Carver C40 Command Bridge
By Peter A. Robson
Wisconsin-based Carver Yachts is celebrating its 62nd anniversary this year. Although the company has changed hands several times over the years, it has recovered well since its purchase in 2010 by Irwin Jacobs and his friend, billionaire John Paul DeJoria. The two purchased Carver and Marquis Yachts following the bankruptcy of Genmar Holdings—once regarded as the world’s largest boat-building company—while Jacobs was CEO.
Part of Carver’s turnaround was due to their successful anticipation of a recovery in the boat market following the disastrous 2008 financial crash. Their decision to invest in developing a brand new line of economical Carvers—the C-Series has worked well. The C34 command bridge was released in 2013 and the line has since expanded to include 37- and 43-foot coupes, a 40-foot command bridge (reviewed here) and a 50-foot command bridge model to be released in 2016.
Design and Construction While first introduced in 2014, Carver has continued to make modifications and upgrades to the C40 and it appears they’ve now got it just right. The most recent changes are a new set of linear hull windows (that bring in more light below), interior design tweaks (including ultraleather instead of cloth upholstery), a more secure transom gate and a more stylish radar arch and hardtop.
The hull design features an almost plum bow and only moderate flare forward. The thinking is that by being beamier forward and carrying that width aft there will be more interior volume.
The cored fibreglass hull, deck and superstructure are fabricated using resin infusion, which minimizes weight and increases density. The one-piece foam-encased stringer system is attached to the hull with adhesive while still in the mold. The bulkheads are fully glassed to the hull sides (not tabbed) and the deck uses encapsulated aluminum trusses for added strength. The interior sections are built externally and then fitted into the hull liner. The “shoebox” hull-deck joint incorporates polyurethane adhesive and then mechanical fasteners (to hold things in place while the adhesive sets). Carver prides itself as being one of the few U.S boat manufacturers that fabricates pretty well every component in house: cabinets, wiring harnesses, upholstery, seats, stainless steel and so on, which gives them a greater measure of quality control.
On Deck Key, of course, to a command bridge yacht is the single steering station on the flybridge. On the C40, it is accessed via a molded stairway from the cockpit. Two helm chairs front the starboard-side helm module. It features the Cummins-Mercruiser VesselView 7 engine and systems readout with room alongside for a 12-inch multifunction unit. A deep locker to the right of the helm and a shallow compartment on the dash can be used for chart and miscellaneous storage.
An L-shaped settee that offers plenty of seating for the whole gang, with the forward end allowing two guests to face the helm and companion seats, flanks the helm area. The test boat was fitted with the optional hardtop and full canvas, which is pretty well a must for our climate. The aft portion of the flybridge has space for a dedicated sunpad (or water toy/crab and prawn trap storage). All round visibility from the flybridge is excellent.
The bow is accessed from adequate side decks with good handrail placement, though we found we had to lean outboard a bit because of the flybridge overhang. The foredeck is clean and flat. The only issue here was the dozens of metal snap fittings protruding from the deck to fasten the sunpads in place. They’ll likely be stepped on and kicked and could potentially cause leaks into the coring.
The cockpit is partially covered and offers good protection from rain and sun. The swim platform is fixed and there should be enough room for hinged dinghy storage and access for boarding.
The cockpit on the test boat could be called the fishing cockpit. While Carver offers options for plush, fixed cockpit seating, in our opinion dedicated seating takes up too much valuable space (especially if fishing) and then there’s the issue of the cushions being out in the weather or the need for storing the cushions inside. We prefer the roomier, bare-bones setup on the test boat. All that is needed is a couple of folding chairs.
Interior The interior is accessed from double hinged doors and the open layout is simple, clean and uncluttered. We liked the mix of off-white ultraleather-type upholstery, gloss white fibreglass, gloss cherry woodwork and vinyl wall treatments in a pleasing mix of beige and taupe. Large windows all round bring in plenty of light and two of the windows are sliding, making for good cross ventilation. Headroom in the saloon is a very adequate six-foot, six-inches (1.98 metres). The test boat had light coloured vinyl plank flooring in the saloon, though nylon carpet is standard (and used in the accommodation areas).
