The sound bite must be true: The sun never does set on the Bertram empire, regardless of who rules it or where the kingdom is located.
Bertram Yachts, a symbol of American muscle on the water since 1961, has been owned by Americans, Italians and now, Chinese businessmen. Its luxurious, hardcore saltwater sportfishing machines were built down in the boondocks in Miami for 50 years., but the next launches will be from Florida’s space coast in the old but never-been-used Sea Ray plant on Merritt Island.
After weathering bumps along the roads of commerce and marketing, Bertram Yachts still has the smoothest ride on the roughest blue waters. Waves breaking over the bow and flybridge of a 31 Moppie in 15-foot seas are why this brand’s reputation is known as the ultimate sportfish battlewagon, a testament to a seaworthy deep vee hull design and robust construction. Bertram was and still is a tough, fast boat with a comfortable ride, able to slug it out in conditions that leave lesser vessels hugging the shore. A Bertram is designed for someone who fishes so much that they will eventually get caught in some stink of a storm.
The dream boat created by founder Dick Bertram after shattering the speed record for the extremely rough 1960 Miami-Nassau Race was the beginning of a legacy of innovation. The Bertram 31 “Moppie” became an instant classic and the number one sportfishing boat on the planet. The cabin was placed slightly forward to creative a massive cockpit space. Wraparound cabin windows provided tremendous visibility from below, and longitudinal strakes running the length of the hull kept the boat dry.
Five decades later, the new 50- to 80-foot luxury sport fishing yachts continue that tradition. Bertram is geared to build 15 to 25 boats a year costing between $1.5 million and $6 million. The line is designed with a more stream-lined appearance.
“(They are built) 36 percent lighter, 13 percent cheaper and three times stronger,” says Alton Herndon, president of Bertram Yacht, explaining that the new location enables Bertram to partner with Vectorworks to build fiberglass parts with resin infusion. Less resin and a higher percentage of fiberglass in the laminate creates lighter, stronger parts. The next Bertram 64 will be the first infused hull as the company switches manufacturing process during 2013.
“It is all an improvement with a reduction in weight and a double hull safety idea,” says Herndon, who left the helm at Hatteras to spearhead Bertram’s move to the expanded capabilities offered at Merritt Island. “We have the strongest hull-deck joint in the industry. The composite panel has two skins, kind of a foam cored sandwich laminate. It makes for a quieter ride, with nothing moving or creaking in the cabins.”
The Bertram 540, a New Classic
After nearly 30 years, the company has reintroduced the classic Bertram 54, one of the most sought after models of its time, with a centerline fuel tank creating a zero-trim that further enhances the ride, and a sharp bow, long waterline, and deep vee hull for extra handling in open water. The 540 has a sleek, contemporary shearline and modern onboard amenities like stereo systems with iPod hookups integrated into the bridge, salon and cockpit.
This yacht combines the sea keeping ability of a fishing vessel with the ultra luxury and comfort of a cruising yacht. The forward wrap around window provides breathtaking views and allows loads of natural light to shine into the interior. The ambiance with the open salon layout provides for great entertaining on the open water. Port and starboard stateroom windows also lend natural light and exquisite sea views.
Radiant white oak lends elegance, and the galley area features a beautiful open bar area to ease movement between the salon and the cockpit entry way for a more open entertaining and dining experience. An aft cockpit window retracts into the bulkhead, providing easy galley access to pass through food and drinks.
This yacht features underwater exhaust and storage space to hold up to 25 fishing rods. Additional tackle storage is incorporated into the mezzanine along with a baitwell and freezer. The transom fish box can be converted into another baitwell or icemaker with ease. The fish boxes on the cockpit floor have been made larger and deeper and are now placed on each side of the fighting chair for easier access from the transom door.
Re-establishing the Brand
Bertram has stood the test of time, building a loyal base of repeat customers who trust their purpose-built vessels in the most hostile conditions. Today, Bertram is determined to stand out and become more of a standalone business entity from its Italian holding company, Ferretti Group, according to James Henderson, president and CEO of Ferretti Group America. (China’s largest bulldozer maker bought a controlling interest in Ferretti last year.)
“I think Bertram suffered a little bit in the last decade,” Henderson says. “Jeep is owned by Fiat, but everyone knows Jeep as its own, iconic brand. It is known as an American brand. Bertram is an American brand [like that].”