Most manufacturers offer boats of all shapes and sizes, as they want their product line to cover the needs of a wide range of customers. Meridian, however, decided to focus its efforts on sedan models, known as Flybridges. In fact, they are following in the footsteps of Carver and Silverton, two well-known brands in the sedan segment. Admittedly, Meridian has done quite a good job making a name for itself since the company’s founding in 2002.
I tested the 2011 Meridian 411, their second-largest sedan. Their one bigger product is the Meridian 541, which was introduced earlier this year and is now the company’s leading model. But with two bridges and measuring 14’3″ (4.3 m) across and 47’2″ (14.3 m) long, the Meridian 411 is anything but compact. And that’s precisely what makes it appealing. After all, it’s not the world’s fastest boat, nor is it the most nimble or dynamic. It is, however, extremely comfortable and luxurious. If you’re interested in a boat that combines the pleasures of boating with the perks of an opulent second home, the Meridian 411 might be right up your alley.
Great windows, great views
Seen from the outside, the 2011 Meridian 411 is more aggressive-looking than some of their other models. Yet, it has a certain elegance and sophistication, thanks in large part to the stylishly designed two-tier windows. These also increase visibility and the amount of natural light on board – something most passengers are sure to appreciate. The large hull windows for the guest stateroom are probably the nicest touch on the boat. Meanwhile, the Meridian 411’s increased length (it’s actually beyond 47 feet when you include the integrated swim deck) makes for better proportions overall, which is something that can be problematic on smaller Flybridges.
Aboard, the Meridian 441 is more than spacious enough for you and several friends to relax in style and comfort, whether it’s for a night, weekend or even a couple of weeks. Imagine the view as you wake up and see the sun rise over the water, or as you enjoy your breakfast as the light of day fills the cabin.
It would be hard not to notice the attention they put into the details and all the different conveniences available on this boat. The quality of the materials is superb, with fine wood accents throughout. In back is a large case for the water supply and electricity. No need to wind the electrical cord by hand, there’s an electric store-and-release function for it. A chrome-accented door leads into the spacious living room, which is complete with a super-comfortable leather sofa. All your entertainment needs are covered with a home cinema and flat-screen TV. Meanwhile, the electrical panel is housed in a cabinet that looks something like a spaceship. The Meridian rep was keen to explain all these features to us!
The kitchen offers various amenities and lots of space. It feels anything but cramped, especially because it opens into the living room, with its vast windows. Naturally, this luxury kitchen is equipped with Corian counters. On the lower deck are two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The master suite is up front, with a queen bed and several handy storage units.
Best of all, the guest stateroom
Step into the guestroom, and you’ll never want to leave. It spans the entire 14-foot width of the boat and features a double berth, a large vanity and even a washer-dryer unit! But what really makes this space really special is the incredible view from the windows.
The view is just as spectacular from the upper bridge, where the cockpit is located. The bridge is seductively spacious and welcoming, which means the captain will never get lonely. The L-shaped seating is very practical, as it can be converted into a huge sunpad. Plus, there’s also a sink, fridge, grill and bar for preparing refreshments and light meals. The hard top is another practical feature as it means you don’t have to spend as much time maintaining the upper deck because it is protected from the elements. A canvas cover will completely enclose the space if you want to turn on the air conditioning, but it can be a bit cumbersome to set up and take down. I think a zippered semi-circle in the canvas would have been a better way of opening the panels and ventilating the bridge without totally removing it.
Docking made easy
The model I test was equipped with the most powerful of the different engine options: a pair of Cummins Mercruiser QSB5.9-480 HO diesel engines that each produce 480 horsepower. These are coupled with a Mercruiser Zeus propulsion system, which is similar to Volvo’s IPS in that it uses a pod system that makes controlling the boat easier while saving fuel. According to the manufacturer, pod systems are up to 30% more efficient than conventional systems. The fact that the propulsion works horizontally rather than on an angle is largely to thank for this.
You might shy away from the idea of taking a boat of this size through locks or docking at a marina, but the Zeus system and joystick make these operations a whole lot easier. In fact, it’s even a pleasure, as the process is stress-free. Driving the Meridian 441 is essentially very enjoyable. Another function you’re sure to love is the Skyhook, which holds the boat in place using GPS information. An alarm will sound – much like a truck that’s backing up – to remind you that the propellers are operative and you should refrain from swimming.
Luxury and comfort on the water
On the water, the Meridian 441 is nothing like a sport boat. And yet, you quickly get used to it and find yourself enjoying the slower ride. It’s a great opportunity to take in the scenery and chill out with a drink in hand. That said, push down on the gas controls and this Meridian is on plane in just over 12 seconds. During the test drive, we reached a maximum speed of 32.7 MPH (53 km/h), though the ideal cruising speed was 28 MPH (46 km/h) at approximately 3,000 rpm. The fuel consumption we got was 21.5 gallons per hour (81 L/h). Staying below 2,500 rpm will lower your fuel consumption to a very reasonable level when you take into consideration the boat’s size and weight. The big engine is no doubt the best one, as anything less would render the boat sluggish and less enjoyable.
The 2011 Meridian 441 truly delivers in terms of being spacious, luxurious and comfortable. You’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable boating experience on this craft, complete with peace of mind.
Review boat provided by: Groupe Performance Marine