Meridian and Bayliner Pilothouse Motor Yachts history and updates


This site is now just historical information


Another one bites the dust. This big Bayliner was struck by lightning August 20th 2020 in the Ft. Pierce City Marina. Add this one to the dozens and dozens that have sunk, or burned since they ended production in 2002. There’s less availability every day.

The pinnacle of ALL Yacht Manufacturing was in 1989. Then there was the 2008 -2011 recession that finished off most American large boat builders. Machines and us humans getting OLD being my point.

 Have your dockage an insurance lined up BEFORE you start boat hunting.


Surveyor advice:  I recommend Bill Gladding 904-945-0511 for your surveyor. He really know’s his stuff, and he does travel. It will be the best money you will spend. “”.

That said- when you find a boat you really like, it would behoove you to have OIL SAMPLES pulled BEFORE going to the expense of hauling and surveying.

I have sold well over 40 Bayliner 4788’s, but that was back when they were either new or ‘not that old’. NOW, the newest 4788 is 20 years old, the newest Meridian 490 is 14 years old. The biggest issue on ALL (of any make) older boats is dried up sealants, and engines that were over propped from the factory.


The 5288’s (540’s)  and 5788’s (580’s) don’t have the latent defects of the smaller boats-that I’m aware of -but you not ONLY want to see written proof of their 1000 hour MAN service, but you want to actually call the MAN dealer on the receipts and confirm the FULL service was fully completed. Better yet, speak to the mechanic who did it. Many owners cut corners, and lie.

Nice 5288s were selling from $189k -$240k (2016). Nice 5788’s were selling (2017) for $300k on the East Coast.  There’s been no (as of 4/2021) East Coast sales reported to since 2017.

  MERIDIAN INFO is below- Keep scrolling.



  Bayliner 5288, 4788, and 5788 all lined up together. For all practical purposes the Meridian Pilothouses look exactly like these, with the exception of the shapes of the portlights, salon windows, frames are now white, and new air intake covers (490). Both marques were built in the same Washington State factory by the same workers in the same moulds.

Meridian History & Updates

Built from 2003-2010 (although the factory closed in 2008, there were a few 490s and 580’s given 2010 HIN numbers).

Meridian 580 Pilothouse Motoryachts.  NO latent defects that I’m aware of.

If you can find a 2002 Bayliner 5788 with the Cummins engines, and the high gloss cherry wood, buy it, as they are as rare as a democrat with common sense.
4/2021 Market Update: There’s been no 5788s or 5288s reported sold anywhere east of I-5 since 2017.


A gorgeous 2010 Meridian 580 I sold (100% sight unseen by her buyer) in Costa Rica after cruising down from Alaska. She was loaded on a ship to Australia. The buyer sent me the funds and said “find me the best boat out there” so I  went boat hunting, and found him a jewel. Americans couldn’t compete with  these foreign buyers who sent me the full funds first, making me their buyers agent for quick cash closings. I didn’t have to “think about it” or “consult with the wife”. I pulled triggers. Of course in 2010 many Americans were hunkered down hoping not to have their homes foreclosed, not out buying yachts.

2010 Meridian 580


This is a 2010 model Meridian 580 (although the hull was laid in 2008) The fit and finish of this yacht was spectacular.


2003 Meridian being introduced at the Miami Boat Show.

2008 Meridian 580 with custom sole

Meridian 580 hull side core

Meridian 580 Layout Drawing

Salon 2007 Meridian 580 Pilothouse

Master Stateroom of a 2007 Meridian 580 with custom escape window.

2008 580 with custom sole


The Generator is located in the Lazarette

Flybridge of a Meridian 580


A 580 with a nice custom cover over the foredeck lounge area.


These vessels have plenty of room for large tenders, and have a hydraulic davit that extends, swivels, goes up and down by remote control.


A new 5788 being trucked to N. Dakota. The factory commissioned her at the destination. The flybridge was on a separate truck. The boat is still there.



These really are quite the high-tech built yachts, as Brunswick, even on their Bayliner Pilothouse series 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. The Meridians were built in the same factory by the same workers in the same moulds used to build the Bayliner Pilothouse series.


