MINDFUL USE OF SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY
By Chuck Warren
This article originially appeared in Lakeland Boating’s May 2019 issue.
IT’S EASY TO GO OVERBOARD WITH TECHNOLOGY.
Computer and smartphone manufacturers constantly remind us that modern technology makes our lives easier, but the opposite is often true. With so many screens, apps and buttons, one wrong tap can steer us in the wrong direction.
On the way to test drive the new Prestige 520 S, I typed my destination into my smartphone’s navigation app and hit the road. Almost four hours later, I landed at Colony Marine on Michigan’s east coast (one of the two Great Lakes Prestige dealerships, along with Spring Brook Marina).
However, it was the wrong Colony Marine. Without noticing there was more than one Colony Marine location, I’d clicked on the incorrect destination and ended up 45 minutes too far north. The funny thing is I would never be that careless on a boat.
Course corrected, I set off for Colony’s main location in St. Clair Shores where Dave Giles was waiting patiently to take the new Prestige 520 S out for a ride in a 3-foot mid-April chop on Lake St. Clair.
Stepping aboard the 520 S, two things immediately stand out. First, Prestige uses the boat’s interior space to provide an abundance of features and comforts without disrupting the boat’s sleek, sporty look. The boatbuilder — which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2019 — states that it wants every area onboard to be about fun.
Second, the company includes plenty of high-tech solutions in the boat, but the technology never feels overdone. Rather, technology is used to make the boat more useful and owner-friendly.
At the transom, I noticed the lack of aft grill or sink. Instead, Prestige offers several uncommon design options for the tail end of the 520 S, including a huge, standard storage locker, or an optional captain’s cabin with a wet head, or a garage big enough to hide a tender.
In the cockpit, an L-shape lounge wraps around a folding teak table. However, the lounge also allows access to the portside walkway without the need to stand on a seat cushion. The boat’s starboard side features an entry door for easy access to the cockpit from the dock. Forward, a large sunpad converts into lounge seats and includes a pop-up Bimini top.
The wide aft entry door allows access to both the galley and salon from the cockpit. The full-featured galley includes an island that separates the space from the main salon. The island makes the space feel like it was actually designated for food preparation and storage and not an afterthought.
GETTING LOGGED IN
To starboard, just inside the entry, the Prestige 520 S features a unique balance of technology and convenience. All of the vessel’s main functions are controlled from Prestige’s new touchscreen Ship Control system.
Most of the boat’s systems, including lighting, climate controls, audio systems, bilge pumps, batteries and much more can be controlled from the easy to use, intuitive touch-screen. The system also can be controlled from a linked smartphone.
The salon is bright and airy, with a retractable roof, large L-shape lounge seat, and nearly 360-degree visibility. Prestige’s innovative features include a TV that flips up from the dash and a helm chair that electrically lowers and converts into salon seating. A starboard side door directly behind the helm provides easy entry or exit from the salon, or additional ventilation.
Forward, more innovative designs can be found in the staterooms. The roomy, well-lit VIP cabin with scissor berth converts from a double bed into twins. A shared guest head with a large hullside window and modern design has unique glass shower doors that fold inward to increase available floor space.
Just aft, another guest cabin occupies the port side. The cabin includes another berth that converts from twins into a full-size bed. The usual bunk beds offered by many other models cannot compare with this cabin for room or comfort.
The main stateroom is accessible from the private entry in the salon. The full-width cabin features huge hullside windows, a double bed and a comfortable lounge with plenty of storage throughout. The attached, private head is big enough for an average-size home.
The main cabin does not have a single-level floor, but the traditional stepped design allows the stateroom to sit lower in the hull and provides plenty of headroom without increasing the vessel’s height. Though the stepped floor is a more traditional approach, it also helps to create the boat’s sleek, sporty appearance.
At the helm, twin glass panels provide navigation and engine information. Electronic power steering and joystick controls make the vessel easy to operate and fun to drive. Volvo IPS 600 pod systems offering 435 hp each pushed the boat through the rough stuff with ease, while the 520’s hull design kept the bow nearly level while planing.
Lake St. Clair was stirred up and cranky, with 3- to 4-footers waiting for us when we came out of the channel. Although conditions were not ideal for a boat ride, they were ideal for the Prestige 520 S to show off some of its unique characteristics.
With full fuel tanks, the 520 S ran so well I automatically assumed it had much larger engines hidden below the cockpit access hatches. With a top speed of 31 mph and a cruising speed of 26 mph, the smaller engines are a perfect fit and also provide the added benefit of burning less fuel. With consumption at 35 gph at cruising speed, the 520 S has a comfortable 200-mile range.
The forward hull and deck on the 520 S has a slightly squared-off shape as if the boat has broad shoulders. Although this feature does nothing to take away from the boat’s sleek appearance, it does an incredible job of deflecting spray outward and away from the deck. Even while running full speed in 3-foot-plus seas, almost no water hit the windshield.
The Prestige 520 S has a very soft, stable ride, with engine noise so well isolated that a conversation with the captain was possible without raising our voices at full throttle. Even while sitting in the master stateroom directly in front of the engine room, the engine noise never disrupted our conversation.
The boat’s stability was another surprising personality trait, especially given the weather conditions during our test ride. As we turned back toward home with rough seas between us and the dock, I realized I never felt the 520 S roll during our sea trial so I mentioned that there was no need to have turned on the Seakeeper gyro stabilizer system for me — I didn’t mind a rough ride.
Dave Giles replied, “This boat doesn’t have one.”
The design and comfort of the Prestige stood out from the fleet. The 520 S ran at nearly 30 mph while sipping less than 40 gph worth of fuel, and was so comfortable in 3-foot seas that it didn’t even need Seakeeper to smooth the way. Now, that’s some terrific use of technology!