Bayliner and Meridian Pilothouses- history and changes through the years
( Please note- this was mostly all written in chronological order over MANY years -with updates written as they occurred, so it might not flow as easily if written backwards. Then my host for my old site crashed, and lost all the information. Took a LONG time to put this back together. Sorry that it’s not as thorough as it used to be. I’ve basically left out the info on the 4588′s other than the differences between them and 4788′s)
- Brunswick (company who owns Bayliner, Sea ray, Hatteras, Sealine, Maxum, Boston Whaler, Cabo, Mercruiser, plus many other boat lines AND now even Cummins diesel) discontinued the Bayliner series of Motor yachts and Pilothouse Yachts in the spring of 2002 and they were “reborn” as Meridians for the 2003 model year at a much higher price ($300k higher MSRP- $150k more for cash deals) as the year before when they were badged as Bayliner. with only very minor changes, such as the portlights on the Meridians being oval shaped. ALL the BIG (49′ – 58′) Meridians were built from the same molds in the same factory by the same people as the Bayliners in Washington State. The Meridians have higher grade fabrics, hardware, bedding, faucets, etc., than the Bayliners, but many of the standard items offered on all Bayliners were options on the Meridians. You will see cockpit showers in the 4788′s, but likely will not in a 04 or later 490. ETC.
- Please note that not many 2002 4788′s were ever built (we were made aware of the Meridian change in 4/02, but Brunswick signed up a new Bayliner dealer as late as 5/02-big lawsuit-the dealer won on that!), 5 or 6 made it to the East Coast and of those, 2 are now in Australia. Not that many 03 490′s were ever built (ALL built in 2002) but I’ve never seen any with the high gloss cherry interiors . Four (4) 03′ 490′s were shipped East. Meridian spent their efforts constructing the higher profit margin Meridian 411′s and 459 Models. But of the few 490′s EVER built, only a handful (10?) made it to the East Coast (most stayed out west) which means even fewer now on the East Coast Brokerage Market. NONE were built after the plant closed in June 2008. THE LAST TWO 08 490′s ever built are both in Alaska as of 2014.
This is VERY last Meridian 580 ever built (2008). She was given a HIN number of 2010. She’s now in Australia. I sold her in Costa Rica. The fit and finish of this yacht was spectacular, much higher than the earlier models. Sure wished they had kept building them like this one!
- 1/1/11: no pilothouse designs are on the drawing boards of Meridian.
- 1/1/10: the last of the Dealer left-over inventory of pilothouses is now sold.
- 4/2009 update: Meridian is to build some models at their Merritt Island Florida plant where they build Sea Ray’s Sure looks like a Sea Ray. “quack quack”. They aren’t Pilothouses, that’s for sure! 2013 update: Sea Ray has closed their big boat plant in Florida.
- 6/08 update: Meridian closed their Washington facility where Pilothouses were built
- What other marques can you buy-that’s comparable design wise, hang the cost, much less at the low prices of these yachts?
- The Bayliner 47′ and theMeridian490 are both exactly 54′ Loa.
- Some of the features that we all liked (such as port doors in the Pilothouse) on the Bayliners are no longer available on the 2003 Meridian 540 (no longer in production as of 06) or 580 Meridians.
- The 490 has the same features we all liked on the 4788′s. 2005: In a huge improvement, they made engine room access via a hatch in the salon sole BETWEEN the engines in addition to the standard entrance via the stairs. On flip side of that improvement- they eliminated the storage under the L-shaped settee (!!) There’s nothing in there, they just installed seats that do not open up. I’m sure a good upholstery shop can rectify this.
- 2003-The Meridian 580 has the looks a real YACHT with the fit & finish that one expects when paying over a million dollars for a new boat. They’ve really “dialed it in” nicely! Excellent fabrics & wood work. Teak looking (Flexiteek) material on aft-deck & swim platform and dingy area of the flybridge is beautiful. The flybridge seating is beautiful and the helm and companion seat is very high quality. The new designed one piece salon windows really ‘pop the boats off’, but I REALLY don’t like where they put the salon TV, which really wasn’t necessary in this day and age of pop-up and “hidden” Plasma screens. The 5788 salon layout was better. Flat Screen TVs in master & guest staterooms are sharp looking. Engine room is so much larger with the Cummins Diesels versus the physically larger M.A.N diesels. Many system and fitting upgrades on the 580 Meridian over the 5788′s.