The U-shaped settee/dinette features a high-low table that drops down to provide an extra berth in the saloon. One clever feature is the two side-by-side movable square ottomans that normally form an aft, portside settee. They can be moved to serve as two additional dining seats.
The L-shaped galley with its solid-surface countertops, double sink, two-burner electric cooktop (with ventilation fan), convection oven and side-by-side fridge/freezer offers all that is needed for day or extended cruising. Under the galley sole is an impressive storage area with stairs and enough room to store food, wine, cushions or what have you.
Carver offers an optional inside steering station, though very few of the 100 or so C40 owners have opted for this configuration. Clients, according to broker Angus Minard, prefer the added saloon space afforded by having both a flybridge for entertaining and a full saloon.
The forward accommodation area features two cabins and two heads. The master, with an island queen, is forward and it benefits from the extra light from the new hull windows while a large overhead hatch provides ventilation. There’s good storage in overhead cabinets, two hanging lockers and under the hinged berth. The muted vinyl wall treatments give a cozy feel to the master.
The ensuite is very nicely done, with a large separate shower, ventilation fan, vessel sink, electric freshwater flush head and good storage. We liked the removable, synthetic “sea grass” type mats over the fibreglass floors. This is a clever option that we haven’t seen before.
The guest stateroom has two single beds that can be converted to a queen with an infill cushion. The stateroom benefits from the new hull windows. It has good initial headroom that gets lower aft, but still has more overall headroom than many of the other guest staterooms we’ve seen tucked under saloons. With the lower helm options, the initial headroom is reduced considerably. The guest head, which also serves as a day head, is similar to the ensuite but without the separate shower.
Engine and Systems Standard power is a pair of Cummins QSB 6.7 305 horsepower diesels, however, the test boat was fitted with the same Cummins 6.7 litre block, but upgraded to 380 horsepower. This increases the top speed of the C40 significantly, from about 23 knots to 30 knots. The engine room is tucked partially under the cockpit and partially under the saloon. There’s minimal space around the engines, but the batteries, switches, filters and other maintenance points are accessible.
The test boat had the optional bow thruster while a stern thruster is also available. On models fitted with a bow thruster, joystick steering is an option, but the test boat had just the standard controls.
Heating is via reverse-cycle air, modified for northern climates to provide more heat than models sold in warmer climates (which have their cooling function improved). That said, this also requires a larger generator. The test boat was fitted with a Kohler 9 kW unit.
Underway While joystick steering is a nice option, there is no real need for it with twin screws and a bow thruster, as was the case when Blackfish Marine’s service manager, Geoffrey Pratt, guided us out of the brokers docks on Granville Island.
The C40 had plenty of get up and go as we accelerated up onto the plane, though a fair amount of trim tab was required to get the boat to level off. The Teleflex hydraulic steering was tight and the yacht leaned nicely into sharp turns. Noise inside the saloon at 20 knots was a very reasonable, conversation-allowing, 75 dB. Fuel consumption was fairly even throughout the speed range, starting at just over a mile per gallon at 9.6 knots (9.2 US gph/1,500 rpm), to about 0.75 mpg at wide open throttle (3,000 rpm/30 knots). A good comfortable cruise is anywhere between 20 and 26 knots.
There was a noticeable vibration between about 1,500 and 1,800 rpm, but the C40 had only two hours on the engines and hadn’t been through the pre-warranty engine setup—which occurs once the boat is sold, so this would likely be remediated at that time. We felt the boat rolled a bit excessively when we were in the trough of our full-speed-generated wake and the same wake gave a bit of a jerky movement when bow on, but those aren’t normal wave patterns so we expect the yacht would preform well in normal sea conditions with a longer period between waves.
Concluding Remarks Carver certainly appears to have upped its game with the 2016 edition of the C40. We found the fit and finish throughout to be very well done. We especially liked the much thicker than normal, flawless, high-gloss finish on the woodwork. The accommodation spaces and saloon were tastefully designed and well executed. The colours used throughout add to a sense of style and luxury. Acceleration and speed underway were also impressive. Base price for the C40 is a very reasonable US$493,755 (ex factory). Price in Vancouver, as tested, including options, was CDN$849,000.