power-quadzeus-largeI don't remember the last time Canadian Yachting reported on a big yacht that was just in the development stages but that's exactly what our QuadZeus.com test boat is – an experiment by the Cummins MerCruiser people to showcase a Quad Zeus installation. It features four Cummins QSC 8.3 600 HP high tech diesel engines with ZF Zeus pod drives that push this big sport fishing yacht.

Because it's only for development purposes, you can't actually buy our test yacht – at least not yet. And, as a development boat, the test yacht lacked a finished interior – no salon furnishings, no staterooms, no galley. But, it's an awesome glimpse of the future and something special to drive.

The Quad Zeus hull started life as a Hatteras 60 Convertible and to show you what a finished yacht could look like, we will use the layout, features and photos of the new Hatteras 60GT that will debut at Fort Lauderdale in October 2010.

They estimate that the new 60GT Convertible, fully rigged out with twin Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesel inboard engines each producing 1900 HP, will weigh approximately 90,000 pounds. The QuadZeus.com boat with the four Cummins QSC 600 engines weighs approximately 72,000 pounds without the finished interior. If a production Hatteras 60 GT were offered with a Quad Zeus installation, we think it might be just a bit heavier than 90,000 lbs.

Next, the QuadZeus.com development yacht has a "mere" 2400 total HP compared to the top option of the Cat C32's at 3800 HP. The designers expect the Hatteras 60 GT to be a 42+ knot boat with the twin Cats but we sprinted up to 37 knots (42 mph) in Biscayne Bay.

Planing off from a standing start, the turbos on the four CMD QSC 8.3 engines start gently, gathering speed. The engine revs for about 5 seconds as the turbos come on boost and then it feels like a huge force just hurls you ahead. We were planed off in about 8 seconds and reached 41 mph in a mere 25 seconds. Credit for some of the great performance belongs to the Zeus' automatic trim tab system. Trim tabs are an integral part of the Zeus drive itself and they are computer-controlled to optimize performance and economy. The captain never has to think about them.

Each Zeus drive has a set of two counter-rotating propellers facing aft behind the protection of the gear casing. That means QuadZeus.com has four sets of props; each pod drive has a computer-controlled steering angle. Even at 42 mph, we could crank the boat port or starboard to full helm and the big Hatteras would heal over, tracking with impressive accuracy and carving a turn like a sport boat. For threading your way through terrible weather, this would be great.

The Quad Zeus 2,400 HP propulsion system not only replaces a conventional 3,000-plus-HP setup, it turns docking this 60' sport fish into child's play. QuadZeus.com has neither bow nor stern thruster, yet we could maneuver it virtually any way imaginable – sideways, diagonally, pivoting on its own axis – all with simple movements of the intuitive Zeus joystick. Additional Zeus joysticks can be mounted anywhere, such as on the sides or at the stern.

There is a trolling feature that uses the transmissions to reduce thrust and speed for exact trolling speeds or very gentle docking movements. The Zeus system also boasts an integrated advanced autopilot system that provides waypoint tracking and auto heading functionality, plus the Skyhook feature which maintains the vessel's position and heading, even in wind and current, with just the touch of a button.

Imagine the convenience of the Skyhook feature when you're waiting your turn at the fuel dock or for another vessel to pass through a long, narrow channel. With a one-button push, it's like you're anchored until you take the wheel again. The system can automatically synchronize all four engines and you can run it all from a single lever! What could be easier?

In terms of accommodations and features, the standard layout features three staterooms: a bow stateroom with shaped queen berth and cedar-lined storage underneath, cedar hanging lockers, a dresser and night stands with drawers, along with a stereo systems and a head with shower.

The master stateroom is to port and has a queen berth again with cedar-lined storage underneath, cedar hanging lockers, a dresser and night stands with drawers, a 32-inch LCD TV and Bose sound system, plus private access to the master head and shower.

The third is the guest stateroom to starboard and that has a pair of over-under single berths, storage and double cedar-lined hanging lockers. The day head is beside that, so in all, three staterooms and three heads.

The newly laid out and decorated salon features a sizable galley mounted against the forward bulkhead ; this has another expanse of counter coming out from the port side making a breakfast bar arrangement that has a big food prep space.

A classic booth-type dinette is planned on the starboard side making a convenient eating area that can convert to sleep two more as needed. Aft of that will be an L-shaped couch and the whole salon will have big side glass panels to make things bright and spacious; of course, all the interior areas are fully heated and air conditioned.

The helm is a flying bridge and the arrangement can be either a centre console layout that fishermen tend to favour with lots of room to stand and a bit of forward facing seating ahead of the console or a more recreational layout with the helm and companion seats back and more seats forward and on the port side.

The heart of any convertible, especially a thoroughbred sport fishing boat like the Hatteras, is the very low and spacious cockpit where the owner will add custom fighting chairs, highly personalized fishing equipment and probably freezers, in-floor fish and bait boxes and far more.

The 60GT is a highly customizable boat as you would expect for a two or two and a half million dollar yacht. At present, the Quad Zeus development boat is a floating showcase, but who knows? If an owner wanted the versatility, maneuverability and performance that the Quad Zeus installation offers, maybe that could be available.

Running just two engines works fine for low speed trolling, saving fuel and engine wear. The other props freewheel in neutral. The CMD technicians onboard said that Quad Zeus.com could plane on just three engines and could make it home at about 10 or 12 mph on two.

Interesting possibilities...and how about that amazing paint job?

Actually, it's a printed vinyl wrap by artist Steve Goione, printed by Image Monster of Wilmington, N.C., and installed at CMD's Integration Center in Charleston. To see them install the graphics, to see more pictures or to watch a video of Quad Zeus.com in action, visit www.quadzeus.com

By Andy Adams

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!

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