Bayliner and Meridian Pilothouses- HISTORY AND UPDATES
( Please note- I apologize for the “clunkiness” of this page, but this was mostly all written in chronological order over many years -with updates written as they occurred- then my host of my old site crashed in 2011, and I lost all this information. It took me a LONG time to put this information back together. Sorry that this page isn’t as thorough as it used to be, but you can’t beat the price can you?
HISTORY OF THE Pilothouse Motor Yachts:
- In 2002: Brunswick (the company who built Bayliner, Sea ray, Hatteras, Sealine, Maxum, Boston Whaler, Cabo, Mercruiser, plus many other boat lines, and eventually even Cummins diesel) discontinued the Bayliner series of Motor yachts and Pilothouse Yachts and they were “reborn” as Meridians for the 2003 model year at a much higher price ($300k higher MSRP) as the year before when they were called Bayliner. with only very minor changes. ALL the BIG (49′ – 58′) Meridians were built from the same molds in the same factory by the same people as when called Bayliner in Washington State. Bayliner 4788′s were also built in Maryland from 1997-1999.
- 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. For example you’ll see cockpit showers in the 4788′s, but not likely in a Meridian. Little things.
- 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-several dealers won on that!), 5 or 6 made it to the East Coast and of those, 2 are in Australia, & 1 in New Zealand. Not that many 03 490′s were ever built (although but as far as I know, NO 490′s were built 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 very last 2008 490′s ever built are both in Alaska as of 2014, although several 2008 dealer left overs were sold new as recent as 2010.
- 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. They aren’t Pilothouses, that’s for sure!
- 6/08 update: Meridian closed their Washington facility where Pilothouses were built
- 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 an engine room access 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 , which is odd. There’s nothing in there, they just installed seats that do not open up. I’m sure a good upholstery shop can rectify this. On the 4788 this L-shaped seating areas is one of the storage area’s for bulk goods, and also a popular place to install an inverter, being that the batteries are (offset) below in the lazarette.
- 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 don’t open like the 5788s) 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 a bit more user friendly (ie; places to nap). Flat Screen TVs in master & guest staterooms are sharp looking. The engine room is so much larger with the Cummins Diesels versus the physically larger M.A.N diesels. There’s 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-but women love their interiors.
- SOME 07 model 490s and all the 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 with 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 250 hp through 93 model years) to 310 Hp through 1995 models.
- In 1996 Cummins Diesels were introduced with the standard being 315HP, although some 96 models can be found with Hinos.
- 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 370 hp -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 and 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 are other marques. Because in these other brands it’s the window frames alone structurally supporting the flybridge above, which is why they continually have windows crack 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 for loading on a ship to New Zealand, and she burned exactly 180 gallons of fuel. His speeds varied and this was running both in the 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 get up and GO.
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 -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 high gloss Cherry wood option ($7,370.00). 2014 update: This laminate in only the 2002 models have started to crack on some curved surfaces and fog up in area’s receiving direct sun light.
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 boats with the 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, a MUCH DESIRED feature. If choosing between a 98 and 99 models, this feature alone is worth the price difference. Those Aluminum hull deck joint covers 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 hollow 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 as the 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 model had Cummins 660 hp Diesel engines. The dealer cost on the 5288 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 . You can’t beat the engine room access and the master staterooms in comparison to a 4788! Not many 5288′s were ever built, and Meridian has dropped the 540 model 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 5288′s, but her draft is the same. 49,000 lbs and TEN DEGREE dead rise gives a good ride. You can do some comfortable ocean voyaging in one of these.
FUEL BURNS 610 hp MANS
A owner on BOC reported his fuel burns on a 2400 NM trip in his 97 5788 with 610 hp MAN 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)
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 extra 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 Grey Inlet 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 the flybridge seats, tender, etc.) that would had sunk many another yacht, which proved for a fact that these yachts have what it takes.
The 2002 5788′s have Cummins diesels, and there were a few made that were essentially Meridians in every factor but the name. Remember the Meridians were introduced in 2003.
1/08. The last Meridian 490 ever has now been built. There will be no more new 490′s built. The 490 and the 4788 were one of the best designs ever built, and have enjoyed great demand on the brokerage market.
Although no Meridian 58′s or 490′s hulls were laid up after 2008, three (3) 580s were given 2010 HIN numbers, as they were still at the factory in 2009, and not sold until 2010. You would have to ask the Coast Guard that ‘trick’. One in now in Australia, 2 are in Washington State.
Although built in the same moulds as the Bayliner Yachts, the Meridians have different shaped portlights than the Bayliners, and the Meridian 580′s have larger salon windows that don’t open-unlike the 5788′s. The 580 and 540 Meridians do not have port side pilothouse doors. The fit and finish of the interior is richer with the Meridians, better grade carpeting, and a MUCH higher quality helm chairs, etc.
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 different in the hull. Other than that…pretty much identical. The portlights are different shaped on the 490′s than the 4788′s.. 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 of the new 490′s had the high gloss Cherry Wood interiors everybody loved about the 02 4788′s.
IF Brunswick had used that high gloss 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 (even 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. When so called “quality” yachts especially Oriental built boats are flunking surveys left and right, the Bayliner and Meridians pass with flying colors. So much for cost equating quality, but anybody who owned Cadillac’s and Lincoln’s kn0w this. These Bayliners weren’t expensive new because they were built in high tech plants, and they bought equipment, engines, etc., in bulk, something no other manufacturer could do.
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. Although the Meridians have a pretty fancy helm seat.
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 expensive 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 Blake Davis Yacht Brokerage specializes in these marques- 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 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, and my listings SELL FAST.
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!
A 2002 4788 that was purchased sight unseen arrived in Australia and her owner reported: “Sea Lady arrived early last week. She is great. Thank you 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 his 4788 in New Zealand, and bought a 2000 5788 from me and is cruising the East Coast of America with plans forMaine and points North. 3/14 update-the vessel is for sale in Virginia.
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. 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 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. Received a quote in 2013 for $35k from Mississippi to California. At these prices, it’s cheaper to send them via ship. Slower, but they don’t have to be broken apart and reassembled do they?
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 SEVEN STAR (link on front page) . 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 vacancy on the boat. They can drop you off in Costa Rica or 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 (links here on my site)
2014 Shipping update: Dockwise and Seven Star have merged.
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 the drawing board, but is stupid in reality. This is the reason the Meridians have their beam listed at 15’01″ and the Bayliners are 14’11″, it’s just the engine vent covers. The engine room vent covers on the 4788′s are safely protected by the rub rail.
If your going to truck a 4788 or 490 you need to get it down to this height as shown in the photo below.
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. Expect to pay $3k on both end for a yard to take apart, and another to put back together.
The 4588′s only the arch needs to be lowered as the 45′ has shallower draft and lower height.