My main complaint I have about the new Meridian 580 is the elimination of the port side pilothouse door (I’ve had buyers actually choose 5788s over a 580 on this issue alone) . Other than that- this yacht is one sharp boat. This is where being owned by the same company as Sea Ray has paid off as the interior is contemporary & sharp just like the oh so popular Sea Ray designs. Say what you may about Sea Rays- women love their interiors. (posted 2003)
- SOME 07 model 490s and ALL 2008 Meridians have electronic QSB engines and controls, The 580′s had them much earlier on the larger QSM engines. NO smoke, electronic controls allow “plug and play” installation of additional controls, PLUS, PLUS. Huge advantage of the electronic engines/controls.
- BAYLINER 4788 HISTORY; (differences between 4588′s)
- In 1994 Bayliner replaced the popular 4588 model (52′ Loa) with the new 4788 (54′ Loa). The extra 2′ is in the main salon.
- The prop pockets of the 45 (shallower draft by 4″) were eliminated. 6 degree dead rise at transom.
- The exterior was faired to a more streamlined look and the radar arch is now slanted forward.
- The draft is deeper by 4″ and the bridge clearance is higher by 3′ on the 4788s.
- The Hino diesels HP was boosted from 250 (220hp up through 1991 model year then 250hp through 93 model years) to 310 Hp through 1995 models.
- In 1996 Cummins Diesels were introduced with the standard being 315HP.
- In 1997 the standard engines became 315 hp Cummins with 330′s & 370′s ($16k retail cost -$10k-dealer cost for 370′s) being optional.
- IF a 330hp Cummins has a Bosch fuel pump, it can have it’s horsepower boosted to 370hp -if it has the Japanese fuel pump, it cannot.
- NOTE: the salon superstructures, doors, window frames, pilasters are made of Aluminum. This is another reason these boats have a low center of gravity, and as everybody knows; Aluminum is very strong, but light. Pretty high tech for a low priced yacht isn’t it? This is also the reason why the salon windows don’t leak or crack on the Bayliner pilothouse models. The window frames are not supporting the weight of the flybridge as on other marques. Because in these other brands it’s the window frames alone structurally supporting the flybridge above, which is why other brands continually have cracking window problems as the bridges bounce. NOT the Bayliner- they have a strong aluminum structure, AND strong window frames.
- I’ve posted the fuel burns of the 33o’s and 370′s here. In related fact- The owner of the ”Barbara K” (99 4788 w/370′s) cruised down from Charleston SC to Miami (vessel is now in New Zealand) and burned exactly 180 gallons of fuel. His speeds varied and this was running both in open Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway.
- One owner has reported that his Cummins 330′s get 1.5 Nautical Mile per gallon at 9 knots and 1.75 NMG at 8 knots. Factoring in 20% fuel reserves on 444 gallons gives a 600 nautical mile at 8 knots, and 500 NM at 9 knots. That’s pretty impressive range. The nice thing about a 4788 is you can go slow OR if you feel like it-you can go 23 mph!
- Other changes on 4788 model from 45′: A curved dash that allowed helm seat to be moved forward allowing more spacious seating to port and aft. The pilothouse floor is LEVEL on the 4788 which allows crew to sleep on the sole next to the helm in BIG sea’s. Can’t do that in a 45′. The likelihood of tripping and being thrown out the pilothouse doors of a 4788 in heavy sea’s was lessened.
The settee in the main salon, along with the aft-deck ladder to the flybridge was flip flopped from port side in the 45′ to starboard in the 47′
The popular desk in the 3rd stateroom (in the 4588) was eliminated for a hanging locker with drawer storage in the 4788′s .
The television in the 4788s was moved to under the galley counters facing the settee.
