Stylish Performance & Family Fun
By: Christopher Hughes
Her owners describe the Vanquish 23 Cuddy as spacious, comfortable, a blast to drive and beautifully stylish. After seeing her in person and spending some time onboard, we are inclined to agree. It is a rare thing to find a boat of this size built with such attention to detail with regard to both design and materials. She is exceptionally well suited and capable of day-boating and weekend coastal cruising. We will begin our review by looking at how she is set up for a day of family boating.
First impressions are always important, and when you step aboard the 23, you notice how roomy she feels. There is ample and comfortable seating for eight adults, not counting the cuddy, which makes a cozy play area for the kids. The upholstery is plush with a variety of textures and color options to choose from. The seat bottoms are designed with a comfy leg roll support edge. The helm and companion seats are wrap around style Llebroc, have a flip-up bolster, slide fore and aft, adjust up and down, and swivel 360 degrees. Amidships there is broad and deep curved seating port and starboard that also make relaxing aft facing chaise loungers.
The full beam stern seating is in three parts allowing for the centerline seat to fold down for easy access to the swim platform. Under all the seating is a surprisingly large amount of dry storage ensuring that your trips can be well provisioned and with plenty of watersports toys. On starboard side behind the helm seat is a refrigerator and above a snack prep area.
Below, the cuddy provides plenty of natural light and can comfortably accommodate two large adults for some weekend overnights with the addition of a filler cushion. Without the filler cushion in place, there is access to a head and room to sleep two, or a resting place for the kids. The companionway is fitted with a locking solid teak louvered bi-fold hatch and solid teak hatch cover. When closed, the fiddle on the hatch edge allows this area to serve as a convenient chart table.
A must for any family boat is protection from the sun, and the 23 has an easy to deploy Bimini top, solidly designed not to shimmy when running at speed; and there is also a hard-top option. The last family item and probably the one the kids care most about is the swim platform. An oversized Armstrong integrated bracket has been used to provide extra room for swimming adventures. For ease of re-boarding, a telescopic ladder fits into one of two mounting brackets on either port or starboard.
As safe boating is always our number one priority, especially when we have children onboard, we should point out that the average inside depth of the cockpit is 32 inches. Ideally, we like to see anything over 30 inches, so well done Vanquish.
The 23 Cuddy was designed by Greg Beers and Cory Wood of the world-renowned Bristol Harbor group. Her overall design has been well thought out from an ergonomic and operational point of view. At the helm, she has sightlines directly through the center of the windscreen for the average sized driver, and well above the top of the frame when standing. The helm is smartly designed and stylish with a bumped out central section. The traditional stainless wheel, with suicide knob, is at an ideal angle with large Mercury Marine SmartCraft gauges off to port and starboard. We never like to reach through a wheel to get the switches and appreciate the compromise of positioning them at the bottom of the dash, conveniently accessed from below, with the Lenco trim tab controls unobstructed and over to port.
On the port side of the bump out is a 12-volt courtesy outlet and USB connection, while on starboard is the remote for the windless. The throttle position is well placed allowing you to rest your arm on the windscreen frame and make precise adjustments at speed.
Up at the bow is a centerline windlass with a self-draining locker for the rode and a deck mounted anchor roller. We prefer this set up over a through the bow design because you can easily see when the anchor is fully up and stowed. Note the 8" deck cleats to port and starboard, positioned aft of the bow rail support, well suited for being tied up at the dock or on a mooring.
Standard power for the 23 is a Mercury 150 HP Four-Stroke, but you can also choose power options from Mercury and from Yamaha and up to 200 HP. She measures in with a length overall of 23' 3 5/8", has a beam of 8' 5" and a draft of 14". We tested her with a 200 HP Mercury XL Verado with a 14.4" diameter 3-bladed prop. Her top speed was a swift 43.1 MPH at 6,060 RPM with a fuel burn of 20.5, an efficiency of 2.1 MPG. She carries 85 gallons of fuel, so if we calculate with a 10% reserve, that gives her a range of 160 miles. Her best cruise was 24.5 MPH at 4,000 RPM while burning only 7.7 GPH, or 3.2 MPG, giving her a range of 244 miles.
Her efficiency, like all Vanquish models, is due to her particular variable deadrise hull design which produces a more efficient performance with less horsepower than other 23' boats. The advanced geometry is also responsible for the best in class stability and smoothness of her ride, adding to the fun and overall enjoyment.
The 23 Cuddy is a true Vanquish, hand built from superior materials by third and fourth generation craftsmen. To ensure increased strength and keep her light, a tri-axial E-glass is used with polyester epoxy resign in a precise ratio. Her hull is 100% wood-free, foam filled and sealed, and this combination of materials and process ensures a longer lasting and unsinkable boat.
No review of a Vanquish is complete without a long hard look at the elegant beauty and styling. Her graceful Downeast inspired sheerline and blend of modern flush mounted windscreen design makes her stand out in any marina. The details of the finish from the stainless rub rail to the polished row rail and burgee signal that this is a classic boaters' boat.
Whether your boating finds you on a lake or the coast, the 23 is equally well suited for a day of on-water fun with the family, weekend cruising, or entertaining friends for cocktails. With many boats offered in this size range, you get what you pay for, and even though the Vanquish costs more, we feel you get every penny's worth.