Bon Voyager

Author: BoatingWorld Staff
Luxurious style is not the exclusive domain of 100 foot-plus European yachts. Carver Yachts’ new 530 Voyager Pilothouse is a testament to the skillful use of American ingenuity for creating in half that length the look and feel of so much more. The 530 Voyager is a beauty to behold. In outward appearance, it represents a design departure for the Pulaski, Wisconsin boat builder. There’s a sense of fluidity to the lines — motion even when the boat is standing still. But that’s only the prelude to the main course — appreciating the world-class accommodations within. The 530 is Carver’s new flagship, and it carries that banner proudly. Step aboard the cockpit, and you immediately recognize there is a certain air of stateliness and quality about this boat. A substantial, curved glass sliding door is framed in polished stainless steel. Entering the main saloon, you’re greeted with the warmth of cherry wood joinery and Ultraleather upholstery. It is an open, inviting space, surrounded by glass, with six feet, 11 inches of headroom. An L-shaped lounge, running along the starboard side and aft, includes two integral seats with footrests. Along one side of the forward bulkhead is an entertainment center with a 20 inch television, a VCR and a Kenwood audio system featuring a dual cassette deck, a CD changer and an AM/FM stereo receiver. Forward, to port, in the saloon is a gourmet galley to rival that of any kitchen on land. A U-shaped countertop provides ample work space and holds a complete selection of appliances, including a three-burner stove, a refrigerator and a freezer, a dishwasher, a double stainless steel sink and a convection/microwave oven. In addition, a snack bar with stools is built into the aft side of the countertop. The Carver designers allowed for considerable flexibility in how this space can be configured to the needs and wants of the owner. The pilothouse is forward of the main saloon and provides an extension of its open space. The same wood and leather interior trim is carried throughout this area. Watch Where You’re Going Another L-shaped seating area runs along the port side and aft bulkhead. Visibility is nearly 360 degrees, save for two narrow pillars directly amidships on either side. The focal point of the pilothouse is an Ultraleather-finished six-way, electrically adjustable captain’s seat. A gently curved companionway leads you forward from the pilothouse to the stateroom area below. This, again, exemplifies the design philosophy of the 530 Voyager — no hard edges. Doorways to the compartments have a slight arch at the top. Wood trim and casings soften the look of any right angles, along with breaking up open expanses. Even the air conditioning ducts are done in wood molding, not metal. The master stateroom is an exquisite place — roomy, yet cozy and comfortable for two people. There’s a queen-size berth flanked by two nightstands. A large, five drawer dresser, plus two floor-to-ceiling hanging lockers, provide storage for the needs of extended cruising. Open a pair of accordion panels along the aft bulkhead and you find a washer and a dryer. A niche to one side of the master stateroom holds an Avonite-topped cabinet with a wash basin. To either side of it, at a slight angle, are wood doors with full-length frosted glass inserts. Behind one is the head, — the other, the shower stall. This is no ordinary shower, though. Molded into the base is a small bathtub with a waterfall faucet. It’s another one of the touches that signifies Carver’s attention to detail and style on the 530 Voyager. The guest stateroom also features a queen-size berth and follows in the rich wood-tone decor. A second head is accessible directly from it or the companionway. There is also a third stateroom that can be configured with a pair of bunk berths or set up as an office. The most impressive thing about the belowdecks area of the 530 Voyager is how spacious it feels, considering how much room there is. These are not cramped quarters. There were two other adults standing with me in the guest stateroom while I looked it over, and none of us was bumping elbows. On the upper deck, abaft of the helm station, is a circular lounge area that easily accommodates eight or nine adults. It’s shaded by a retractable Bimini top. To one side is a wet bar and an ice-maker. A Marquipt davit is designed to blend in with the lines of the back of the seating area, to be unobtrusive until it’s needed to service the 10 foot tender stored on the roof of the lower cockpit. At the controls of the 530 Voyager, whether on the command bridge or in the pilothouse, the attention to detail is evident. Custom-made Beede multi-gauges are trimmed in gold. It’s Within Your Reach Everything is positioned for easy reach and readability, from basic on/off switches to the full Raytheon electronics package. There’s even a video monitor system at the lower station that lets you alternate between keep checking on the engine room and improving your view astern for docking. Speaking of the engine room, this is where I found the only deficiency worth mentioning about this boat. It has a low clearance, but considering the amount of time most of us spend there, it’s a small price to pay. That small problem is more than made up for in the amount of room around all the mechanical systems. Accessibility to everything is excellent, despite having to hunch over a bit. Underway, the 530 is as much a pleasure to pilot as it is to observe. Handling is quick, responsive and predictable, which is remarkable for a boat this size. The twin 450C Cummins diesels showed no hesitation as they brought the boat onto plane quickly. At about 1,300 rpm, the hull began to lift, and it was on plane in about three boat lengths. The 530 cruises serenely at 22 mph, turning 2,400 rpm, while using about 31 gallons of fuel per hour. It has a top speed of 26 mph. We tested the 530 Voyager on a day when 2 to 3 foot seas were occasionally punctuated by a 4-6 foot swell. However, the ride was smooth and dry. The boat’s length buffered the roughness of the troughs as we headed into the wind. In fact, sitting at the pilothouse controls, there was almost a surreal feeling to the experience. The quiet drone of the Cummins diesels allowed for normal conversation, yet there was almost no sound from crashing through the swells. Enclosed in air-conditioned comfort, steering the boat with the Autohelm joystick on the right armrest, I could just as well have been in a simulator. But then, isn’t that what luxury is all about — taking away the hard edges?

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