In 1997 the 47′s interiors were upgraded with the addition of Corian in the galley and main salon, “leather” look upholstery in main and pilothouse.
The Pilothouse has Burl wood inlay in the dash starting in 97, which is very sharp.
The appliances in the galley are all white thru-2001.
The 2002 models have wood grained refrigerator to match the salon.
The interior is basically unchanged from 97 to 2002 models except the 2002 models offered a beautiful & VERY DESIRABLE high gloss Cherry wood option ($7,370.00). Every year there were several different fabric decor package offered.
Interior woods were either Teak with Ash or Maple options ($1,600.00) prior to 02. Although I’ve seen some white interiors on 1995 models. These white interiors have brought substantially less money on the resale market. Common statement of those seeing them for the first time is “looks like a trailer”.
Starting in 99 stainless steel rub rails became a standard, and MUCH DESIRED feature. If choosing between a 98 and 99 models, this feature alone is worth the price difference. Those Aluminum rubrails were useless as rub rails.
These boats came from the factory pretty well equipped with standard items that most manufacturers would call options such as 330hp Cummins, 8kw gen, 4 electric heaters, electric davit, w/icemaker in main salon, fully equipped galley w/trash compactor, microwave, etc, canvas covers, electronics package w/Autopilot, Gps, radar, Vhf, TV/Vcr, stereos, electric windlass,etc.
All have Bronze shaft struts and rudders, Bronze Seacocks, color coded wiring, Racor filters and top of the line appliances, machinery and equipment.
The Cummins diesels came with a major component warranty of 6 years or 1800 hrs, and Bayliner warranted the Hulls for structural for 5 years pre 01 models, 6 for the 2001 models, and 7 years for the 02 models. All warranties are transferable. (note-this was written back in 02)
BAYLINER 5288s introduced for the 99 model (means some were built in 98) year: 14 inches wider than the 4788′s, and 17,500lbs more weight PLUS draft pushing 5′ (if not more) loaded, these larger yachts give a real “yacht feel and ride”. The engine rooms are accessed from the cockpit via hinged stairs to the flybridge. The headroom and space in these engine rooms is excellent. Incredible amount of storage in the lazarette, and IN the swim platform.
Layout: The salon and galley layout varied boat to boat-year to year. Two bar stool chairs were standard at the breakfast bar of the galley instead of two free standing chairs to port. IN 2000 models this was changed and they have two free standing chairs on the port side the same as the 4788′s as apparently they moved the galley forward enough to allow this improvement. The master stateroom is full width amidships. The VIP stateroom is forward with an ensuite head. A guest stateroom with fixed upper and lower berths. The house sized washer and dryer are located in this stateroom.
The first engines were MAN diesels. The 500hp in the early models were replaced with 610hp engines rather quickly as the rather anemic 500hp MANS had a hard time giving a 17 knot cruise with a medium load. The 610hp MANS will cruise at 20 knot’s.
The 02 year models had Cummins 660hp Diesel engines. The dealer cost on the 5288s was almost $300k more than the 4788s. This much higher price, combined with the deep draft, and lack of a dinette, did not make the 5288 a particularly popular seller when new. Many buyers preferred to just pay “a little more” and get a WHOLE LOT more with the 5788 model. I’ve seen different variations of the galley on the 5288 models, I sold a 99 new in 2000 that the buyer spent $28k making the galley similar to their 4788 which they traded in to me. The brokerage market today hasn’t been kind to these boats. You can’t beat the engine room access and the master staterooms in comparison to a 4788! These boats can be bought RIGHT!!! Some great buys out there compared to several years ago. Not many 5288′s were ever built, and Meridian has dropped it from their new models as of 2006.
5788s- NOW we’re talking! These Yachts have the size, fit and finish of a true yacht and she can ‘hold her own’ with yachts that cost twice as much, in this size range.
Her beam is 17’02″, which is over a foot wider than the 5288s, but her draft is the same. 49,000lbs and TEN DEGREE dead rise gives a good ride. You can do some comfortable ocean voyaging in one of these.
