By Andy Adams
In recent years, boats like the Century 5000 with good-sized overnight cabins combined with runabout performance in a trailerable size have really grown in popularity. We’ve probably just seen the beginning. A growing number of affluent young people have discovered power cruisers with simple accommodations as an affordable alternative to the big gas-guzzlers. They don’t need a triple cabin yacht that sleeps 12.
The Century 5000 makes the perfect getaway boat. It’s trailerable with its 8-ft beam and 4,200-lb weight. You can go places with the Century in tow and if you happen to own a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it’s a snap.
The centreline length of 22 ft 81/2 in. gives enough room to make the accommodation pleasant and spacious for a couple. The hull is quite deep with its 34-in. freeboard at the transom, and has a deep forefoot, providing acceptable sitting headroom in the cabin. The hull has a 17° dead rise at the transom, and lift strakes down the length of the hull that do their job well. It’s a hull that imparts a safe, seaworthy feeling by being deep, solid, and smooth-riding. It’s obvious Century had more than just small inland lakes in mind when they designed this one.
Incidentally, the 17° dead rise at the transom is a true measure. In many instances manufacturers will quote dead rise angles taken from the hull’s entry or elsewhere along its length. Naturally the ‘V’ will be steeper at the bow than at the transom, so when comparing or buying, ask where the measure is taken. You might find that a “26° offshore hull” is only 17° or 18° at the transom.
The cockpit of the Century is laid out in customary fashion for a runabout. There are two back-to-back sleeper seats, two jump-seats, side storage and under-floor storage. This arrangement is altered if the boat is ordered with the galley. Our test boat didn’t have the galley option but if one intended to use the boat as a day cruiser it would surely be ordered. For an additional $895, the passenger side sleeper seats are replaced by a single seat with the galley unit behind. This unit would include an alcohol stove and small refrigerator. It seems an excellent option with one drawback: a bunk is sacrificed by adding it. Something of a paradox, but it’s unavoidable in a boat this size.
Without the galley unit, the 5000 sleeps two on the back-to-back sleepers, one more over the engine cover and stern jump-seats, and two in the cuddy cabin, for a total of five. If the boat is to be used with that number aboard, the camper-top option would be a good addition. At $400 it’s not unreasonable at all.
The Century 5000 scores high marks on interior fit and finish. The sleeper seats slide forward and aft on aluminum rails-much appreciated and they have plush but smooth vinyl upholstery that will not be prone to mildew or moisture. The floor is carpeted in a nice plush and the teak grate over the floor storage compartment will provide drainage. Soft, fat side bolsters, upholstered in the same material as the seats, run up the sides and are comfortable to lean against.
There are generous storage areas not only under the floor and along the cockpit sides but also at the cabin bulkhead, ahead of the passenger seat, where a liquor cabinet with storage for five bottles and glass-holders is located. The teak door is louvered and there’s a removable panel which slides out to give the cabin a more airy feel and let in lots of light. It’s a nice touch that makes the cabin more comfortable.
The helm is well-designed for standing operation with the sliding seat, leaving plenty of room and a soft brace to lean against. From this position, driving the Century is very pleasant with all controls falling neatly to hand and everything plainly visible. Unfortunately, a rather unusual oversight is apparent when you sit down. The steering wheel is offset quite noticeably from correct alignment with the seat. To aggravate the problem, the wheel is placed closer to horizontal than vertical so that a very uncomfortable change in reach is needed to wheel the boat around when sitting. This is unfortunate since Century has obviously put quite a bit of effort into the boat, including such useful items as a foot-rest, drink holders, and a full complement of gauges under a smoked plexiglass cover. It’s one of those little things that spoil an otherwise good effort. It is possible that a Century equipped with different optional controls would not have this alignment problem.
Two other aspects of the helm position deserve mention; the dark plexiglass cover over the instruments is intended to reduce glare and ward off effects of weather. It is successful to some extent, but still picks up glare at certain angles and is more difficult to read through than a clear cover. A simple hood would be more effective.
On the positive side, the windshield is excellent. It’s basically a skiff-type screen with safety-glass panels in a stylishly raked-back aluminum frame, but it has vent wings much like the late lamented no-drafts in cars. They are on the side panels and open with a safety catch that locks to several positions. The great advantage is that when it rains, and at night when there is heavy dew, the windscreen can be defogged. The wipers take care of the outside. This arrangement also brings in fresh air on hot days when you’re on the move. That can be a real blessing when the sun beats down into that deep and otherwise draft-free cockpit.
The cuddy cabin is finished with the same care and good taste that characterizes the interior. Striped, tweedy upholstery covers both the cushions and the side shelf-bolsters while a synthetic that bears a strong resemblance to shearling covers the cabin roof for sound-deadening and some insulation as well. Even in day light the smoked cabin-side windows don’t let in much light, but two high intensity lamps light the cabin nicely. The deck hatch can be opened to allow more light in.
The head hides under the centre cushion, and thanks to the slightly raised deck and considerable depth of the 5000, has ample headroom for sitting.
There is sufficient room for two to sleep without feeling claustrophobic. You simply can’t cram a Park Avenue apartment into 23 feet, but that cabin is generous for the boat’s size and the light colours help make it liveable.
Regardless of what’s offered in accommodation and luxury, this is still a light boat and one will naturally expect it to run well and be enjoyable to drive. The Century lives up to expectations. The boat has a well balanced feel with light, responsive steering and goo d maneuverability. It tracks straight and the lift-strakes do their job well, raising the boat up in the water to run on a surprisingly small area of hull.
The Century has a forgiving nature which allows it to be driven hard into a corner and powered out without undue strain or cavitation. In fact it corners like a run about of much smaller size.
Performance is quite acceptable with the Mercruiser 228 stern-drive, but I have a feeling that many buyers in this market will be loo king for a really fast boat and will be more inclined to go for the larger engine. The 228 Mercruiser wasn’t measured for fuel economy but I expect it will return about 3 mpg at 3,000 rpm and a cruising speed of 27 mph. The 228 gave a top end of 38 mph at 4,700 rpm, which is quite reasonable, but compare that with the Bayliner Victoria 27, a boat of 5,700 lbs that did 39mph at 4,200 rpm with the Mercruiser 260 and got 2.89 mpg.
The larger engine could possibly do better for speed without a noticeable sacrifice in economy and may last longer since less of its potential is being utilized. One thing, though: the 260 won’t match the 228 for sound levels, which only registered 82dBA at the helm, cruising at 3,000 rpm. Much of that noise is wind. For the target market, this boat has to be pretty close to ideal. It has all the ingredients, with head, sleeping accommodations, luxury fittings, teak swim platform, and solid performance. Since it is anticipated that many of these buyers will be first time owners, I was glad to find another good quality boat priced within reach.
Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s June 1979 issue.
Length – 22ft 8.5 in
Beam – 8 ft
Weight – 4200lbs
Engine – Mercruiser 228. 228hp
Photo 1 – Running
Photo 2 – Cuddy cabin is open and airy with teak louvered doors.
Photo 3 – Steering wheel is offset.