(click image to enlarge)
Issue: July/August 2005
After more than 40 years mucking around in boats skiing, fishing and cruising, then later in life, testing boats, I firmly believe my first impressions of any vessel are normally correct. And the rest of the Modern Boating team to agree.
For instance, if during a boat test we find shoddy joinery and ill-fitting components, or any other signs of a lack of attention to detail during a boat’s construction, you can bet ‘London to a brick’ that the boat’s design will also be fl awed.
But walking down the marina towards this latest Silverton 34 Convertible, we need not have worried. What the team saw immediately pleased the eye. She’s a stylish fl ybridge cruiser with no harsh angles and incredibly smooth, sleek lines that combine to make this a ‘look at me now’ boat. It is obvious why this boat has earned the tag in the States as the hottest selling convertible in its class.
Silverton is a newcomer to the Aussie scene, but in the States where John and Warren Luhrs established the Silverton Marine Corporation in 1969, it ranks up there with the best.
The Luhrs brothers have come a long way in a relatively short time at the helm, by taking this simple statement to heart:
“The essence of innovation is knowing that there is no achievement that cannot be improved upon. When it comes to building your dreams, there is no such thing as good enough.”
Silverton has packed many features into this vessel, which combine to make her one of the most user friendly boats I have ever been on. But surprisingly, it’s the little things that really make this boat stand out. Take the aft cockpit for example. It’s wide open and uncluttered, but a closer look at these photos will reveal a few surprises.
Unlike other boats of this style the steep ladder leading to the fl ybridge has been replaced with wide, gently slopping stairs. Now even the wife carrying a tray of drinks can easily go topside. It’s only a small design feature, but it will have more women agreeing to the purchase of these boats. Then there’s the cockpit freezer. It’s easy to get at because it’s not poked in behind the ladder. It’s not rocket science, just thoughtful design.
But from a fishing perspective she does have a couple of drawbacks. One is you can’t see the aft cockpit from the flybridge helm. This makes it difficult to see the angler when backing down flat out on a hard running fish.
But there is an upside to this situation. The wide stairs do let you see the port transom when berthing.
Th at aside, the flybridge is generally well laid out with two helm seats (buckets) and a U-shaped lounge for up to five guests. This allows the skipper to stay in the conversation when underway.
Below deck the attention to detail paid during this boat’s construction is obvious. The light cherrywood joinery is flawless, the use of light coloured leather and carpet add to a sense of space, as does the sunken galley with its full-sized upright fridge.
The main sofa converts into a double bed giving this boat a sleeping capacity of six and making it an ideal family cruiser. The main stateroom has an off set queensized island bed and hanging wardrobes. The second stateroom has two bunks and is ideal for the kids.
The plush two-stateroom interior also features a clever split bathroom plan with adry head and vanity to port and a separate shower stall to starboard, again adding to the boat’s sense of extra room.
The Silverton 34 Convertible is available with a lower helm station. When fitted, the bench helm seat electrically converts into extra seating for the adjacent dinette.
Out on the water, this almost 10-tonne boat displayed the surefooted performance you’d expect from a convertible cruiser. Th e hull planes quickly and delivers a soft, dry, stable and quiet ride. Powered by two relatively small, 315hp Cummins diesels, the boat had a comfortable top speed of 27 knots at 2700rpm and cruised effortlessly at 20 knots pulling 2450rpm.
Petrol power options start with a 5.7lt, 330hp MPI right through to heft y twin 8.1lt 425hp MPI engines. These would really get this hull thundering along.
The hull is extremely responsive to the helm and even at slow speeds the rudder has enough ‘bite’ to manoeuvre using the helm. Th e hull carries its chines well forward and there is enough flare in the bow to throw spray down and away from the boat, so water doesn’t come inboard.
From stem to stern, Silverton use only the highest quality materials and components (whether purchased from one of its suppliers or manufactured in-house). Genuine solid Corian bench tops, Sony and Bose sound systems, Sole plasma TVs, Glendinning electronic controls — she can even boast innerspring mattresses on all beds. All exterior seating is custom-built using top-grade marine vinyl, treated with Prefi x to inhibit mildew and ultraviolet damage. Seats are also backed with polymer board so they can’t rot.
Silverton has done its homework with the 34 Convertible and come up with a complete package that lacks nothing and has ‘pleasing to the eye’ looks.
With an LOA of 37’ 7” this is a ‘big’ 34-footer that will suit many buyers looking at larger vessels. With a starting price of only $377,000 it also represent excellent value for money.
The team is sure we will be seeing a lot more of these newcomers around our waterways in the near future.
Silverton Marine began in the 1800s with a German immigrant by the name of Henry Luhrs. He became involved in the outfi tting of trading ships and eventually owned a chandlery and then his own ship, The Sophia R Luhrs. His grandson, another Henry, was also in love with the sea and continued the family heritage by building and repairing family cruisers and fi shing boats on the New Jersey coast. Before long, Henry and his sons, John and Warren, were building more than 1000 boats a year. In 1965, the company, Henry Luhrs Sea Skiffs, attracted national attention because it was sold to Bangor Punta, a large timber conglomerate. John and Warren went out on their own in 1969 to buy a small builder named Silverton Sea Skiffs and became very successful following the same techniques their father had shown them. The brothers continued to build larger and more sophisticated models over the ensuing years. The 31-foot and later the 34-foot convertibles really taxed the Tom’s River, NJ facility and soon the company moved to larger quarters in Millville, NJ. Around the same period, the brothers started two new companies. First came Hunter Marine, now America’s leading sailboat builder and second was Mainship, the Warren Luhrs leading Trawler builder. In the early 80s, John and Warren fi nally bought back the Luhrs name and the fourth company was started. Express and sedan models joined Silverton Marine’s new aft-cabin and convertible boats. Today, Silverton is one of the leading builders of aft-cabin family cruisers.
The Silverton 34 Convertible was powered by two 315hp Cummins diesels. Petrol power options start with a 5.7lt, 330hp MPI right through to hefty twin 8.1lt 425hp MPI engines.
With four adults onboard and half a load of fuel the Silverton 34 produced the following speed-to-rpm readings.
Speed to RPM: 6.5 knots @ 1000 rpm, 9.4 knots @ 1500 rpm, 14.3 knots @ 2000 rpm, 18.8 knots @ 2400 rpm, 20 knots @ 2450 rpm, 27 knots @ 2700 rpm
LOA: 37’ 7”
BEAM: 13’ 10”
DRAFT: 3’ 3”
WEIGHT: 8414kg (dry)
SLEEPS: Six adults
+ Sleek lines
- Helm position
Story and Photos by Ian Macrae.