Boat Review Date: January 2010
Author: Mike Brown
The Meridian 441 Sedan Bridge is fairly unusual among American fly bridge boats: it has just a single, outside driving station. The builders have clearly woken up to Australian preferences. A retained US feature is the extensive saloon that gained its space at the expense of what is a fairly small cockpit by Australian standards.
The Americans typically compensate for any cockpit space shortage with a very long fly bridge, and the 441 is no exception. It extends virtually to the transom, as does its hardtop, and this with all-round clears certainly makes a sedan of it.
The accommodation is extensive and well fitted out, justifying the Meridian’s sub-title of ‘sedan yacht’. The abbreviated cockpit allows a long saloon, the narrowish side decks give width, and the absent driving station adds space. The permanent sleeping accommodation sleeps four in two large cabins. A couple more can have the largest cabin on board with a pullout double bed in the saloon.
This is a very big 44-footer, well fitted out but in no way crowded. The saloon has armchairs, entertainment consoles, large L-shaped settee, movable table, cupboards galore, and that is just in the dedicated lounging area. Ahead of it on a raised mezzanine deck is a galley to port with a dinette opposite. The dinette is convertible to a fourth double bed.
The galley has a cook top as well as microwave, acreage of bench space, and dishwasher and coffee maker as well as the usual components.
The fit-out is in white synthetic material and polished cherry wood. Very attractive, and set off in the saloon by a sculpted ceiling that incorporates air-conditioning vents.
The two cabins below are large, especially the mid or aft cabin. This is full beam, and has a big share of the overall length. The bed is at least queen sized, and around it are TV-DVD player (every inhabited space has one of these) wardrobes, mirrors, dressing table and seats. Hidden away are the washer and drier, and the ducted vacuum system. The en suite is to a similar scale. Natural light is a feature, with large windows and a ducted skylight.
The other cabin and bathroom are smaller, but only in comparison; they are generous compartments.
The cockpit may be small but is far from unusable and is certainly a possibility for fishing. It is linked to the interior by wide-opening glass doors, and is completely shaded by the cantilevered fly bridge. There is a settee across the transom, deck space for folding chairs, and plenty of lockers including a wet one.
The wide swim board is the natural tender-carrying spot, and also the kids’ natural fishing spot and their diving board. They will want to sit there at night too, watching fish trapped by the underwater lights.
The fly bridge can be open space or more accommodation. At the head of the moulded stairway a safety hatch allows the air-conditioned space to be closed off to become the children’s evening social room. But daytime use is obviously the priority, and there is gear for any activity.
Probably more cooking will be done up here than in the galley, and barbecue, fridge, sink, lockers and benches are well distributed, removing the usual cramped sensation. Plenty of room is left over for settees, seats, table and drink holders for large numbers of friends.
And, of course, you drive up here as well. The skipper’s seat is marvellously comfortable, and faces a very neat dash that tilts up for service and repair work. A pair of 12.4-inch Northstar monitors for radar, sounder and plotter and CCTV cameras dominate it, with Smartcraft and autopilot screens, analogue gauges and endless switches tidily disposed around them.
The twin Cummins and the bow and stern thrusters are computer linked for manoeuvring by the Total Command system. This uses a single control that you simply push to shift the boat in the right direction. You can even control it remotely allowing you to jump ashore and handle the lines yourself. It is a system to make the unhandiest driver look good.
Although the likely owner of a Meridian 441 will be too busy for more than Rottnest weekends and the annual Dunsborough run, it has enough genuine cruising potential for far more.
The fuel and water capacities are a realistic1438L and 568L respectively, The sullage tank is reasonable too at 208L: a few days-worth before heading out to sea or to a pump-out. There is the usual profusion on board of items to make things cold, but the significant one from the cruising point of view is the galley freezer: Meridian installed a monster. This is besides the assorted fridges and icemakers around the boat.
You get a lot of boat for the asking price of $895,000, and having spent it there is little else to pay beyond filling the tanks. This is a thoroughly equipped boat.
Length overall 14.38m
Engines 2 x Cummins @ 480hp ea