As we puttered sedately back up the Yarra River on a balmy, early spring day, I took time to reflect on our cruise on Pathfinder Marine’s Carver 43. The big American motor yacht is an impressive craft. From a styling perspective, it certainly looks distinctive. Its aggressive, sharp and angular styling is cutting edge – not surprising given the input from the prestigious California-based BMW Group Design works USA boutique design studio. Carver commissioned the studio to rejuvenate its 43 Motor Yacht and the result definitely achieves that. It’s the studio’s first collaboration with a boat-builder and, judging by the results, not likely to be the last.
But this boat’s appeal goes much deeper than looks alone. Much thought has gone into its design and layout. The focus of the Carver 43, more so than many other boats in its class, is its interior. Its generous living spaces define the boat and dictate the activities of its occupants, whether at the dock or underway. In fact, it seems almost as if the rest of the boat was designed to accommodate the living and entertaining spaces, rather than the other way round.
Our test began with the grand tour – led by Pathfinder Marine Victoria’s Malcolm Farr. Berthed at Yarra’s Edge in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, the Carver certainly looked at home surrounded by the contemporary-chic riverside architecture.
Stepping aboard the generous and sturdy swim platform, the first impression is one of size – the split cockpit layout presents an imposing structure viewed from the rear of the boat. The lower deck and swim platform offer ample space for family fun activities – emphasised by the addition of an optional, rail-mounted barbecue on the transom – but I’d venture that most outdoors time would be spent on the upper entertaining deck, accessed by four stairs on the port side. Perched up here, enjoying the generously padded, near full-width lounge, it is almost impossible not to relax and feel at home on this boat. After all, everything you’re likely to need is within an outstretched arm’s reach. Occupying most of the starboard side of the deck is a fully-equipped wet bar, with enough storage space and refrigeration to keep a sizeable crowd well watered and entertained. A beautifully-made removable teak table enhances comfort and utility. And if someone needs to keep an eye on the kids, up here affords excellent visibility to the sides and back of the boat.
Protection from the elements was obviously a priority for designers, with the sturdy cockpit roof supported by two forward-facing doors on either side of the entertainment deck. Access forward is via recessed companionways, with solid bowrails providing further security.
The bridge is accessed via a central stairway, aided by solid handrails on either side. This is a place that would be appreciated by most skippers. The helm area is refreshingly simple, clean and uncluttered, offering excellent visibility – although the view aft is somewhat limited by the cockpit roof, particularly when docking. Malcolm has solved the problem handily with an aft-facing video camera in the targa top, connected to a small screen on the starboard side of the dash. The skipper’s chair sits in the middle of the flybridge, with all controls easily to hand, including the fully-adjustable wheel. Instruments have analogue displays and the open layout means that they are all easily read. There is allowance for the usual electronics display units on the port side of the dash. A companion chair sits directly to port and there is generous seating for another four occupants on the starboard-side C-shaped lounge. The optional bimini and clears were a welcome addition for what was a bracing Melbourne day, while liberal distribution of handrails is a sensible touch.
Entry to the saloon is via a door to port of the flybridge stairs, and once inside the true nature of this boat is revealed. As you descend the stairs, you begin to appreciate where so much of the design effort has been invested. Confronting you is a vast, multi-level space comprising the saloon and galley. The interior is basically split into three, with the aft master and forward guest cabins separated by the saloon and galley. Generous lighting, courtesy of the full-length wraparound side windows and windscreen, allows visitors to appreciate the expansiveness of the interior. And, unless you’re a professional basketballer, you won’t need to stoop, with a tad over two metres of headroom.
The lower level galley occupies the forward port quarter and has ample bench space and plenty of storage, as well as being handily adjacent to the dinette. Room has been found for a full-size fridge/freezer, while food preparation options include a two-element stove and recessed microwave/convection oven. Up two stairs, guests can relax and enjoy the saloon’s entertainment centre, including NEC flat-screen TV and stereo/DVD sound system. Lush carpeting is everywhere, while guests can recline in two well-padded chairs to port and an Ultraleather settee to starboard that folds out to a double berth. But why sleep here when there are two far more attractive options fore and aft?
For comfort and style, the master stateroom under the cockpit in the rear is hard to beat. Accessed by two doors – one in the saloon and the other in the lower cockpit – it has ample space, including plenty of headroom, and is bathed in natural light courtesy of windows on three sides. It also boasts a plush queen-size island double bed positioned to port and running abeam, as well as more than enough cabinetry for the most fashion-conscious belle of the boat – who, I’m sure, would also make good use of the vanity table and other femme-friendly accessories. The ensuite boasts a large shower and head, with sink.
Guests aren’t overlooked, either, the forward stateroom conferring almost as much indulgence on its occupants, but not with quite the same amount of natural light or space. The layout here positions the bed on a slight angle athwartships, presumably to leave room to move around either side, while the shower and head occupy either aft corner of the cabin. As with the master, guests have plenty of storage space. The overall finish, including generous use of lush cherry wood and quality fittings, is close to five-star.
Power is generated by twin 370hp D6 Volvo diesels, with engine room access via the cockpit floor. While no hard performance data was collected on the day, I was still impressed by the pace and general behaviour on a near mirror-flat Port Phillip Bay. The 43 rose to plane almost imperceptibly and was extremely quiet on the bridge – even at close to WOT. Published performance figures show the 43 to be capable of around 28 knots for a brisk passage.
It responded – as you’d expect – very well to the Volvo electronic controls, while steering, albeit relatively effortless, was a little lazy in keeping with the cruising, rather than sporting nature of this boat.
The Carver 43 is one of those boats that makes you feel welcome the second you step aboard. Its large and warm interior spaces are hard to resist, even on a hot summer’s day – the reverse cycle air-conditioning enhancing the experience. Outdoors, the well designed entertaining areas beckon with their plush seating, open layout and great visibility.
This boat is ultimately all about enjoying time on the water in comfort, luxury and style. It has a fundamental simplicity and elegance, while there is little compromise in its décor, quality of fittings, engineering and finish. For anyone in need of some serious pampering, you would do well to give the Pathfinder Marine folks a call.
SPECIFICATIONS: CARVER 43 MOTOR YACHT
Fuel capacity: 2196ltr
Water capacity: 341ltr
Power: Twin 370hp D6 Volvos
Price as tested: $950,000 incl GST
For more information, contact Pathfinder Marine Vic on (03) 9681 7688.