These beefy saltwater boats with MerCruiser sterndrives come in 6.1- and 6.5-metre models
Mercury Marine a while back released a new range of plate-alloy Bermuda boats, fitted with MerCruiser sterndrives, to provide anglers with big, brawny and reliable offshore performance.
The move gives customers to whom the Bermuda label represents style, performance and value a wider choice in big, beamy, trailable boats with a choice of petrol or diesel MerCruiser power.
It is not often that one gets to test three boats on the same day. The new Bermuda Saltwater Series comprises two models, with three choices of power, so we tested a 6.1-metre model fitted with a 1.7-litre DTI MerCruiser diesel and another 6.1 with a 190hp 4.3-litre MerCruiser petrol engine. The bigger 6.5-metre Bermuda Saltwater Series was powered by a 220hp petrol V6 4.3-litre MPI MerCruiser.
Conditions on the test day were not ideal for testing these big blue-water boats. There was no wind or chop in Botany Bay and the outside conditions were the best I had seen for quite some time. Even though the sea was like a billiard table, I was still able to see how the boats rode and handled and how each of the motors performed.
Both of these cuddy cabin hulls are built to the maximum trailerable limits and do not vary much from one to the other, except for the minor differences that occur in the foredeck enclosures and storage facilities. Having them side by side, there really is not much of difference between the bigger and smaller vessels.
Each boat has a fully-welded, self-draining deck with sealed sub-floor – a great asset, especially when you get caught in a torrential downpour or when you are washing the boat down after a day’s fishing. The scuppers will catch any discarded fishing line or bait pieces that invariably find their way onto the deck in a hot fishing session.
For easy assess into the cockpits from the rear, the walk-through transom door is great and the dive ladder fitted under the marlin platform makes it simple to board the boat after a diving or swimming session. The ladder also gives you much easier assess to the boat when on dry land, saving the trailer wheels or guards and the effort of having to haul yourself into the boat.
All three motors are housed under soundproofed, hinged engine box covers, giving the motors that extra protection from the elements and your ears a chance to listen to something else apart from the motor. Noise levels were very good in all three boats, with the diesel engine the loudest but still quite acceptable. The top of the engine box also comes with a cushion, giving an extra comfortable seat.
Some anglers may see having the engine box intruding into the cockpit as an inconvenience, especially when you can’t have a fixed bait-cutting and preparation board in the centre of the transom. This could be easily overcome by installing Bermuda cutting boards either side of the motor, giving you twice as much preparation area for your baits and gear. It also eliminates the problem that I have in my outboard boat of the excess bait going over the motor.
Even though there is plenty of room, and hand support, to walk around the front of the cuddy-cabin on the non-skid foredeck, the front hatch will give you easy access to bow. That’s especially so if you have to handle the anchor through the bow sprit and into the self-draining anchor well when the conditions are not ideal.
I cannot have enough rod holders and the folding rocket launcher and with its six rod holders is great. Make sure that the rods are secured in some way, so that they don’t go flying out when you are going over a wave or swell – although it would have to be a pretty big wave to upset either of these Bermudas. A few years ago I was in a mate’s boat going through the bar at Foster and as he powered over a wave he lost one of his rods out of the rocket launchers. He now has clips that secure all his rods to the launcher.
The cuddy cabins in the Bermuda 6.1- and 6.5-metre Saltwater Series can have under-bed storage in the cabins as well as cabin side pockets. Here you could store your fenders, spare ropes, paddle, safety vest, spare clothing, extra fishing gear and much more, while at the same time still having enough room to stretch out for a snooze on the foam bed. You may not want that added comfort of the foam bed, but go for that extra storage.
The cockpit side pockets are around 200mm off the deck, giving you plenty of room to fit those toes while resting up against the 680mm high gunwales. There is also added storage for extra tackle directly below each of the deluxe padded pedestal seats for the driver and crew. You could also convert these into dry storage boxes for gear like flares, wet weather jackets or other safety gear. Or maybe you could fit a fridge in one to keep your lunch and drinks cool. The carpeted floor helps deaden any hull sounds and gives extra comfort underfoot.
