I never thought I'd brag about being out on eight-foot seas aboard a Silverton, but there we were, off Lauderdale, in the new 38 Sport Bridge and having a dandy old time. Heading out the cut from Port Everglades, the horizon was lined with 'walking elephants,' the term the local boaters use when of the waves of the Gulf Stream build up from northerly winds blowing against the current. Closer to shore, the waves were three to four feet at first, but soon grew to six-to eight-footers in the early December gale.
But the three of us were high and dry, Mike Usina, Silverton's VP of sales and sarketing, Captain Rich Murray, who works with SunDance Marine, the Ft. Lauderdale-based dealership, and my surprised self. I say surprised, because in the past, Silverton was better known for its affordability than for its offshore capability. Recent evolutions in the Silverton Corporation have produced a product that is remarkably upgraded in design and production. This boat took a beating with no slamming, jolting, creaking or lurching. Even in those seas, I felt in control of a boat with a steady ride and plenty of power to handle the conditions.
'Our company's going through a renaissance,' Usina explained when we got safely back to the dock. 'There's a whole new team. Our head designer is 41 years old. It's a whole new group of people taking us to a whole new level. By investing more in the quality of components, it's become a much better machine.'
Fully enclosed, the Sport Bridge provided plenty of protection out in the rough stuff. Opened up in good weather, this expansive flybridge would be the most pleasant area on the boat. You access it via an easily climbed molded staircase leading up from the cockpit. There's a double settee facing aft of the helm seats. A wet bar with a Corian countertop graces the port side.
The helm is centered, with an adjustable stainless wheel and analog gauges on the faux burled-maple dash. There's room to mount a large chartplotter on one side and other electronic displays on the other. The helm seat is flanked by guest seats, so three can sit at the helm at the same time. These seats are equipped with flip-up bolsters for stand-up operation. Visibility is adequate across the bow, and as you might expect, visibility aft is obscured by the extension of the bridgedeck over the cockpit; however, you do get a good view of the starboard stern quarter down the staircase.
Gates on either side lead to Silverton's signature SideWalk that provides direct access from bridge to bow. A large sun pad graces that expanse. At the very bow, the anchor windlass is protected underneath a hatch next to the deep anchor rode locker.
Step back into the cockpit and you're in a pleasant space, protected overhead by the aft extension of the sport bridge. A large, gasketed hatch in the sole opens to reveal a removable storage bin. Lift out the bin and you have access to a large lazarette that houses the Kohler generator and the Gladdening cable retractor system.
A gate leads through the transom to the broad integral swim platform. There's additional storage inside the transom for fenders, dock lines, and other bulky gear.
Step through the concave sliding glass door into the main saloon, finished in deeply varnished cherry paneling and cabinetry. The headliner has an attractive two-toned suede-and-vinyl finish and swoops up to the forward-facing windows. A convertible sofa upholstered in beige Ultra leather to starboard sits across from the flat-screen entertainment system in the aft port corner. Forward of this is an L-shaped settee for seating at an adjustable dining table. This arrangement is on a raised platform to provide good viewing through the opening side windows while dining as well as to provide extra headroom for the amidships cabin below.
Across from the dinette is a well appointed galley with a U-shaped Corian countertop. The two-burner flush-top electric stove is across from a deep circular stainless steel sink. There's a good amount of storage available in the handsomely finished cherry cupboards and the cabinets and drawers below. A side-by-side refrigerator/freezer is tucked underneath the counter, and a convection/microwave oven is mounted into the cabinet above.
A hatch in the carpeted sole of the saloon reveals the engine compartment where the twin Cummins 355-hp diesels sit snugly. There's not a lot of headroom, but there's also less than three feet of draft. Still, there's adequate room for proper servicing.
The accommodations deck is two steps down from the galley. Note the good-looking optional Amtico flooring. The owner's stateroom forward features a queen-size island berth with an innerspring mattress and lots of storage underneath. There are large cedar-lined hanging lockers on either side and a large circular hatch overhead. A flat-screen TV/DVD system is mounted into the aft bulkhead.
The head and shower arrangement on this boat is unique. There's a single head compartment to starboard and an enclosed shower stall to port. Each of these compartments is accessible from the master stateroom. The head is also accessible from the passageway, convenient to the main saloon. Likewise, the shower compartment is accessible from the guest stateroom amidships. The shower has a molded seat and a hand-held showerhead.
The guest stateroom is tucked underneath the raised dining area, and has twin berths that can convert to a generous double-size berth with a filler cushion. Unlike many similar layouts in boats this size, this cabin actually has adequate elbow and headroom for changing clothes and a large cedar-lined hanging locker and drawers built into the forward bulkhead. The berths aren't too claustrophobic.
Because it was blowing stink, the topography out off the mouth of the inlet kept us from doing much in the way of running anywhere near top speed, but we were doing a good 21.9 knots at 2700 rpm for a while out there, and running back and forth between the protection of the jetties, we reached 28.2 knots at 3000 rpm. Just inside was all no-wake zone, so we couldn't open up for the sake of the manatees. Still, doing nearly 22 knots in big seas was quite a thrill and the Silverton 38 Sport Bridge provided an impressive ride.