Wisconsin Builder Goes Small While Retaining Big-Boat Feel

Burger Boat Company splashed Hull No. 1 of the custom Burger 48 Cruiser last year. The boat was in some ways a departure for the Wisconsin-based shipyard, which has been known recently for far larger builds, yet the builder’s DNA remained visible in the smaller boat. Reviews at the time spoke of style, craftsmanship and performance, all hallmarks of the Burger brand.

This past summer, I had a chance to run Hull No. 2 out of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, home of Burger Boat Company. Manitowoc is a quiet city steeped in boatbuilding tradition. Spend even a small amount of time here and you’ll likely meet plenty of folks who share last names. There’s a palpable sense of pride among the locals, many of whom descend from generations of Great Lakes shipbuilders. And many of them—fathers, mothers, sons, daughters—work at Burger.

The builder’s logo on the Burger 48 Cruiser may be timeless, but inside is a contemporary take on a traditional cruising boat. But Hull No. 2’s modern living spaces are only half the thrill factor. The other half is driving it. 

The builder’s logo on the Burger 48 Cruiser may be timeless, but inside is a contemporary take on a traditional cruising boat. But Hull No. 2’s modern living spaces are only half the thrill factor. The other half is driving it. 

As I approached the 48 Cruiser, which was tied up alongside the yard on the Manitowoc River on a crisp, sunny morning, I couldn’t help but take an Instagram snap of the stainless-steel logo of one of the oldest custom yachtbuilders in America. Beyond the timeless logo, however, was quite a different take from Hull No. 1. While both hulls employ the Slide Hull developed with Dutch naval architecture firm Vripack, Hull No. 2 sports a contemporary style and interior by Miami-based firm De Basto Designs, which also recently completed the 103-foot, 6-inch Burger Northland.

The opposing styles of the 48 Cruiser’s first two hulls was largely by design, according to Ron Cleveringa, vice president of sales and marketing at Burger.

“The 48 Cruiser allows someone to come in and say, ‘I want mine different,’” Cleveringa says. “We look at it as a starting point. The ability to customize is an advantage for someone looking to move up from a production boat, because the options are pretty much endless.”

As an example of those options, Cleveringa mentions a client at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show who asked if a more traditional look might be possible, with a flybridge.

Burger 48 Cruiser

Burger 48 Cruiser

“I said ‘sure’ and pulled out a piece of paper—put a classic trawler transom on it, redesigned the superstructure, showed oval portlights instead of the big windows, put a flybridge on top and bumped it up to 50 feet for aesthetics,” Cleveringa says. “Same hull, totally different boat. And you’re not going to see another one like it, so when it comes time to sell a boat like this, you’re not competing against 10 others on the market.”

Hull No. 2 has that one-off feel. Just through the salon door, the interior has elegant, modish touches from De Basto Designs. Movingui and sapele wood replace the traditional cherry and holly on Hull No. 1. The open salon and galley have loads of natural light courtesy of large windows, as well as a single-panel curved glass windshield and a two-panel sunroof. The electric forward sunroof opens wide, as do the electric port and starboard windows, which provide 11 square feet per side of open air.

Opposite the galley is a U-shape seating area with an adjustable table for dining. On Hull No. 2, a custom compartment underneath the table houses glass stemware. The helm is to starboard with a Volvo Penta Glass Bridge that includes two 17-inch screens. There’s an electric-adjustable, wide-body helm chair, and skylights in the forward dash illuminate the en suite heads below.

On the lower deck, the full-beam owner’s stateroom is aft with a queen berth, en suite head, stowage and a seating area. Like the salon, the space is bright and airy. The guest stateroom is forward with convertible berths: a queen or two singles. This en suite stateroom is also well lighted, with a curved glass panel looking up to the foredeck seating area.

A vented washer/dryer is hidden in a companionway cabinet. A high level of fit and finish is noticeable throughout the boat, from hand-stitched leather embellishments and sturdy hardware to durable surfaces with upscale finishes.

Burger 48 Cruiser master stateroom

Burger 48 Cruiser master stateroom

While I found the interior to be striking, two of my favorite places on the 48 Cruiser were outside. The first was at the transom, where Burger installed a Nautical Structures hydraulic swim platform system (with self-folding stairs), letting the platform lower into the water for launching a tender. The platform is also a fun space for water sports. With the tender launched, guests can access a grill area built into the transom, with a sink and counter space. Below that is stowage with access to the shore power and freshwater connections.

Another of my favorite spaces was the foredeck. Accessible via wide teak side decks with robust, high handrails, the foredeck is flush with no tripping hazards. A DTS Marine electric hatch with a rain sensor (which automatically closes at the first drop of rain) over the forward stateroom is built into the deck. Gear is tucked away in a stowage compartment, creating an enticing area for a couple of extra chairs and a table where the boat’s owner and guests can sip sundowners and watch the world go by.

Half the enjoyment factor of a Burger 48 Cruiser is driving it. Coming out of Manitowoc Inlet with tanks full, we quickly got onto plane with virtually no bow rise. In a matter of seconds, we had settled into a 26-knot cruising sweet spot. The 48 Cruiser is built of Alustar aluminum, a marine-grade alloy known for strength and corrosion resistance, and the boat maintained a dry ride as she carved up hard-over turns like Lindsey Vonn. When I eased up a bit on the throttles, she banked smoothly; it felt like flying a G6. Even with 3- to 5-footers coming at us later in the day, a 22-knot cruise was perfectly comfortable, never once landing hard.

The bright, airy interior comes to life with modish yet practical design flourishes by De Basto Design. Natural light is hardly at a premium with thoughtfully placed windows and hatches. 

The bright, airy interior comes to life with modish yet practical design flourishes by De Basto Design. Natural light is hardly at a premium with thoughtfully placed windows and hatches. 

The Seakeeper 6 gyrostabilizer lent a hand, and Vripack says the cushioned ride is in large part courtesy of its Slide Hull, a motion-damping design that lowers fuel consumption by reducing resistance. Once a boat is on plane, the fuel curve remains flat. Incorporating interceptors, the hull’s reduced running angle allows the 48 Cruiser to bypass the typical bow rise as she gets up on plane, and her modified-V forward prevents broaching in a following sea, while adding volume to the interior accommodations.

This wasn’t my grandfather’s Burger, and that was clearly the builder’s intention. Strangely, despite the modern bells and whistles, I think my grandfather would have had as much fun on this boat as my sons would. She’s still a Burger. She’s still family. And in Manitowoc, that still means something special.

Specifications

LOA: 48ft. 8in. 

Beam:15ft. 2in. 

Draft: 4ft. 3in. 

Displacement: 23 long tons 

Construction: Alustar aluminum

Engines (standard): 2 x 600-hp Volvo Penta D8-IPS800 

Speed (max./cruise): 31 knots, 26 knots 

Fuel: 565 gal.

Water: 135 gal. 

Design/Naval Architecture: Vripack 

Styling/Interior Design: De Basto Designs 

Info: burgerboat.com

Photos | Have a closer look at the Burger 48 Cruiser in the gallery below:

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue.

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