The new Tiara 440 Sovran express cruiser was lying along the bulkhead at the Bay Bridge Marina on Maryland's Eastern Shore, waiting for my inspection. My host was Tyler Terry of the North Atlantic Marine Group, the new Tiara dealership for the Chesapeake region. It was a cold day, with a slight southeasterly breeze, but the sun was glinting off the gelcoat and it didn't take too much imagination to see how this sleek beauty would look under azure Mediterranean skies.
What you notice most is the nicely sculpted hardtop that caps the curved windshield in such a way as to nearly encapsulate the helm deck. The top extends back to cover part of the aft cockpit. Tiara designers have done a nice job of blending these lines into the overall look of the boat, making the hardtop an integral element rather than a slapped-on afterthought as with some other express cruisers out there.
The Sovran series is what Tiara calls the 'rebadging' of their express model lineup, redesigned to accentuate the cruising amenities above decks and below. Enter via the broad integral swim platform, where the flick of a switch actuates the hatch on the 'trunk' across the transom. Inside, there's room to stow all the cushions, sun pads, fenders, lines, and other bulky items.
There are gates leading into the cockpit on either side of the transom. The handheld shower nozzle is tucked into a niche on one side, the shore power hook-ups on the other. Between these gates, a six-foot-long settee spans the transom with deep storage underneath. This is opposite a matching settee aft. A dining table lifts up ingeniously from the sole with the flick of another switch.
The helm deck is two steps up from the cockpit. The helm seat is a broad bench, infinitely adjustable. Behind this is a wet bar with a sink and a small refrigerator underneath. To starboard, there's a small dinette with a fold-down teak table. A hatch in the center of the sole provides access to the engine room. Here, the twin Cummins QSM11 600-hp diesels reside, well centered and connected to V-drives to save interior space for accommodations.
The helm itself has a high dash with an expanse of blank space available to fill with any chosen array of chartplotters and other electronic displays. The hardtop protecting the helm deck is well styled to provide a room feel inside, with lots of headroom and two Bomar hatches for light and air. Additional ventilation is available through the center of the three windshield panes, which opens with the aid of an actuator. Visibility from the helm is quite good all the way around.
The companionway leads down to the main saloon. The flooring throughout the interior is all teak planking,quite a unique and classic look. The galley features side-by-side refrigerator/freezer units mounted into the aft bulkhead with cabinets and microwave above. The Corian counter separates the galley from the lounge area and incorporates a double-bowl stainless sink, a two-burner flush-top electric stove, and a modicum of storage underneath.
Forward of the galley, there's a U-shaped settee wrapped around a lovely inlaid adjustable dining/coffee table. Across from this is yet another settee, above which is the entertainment system, including the flat-screen TV/DVD/CD set up.
The guest stateroom is to the right at the foot of the companionway stairs. This cabin has a unique arrangement. The twin berths are perpendicular to one another. The lower berth runs athwarships, with the foot tucked underneath the top berth, which runs fore and aft. This allows room underneath the upper berth for a deep hanging locker as well as a handy washer/ dryer unit. In the opposite corner, there's a convenient vanity with a sink molded into the Corian counter and a large medicine cabinet above. A separate guest head features a VacuFlush marine toilet and a hand-held shower.
The master stateroom forward features a double island berth on the centerline flanked by roomy cedar-lined hanging lockers. There's a flat-screen TV mounted in the aft bulkhead. The master head is quite roomy, with a large vanity to one side, a VacuFlush toilet, and a separate shower stall with a molded seat.
If there were a small critique, it would be that the AC/DC distribution panel and the battery switches are located underneath the companionway steps, making for a rather awkward reach.
With the stem-to-stern inspection complete, we started the engines, dropped the lines, and threaded our way out of the marina, under the shadow of the parallel spans of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The boat handled in a sprightly fashion, handling the one-to two-foot chop with ease, tracking well and taking relatively tight turns with little banking. At 2100 rpm, we were making a swift cruising speed of 30.9 knots, a reading on my hand-held Garmin gps unit that belied the smooth, quiet ride. Running wide open at 2350 rpm gave us a reading of a full 34 knots. The Cummins monitors indicated a fuel burn rate of 24 gallons per hour per engine at 2100 rpm and 32 gallons per hour per engine wide open.