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NauticBlue 463 on charter in the Abacos

As I see it, the NauticBlue 463, would not be a boat for me because it lacked quietness and stability at anchor. Otherwise, the saloon layout was excellent, the galley worked well, the owner’s starboard cabin with separate shower was fine, the cabins on the port side needed better doorway access and bigger heads, the dinghy layout was OK, the deck was not slippery or hot, the flybridge was excellent, engine placement and access were excellent, AC and generator were very good, windlass and chain storage needs work, the anchor bridle was a pain, swim ladder was unacceptable
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By Chuck Johnson

My family—two teenage girls, my wife and myself—chartered a NauticBlue 463, with skipper, out of Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas for six nights. Last year we went on a crewed charter on a sail catamaran, 1995 Privilege 51, out of Road Town, BVI, for five nights. This is the total of my experience, so I am not a seasoned sailor with a fine sense of what makes a good boat.

The NauticBlue 463 was four years old. Engines had 976 hours each, genset had 3,092 hours. On the inside it seemed new, on the outside, especially around the ineffective rub rails, it was a bit dinged up. The NauticBlue 463 is the owner's version with the port side dedicated to the owner and the starboard side split into two cabins with en suite heads.

The saloon had two separate areas for lounging—around the table and up front. This worked very well, and one area only would not have worked. The additional areas in the cockpit and flybridge were not used, but again the flybridge had two separate areas for lounging—around the smaller table and next to the helm, and a sink with water. The flybridge also had an empty space aft of the table. Room to spare!

The doors in the hulls on the port side were fine, but the doors leading to the cabins on starboard were too narrow and weirdly shaped. Once you got through the door to the forward cabin you were faced with a step protruding from the hull that simply tripped you up. The distance from the wall to the head was so narrow you had to walk sideways. I did not like these doors at all.

The swim ladder was simply a disaster. It was positioned on the inside edge of the port scoop and could not be used if the dinghy was up on its davits. The bottom step was too high: It needed one or two more steps deeper into the water. The treads on the steps were too narrow and the top step, against the hull, was virtually not useable. Finally the top of the ladder pinched your fingers against the U-bar that it was attached to. Each of us got caught in this pincher and it hurt. You could see that if the boat was rocking you could get you entire fingers between the ladder and the U-bar and get them mangled.

The dinghy was about 8 feet, with an old 9 hp outboard—both worked well. The dinghy hoist on the starboard side was manual and ran across to port. The port side hoist was electric (RULE V20S 2000 lbs 12VDC) with the motor under the settee in the cockpit with the remote on an accordian wire. Worked fine.

Ice maker (RARITAN) was in the cockpit on the starboard side under the stairs to the flybridge. It made ice fast and was nice to supplement the ice we bought on land.

From directly in front, the boat looked as if a monohull had been split down the middle from bow to stern and the two pieces spread apart to form the bridge with a rectangular tunnel between the hulls.

Hull noise: In the cabins at night the waves banged against the hull. Waves as small as one inch were heard. This was not a gentle lapping, but a thud. Larger waves—four inches—additionally caused a reverberation that was actually felt as a vibration in the bed. All of us experienced this in all three cabins and found it to be simply unacceptable.

Rocking: We spent a night with gentle rocking and compared notes with our neighbor at anchor (a Voyage 500 sail catamaran with 27-ft beam) who experienced no rocking. 

The electrical panel (BASS) was at eye level, clearly labeled. It handled: the black water sump pumps with lights to indicate water level; switching to go from shore to boat power, with lock out sliders to prevent doing it wrong; generator start and stop with meters to show its output; separate on/off switches for most ( maybe all) functions on the boat, e.g., A/C salon, A/C port side, A/C starboard side, salon lights port, salon lights starboard, salon forward lights, cockpit lights, anchor light, electronics (depth sounder, Raymarine tridata, etc), electric heads, windlass, hot water heaters.

A DC power center had battery condition meter, load current meter, battery test switch and on/off switches for refrigerator, washdown pump, shower pump, freshwater pump VHF, INSTR, Radar, sump pump, head.

A DC Main section had on/off switches for panel light, NAV LTS, Anchor LT, Cabin LTS port, Cabin LTS stbd, Salon LTS, Fans, Stereo/TV, sump pump, head 12V DC outlets.

An AC power center had line voltage meter, load current meter and on/off switches for freezer, air cond port, air cond stbd, air cond salon, stove water heater 1, water heater 2, outlets 1, outlets 2.

A Northern Lights generator section had water temp meter, engine oil pressure, hours, volts (it ran at 13.8 volts).

Holding tank section had 2 panels, one for each holding tank, a level monitor system by Tankwatch with lights for EMP, LOW MID FULL.

Windlass breaker (WINDLASS PROGRESS 2 QUICK ITALY LOFRANS).

Inverter (TRACE Engineering).

Water level meters for port and starboard water tanks.

Pumps: port engine room, port main bildge, stbd engine room, stbd main bildge.

Black water tanks had Tankwatch4 level indicators which shut down the head when that black water tank was full. The indicators (EPT, LOW, MID, FULL) always had an 'EPT' light on, along with one of the three level indicator lights. Sometimes two level indicator lights where on at the same time. Confusing, and maybe a malfunction. Holding tanks had SMELL GUARD plumbed into the lines. 

There was enough storage space for 6 days of groceries and our stuff. Cabinet doors had sturdy latches; none came open. 

