If you spend enough time poking around new boats, it’s easy enough to find at least a few areas where the builder fell short in one way or another, be it fit and finish, layout or performance. Finding the proverbial “perfect” boat can feel like discovering a unicorn in the forest.
I came across one such unicorn—the Burger 50 Cruiser—at the Newport International Boat Show in Newport, Rhode Island, in September. It’s an aluminum power cruiser built with exacting attention to detail, thoughtfulness to comfort and the latest diesel-powered pod propulsion.
Burger Boat Company has been around in one iteration or another since 1863, when Henry Burger formed the H. Burger Shipyard to build 20- to 30-foot wooden Mackinaw fishing boats. A transition to steel happened in 1938 with the construction of Tamaris, an 81-foot auxiliary ketch, and in 1956 to aluminum with the construction of a 36-foot cruiser named Virginia. The company has been known for its high-quality custom aluminum yachts and megayachts ever since.
Aluminum construction is one of the impressive things about the 50 Cruiser. When you step aboard you don’t get the slightest feeling that you’re walking on and surrounded by metal. Look for weld seams and you won’t find any. Open your ears for the tinny sound of aluminum under your feet and you won’t hear anything. If you didn’t know it, you might think you were walking on fiberglass. She’s also quite the looker, with sculpted topsides, a gradual sheer, nearly plumb bow and glass insets at the hullsides that add a sleekness to the design.
Burger designed the 50 as a cruiser that allows passengers to enjoy the water and fresh air, and soak in the scenery wherever the hook is put down. A huge hydraulic swim platform with integrated teak steps lowers quietly into the water for swimmers or when launching a tender (removable dinghy chocks are standard), while a big aft cockpit with table and L-shaped lounge screams happy hour, sunset dinners or quiet breakfasts with good coffee.
Ample side decks lead forward to a large, upholstered settee at the bow. Underfoot from bow to stern is teak decking. Folks with an aversion to brightwork need not worry; the glossy toerails and cabin-house trim are made of zero-maintenance aluminum, hand-painted to look like varnished teak. No muss, no fuss.
A curved set of glass sliding doors open the main salon to the aft deck for easy entertaining. A compact but complete galley is situated in the aft starboard corner of the main salon for serving guests in the cockpit or at the C-shaped dinette lounge in the salon. The dinette’s table has a sliding top that makes seating access easy. The whole area is bathed in natural light and can be nicely ventilated by two sliding power windows and an overhead sunroof, features that make the salon feel like an open-air patio.
Forward and to starboard in the main salon is the helm station, which is among the most ergonomic and neatly designed I’ve ever seen. Every inch of space is thoughtfully used, from the placement of the twin multifunction displays and control switches to the VHF radio, engine controls and joystick. Those controls are mated to a pair of 600-hp Volvo Penta D8 diesels and IPS800 pod drives that provide a top-end speed near 30 knots and a fast cruise of approximately 26 knots.
There are 565 gallons of diesel fuel aboard. Burger tapped Vripack Naval Architects in the Netherlands to design the 50’s hull—what it calls the Slide Hull—which promises reduced pounding, greater efficiency and more interior volume.
That interior volume is apparent in the full-beam amidships master stateroom, which has a queen-size island berth, ensuite head with enclosed shower, twin stowage lockers, a dressing settee and plenty of natural light through two big panes of hullside glass with inset opening ports for enhanced ventilation. De Basto Designs in Miami, Florida, selected the rich combination of wood, upholstery and lighting used throughout the interior. It’s a cheery combination with an extremely contemporary feel while still maintaining a nautical vibe below.
Forward in the bow is the guest stateroom, which could rate as the master in many boats this size. Like the master, this cabin is richly finished, voluminous and comfortable. Its island berth can be scissored to form two twin-size berths or pushed together to create a queen-size island. Overhead is an electric hatch equipped with a rain sensor that closes it tight behind forgetful guests. An adjoining head with enclosed shower serves as both an ensuite and day head.
Burger doesn’t generally have the brand recognition that many builders in the Northeast enjoy. Yet there was a constant line of people waiting to get aboard the 50 Cruiser at the Newport Show. That could mean the word is out: Burger hit a home run.
Displ.: 48,000 lbs.
Fuel: 565 gals.
Water: 135 gals.
Power: (2) 600-hp Volvo Penta diesels with IPS800 pod drives
This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.