Kermit and Katherine Ruegamer had the dream, did the homework and made the plan. Now they’re ready to “rock ’n’ roll.”
The Ohio couple has moved aboard a 2001 Cruisers 4450 aft cabin Express Motoryacht, embracing the liveaboard lifestyle. “Good Karma is going to be our full-time home for the foreseeable future,” says Kermit Ruegamer, 64, who retired from a Fortune 500 sales career.
“This summer we will do a lot of day trips and a couple of weeklong trips with various yacht clubs and cruising friends. Then we’ll head south in September.”
Of all the moves made along the way, choosing the right boat was perhaps the most important. Having already owned one of the Wisconsin builder’s yachts — a Cruisers 3650 in which they traveled more than 7,000 miles in 15 months — the brand of boat was not in question. When they came across the 4450, with its aft-cabin layout and diesel power, they knew they’d found the right model.
Working with Lake and Bay Yacht Sales in Marblehead, Ohio, the couple made the buy early in 2014. The boat, located in Saugatuck, Michigan, was more than they’d hoped for in terms of being clean and well taken care of. “Not a mark on the interior or exterior on a 13-year-old boat,” says Ruegamer.
Broker Ted Patrick negotiated a final price of $175,000, and the couple took possession in the late spring. “The information I gleaned from Ted as to surveyors, things to look for and look out for, was amazing,” Ruegamer says. “His knowledge saved me thousands. This is exactly what you want in a broker.”
The couple found a lot to like on the Cruisers 4450, too. The diesel power is right for the long runs they’ve planned. (And the diesel fumes they worried about smelling while underway didn’t materialize.) The aft cabin allows the couple to each have some quiet time alone. And there is ample headroom throughout the boat, as well as lots of light and ventilation.
The 4450’s third cabin also caught their eye. It was a perfect fit as Katherine’s home office, equipped with her cellphone and an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier, from which she runs her consulting business. “Anything you can do in your office, we can do equally well from the boat,” Ruegamer says.
The couple also looked beyond the layout and conveniences to some important practical liveaboard considerations. A husky, 11.5-kW generator powers the accessories, including three A/C units. “You can run the microwave while the wife is showering and drying her hair without a hiccup,” Ruegamer says.
The soundproofing, the way the engines are bedded and the mechanicals are impressive, he says. Every wire is properly loomed and chafe-protected and labeled to describe what it is, with a corresponding label on the back of the fuse panel. And there’s complete access around both engines and all systems.
Power comes from a pair of Volvo TAMD 74EDC diesels, 480 hp apiece. “They give us a comfortable cruise of 20 knots while burning around 24 gallons per hour,” Ruegamer says. “Top hop is around 30 knots, burning closer to 40 gph.”
When cruising with what their friends call the “8-mph club,” the engines run at about 1,050 rpm, allowing a speed of 7.9 knots and a fuel burn of about 4.5 gph. “Right up there with our trawler friends,” he adds.
To get the real feel of the boat, the couple went on a 1,000-mile shakedown cruise with friends last summer and worked out the kinks. “We traveled for six straight weeks last year after picking up our 4450 in Saugatuck,” Ruegamer says. “We went up the western side of Lake Michigan, through the North Channel and down to their home port of Sandusky, Ohio. She handles the bigger water in the Great Lakes — those 5- to 7-foot waves that are always about 2 feet apart and seemingly square. She rides amazingly well.”
When the couple sets out this season, they’ll have an impressive array of electronics, including a Garmin 7612 touch-screen plotter, Garmin HD radar, the new Garmin Reactor upgrade for the Richardson AP20 autopilot and a Standard Horizon GX2150 VHF that pushes AIS (read only) to the 7612, along with dual depth sounders. Ruegamer uses Garmin Bluechart G2 Vision electronic charts, paired with an iPad running Garmin Bluechart mobile with the Active Captain application. “With these, you have all the info you need at your fingertips regarding marinas and safe anchorages,” he says.
The Cruisers 4450 is the right boat, and they have the right gear on board to go just about anywhere. Planned destinations next fall include the Abacos, Exumas, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Then there’s the Panama Canal, Central America and the California coast — even Alaska beckons. “I am going to wear this boat out,” Ruegamer says.
Powerboat Guide calls the Cruisers 4450 Express Motoryacht an “innovative aft-cabin cruiser” with “condo-style accommodations.” The look is contemporary, with a swept-back windscreen, an enclosable flybridge and a spacious aft deck. Gunwales and rails provide safety for handling lines and fenders while moving about.
The flybridge, reached by steps from the aft deck, is a social area equipped with an icemaker, fridge and wet bar. Two seating areas with tables accommodate as many as six. One step up is the helm lounge seat and one step up opposite is the helm, which has a three-person adjustable helm seat. The swim platform has room to store a dinghy or a PWC.
The saloon is laid out with a full C-shaped galley to port forward and a dining table opposite with seating on both sides. The aft master stateroom features an offset, queen-size island berth and an adjacent head compartment that includes a Jacuzzi tub and shower. A small double-berth cabin to starboard can be used for a washer-dryer, storage or an office. The second stateroom is forward, laid out with an island queen-size berth on centerline and a fully equipped en-suite head compartment.
Cruisers Yachts has grown from humble Midwest beginnings — it started business in 1904 as Thompson Bros. Boat Manufacturing and built wooden lapstrake outboard cabin boats in the 1950s — to become one of America’s premier powerboat builders, featuring express and motoryacht models. The 4450 Express Motoryacht was in production from 2000 to 2003. With its roomy, three-stateroom, aft-cabin layout, open aft deck and twin-diesel power, it was popular with weekenders as well as cruisers. It’s priced in the $150,000 to $175,000 range on the used-boat market.
LOA: 45 feet, 6 inches
BEAM: 15 feet, 4 inches
DRAFT: 3 feet, 3 inches
WEIGHT: 38,000 pounds
HULL TYPE: modified-vee
POWER: twin diesels
TANKAGE: 500 gallons fuel, 140 gallons water
BUILDER: Cruisers Yachts, Oconto, Wisconsin
May 2015 issue