A Cruiser with Style
My first experience with Tiara Yachts was last summer when I delivered a vintage 5200 Grand Salon from San Diego to San Francisco. That particular vessel was in A-1 condition (see http://yachtsmanmagazine.com/articles/lesson_dec2015.html for a definition of A-1). What impressed me most with the 5200 was the open-ocean ride that one would expect from a serious sportfisher. Fast forward to 2016 and my second opportunity to run a Tiara Yacht; this time the new 4400 Coupe. Modern styling, Volvo IPS drives, joystick control, integrated Garmin Glass Helm, and all from a third generation family owned yacht builder. Wow, what a boat!
At first glance, the 44 Coupe looks like the younger sibling of the 50 Coupe with its substantial bow flare, wide beam, and rounded stern. Indeed, the 44 is the middle sibling with the smallest being the 39, which debuted at the 2015 Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. This new design/family of boats follows other yacht builders with an open concept from cockpit to pilothouse, perfect for open-air entertainment, built on a proven sportfisher hull. Large sliding doors open the saloon and galley to the cockpit with two aft-facing seats on either side, a large bench seat aft, and a high/low cocktail table in between. The aft-facing seats make excellent use of space with storage and a cooler underneath. At the transom a BBQ grill and wet bar are topped with a solid counter for food prep, or if you must, a cutting board for bait. From the swim step the large transom opens at the touch of a button with a hydraulically operated lift, revealing a large storage space, access panels to the generator oil check in the middle, and access to the POD drive on either side.
Our test boat had the optional (huge) hydraulic swim step providing an additional five feet of room for guests to mingle, or you could follow the designers lead and mount a tender or jet ski there. Either way the platform is a very desirable feature that extends the entertainment options, and is well integrated into the design. Want to block out some of the sun on the cockpit? Our test boat also had the optional electric sun awning that extends to cover most of the cockpit, again, at the push of a button.
Inside the heavy stainless steel and glass sliding doors you will find the galley to starboard with a polished stainless steel sink set in a Corian countertop, and a settee with a pressure assist lifting ram that exposes a cavernous storage space. A two-leaf table to port folds out providing adequate dining area for four. The first thing I noticed was the large windows and nearly 360-degree view. The starboard galley is a pleasant combination of modern design and efficiency. A spacious food prep area is next to the large, deep, stainless steel sink forward and a two burner electric cooktop aft. A convection microwave oven can handle many of the cooking chores, and is hidden behind a cabinet door. A large Isotherm drawer-style refrigerator/freezer/icemaker is sequestered beneath the food prep area and takes care of the cold storage functions. For entertainment, a flat screen HDTV slides forward from its hiding place behind an overhead cabinet. There is even a dedicated vertical drawer for trash and recyclable storage between the galley and helm seat.
The pneumatically operated sunroof that expands across the galley, settee, and helm is standard equipment on the 44 Coupe. Opening this really brings in the sunshine and views.
Forward of the galley is the helm station with an electric operated ultra leather seat, wide enough for two, and a Garmin Glass Cockpit Technology dash. Volvo and Garmin have worked together to integrate their respective software providing engine and navigation data on two Garmin 12-inch touch screen Multi Function Displays. Tiara has been very generous with overhead room, and a six-footer can comfortably stand at the helm. If you prefer to drive while seated, the foot rests are perfect, the seat high enough for good visibility, and just aft of the Volvo joystick is a Garmin remote controller that provides operation of all navigation duties. Our test boat also had Lenco automatic trim tabs, and during the sea trial I put these in manual mode, but was not able to improve on the automatic setting.
The accommodations below deck consist of two staterooms and two heads. The master stateroom with a queen-size centerline island berth is forward with an in-suite head to port. Two bi-fold doors fold out of the way and open up the already large stateroom, Storage is in lockers on either side of the berth with drawers under. The berth lifts with gas assisted struts to access storage beneath. Want even more storage? There are well-sized, cedar-lined hanging lockers aft, to port. The large port lights, on both sides, provide a view and bring in ample light.
The master head has a separate shower stall with a glass door, and a teak seat. The modern fixtures, lighted mirror cabinet above the vanity, storage below the sink, and VacuFlush toilet are all well placed in this large space. There is another port light above the head that brings in outside light.
From the foyer, you will find the entrance to the boats mid-stateroom to port, and the day head to starboard. This guest quarters has two double berths with a filler cushion that can create one large berth. There is storage beneath the beds and the usual cedar lined hanging lockers, with space for an optional washer/dryer. Another port light and skylight give this cabin a large and comfortable feeling.
The day head, although compact, is a great feature to have in a 44-foot boat. To make the best use of available space, Tiara placed the VacuFlush toilet inside the shower and kept the sink area separate. This seems to be a better compromise than the more-often seen “wet head” with the basin, toilet, and shower all in one area. And, there is even a glass door to separate the shower/head, and an opening port light.
Making your way up to the bow is safe and easy with the wide side decks, and stainless steel railing that rakes back to the two molded-in steps and handholds on the hardtop. At the bow there is a concealed anchor compartment with a Lewmar CPX3 automatic rope/chain anchor windlass system, complete with 200 feet of line and 40 feet of chain connected to a 37 lb Lewmar DTX stainless steel anchor. There is also a Lewmar handheld remote control for operating the ground tackle system from anywhere on the boat. To complete the foredeck experience, there is a white vinyl chaise lounge sun pad with cup holders and handholds.
The engine room is entered via a hatch in the cockpit sole. Five steps down a stainless steel ladder you will find yourself between two Volvo IPS600’s with the bank of maintenance-free AGM batteries concealed below. The pristine, white gel-coated engine room is so pretty it would make a mechanic blush. Fluid gauges on both mains are staring right at you and could not be easier to check.
