We don't hear much out of Silverton these days but its models offer fishermen and cruising folks alike good-sized yachts at a reasonable price. Every builder has its niche and Silverton has long targeted it boats to the value-oriented market. The fact that there are so many old Silvertons in marinas is a testament to their longevity. Today we look at the flagship of the Silverton fleet, the 50 Convertible, which we think makes a capable coastal cruiser as well as a fishing boat.
|Length Overall||51' 7'' / 15.72 m|
21, 591 kg
Currently no test numbers
There are about seven or eight 50’ (15.24 m) convertibles on the market, all being built in the U.S. But by definition (i.e. “convertible”), an able boat in this class must also be a good cruiser as well as fishing boat. The 50’ Silverton Convertible was designed to be both a versatile coastal cruiser and a capable offshore fishing boat at an affordable price.
By staking out the low end of the price scale, and by building an interior with many of the attributes of far more expensive models in class, the 50 provides a viable alternative to much more expensive boats for a segment of the mid-size convertible market.
The competitors for your attention in this class range in displacement from 45,000 lbs. (20,411 kgs.) to 62,000 lbs. (28,122 kgs.) and their prices are commensurately varied. Beams measure from 16’2” (5.25 m) to 17’6” (5.63 m), so at 16’3” (5.26 m) the 50 Silverton is on the narrow side, at least on deck. However, the boat’s width at the waterline is even more important and here the Silverton appears to be about the same as the other boats in class.
While there are significant differences in detail among the competitive boats in class, all share many obvious things in common. For example, they all have three staterooms and two heads. They all have the galley on the main deck adjacent to the salon and dinette. They all are powered by twin diesel engines with standard inboard drives. They all come standard with a generator and air conditioning. Now, let's look at the differences--
For 40 years Silverton Marine has made its reputation by building affordable boats in the larger categories of yacht. (The Silverton 50 is the flagship of the company’s of fleet.) Silverton likes to say that its 50’ convertible “…is the largest value 50 footer in boating." And that is certainly its most distinguishing characteristic. Powered by the standard twin Volvo Penta D-13 800-hp diesels the bot has an MSRP of $1,438,227. The base price includes most things you will need to leave the dock as well as the hardtop, something that is usually extra. Nevertheless, there are many options most yachtsmen will want to add.
A layout done right.
In our opinion, probably the second most distinguishing characteristic of the Silverton 50 Convertible is that we find virtually everything is done well from a layout standpoint. For example, there is a molded in stairway from the cockpit to the flying bridge making access easy and safer than on a vertical ladder. On the flying bridge the helm is located aft as it should be on a fishing boat. It has a companion seat, and guest seating is forward of the helm console. This arrangement gives guests a great view while underway or at anchor.
Below decks, Silverton has not been afraid to place the accommodations passageway at an asymmetrical angle to maximize room in the master and guest staterooms. A washer/dryer has been fitted in a handy place.
Design accents and decor.
Below, while the layout is conventional, Silverton has used curves in the layout, bends in the cabinetry, and large radius molding to enhance the attractiveness of its interior. These design accents are the same as those employed in some up-market yachts and they go a long way toward separating today’s Silverton from that of your father’s where everything was squared off. These details even separate the 50 Silverton from some other boats in class that have a strong emphasis on the “sportfishing” part of the convertible concept.
We think that Silverton has done a remarkably good job in this department, and although it does not affect the sea-keeping aspects of the boat, and it is largely cosmetic, it nevertheless keeps the 50 au currant with contemporary yacht styling.
Another distinguishing characteristic of the 50 Silverton Convertible is the fact that she only draws 3'5" (1.13 m). This is a full 1’6” (.45 m) less than the deepest boat in class. This is an important consideration for boaters wanting to traverse skinny water. For owners with their own dock the 50 Silverton may be the only boat that can be comfortably moored there, particularly during a moon tide.
But shallow draft doesn’t mean super-light displacement. She has about the same displacement as three other boats in class which indicates to us that the 50 Silverton has carried more of her 16'3" beam to the water line than some other boats that claim greater width. Beam at the waterline is what affects interior room most, and there the 50 Silverton holds her own with other boats in class.
She has a 12-degree deadrise at her transom which is about minimum for this size and type of boat. The relatively flat sections in her stern will give the boat added stability when at rest, and make her easier to push at planning speeds.
Her comfort in the seaway at speed will depend on how fine she is forward and as we have not tested the boat we will have to wait for comment on that important characteristic.
Of the seven boats in class that we have compared with the 50 Silverton Convertible, two come standard with engines rated at 715-hp, and five come standard with engines from 800-hp to 1100-hp with options to go even higher. As noted, the Silverton 50 comes with twin 800s from Volvo Penta. There are several things at work here, one being that there are a few hot-shots in the market who want to be first out to the fishing grounds in the morning and the first back to the marina after the “lines out” whistle blows. They will want the big engines and are willint to pay the big bucks.
We have not tested the 50 so we cannot comment on her speed or fuel consumption. However, our guess is that because she is relatively light and is flatish aft, she might be able to stay in the speed game with the show-offs, even though that is definitely not the mission of this boat. Certainly she will burn less fuel.
Improvement Over The Years
Being a low-price producer is not as easy as it sounds, particularly in boating where great status is attached to brand names of components, construction methods, and even materials that cannot be seen. Certainly Silverton has experienced its bumps along the way. Nevertheless, over the last several years Silverton has worked to improve its quality, its design, its styling and its overall perception in the marketplace.
We like builders who are up-front about their warranty program and publish it on their website. Silverton has done all of this one better by inviting interested parties to call its customer service department to hear first-hand the details of its program.
Silverton has taken some pains to make sure that some of the materials and equipment that is more obvious during a casual walk-through is of a high caliber. For example, in the interior the upholstery is made of expensive Ultraleather material, which is actually better and more expensive than real leather. The overhead is covered in Ultrasuede.
We would characterize the 50 Silverton’s overall exterior styling as being modern. Clearly the tooling was made by 5-axis routers and is rounded, curved and pleasing to the trained nautical eye. There is an absence of flat surfaces, something that separates this boat from several others in class.
The builder has gone to some effort in the interior to improve the quality of its fit-and-finish. Its joinery, stain and finish work is definitely much better than what Silverton was producing several years ago.
Buying a yacht in this category is very much a personal decision. One must feel comfortable with the boat’s characteristics, its sea keeping abilities, its overall appearance, and its reputation and perception in the marketplace. The 50 Silverton is not for everyone, and we suspect that most high rollers won’t give her a tumble. Nevertheless, for value-conscious boat owners who do not need the ego-gratification that only money can buy and are not planning on bashing across the Caribbean on extended blue-water voyages, we think the 50 Silverton could be a good option.
Our recommendation to serious consumers in the market for a 50’ convertible is to definitely check out the Silverton 50. She is at the low end of the price scale, but she is an attractive-looking boat and has most if not all of the utility that most other boats have in this category, at least for coastal work. If your mission is to go coastal cruising or fishing out to the canyons, then we would think that the 50’ Silverton should definitely merit your consideration. In any case, when looking at other, more expensive boats, she should be a good benchmark for you to judge her “value” for your application.
We would also recommend that if the 50 Silverton appears to be too much boat, then look at the 45 Silverton Convertible. She also has three staterooms and two heads, and while obviously all spaces are quite a bit smaller, her price tag will appeal -- $853,852 with twin Volvo Penta D-9 500-hp diesels.