FUEL BURNS 610hp MANS
A owner on BOC reported his fuel burns on a 2400 NM trip in his 97 5788 with 610hp M.A.N diesels ;
“Total US gallons consumed 2900 (excluding generator)
Distance traveled 2400 nm
Total engine hours 244
Average speed 9.8 knts (Dock to dock including manouvering)
NM per US gallon 0.83
US gallons per hour 11.88
Cruised mostly at 1200 RPM and of course the speed over ground varies immensely with the tides and currents along the Inside passage.
We have 610 MAN’s with approximately 1500 trouble free hours on them”
Her main salon has a LARGE
dinette directly across from the galley and a large settee in the salon. The entertainment center is huge. A large pilothouse with great seating for guests behind the helmsman allows excellent viewing as you cruise.
The flybridge is very spacious with ample seating along with a wet bar and room for big tenders, not just RIBs. Several 5788′s also have davits on the swim platform. Down below the ample beams allows for very spacious staterooms throughout, with large heads and vanities.
The engine room is reached from the aft-deck and is very spacious. Some have 2 generators instead of the standard one. Usually the AC compressors are located here too.
All in all, very nice yachts which have proven themselves in some serious off-shore cruising.
These yachts have held their value quite well, while also representing some of the best buys on the brokerage market. I sold a gorgeous ‘as new’ 01 with two gens, two davits, top notch electronics with very low hours for mid $700s (back in 02) and she ran on her bottom from Mexico to Alaska and survived a harrowing bar crossing (huge waves stood her on end, then while in trough, waves broke on top of her, pushing her WAY under the surface-yet all windows held and she survived only breaking loose flybridge seats, tender, etc.) in Washington State that would had sunk many another yacht, which proved for a fact that these yachts HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!
1/08. The last Meridian 490 ever has now been built. There will be no more new 490′s built. Too bad as 490 and the 4788 were one of the best designs ever built, and are extremely popular.
Also no Meridian 58′s or 490′s were laid up after 2008, but one 580 was given HIN number of 2010 as it was finished in 2009, as a 2010 model and sold new at Seattle Boat Show in 2010.
Meridian History & Updates; the first year (2003) these vessels were introduced they actually were just 2002 4788′s models with new HIN numbers and some decals that saidMeridian on them. The portlight shapes are also different in the hull. Other than that…pretty much identical. I had clients attempt to purchase new 03 Meridians back in 03, and the dealers stood firm at $530k no matter how hard they tried to buy for less. Surprisingly enough -none had the high gloss Cherry Wood interiors everybody loved about the 02 4788′s.
Much to my surprise- NO 490′s ever had this high gloss interior that was SO popular in 02. IF Brunswick had used this interior in all the 490′s, they would had sold all they could ever build. Strange decision that! The salon TV’s on Merididan 490′s no longer have a cover, so you always have a “glass eye” staring at you all the time. Their prices were substantially ($150k dealer cost) higher than what the 02 Bayliners. Brunswick did a major dealer “sweep”in 2002 and eliminated many long time Bayliner dealers from selling this “new” line of Meridian, instead having many Sea Ray dealers market these vessels instead. As you can imagine this threw the market in disarray as most Sea Ray dealers who had been selling Sea Rays, sometimes literally across the street from Bayliner Dealers now, all of a sudden were being instructed to promote a boat they had spent years selling against. It’s safe to say it caused a lot of confusion in the boat market and sales were sporadic as there was buyer reluctance to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more for basically the exact same boat (minus standard features of a 4788) it had replaced only months earlier. Fact that they no longer build a Pilothouse since 08, has solved these issues, as the New Meridians are now very similar to the Sea Rays (built in same Florida factory).
Meridian construction features:
These really are quite high-tech built yachts, as Bayliner was one of the first boat builders to use Cam controlled laser machine tools. All models use a unitized construction process; load-bearing bulkheads are bonded to the hull and deck to provide a yacht that is stronger and more durable than most boats today. Longitudinal hull stiffeners give additional strength on the hull sides give additional strength on the hull sides, absorbing stress that would otherwise continue to move through the boat.
