Author : Mike Brown
It’s been a long time between drinks Downunder for Bertram – about 12 years to put a figure on it. That’s how long it was until a 570 broke the drought by making it in to Sydney last February. The next one was a bit quicker: a Bertram 670E was on show at Mandurah in October, laid on by Australia’s new Bertram importers, Eagle Yachts.
The Eagle is a not too subtle take from Bertram’s logo., but Eagle’s owners are not so new: the Sarich Corporation. Sarich, as in Orbital fuel injection and, more recently, major property developers around Australia. The marine link, though, is strong. Orbital’s fuel injection technology is basic to Mercury Marine’s OptiMax outboards and more recently, Orbital has bought the manufacturing rights to Bombardier Recreational Products’ (BRP’s) E-Tec fuel injection systems, although BRP has retained ownership of the intellectual property.
Not that all that matters that much. The important thing is that a company of real financial strength is handling the Bertram brand. If recent marine retailing history has shown one thing, it is that you cannot sell big-dollar product from a catalogue: you need the clout to import a range of boats on spec.
Sarich is talking big investment. Nine Bertrams at a total of $24 million – 15 percent of Bertram’s annual production – are on order. Plenty big enough for Jose Millan, Bertram’s product development manager, to come over with the 670E and make sure it was driven properly and treated with the respect it deserved.
It deserved a lot: this is a thoroughly developed boat of a kind you do not see many of from the US, Australia or anywhere else. Essentially a sports fishing motor yacht, it combines both roles immaculately – as you would expect for a $A5.1 million 20 metre boat. That is an optioned-up price from $A4.2 million, although many of the options are effectively invisible including the significant power boost from the MTU main engines.
Eagle chose to import the enclosed flybridge version of the 670. This style has always been popular on Australia’s west coast, and the news from Bertram is that 50 percent of US customers have abandoned their long preference for convertibles and now feel the same way. There are still 18 square metres of cockpit as well as the docking terrace aft of the bridge providing open space, and the enclosure has created a very desirable extension of climate controlled accommodation.
Being a Bertram, nothing has been allowed to compromise the sports fishing ability and, happily, there is synergy between cruising and fishing functions – the windows, for instance. Large in area and extra deep, including a rear picture window, they allow an unobstructed view to the horizon for spotting birds hovering over bait fish whilst also delivering maximum natural light to the saloon.
The cockpit on Eagle’s 670 was given an easily removable fabric awning, another Australian preference and an addition allowing social use of the cockpit. For serious fishing it would disappear, and the skipper would move to the docking control station on the terrace, which naturally has an excellent view of the game chair. The rest of the time the cockpit provides what is missing from many boats designed with vacuum-packed fish in mind: informal, adaptable space.
The game fishing chair is optional, but other standard fishing accessories are adaptable for assorted uses. The insulated transom box could become an auxiliary icebox, and the underfloor catch tank could add to the already copious storage. There is room for picnic tables and chairs to be set up (and underfloor space to store them), and a transom door gives access for swimming. A cockpit designed primarily for fishing is well able to handle quantities of wet human bodies.
The traditional Bertram qualities of a tough heavyweight hull, shaped for speed in poor conditions, could be seen as a curious mix with an interior verging on opulent. But plenty of customers for these boats demand both the yin and yang. These are the people who want to spend more time further out among the big fish, and spend less time getting there and back. And who also want to sacrifice none of the good things of life. And, of course, there is possibly a majority of owners who plain want the good things and have no objection to their being packaged in a fine sea-keeping hull.
After the Ferretti group took over Bertram six and a half years ago, a long survey of owners and would-be owners established that the core features setting Bertram apart were reliability, durability and rough water capability. It was clear that whatever else changed, those could not.
Quite a lot did change. The interior was totally redesigned, and the exterior more subtly so. The windscreen was made more vertical to increase interior space, and the styling was made more rounded to, in Jose’s words, “reduce the station wagon look”.
There was a lot of unseen redesign work too. The vessel is now built of fewer pieces to simplify assembly. A lot of emphasis has been placed on acoustics: creaks and groans are not tolerated so, as well as simple mass in the hull, all materials used are assessed for acoustic properties, and in many places insulation is included within the laminate. In the interests of minimising noise creation at moorings, the twin generators – in insulated cabinets – are sited right aft under the cockpit, a bulkhead away from the engine room.
Simplifying the 670’s fuel tankage has had insulating side benefits thermally as well as acoustically. There is now only a single full beam tank, sited just aft of the centre of gravity to have a negligible effect on trim as the fuel level changes. Its position insulates the sleeping accommodation from the noise and heat of the engine room.
That accommodation is astonishingly spacious for the 670’s nominal dimensions. There are two double suites, and two twin cabins with en suite bathrooms. The main suite, ahead of the insulating fuel tank, uses the full 5.7 metre beam and, through the clever use of mirrors, appears almost to have acreage. Mirrors are a feature of the interior, and are particularly effective used as the ceilings of all the bathrooms.