Fire extinguishers were NATFIRE. Manual fuel shutoff was under captain’s chair in saloon. Also a manual fuel shutoff was under settee in cockpit.

Water pumps were SHURFLO DIAPHRAGM.

The saloon was divided into three areas: front third had a settee and captain’s chair with steering and electronics; rear two-thirds had an aisle down the middle with the galley on the port side and a table with U-shaped settee around it on the starboard side. Cushioning on the settees was as new and comfortable. View from the captain’s chair was fine, but anchoring, docking and mooring was done from the flybridge.

RITCHIE compass. Steering wheel (POLI Marine) and full engine guages. Windsheild wipers (WYNN SERIES 800). Throttles (MORSE CONTROLS). Electronics were RAYMARINE ST7001+ control unit, RAYMARINE ST60 TRIDATA, RAYMARINE ST60 MULTI INSTRUMENT, RAYMARINE RAY215 DSC VHF radio, RAYMARINE ST7001+ AUTOPILOT, RAYMARINE RAYSTAR 120 & RAYSTAR 112LP GPS RECEIVERS.

The galley had a microwave oven (Panasonic Dimension 4 the Genius), I didn't know they existed, but it served fine as a microwave, and worked as as oven but took much longer to cook, a three-burner glass top electric stove (Force 10) that was great (it had fiddles around it), a refrigerator (Tundra T80 -made in Italy-8 cu ft 12/24 V or AC) which kept things cool but not cold, and a two-basin sink with a mixer faucet (Grohe). The water pressure throughout the boat was very good. The hot water was very hot.

There was a sliding glass door (TREND MARINE PRODUCTS) with a 33-inch opening from the saloon to the cockpit: excellent.

The TV (Samsung Syncmaster 172 MP) hinged down from the ceiling over the sink in the saloon. We sat around the table to watch it. The DVD player (Blaupukt DVD-MEI AC/DC DVD-CD-MP3) was in the ceiling in the front third of the boat next to the radio (Carion CMD4 Siris Ready Watertight Marine AM/FM/CD Multimedia Controller). Sound was distributed by speakers in the saloon, cockpit and flybridge. 

The boat had owner's manuals for the equipment on the boat, the electronics, microwave, refrigerator, television, CD play, etc, but lacked a manual for the boat itself. I was told that such a manual did exist, but it was at the Moorings office on shore. 

The stairs (not a ladder) from the cockpit to the flybridge were very negotiable. There was only a left side railing, but enough handholds so that climbing the stairs was secure. Since the first two steps provided only the railing for support, both going up and coming down, we avoided the stairs when the going was bumpy and vigorous. Strangely, the rise from the cockpit floor to the first step was noticeably greater than that of the other steps. This was also true of the stairs from the salon to the port and starboard hulls. The stairs from the salon to the hulls were just fine; no need to turn sideways because of narrow treads or steep rise. 

The electric windlass (PROGRESS 2 QUICK ITALY LOFRANS) was under a cover on the bridgedeck bow and readily accessible. The handheld power control was on an accordian type wire and had up or down buttons. Chain only rode which piled up in the chain locker and stopped the windlass, requiring getting down on your belly to push it aside and deeper into the locker. Windlass was protected by an overload breaker, and it also allowed the chain to slip on by if too much tug was put on the chain. 

The engines (Yanmar 6LYA-STP) were accessed by doors in the cockpit. Doors had vacuum assist and stayed open by themselves, but not so securely that we didn't keep one hand on them. Doors covered the full length of the engines plus about 18 inches. No sense of having the engine shoe-horned in there. Engines had steps on top and to the side to let one down into the engine well where there was about one foot clearance along the side of the engine to maneuver around in. Skipper went down several times and seemed to have no problem moving around. The genset (Northern Lights) was neatly tucked aft of the starboard engine, under the scoop stairs; I didn't see how it would come out or be serviced. The steering hydraulics were aft of the port engine and easily accessible. KIDDE FYREWATCH systems and RACOR fuel filter/water separator filters were in each engine room. Each engine had an oil change unit made in Florida. 

The three air conditioning units worked fine and cooled the boat down to 69 degrees, the lowest we wanted. Thermostats, one for each unit, were digital and easy to use and provided actual temperature as well as set temperature. The unit for the saloon was under the table and any noise from it was not noticed. Unit for the port side was in the bedroom and noisy enough so that you always knew when it was on. Never tracked down the unit for the starboard side. 

The generator ran virtually whenever we were on the boat. Noise from it was not obtrusive, but you knew it was on. We rested it about an hour each day.

There were several fire extinguishers (NATFIRE) accessible in the boat.

I missed the quiet of the sailboat. On the powerboat, power is always there—so why be without it?—but you can always hear it. 

The flybridge was used when we were running and when docking, anchoring and mooring. The saloon was the preferred place to be. Sunning was done on the bow deck. The cockpit was a place to cross to the dinghy, to the barbeque, to the flybridge, to the side decks. We never sat or lounged or ate out there.

We had a water spout hit us. I was in the saloon and the whole boat just seemed to lift up and pause momentarily. The flybridge canopy was torn off, and shoes and cushions in the cockpit were blown into the water. A neighboring boat took pictures of the receeding funnel, so we saw what it was. The boat and the struts for the flybridge canopy came through undamaged.

The toilets were electric (JABSCO) and worked just fine.

---

Chuck Johnson lives in Los Angeles, works in Marina del Rey, and is searching for a cruising boat that’s right for his family.

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