|LOA||(rigged) 34 ft., 4 in.|
|Draft||2 ft., 5 in.|
|Engines||Volvo D6 370 hp|
|Volvo D6 370 hp diesel, cockpit helm station with engine control, electric stovetop and microwave/convection oven, teak-and-holly interior decking and more.|
|See dealer for full list.|
|Cutwater Boats, Monroe, Wash.;
(800) 349-7198; cutwaterboats.com
|West Coast Dealer|
|Port Boat House Ltd., Port Alberni, B.C.;
(877) 283-BOAT; portboathouse.com
Bellingham Yachts, Bellingham, Wash.;
Long Beach Yacht Sales Inc.; Long Beach, Calif.; (562) 431-3393; lbys.com
Posted: September 1, 2014 | Boat Type: Express Cruiser
A 30-footer with a bridge that truly belongsWhen a builder of a successful line of boats introduces a new model, it is examined carefully to see if the new features improve or detract from the original. The new Cutwater 30 Command Bridge from Fluid Motion Inc., with a cleverly designed top helm, faced such an examination. The 30 Command Bridge is the latest vessel from the Livingston family, builders of the Ranger Tug and Cutwater lines of trailerable cruisers.
In fact, the popularity of Ranger tugs, with their salty, tug-like appearance, led to Cutwater being born. Many boaters appreciated the features and versatility of Rangers but didn’t want the tug appearance. To court those buyers, the builder designed a completely new boat, which became the Cutwater line, with modern, up-to-date styling and a very sophisticated hull. The design, which Fluid Motion calls a stepped hull, is common to all Cutwater models, including the 26- and 28-footers. It allows the engine to be placed lower in the hull than most other traditional hull designs, which, according to the builder, improves stability and allows more headroom throughout the interior.
A Sophisticated Hull Bottom
The hull-bottom configuration is unusual in a production vessel of this size and price (relatively low). The keel pad runs the entire length of the hull bottom; combine that with the rest of the bottom geometry, and you get a hull designed to drag a constant layer of air along the bottom, reducing drag and improving both speed and fuel efficiency. A substantial skeg extends along almost one-third of the bottom, providing enhanced tracking and improved stability at rest.
More Social Space
Small, trailerable family cruisers have a common problem: lack of “moving around” space in the cockpit. So Fluid Motion concentrated its efforts on alleviating that shortage. Port and starboard bench seats cleverly hinge out so the seat bottoms overhang the water, which allows plenty of room for other guests to move around the cockpit with ease. The transom seat can be configured so people sitting on it can face fore or aft.
To make the cockpit even more social, the 30 Command Bridge features an opening panel in the aft cabin bulkhead. When it’s open and the cabin settee seatback is tipped forward, two more guests can join the group in the cockpit. For drinks on the bow, two flush hatches hide a pair of cushioned seats, complete with a foot well that doubles as a fender stowage area (with the hatches closed).
With the galley along the port side and the helm station and settee to starboard, the interior layout is fairly traditional, but how it is executed is not. From the cabin aft bulkhead to the cabin forward bulkhead along the port side is what looks like a long countertop, but there is no stove or sink in sight. Looks can be deceiving, however. A double hinge system allows the countertop to fold back out of the way, which reveals a few things.
Under the aft half of the counter is a propane stove, a refrigerator and a stainless sink. The forward half of the countertop, which serves as the traditional counter/food-prep area, covers a comfortable padded sitting area directly across from the helm seat.
As you would expect on a boat with so much window glass, visibility all around is excellent, including into the cockpit.
Seating is comfortable on a companion seat situated beside the starboard helm seat. The previously noted sitting area along the port side makes for a good watch seat and allows the skipper and the companion/watch keeper to communicate easily.
The dinette, which converts to a double berth, is to starboard. It seats four comfortably around a high-low table for meals. The solid wood tabletop is hinged so the port side of the table can be laid back across the rest of the top, opening up the area for seating and exposing a grabrail welded to the table’s center — never too many grabrails, particularly on a quick boat driving into a running sea.
Under the settee is a small but usable guest cabin containing a double berth, gear stowage space, a reading light and two hull-side portlights. While this is a cabin, it is more suited to kids or could be used as additional storage space on longer trips.
The forward stateroom features an island double berth, a large hanging locker and plenty of storage. The vessel’s single head is forward and contains a shower, a vanity, good storage and an electric toilet.
We fired up the six-cylinder, 336-cubic-inch (5.5L), double-overhead-cam, 370 hp Volvo diesel and, using the bow and stern thruster, pivoted away from the dock and idled toward open water. The common-rail engine started quickly. Idle was 600 rpm, and we made 3.5 knots and burned 0.4 gph. Our noise meter read 74 decibels, just slightly above a normal conversation.
When we cleared the no-wake zone, we upped the revs to 1000, which brought our speed to 6.1 knots and our fuel burn to 1.1 gph. At 10 knots, we burned 6.2 gph and the engine was loafing along at 2000 rpm. We made 15.5 knots at 2500 rpm while burning 10 gph. At 3000 revs, we burned 14 gph and made 21.3 knots. Wide-open throttle was 3400 rpm, and we stepped along at 26.3 knots while burning 20 gph. All speeds were measured by an independent GPS, and fuel-consumption figures came from the engine’s onboard computer.
The vessel handled well at all times. Hard-over turns and wake crossings presented no problems for the 30 Command Bridge. I felt no skidding, skipping or cavitation. Onboard conversations did not have to be shouted, even at WOT.
The second part of our test, and the one we were most looking forward to, involved operating the boat from the command bridge. The addition of a command bridge to a vessel not designed to handle the weight of the structure and the boaters up top can result in serious problems. In the case of the new Cutwater 30 Command Bridge, the vessel handled and behaved the same as it did when we operated from the lower interior helm, even with more than 400 pounds of humans up top.
Command bridge boats generally divide themselves into two categories: those designed from scratch to ultimately carry a command bridge and those with a command bridge that has been added almost as an afterthought. With the former, the weight of the bridge and its equipment, as well as the likely number of boaters and guests who might be up top, is calculated when working out stability, weight distribution, centers of buoyancy, balance and the like. Boats designed in this manner usually handle the same from the upper and lower control station and have the same solid feeling.