It’s been 6 seasons since I made one of the best decisions of my life and purchased my 47’ (Constant Dilemma).  I absolutely love the boat, but I’m starting to consider boats that cruise a little faster to expand my weekend cruising radius on the Chesapeake Bay.  (I just had my first child and the way I use the boat has changed) My ideal would be to find a boat similar to Jim Mathis’s (Lena Estelle) on the east coast for less money.  I know this might be a tough request, but I figured I’d ask here.  If anybody knows of any leads or hears of anything in the future, please let me know.  I’m thrilled using and enjoying my 47’ until I find the right boat!

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Hey Jim, I cruise at 2500 and get a little better than 16 knots. WOT my boat will do 20. I don’t have a fly bridge and I have the single aft stateroom without the hallway and second aft stateroom, just more space, so I suspect mine is lighter in the butt than many. I also have custom large lenco tabs I don’t have the factory system. The difference was massive on that change.

Jim Rivas said:

Well said Chris!  Out of curiosity, what does the manual say about the recommended cruising speed? We cruised our 47’ with the same 8V53’s you have, at 2600RPM which produced about 16kts and at full throttle 18kts. Fuel burn at cruise was 25 gph.  This boat has since been repowered with DD 6V71TA engines rated at 465hp@2300RPM and now cruises at 22 knots.

Still my favorite power combo for this hull is a pair of CAT 3208TA engines rated at 450HP@2800RPM with Twin Disc MG507 gears.  These engines utilize the same mounting points as the 8V53N.  Easy install! 

Jim Rivas



Chris Wickersham said:

Scott, I get what you’re saying, new diesels with the exception of some of the Cummins are developing a poor reputation. But these boats had detroits as standard and larger Cummins were optional. These engines will run forever. I rebuilt both my Detroit’s and it was like $35k for both, it was rather affordable (in boat terms) and I couldn’t have repowered with gas for that. I am still waiting to hear what the original poster has for engines. My engines turn 2800 at WOT and I’m not kidding the manual says cruise is 2500-2600. That’s where detroit says to run them.

Also for whatever it’s worth Jim Rivas is a real source of knowledge around here. When I first got my boat he was one of the only ones that said it’s not running right and fix it, the general perception is they’re underpowered and not planing boats. That just isn’t true. Out of all the 47’s out there it seems like 2/3 don’t plane and people seem to think that’s normal. The factory tab setup while innovative for the time is a lot of the problem.



Scott Miller said:

Good advice Chris.  In my search for an old Hatt or Commander, I found occasional boats with newer engines.  They were generally asking about or less than what it probably cost them to re-engine.  I ended up only looking at those, generally the rest of the boat was in great shape to make it worth new engines.  So it appears you won't get a lot of resale value out of new engines.

In my search a few years ago for bigger and newer boats, I found a lot had rebuilt or replaced diesels.  I thought that was odd, but did some research, and there is a lot of complaining about the longevity and durability of modern marine recreational diesels.  They are lighter, higher-performance, lower emissions, and not as durable.  Recreational boats get a very different engine than commercial boats: higher revving, higher output, much lighter and less money (but still spendy, my neighbor boat replaced a turbo-diesel at $100k).  They cannot run at 80-90%, that not only wears them out, but voids their warranty, and they will download the history before paying warranty.

If you have gas engines, modern versions of those engines will give you significantly better performance and longevity.  An identical boat to mine with 454s topped out at 27mph.  That was cruise speed at 2/3 max fuel flow with my 8.1s.  The 454 version couldn't really get on a nice plane where fuel flow flattened out on mine, It was a much more enjoyable boat with the modern engines.  And plan on the 8.1 lasting many thousands of hours, they were built from scratch as truck engines, and delivery trucks and shuttle vans are running over 500k abusive miles before getting inexpensive rebuilds.  Performance of boat with new 454s, won't impress a buyer like a boat with new 8.1s. 

What was the before and after for the guy in Vancouver or Seattle, 427s vs 8.1s?  The torque curve on an 8.1 is a fairly flat curve, lots of torque all the way to redline.  Every gas engine before the 8.1 had a torque curve that peaked at low rpm, and made a straight line toward zero as the rpm went up.  They were designed as car engines.  The 8.1 was the first gas engine designed specifically for trucks, to compete with diesel engines.

A rebuilt long-block 8.1 is $5500, 8.1HO 425HP with the forged crank is $6k.  I'm not sure what a complete engine with accessories is, have to do some checking.  I looked at those because that is less than the cost of a 3000-service on the diesels available on my boat.  I knew if I had a serious engine problem, I could replace my engines relatively cheaply.  You would be looking also at transmissions, shafts, props, maybe gauges, but I also had the gauges on my iPad using SmartCraft over Bluetooth.