The main electrical panel and battery disconnect switches are located beneath the fixed fire suppression system at the bulkhead separating the single 350-gallon fuel tank from the engine room. To port and starboard, are the primary fuel filters for the engines and generator, with the main battery charger to port. The Onan 11.5kw generator is located aft-centerline with the coolant reservoir prominently exposed for easy checks. The wide beam on the 44 Coupe allows for easy maneuvering around the outside of both main engines should the need arise to service any of the other pumps, manifolds, and electronics.
It is interesting to note that the “usual” configuration for POD drive systems has the drives and associated engines closely coupled, keeping the propulsion system as compact as possible. In the Tiara 44 design, the engines are pulled forward of the POD’s and have what looks to be a three foot long jack shaft connecting the two pieces. I have been told that Tiara made this design trade-off for better weight distribution keeping the POD’s where they belong and pulling the big 485hp diesels forward. Our on-the-water test will determine how this works.
The most fun of any boat review is usually the sea trial, and the 44 Coupe did not disappoint. Having had recent experience with the Tiara 5200, my performance expectations of the 44 were high. I am not sure if it was planned without my knowledge, but as we left the docks in Clipper Yacht Harbor it became evident that we had emerged in the middle of a pretty big ebb, and running the boat in Raccoon Strait would make it difficult to get accurate performance data. Under the circumstances I decided to do two performance runs, one with the current and one against the current, then average the two, to get accurate data – means more time behind the helm, but I am good with it.
I spent a few minutes getting the navigation system setup the way I like while the engines warmed, and noticed that the engines had less than 5 hours on them. Getting underway from the dock using the joystick control was as easy as it gets. While the camera and drone crew loaded their gear onboard their platform, a Tiara 31 Coronet, I pulled lines and fenders and stepped aboard our test boat while the wind held us next to the dock. At the helm, a little left pressure on the joystick moved the boat away from the dock effortlessly. A bit more pressure to the left, and a full twist of the stick to the right, and I made a full 180 degree turn and got underway in a few short seconds. To shift from joystick to throttle lever control, I simply notched the controls into forward and the computer shifted control.
Past Richardson Bay Light #2, and well outside the minimum wake area, I got my first opportunity to pick up the pace and cross a ferry wake and ebb chop at a cruising speed of 20 knots. Just a bit of spray and a couple of well-mannered bumps confirmed my expectation of a hull designed for sport fishing. There was plenty of time to get the feel of the Coupe 44 in choppy water while waiting for the camera boat to catch up and get on station.
My first sprint, wide open, with an impressive amount of acceleration had the boat on-plane in under ten seconds at 2000 RPM and a speed of 12.5 knots, and maxing out at 32 knots in under twenty seconds. Surprisingly, there was minimal bow rise, and what little there was didn’t impact visibility. I think this was a combination of the forward engine design and the automatic trim tabs doing their thing. The Tiara naval architects seem to have this design nailed.
Carving turns is as much fun in the 44 as in any sport yacht that I’ve had the opportunity to drive. Just one difference however, Volvo has now included the ability to operate the IPS system at high speed using the Joystick. Why would anyone want that? The ergonomics of the helm design is perfect for sitting back in that luxurious seat and your hand falls naturally on the joystick. No need to lean forward to turn the wheel, just engage the joystick and push and twist.
Running up and down Raccoon Strait, gathering performance data can be tedious work for any captain. However, making 30 knot passes just a few feet from the camera boat trying to get that perfect shot, can certainly break up the monotony. Our Tiara turned quickly with the joystick and maneuvered just as well with the more traditional method of turning the helm. After a few practice runs I managed to get the feel of the battlewagon-hull carving a clean arc and gracefully coming from hard left to hard right at wide-open throttle with a thumbs up from the crew of the camera boat. I could have done that all day, but we needed to collect a little hard performance data – Besides, I wanted to experience the 31 Coronet that was chasing us all day before we ran out of daylight.
Based on my data, the fuel economy in nautical miles per gallon was nearly the same from 11 knots to 31 knots. The most efficient cruise RPM was 3000 making 22.1 knots, and was in line with Volvo guidelines for continuous maximum operating RPM.
Online extra: Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS0jUTDqYTw for the video of our sea trial.
Introduced in 2014, the Tiara 4400 won the Editor’s Choice Award for best powerboat in the 40 – 50 foot range at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show. I think it has improved since then. If you are looking for a fast and sporty mid-size express cruiser, then you need to look at the Tiara 44 Coupe. This boat will definitely impress, and Tiara has succeeded in their goal of restating the extraordinary 50 Coupe in a smaller, more affordable package. Just as I finished this report, I received a call from Silver Seas Yacht informing me that the 44 had been sold. Fortunately, I get to spend another day with the Coupe as I have been asked to spend time with the new owners familiarizing them with their new yacht.
Michigan based Tiara Yachts has been building boats in the U.S. since the 1950’s, and fiberglass boats since 1963. They continue to build high performance yachts on their proven hull designs for owners that demand a stable, high-speed, comfortable ride. For more information or to arrange for your own personal test ride, contact Silver Seas Yachts in Sausalito.
Finally, at the end of another hard day at the office, we put the 44 to bed with an additional 5 hours on the clock. I am ready for a glass of port and a fine cigar. Having had the opportunity to sea trial or deliver a half dozen mid-40-foot express cruisers, I can say that Tiara has definitely raised the bar with their high quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and superb fit and finish.
Going forward, I will be focusing on monthly boat reviews, and write the occasional “Lessons Learned”. A yachtsman can learn only so many lessons, but there are always new boats to test. Have some good photos or a story to share? Please send me an email to pat email@example.com. I love a good story.