If you need to go long distances to get to your favourite fishing spots, the four-cylinder diesel MerCruiser is about 100kg lighter than the petrol V6 sterndrive options. The 1.7-litre DTI MerCruiser diesel would definitely give you better fuel consumption on the 6.1-metre model than on the 6.5 on the 250-litre fuel tank. Martin Gunn from Mercury said you could possibly get about 1000 nautical miles out of a full tank in the 6.1-metre Saltwater Bermuda with one of these turbocharge4d and intercooled engines.
The 220hp MPI V6-powered 6.5-metre Bermuda was much faster (about four or five knots) than the 6.1-metre powered by the 190hp 4.3 MerCruiser on the test day.
I suggest the top speed in ‘normal’ (moderate) offshore conditions is pretty much irrelevant because you are going to be using cruising speeds in those conditions. Rare are the days when you can go flat out offshore for any period.
Naturally, because of its extra length and weight, the 6.5-metre Bermuda Saltwater did give a slightly more comfortable ride when going over the wakes of other boats encountered on the otherwise tranquil bay.
If you are in the market for a big, beamy and seaworthy offshore boat, you should definitely have a look at the Bermuda Saltwater Series. They are strongly built for heavy-duty conditions and that 6.1-metre model with the turbo diesel means you might occasionally forget where the fuel filler cap is.
Length 6.1m 6.5m
Overall length 6.9m 7.58m
Boat length on trailer 7.25m 7.9m
Boat height on trailer 2.70m 2.70m
Beam 2.55m 2.55m
Weight boat, motor, trailer1.75 tonnes 1.85 tonnes
Depth floor to gunwale 680mm 680mm
Side plate 4mm 4mm
Bottom plate5mm 5mm
Transom 6mm 6mm
Prices (boat, motor, trailer package), recommended retail
6.1-metre, 4.3 190hp petrol MerCruiser, Alpha leg$51,942
6.1-metre, 4.3 MPI 220hp petrol MerCruiser, Alpha leg$54,021
6.1-metre, 116hp DTI MerCruiser diesel, Alpha leg$60, 290
6.5-metre, 4.3 190hp MerCruiser petrol, Alpha leg$54, 935
6.5-metre, 4.3 220hp MPI MerCruiser petrol, Alpha leg$57, 014
Optional V-berth cabin build$4352
Peas in a pod: The 6.1-metre and the 6.5-metre Bermuda Saltwater Series share just about everything except length. Both hulls are beamy, high-sided, stable and roomy.
The MerCruiser Alpha legs tilt well clear to allow easy launching and retrieve and safe trailering.
How glassy are the conditions? Flat as a tack on Botany Bay, with nothing to impede the Saltwater 6.5’s progress.
One of the 6.1-metre Saltwater Bermudas was fitted with a 190hp 4.3 MPI MerCruiser, giving a cruising speed of about 20 knots.
The 4.3 Mercruiser 190hp V6 in the Saltwater 6.1 – compact and potent.
The 220hp petrol V6 4.3 MPI MerCruiser propels the 6.5-metre Saltwater Bermuda to a comfortable cruising speed around 25 knots.
The compact 1.7-litre DTI MerCruiser four-cylinder diesel on this Bermuda Saltwater 6.1 blew the faintest smoke under acceleration but performed very well and should provide phenomenal fuel economy.
All three motors feature the new MerCruiser Alpha drive legs.
Standard deluxe swivel chairs give skipper and crew plenty of comfort. The dash of the Saltwater 6.1 has plenty of dials and switches and loads of room for electronics.
10. The cockpit of the Bermuda Saltwater 6.5 Sterndrive is huge, with complete instrumentation and an enormous area to mount electronics, either flush in the dash or on brackets on top. This boat features the optional cabin pack comprising full-width upholstered bunks, under-bunk storage and forward hatch.