31, 233 lbs.
|Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.|
|Std. Power||2 x 380-hp QSB Cummins Electronic Diesels|
|Tested Power||2 x 480-hp QSB with Zeus|
2 x 425-hp QSB Cummins Electronic Diesels
2 x 480-hp QSB Cummins Electronic Diesels
Don’t be fooled by the model name. With an integral swim platform and no bow pulpit, the Meridian 441 has a length overall of 47'2" (14.3 m) and a 14’3” (4.3 m) beam.
At 8 knots the 441 is actually more fuel efficient with conventional drives and the smaller engines.
Meridian offers three power choices for the 441 Sedan. Standard is a pair of 380 QSB Cummins MerCruiser Diesel (CMD) Electronic diesels. Two upgrade options are available. First is our previous test power of 425-hp QSB CMD engines with straight shafts. The second option is a pair of 480-hp QSB CMDs. A further option with both of the larger engines is a Zeus pod drive propulsion system. Our test boat had the 480s driving through the Zeus pods.
Pods in general have a reputation for adding about 30% to the mpg performance of a boat at best cruise. Most of this improvement in efficiency is due to the fact that their props are working horizontally rather than angled down, and have two counter-rotating props. As a result all of the energy is directly transferred to driving the boat forward, rather than down and forward.
First let’s take a close look at the old test results with the standard 425s.
And the new test results…
Let’s take the pertinent numbers and rearrange them side by side for a more easily digestible format.
We’ll start with top speed.
This a tremendous improvement in performance. Let's remember, however, that the 480 QSB engines are putting out 110 more horsepower together, 13% more than with the 425s driving through straight shafts.
Now let’s take a look at cruise speed.
Now we see some interesting numbers. For the sake of comparison, cruise speed is defined as that speed which provides a combination of the best fuel burn, and the best range above planing speed. Now we see a definite improvement in the operation of our 441. Our best cruise speed has increased to 32.15 mph, a speed that we couldn’t even attain before, we are getting 21% more miles per gallon and range has increased about the same percent.
So What Does This Mean?
Well, for starters, it’s clearly more efficient operating with the larger engines and pods. But is it more cost effective? That’s a very pertinent question, and we can only answer that based on numbers.
Cruising canvas makes the 441 a three-season boat.
Let’s say we’re taking a trip of 1500 miles to our winter retreat in Florida at 25 mph average speed. Figuring roughly $3.50/gallon (save your cards and letters, actual numbers may vary) the smaller engines will cost us $7,720 for the trip. The twin 480s with the Zeus pods will cost $6,104 for the same trip. That’s a savings of $1,614 each way.
And Now We Have To Figure In How Much the Upgraded Engines Cost
The 441 powered by 425 inboards has a MSRP base price of $622,523. Our test boat with 480s and pods has an MSRP of $713,856. That’s a difference of $91,333. Are we saving money on our single trip to Florida? Not hardly. It will take us 28 round trips to Florida to break even if we look at the Zeus 480 engine option this way.
A comparison of MSRP prices for variously powered Meridian 441 Sedans. These prices do not include additional options.
Of course you don’t have to do the long jump we did with our test boat, and upgrade both the engines and drive system. Going from shaft drives to pods with the 425’s will cost an estimated $703,700. If you’re at that level, it only makes sense to do what we did and go for the whole shebang for only $10,000 more. Pods add roughly 13% to the cost of this boat.
It's Not All Dollars and Cents
We like the helm layout with two nav screens.
Clearly, the reason to upgrade to the two 480s with pods is to have the power to cruise at 28 knots and cover about 280 miles in a 10-hour cruising day. Typically that is what a delivery day is like in good weather on the east coast going from Florida to New England, and that is usually enough for any man in one day. With the 425 straight shafts you'll only cover about 170 nautical miles at a best cruise 17 knots.
Only CMD diesels are available in the Meridian 441.
That means with the big engines and Zeus you'll be able to make the trips in 5.3 days. With conventional 425s, it will take you 8.8 ten-hour days, all things being equal. In other words, the extra three days will cost you another grand in dockage and dinner bills alone! These days most people are busy and as someone once said, time is money.
Of course another big benefit of pod drives to most operators is the ability to get the boat into the dock with a simple joystick. Confidence in a tight dock with a large boat while everyone is watching carries with it a peace of mind factor that few of us could put a price tag on. For most operators, it makes the difference between owning a particular boat, and settling for another. The savings in fuel over the long haul is a secondary concern.
Going 37 mph in a 44' yacht is more fun than you might think -- another advantage of the bigger engines and Zeus drives.
|Dripless Shaft Seals|
|Washdown: Fresh Water|
|Washdown: Raw Water|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc|
|Boats More Than 30 Feet|
|Helm: Second Station|
|Oil Change System|
= Standard = Optional
|Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.|