Every Meridian features a precision-overlap, bonded hull deck and joint that forms a tight seal against the elements. Stainless-steel through-bolts further strengthen the joint.
MOST importantly they use a Vinylester barrier coat which prevents water from penetrating the laminate, minimizing the risk of blisters forming on the hull.
During their fiberglass construction process, each part is hand laid by skilled craftsmen using heavy-grade 24 ounce woven roving and biaxial stitched fabric, hand rolled and finished between alternating layers of strand. This ensures superior strength while providing a mirror-like exterior finish. It also allows them to offer a 10 year structural hull and deck limited warranty on the Meridians.
They use the finest pre-cured gel coats for a uniform, high-gloss finish that stands up to the toughest elements. Their boot stripes outlast taped stripes because they are incorporated in the gel-coat.
Engine beds with transverse crossbeams reduce vibration and add strength. These structural engine mounting transfer the weight, torque and thrust of the propulsion system to the structural components of the hull.
The radar arches are now fiberglass which will not corrode as the older Aluminum ones would. The Rail stanchions are welded inside and out to provide maximum strength. All exterior welds on rail systems are ground and polished to minimize surface corrosion. All molds are created by a five-axis milling machine. This process allows molds to be constructed to minimal tolerances for unparallel consistency in the final product.
If you have any questions about these boats, please don’t hesitate to call me. I will be happy to talk to you. I don’t expect everybody to be a buyer this year.
Non-Florida residents can legally leave their purchase here in Florida for 180 days without Florida sales tax being due via a decal, which can be purchased from a Dealer or Yacht Broker at time of purchase that allows a buyer another 90 days for a total of 180 days. So-fly here, cruise the Bahamas (48 miles away),& the Keys (30 miles away) and experience crystal clear water while enjoying your new yacht before taking her home!
Photo of the nicest Pilothouse helms to be found- and it’s a Bayliner/Meridian. Note; the dash wood inlay is found starting in late 97 models through the 2002 year on Bayliners, and thru 08 on Meridians.
The 4788 has proven to be a very successful and popular yacht. I have NEVER lost a 97 or newer model 4788 Pilothouse on a survey, although I’ve seen older models having gel-coat (blisters on 95 models) and Hino engine (exhaust risers and manicooler parts are hard to come by) issues. I wish I could say the same about so-called “quality yachts” that cost double the price! This is but ONE reason I specialize in these Pilothouse yachts- the deals always go through- they are holding their value well and they are literally to be found all around the world. Folks with more common sense than a need to impress the Jones realize they can buy a late model yacht with warranties for the same price of a much older so-called quality yacht that have NO warranties -that will eat them alive with upkeep and refits. So, smart people buy these Pilothouses and enjoy cruising them. Talk to a Bayliner Pilothouse owner yourself while dock walking some day and you will soon understand their popularity. It’s simple, they are GREAT designs!
I know this market and can TRULY tell you what they sold for NEW ( as I also sold them new). If you have one for sell- I would like to know about her- I have buyers from literally all over the world looking to buy.
I have sold several 4788′s sight unseen to buyers. A fellow from New Zealand who purchased one from me sight unseen (2004) stated when asked upon his first inspection if he was satisfied stated:. “I got more than I expected, this yacht is totally equipped and in condition better than one could had hoped for”. He cruised her fromMiami to Canada and back, and then put her on the Dock Express and she is now in Auckland New Zealand. Another HAPPY buyer!
More recently a 2002 4788 that was purchased sight unseen (07) arrived in Australia and her owner reported: “Sea Lady arrived early last week. She is great. Thankyou for all your work. We unloaded her and had a couple of nights on board at a marina in Brisbane and then took her down to the Gold Coast and lifted her out to have the bottom done and a few other little things. It was great taking the boat on a four hour run and sitting on 18 knots. My wife is rapt in the internals (and so am I. They have it so modern and low maintenance compared with our 4588)”.
That’s what I expect to hear from my clients!