As far as fuel costs, I didn't really cruise like I thought I would.  I spent a lot of time at 8 knots burning 4GPH, can't really empty my tanks in a season doing that.  I made a few 8-hour runs over the years, that was more expensive than diesels would have been, but the difference was less than replacing my mooring lines.

I was thinking he had gas engines, 8.1s were a huge improvement over 7.4s on my last boat, it was a different boat, could be worth that upgrade.  Owners with the 7.4 were fitting bigger tabs, anything to get just a little more speed out of it and onto a nice plane.

Like everyone, I want a luxurious-size boat that can go fast and not break the bank.  22 knots at modest fuel flow would make ownership much more enjoyable than 16 knots cruise.  Like the OP, time has become a limiting factor in ability to enjoy my boat.  Cruising just doesn't happen unless it can be done quickly.  I looked at a Superhawk 48 with triple 550hp while looking for a commander.  Yes obnoxious, but crossing Lake Michigan would no longer take most of my day, and that is worth the increased fuel bill to me.

I was hoping to find a 31' Sports Express that needed engines, drop 383s into it, for a speedy day boat that can go places.  Still might happen some day, but the one I found and bought is too perfect to start hacking on right away.  And now I'm wondering if 383s will fit under the hatches, maybe with a down-angle transmission...

Chris Wickersham said:

Scott, I get what you’re saying, new diesels with the exception of some of the Cummins are developing a poor reputation. But these boats had detroits as standard and larger Cummins were optional. These engines will run forever. I rebuilt both my Detroit’s and it was like $35k for both, it was rather affordable (in boat terms) and I couldn’t have repowered with gas for that. I am still waiting to hear what the original poster has for engines. My engines turn 2800 at WOT and I’m not kidding the manual says cruise is 2500-2600. That’s where detroit says to run them.

Also for whatever it’s worth Jim Rivas is a real source of knowledge around here. When I first got my boat he was one of the only ones that said it’s not running right and fix it, the general perception is they’re underpowered and not planing boats. That just isn’t true. Out of all the 47’s out there it seems like 2/3 don’t plane and people seem to think that’s normal. The factory tab setup while innovative for the time is a lot of the problem.



Scott Miller said:

Good advice Chris.  In my search for an old Hatt or Commander, I found occasional boats with newer engines.  They were generally asking about or less than what it probably cost them to re-engine.  I ended up only looking at those, generally the rest of the boat was in great shape to make it worth new engines.  So it appears you won't get a lot of resale value out of new engines.

In my search a few years ago for bigger and newer boats, I found a lot had rebuilt or replaced diesels.  I thought that was odd, but did some research, and there is a lot of complaining about the longevity and durability of modern marine recreational diesels.  They are lighter, higher-performance, lower emissions, and not as durable.  Recreational boats get a very different engine than commercial boats: higher revving, higher output, much lighter and less money (but still spendy, my neighbor boat replaced a turbo-diesel at $100k).  They cannot run at 80-90%, that not only wears them out, but voids their warranty, and they will download the history before paying warranty.

If you have gas engines, modern versions of those engines will give you significantly better performance and longevity.  An identical boat to mine with 454s topped out at 27mph.  That was cruise speed at 2/3 max fuel flow with my 8.1s.  The 454 version couldn't really get on a nice plane where fuel flow flattened out on mine, It was a much more enjoyable boat with the modern engines.  And plan on the 8.1 lasting many thousands of hours, they were built from scratch as truck engines, and delivery trucks and shuttle vans are running over 500k abusive miles before getting inexpensive rebuilds.  Performance of boat with new 454s, won't impress a buyer like a boat with new 8.1s. 

What was the before and after for the guy in Vancouver or Seattle, 427s vs 8.1s?  The torque curve on an 8.1 is a fairly flat curve, lots of torque all the way to redline.  Every gas engine before the 8.1 had a torque curve that peaked at low rpm, and made a straight line toward zero as the rpm went up.  They were designed as car engines.  The 8.1 was the first gas engine designed specifically for trucks, to compete with diesel engines.

A rebuilt long-block 8.1 is $5500, 8.1HO 425HP with the forged crank is $6k.  I'm not sure what a complete engine with accessories is, have to do some checking.  I looked at those because that is less than the cost of a 3000-service on the diesels available on my boat.  I knew if I had a serious engine problem, I could replace my engines relatively cheaply.  You would be looking also at transmissions, shafts, props, maybe gauges, but I also had the gauges on my iPad using SmartCraft over Bluetooth.

As far as fuel costs, I didn't really cruise like I thought I would.  I spent a lot of time at 8 knots burning 4GPH, can't really empty my tanks in a season doing that.  I made a few 8-hour runs over the years, that was more expensive than diesels would have been, but the difference was less than replacing my mooring lines.

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