The VIP suite is right forward, and the twin cabins, port and starboard, are sited between the two suites. Only the port cabin, with double-decker bunks, even suggests some economising on space, although stacking the bunks results in ample deck area. This cabin’s en suite doubles as the vessel’s day head.
Tucked away in discreet places are air-conditioning outlets, sockets for the ducted vacuum cleaning system and the clothes washer-drier.
Joinery and cabinet work throughout features cherrywood, the timber with all the warmth and grain character you could want, but pale and reflective enough to make a light interior. It is lifted here and there by walnut burl. The other timber in use is the raw cedar within the wardrobes to maintain dryness. The standard to which all the timber has been assembled and finished is as good or better as you will find anywhere.
The galley is one step up from the saloon (salon in Bertram-speak) though still in the same compartment, and all the better for not being a mezzanine arrangement. It is not easy to get excited about a galley, but this one is certainly special – wraparound marble bench tops for starters. There is also a monster island fridge, and the usual microwave, stove, hot plates and dishwasher.
A dinette faces the galley, although you would need a shift system to feed all eight on board with this alone. However, there is another small table in the saloon and another on the bridge. And the cockpit is bound to get most people’s dining vote anyway. The fit-out is consistent throughout the vessel, but really comes into its own in the saloon which has size without the illusion created by the mirrors of the sleeping accommodation, and the large areas of timber are balanced by the large window openings.
It is kept spacious by not being over populated with seating: thoroughly uncramped luxury for five. There is a wet bar, naturally, and a drop-down TV screen (all the sleeping cabins also have screens).
The enclosed bridge, reached by spiral staircase from the saloon, adds an alternative lounging space finished to the same standards as the rest of the interior. The business end of it combines style (a walnut burl dash, for instance), with function. Two swivel armchairs face a console dominated by three large screens accompanied by four small. In the current electronics style, any navigational function can be displayed or combined on any screen.
There are analogue engine gauges for traditionalists, although they can also be brought up on a screen. Also optional for screen display are CCTV cameras, which could be used for docking assistance or for monitoring passengers out on deck.
The bulk of the bridge space, though, is for leisure – whilst staying in touch with the practical side of the vessel. In keeping with this there is a roomy L-shaped lounge with table, another wet bar and plenty of fitted locker space.
Bertram are proud of the attention they give to the mostly unseen parts of their boats, and in particular to what goes on in the engine rooms. For those who appreciate such things the 670E’s is a beauty. One of the critical elements for long engine life is a copious supply of clean, dry air – often not easy to supply. The Bertram has an ingenious air filtration system that incorporates drainage and needs no cleaning.
Almost everything in the engine room, including the engines, is white – the easiest colour to keep clean because you can see it getting dirty. This aids maintenance, as does the amount of space around the engines. And should replacement time come, the engines are more easily removable than most due to the soft patches incorporated above them.
Standard power for the 670E is provided by a pair of MTU 12V 2000s, but Eagle elected to import with the optional 16V 2000s. These produce 2000 horsepower apiece for a top speed of 38 knots. High cruising speed is nominally 34 knots but, because these engines are continuous rated, it is really whatever you want it to be. 31 knots at 2000 rpm is probably a realistic figure. That much speed with that much luxury makes it understandable that many US owners use their big Bertrams as fast commuters.
On review off Fremantle we were able to use all the speed, despite a heavy swell left over from the previous day’s strong winds. All the habitable spaces remained habitable, and Jose’s promise of creak-free progress came true. No 20 metre vessel is going to iron out the ocean, but what the Bertram did vindicated its near-legendary reputation. The vertical accelerations were reduced and the landings softened hugely: it was like being in a 30 percent longer boat.
Probably the cunning positioning of the fuel tank (which was nearly full) contributed greatly to naturally good trim, and the trim tabs needed only very small angles to make necessary adjustments – always good, because any angle increases drag.
On the one hand it might seem a little surprising that 21.8m is as big as they come from a company with the stature of Bertram, but on the other, the 670E retains all the agility Bertrams are renowned for and uses the available space very well indeed. The sports fishing yacht tag is exactly right.
- Boat Name: Bertram 670 Enclose Flybridge
- Builder: Bertram Yacht
- Designer: Bertram Yacht/Ferretti Group
- Interior Designer: Zuccon International/Marty A. Lowe, Inc
- Year Launched: 2006
- LOA: 71′ 6″ (21.8 m)
- Beam: 18′ 8″ (5.7 m)
- Cockpit Area: 18 m2
- Draft: 5′ 7″ (1.7 m)
- Displacement: 49 tonne
- Max Speed: 38knots
- Cruise Speed: 34knots
- Fuel Capacity: 7,600L
- Water Capacity: 1,323L
- Construction: GRP
- Engine: 2 x CAT C-30 – 1550HP