterooms. Boaters prone to claustrophobia can rest easy, since there’s no living space in the pontoons, which are dedicated to machinery, tankage and support systems.
With twin hulls that are high and long to enhance the ride, and twin Volvo Penta D6 engines (435 hp) with straight drives, the 58 is a true power catamaran. And twin hulls offer increased stability and reduced roll effects to create a comfortable ride.
Overblue has taken the best of houseboat space utilization and style and the seakeeping ability and speed of a power cat to create the latest entry into its fleet.
From the massive hydraulic swim platform, which is large enough for a 13-foot tender, to the peak, the main deck is one level, making for easy transit and eliminating up-and-downs. On the aft deck is an L-shaped settee that starts on the port side and curves along almost the entire transom, stopping at the starboard boarding gate. Through large aft sliding doors that enable the blending of interior and exterior social spaces, the salon follows an open concept of design and layout.
Owners can specify materials such as wall coverings, fabrics and flooring, as well as the desired layout. Our ride had light oak furnishings, white counters and light gray cabinets. Thanks to the generous space and a four-stateroom, eight-berth option, the 58 can be used as a charter yacht (or for a large family). Our test boat had three staterooms and six berths.
Stepping in I was amazed by the sheer size of the salon/galley area, which takes full advantage of the boat’s 17-foot beam and its 6 feet, 9 inches of headroom (yup, 81 inches) and will be one of the main onboard gathering areas. Twin barrel chairs sit aft and to port, just behind the galley island — it’s connected to the port wall, yes, but calling it a peninsula sounds awkward. Surrounded by five hightop stools, the island is a fantastic location for casual meals or as an impromptu work area. It’s a light and airy space courtesy of the aft sliding glass doors and five 32-inch-by-30-inch windows.
Forward of the island is a U-galley that includes every appliance needed for an extended cruise. Don’t worry that the Overblue line is built in Italy, because the appliances are all American-known and serviced through reps in the U.S. Included in this galley are a fourburner AEG induction cooktop, a Bosch microwave oven, an AEG dishwasher, a full-height Bosch refrigerator/freezer and an exhaust hood. Dedicated racks store the dinner plates and sectioned drawers keep silverware in place.
Overblue utilizes a little of the KISS concept — Keep it simple, stupid — in its structural design and layout. (KISS was a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960 that focused on simple designs that did away with unnecessary complexity.) The house structure is supported by the outer walls and bulkheads, which allows for some interior configuration changes that can be made with little fuss. The builder uses easy-to-maintain surfaces such as colored epoxies and lacquer finishes on cabinets and wood floorings that offer easy maintenance and durability.
An L-shaped sofa and an accompanying rectangular wood high-low coffee table are on the starboard side and double as a dining spot. Low-profile furniture adds to the openness.
Forward down the center hall are two guest staterooms, one to either side. Each one sports a double berth, reading lamps, a window — not portholes but bona fide sliders — and an en suite head with a basin sink, an electric toilet and a shower stall. Overblue can shift some of the interior walls around, depending on the layout.
Two prominent features aboard the Overblue 58 stand out from the many others, the first being the master stateroom. In the bow on the main level, the large and private space includes a king-size berth, lockers, an en suite head with his and hers sinks, and a large shower stall with a glass bi-fold door. The kicker is that the owners can be resting in bed and enjoy a commanding view forward, because the bow is a hydraulic hatch that lifts open. Three sliding doors open the master to the outdoors and also allow air to flow from stem to stern through the yacht, which I noticed the first time aboard. With room on the forward deck for a few chairs and folding tables, this may be the spot for morning coffee or a sunset cocktail.
The second prominent feature is the flybridge. I mean, it’s huge. Overblue designed a practical layout, so guests can move freely from end to end and socialize in different areas. Forward of the helm is a thickly padded U-shaped open-air lounge settee that will easily become a central point. The settee is chocked in place so it won’t slide, and its occupants have good visibility forward and to the sides. Need more seating? There’s room forward of the settee for four lounge chairs and tables. Facing the settee, they create a conversation pit; facing forward they offer the best seat in the house. Along the aft end of the deck is a large sunpad. Buyers can opt for a dining table and chairs or more lounge seats, since there’s ample room in front of the sunpad.
Under the hardtop is the helm station, which includes a center pod, a bolstered doublewide bench seat and a windscreen. The console is sufficiently sized for dual 16-inch chartplotter displays, a Volvo Penta joystick, a Sidepower bow thruster control, a VHF radio and other electronics. A dozen lights ring the bottom of the hardtop and six speakers supply the tunes.
Just aft to starboard is a four-burner gas grill station. To port is a food prep station that houses a single-burner electric grill, a two-burner cooktop, a sink, a refrigerator and an ice-maker. The party can go all day, since everything is readily available.
Performance-wise, the Overblue 58 did a good job despite the snotty conditions and 3-foot-plus seas. The boat cruised along at 10.2 knots at 2100 rpm, burning only 12 gph combined. At 15.2 knots, the Volvos burned 30 gph at 2900 rpm. Wide open, the engines hit 3400 rpm and 18.4 knots while burning 43 gph. The speed numbers are the average of reciprocal runs. We got a nice response from the Volvo Penta D6 engines, which are easily accessible via multiple deck hatches in each pontoon.
Sure, the thin yet pointed twin hulls offer lighter weight, improved stability and a different roll effect — not a snap roll that’s common on a single hull in a beam sea — but the Overblue 58 is a near-coastal yacht. It’s not built to battle 6-foot seas, though I’m sure it can based on what I experienced. It’s a great cruiser — think lakes, Great Loop, Inside Passage, etc. — and would probably be right at home riding the gentle swells of the Pacific on the way to Catalina Island.