I received a email from another New Zealand client as he was heading up the east coast, and I got such a kick from it I copied it for all to see because it’s so true: <<<we took off on the great adventure. Presently in Newport, Virginia, will make a run outside for NY as soon as “Charlie” passes through. So far, no majors, she is sweet and getting lots of praise. What is it with Bayliner 4788′s? Sea Ray owners, particularly, who have spent more money than me, and act like they are experienced boaters, keep wanting to know what she is; rave about the interior, and cream themselves over the bridge!! Didn’t Bayliner bother to tell anybody about these boats – they must be the best kept secret in boating!! I reckon good ones will really hold their value.<<<< FOLLOW UP 5/08- this buyer has sold this 4788 and bought a 2000 5788 from me and is cruising the East Coast of America with plans forMaine and points North.
TRANSPORTING THESE BOATS: (note photos below)
ALL of the 45′s & 4788′s were designed to be trucked from the factory, so it’s no big deal to truck them. Most all were trucked new from their factories (at one time, Maryland, Washington State, and North Carolina) to their dealers all across the United States. I have sent many out West by truck- from San Diego to Bellingham Wa. I know truckers who will handle the whole deal including decommissioning to re-commissioning for you. He arrives at the boat several days early then takes her apart, preps her for trucking, trucks her, then reassembles her at the destination, using all new 5200 sealant. They usually look better when he’s finished than when he originally picked it up. You just write the check, it doesn’t get any easier than that- With the 45′er it’s just a matter of dropping the arch, but the 4788 requires that the flybridge windshield, the engine control pod w/wheel, arch (of course) and the props must be removed prior to trucking.
10/09 update: Many boat truckers have got out of the boat trucking (instead hauling military gear for Blackwater and Haliburtion) business after so many boat manufacturers closed down in past year, so the remaining boat truckers have raised their prices in classic “supply and demand” fashion. Trucking prices are changing daily up and down. You really have to shop around. All I can tell you is that prices are dramatically higher after 2008. I’d previously sent 4788s from South Florida to Seattle -Bellingham from as low as $12k to $18k. Quotes in 2012 have been $18k to $28k- which is just insane. At that price is cheaper to send them via ship. Slower, but they don’t have to be broken apart and reassembled.
The 5288′s and 5788′s were built in the Washington State plant, then trucked to Galveston Texas where they were assembled then run on their bottoms to the East Coast Dealers when new. Pre-owned they will require MUCH more in decommissioning to truck than the smaller boats but these boats are quite capable of running on their bottoms pretty much anywhere coastwise (or across Carribean) if you have time. OR VIA SHIP-I’m finding that with the higher and higher prices of trucking, it now makes sense sometimes if your going coast to coast to use the DOCK EXPRESS or YACHT PATH for the BIG (52′s and 58′s) Boats (link on front page) to just “drive on-drive off” your yacht or Global Shipping. It’s almost the same kind of money and the boat does not need to have any thing taken apart. The rates get cheaper as the shipping date arrives IF there’s room on the boat. They can drop you off in Costa Rica, Mexico and now go up into Alaska. I’ve recently sent 4788′s toNew Zealand and Australia from $35k to $50k. It all depends on supply and demand so please contact the shippers direct and look for the “last minute specials” which ARE great deals.
Note that the air intake covers on the 490 Meridian extend past the rub rail, so an easy way to discern the difference between a Meridian and a 4788 from afar is that usually these will be cracked or missing on the Meridian. On the 4788′s they are flush with the hull. Might have LOOKED good on a drawing, but is stupid in reality. This is the reason the Meri
dians have their beam at 15’1″ and Bayliners are 14’11″. This “extra beam” is NOT in a good way.
Engine room air intake on 4788′s -safely protected.
If your going to truck a 4788 or 490 you need to get it down to this height as shown in the photo. The following must be brought down to do so: Arch, flybridge windshield, the steering wheel pod, bridge entertainment center, and props. ALL were brought from the factory like this. They were DESIGNED to be trucked so it’s no big deal. Everything comes off easily and goes back together easily.
The 4588′s only the arch needs to be lowered as the 45′ has shallower draft and lower height.