Here’s a quick look at eight popular entry-level motor yachts, 35' to 53', produced in recent years. These are the boats that perspective buyers often seek out when looking for an affordable introduction to the cruising lifestyle. Priced from $75,000 to the high $300s, the models profiled below are just a few of many mid-tier motor yachts commonly found on the brokerage market.
Silverton 35 Motor Yacht
At a Glance: This condo-style motor yacht packs a roomy two stateroom interior with a huge salon into a modest 35-foot hull. She may not be pretty but the accommodations are seriously impressive. So was the price — Silverton sold a ton of these boats and used models are easy to find. The fully carpeted interior features cherrywood cabinets, Corian counters, and big front windows. With double beds fore and aft, convertible salon sofa, and convertible dinette, the 35 Motor Yacht can sleep as many as eight people. The mid-level galley includes an upright refrigerator, but counter space is scarce. Stall showers fore and aft! Both staterooms are tiny. Lots of storage space. Raised walkways create the enormous full-beam salon. Flybridge can seat six, no problem. Tall freeboard means lots of windage.
Best Feature: Super-large salon.
Price Range: From high $80s to $170K-plus.
Carver 346/366 Motor Yacht
At a Glance: A huge sales success, this condo yacht hit the sweet spot with many entry-level boaters. Called the 346 in 2002; 366 in 2003–07. The original layout is arranged with the galley down and a long L-shaped sofa to port. The updated 366 interior has a mid-level galley and a booth-style dinette to port, forward of an L-shaped sofa — a more practical configuration since most motor yachts this size have a dinette. Large front windows and Carver's signature two-tiered window design provides plenty of natural light throughout the salon. Carpeted interior features earth-tone decor with cherry cabinets and trim. Both staterooms have offset double beds to save space; both heads have separate stall showers. Molded steps on the swim platform make boarding easy. Gas 385hp inboards cruise at 16–18 knots. Volvo 310hp diesels cruise in the low 20s.
Best Feature: Expansive main salon.
Price Range: From the mid $80s to low $100s.
Meridian 411 Sedan
At a Glance: Popular (and very affordable) sedan cruiser — a winning blend of sharp styling and spacious accommodations — made the Meridian 411 one of the best selling midrange boats in her class. Huge interior layout has the galley and booth-style dinette forward, a step up from the aft salon area with entertainment center and facing settees. Large salon windows bring the outdoors in. Modern decor with cherry cabinets, Ultraleather seating, and Corian counters. Master stateroom includes private en-suite head; guest stateroom has a double berth (tucked under the dinette) and access to the second day head. Extended swim platform leads to a large cockpit with molded bridge steps suitable for fishing, swimming, and entertaining. Lower helm was optional. Wide side decks make it easy to get to the foredeck sun pad.
Best Feature: A super-social flybridge with sun lounge, wet bar, settee, and aft sun pad.
Price Spread: Low-to-mid $100s to over $300K.
At a Glance: Arguably the best big-boat value ever. Spacious, well appointed, and surprisingly fuel efficient. This is basically a restyled (and lengthened) version of the very popular Bayliner 4550/4588 Pilothouse. Her three stateroom, two head interior features a full-beam salon with large U-shaped galley forward to port, wet bar, L-lounge seating, and large side windows. In the pilothouse, there is a settee aft of the helm and a companion seat to port. Visibility from the pilothouse is excellent. Second guest stateroom with upper/lower bunks doubles as a den and opens directly to the master stateroom — very clever. An inflatable dinghy can be carried on the extended flybridge deck. The engine room is a tight fit. Forget all that talk about Bayliner quality — the 4788 is simply a lot of boat for the money.
Best Feature: Comfortable salon that opens to the cockpit — perfect for entertaining.
Price Spread: Low-to-mid $100s for a early model to $230K–$250K for a 2001–02 model.
Bayliner 4788 Pilothouse
Sea Ray 370/380 Aft Cabin
At a Glance: One of the few Sea Ray motoryacht models this era. Modern styling, comfortable accommodations, and a good-running deep-V hull with prop pockets to level the engines. The 370/380 is a big boat inside thanks to a wide 14'3" beam and fairly high freeboard. Both staterooms have walkaround double beds and generous storage. Only the aft head compartment has a separate stall shower. On the port side across from the galley is a walk-in utility room containing a washer/dryer, countertop, storage and a pantry. (In 2000, this utility area was eliminated in favor of an enlarged salon.) The L-shaped sofa in the salon converts to a double bed at the push of a button. On the downside, the engine room — accessed from the salon sole — is a tight fit. MerCruiser 380hp gas inboards cruise at 16–18 knots.
Best Feature: Better styling than most small motoryachts of her day.
Price Range: From the mid $50s to low $100s.
Bayliner 4087 Cockpit MY
At a Glance: Versatile aft-cabin cockpit yacht with three — not two — private staterooms. The third stateroom is under the (elevated) dinette, and while it’s not really a full-size cabin, there is a double berth and partial standing headroom. To accomplish this innovative floorplan, Bayliner engineers moved the galley up into the salon and employed an awkward combination of three doors forward leading to the two staterooms and the head. If the salon dimensions seem limited, the owner’s aft cabin is surprisingly comfortable and includes a walkaround double berth, vanity, and a private head with separate stall shower. The engine room is a tight fit. A transom door in the cockpit makes boarding easy. Cummins 270hp diesels cruise the Bayliner 4087 at 20–22 knots (mid 20s wide open).
Best Feature: The layout — it's very different.
Price Range: From the mid $80s to low $100s.
Maxum 4100 SCB
At a Glance: U.S.-built pilothouse yacht offered European styling at an affordable price — a lot of boat for the money. the two stateroom interior is arranged with the salon, galley and dinette all on a single level. Wraparound windows provide panoramic views of the water, and the cherry (or maple) trimmed decor is a mix of cream-colored Ultraleather upholstery, deep pile carpeting, and Corian counters. The forward master stateroom features a walkaround island bed and vanity, while the starboard guest stateroom — tucked under the dinette — has over/under single berths. Both staterooms share a single double-entry head with separate stall shower. A lower helm was optional. On the downside, the engineroom is a tight fit. Cummins 370hp diesels cruise the Maxum 4100 SCB at 18–20 knots.
Best Feature: A buget price when new, and still a comparitively low price on the used market.
Price Range: From the mid $80 to low $100s.
Navigator 53 Classic
At a Glance: This California-built pilothouse yacht hit the sweet spot with boaters on both coasts. The Navigator’s 15-foot beam is slender for a motoryacht this size. The interior has the galley forward, separated from the aft salon by a serving counter with two stools. While the salon dimensions are modest, the galley is huge with a double sink, upright refrigerator/freezer, and tons of storage. Up two steps to the helm level is the U-shaped dining area and steps to the flybridge. A master stateroom with walkaround queen bed is amidships; VIP stateroom with queen berth is forward, and the guest stateroom with upper/lower bunks is to port. Both heads have separate stall showers. The Navigator’s big cockpit is perfect for entertaining. The flybridge features port/starboard lounges and wet bar. Cruise at 18–20 knots with Volvo 430hp engines.
Best Feature: Traditional pilothouse floorplan.
Price Range: From the mid $100s to high $300s.
Eight Entry Level Motoryachts with Luxury Class Features