Directly from the Meridian Dealers Manual>>> 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 unparalleled consistency in the final product.<<<<<


  • 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 Meridan pilothouse models.  The window frames are not supporting the weight of the flybridge as are other marques.  Because  in many other brands it’s the window frames alone structurally supporting the flybridge, which is why they continually have windows crack as the bridges bounce.  NOT the Meridians- they have a strong aluminum structure, AND strong window frames. Aluminum is subject to corrosion if not properly zinc treated, and especially if salt is allowed to build up.

Proof of how thick these boats are built. This is the hull of 2000 model 4788 that sat being pounded on a reef in the Bahamas for a week. She was craned onto a barge and brought back to the States, rebuilt and is out there somewhere. I lost contact with her in Daytona Fl.  There’s no Car Fax for boats, so it’s good to know the provenance of vessels because some owners and brokers LIE, and this boat is out there somewhere. If I’m provided with the original name of a vessel, my memory can sometimes tell you it’s history.


Thick enough for you? 4788/490


Another view.  The outer layer alone is thicker than many so called “quality” yachts entire hull thickness.


Meridian 490’s are just a continuation of the Bayliner 4788’s so it’s (hopefully) safe to assume the construction layups are the same as below.

The engine options of the Meridian 490s were all Cummins engines. 330 hp, 370hp Diamond Series, and in later 2007 and all 2009 models they had the 380hp Cummins Common Rail electronic engines- which are virtually smokeless and are very fuel efficient.

Factory drawings of the hull construction


The Cummins QSM electronic diesels of the 2007-2010 model years in the 490’s got BETTER fuel mileage than the mechanical engines, do not smoke, and are quieter.

  • .  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, running both in the open ocean and Intracoastal Waterway. You should expect similar burns from Meridian 490s with these engines.
  • FUEL BURN Cummins 330 hp.
    1.  1000 RPM = 6 knots  1.5 gph each = 3 gph= 2 nmpg
    2.  1400 RPM = 8 knots  2.8 gph each = 5.6 gph =1.43 nmpg
    3.  1600 RPM = 9 knots  3.9 gph each= 7.8 gph = 1.15 nmpg.
    4.  2600 RPM =18 knots 12.4 gph each=26.8 gph=.67 nmpg
    5.  2800 RPM= 22 knots 17.4 gph each=.34.8 gph=.63 nmpg.

    Range with 10% reserve 396 gallons

    1. 1000 rpm=792 nautical miles
    2. 1400 rpm =562  nm
    3.  1600 rpm=344 nm
    4.  2600 rpm=265 nm
    5.  2800 rpm=249 nm.

    Disclaimer:  Your results may vary.  That’s a 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.

Factory figures on fuel burns

Bayliner Brochure.

  • 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.
  • MERIDIAN 540 built from 2003 – 2005. 
  • LOA: 54′      Beam: 16’03”          Bridge Clearance:19’03”    Headroom: 16’07”    Dry Weight: 50,554lbs.
  • Tankage:     Fuel: 700 gallons    Water: 200 gallons             Holding: 76 gallons
  •  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.
  • Meridian 540 hull #1 on the left visiting hull # 8 in Miami

    Meridian 540 Layout Drawings

    Meridian 540 Pilothouse

Meridian 540 Pilothouse. Note that there is no port side pilothouse door.


Meridian 540 Salon


Meridian 540 amidships master stateroom


Engine room access on a 540 Meridian.


The Cummins QSC electronic engines used in the Meridians have a smaller footprint than the MAN diesels used in the 5288’s.


The flybridge of a Meridian 540 Pilothouse.



 MERIDIAN 490- built from 2003-2008

Oops. Buyers of 490’s on the West Coast  of USA might want to start asking pointed questions when boat shopping. I doubt if the owner is going to volunteer this event to anyone other than his insurance agent. There’s no CarFax for boats.


LOA: 54′       Beam:15’01”           Bridge Clearance:18’02”       Draft: 3’04”     Headroom: 6’05”     Dry Weight: 29,990lbs

Tankage:      Fuel: 444 gallons    Water: 200 gallons      Holding: 48 gallons

  • The 490 has the same features we all liked on the 4788’s. In the later part of 2004, 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 companionway 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 modular 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 is also a popular place to install an inverter, being that the batteries are (offset) below this space in the lazarette.
  • I’m very disheartened by the time (oldest one is now 18 years old and the newest Pilothouse is now 13 years old) related issues I’m now discovering in the 490’s only- I’m NOT seeing these issues in the 540’s or 580’s.. For many years (past tense) these 490’s were rather immune to the issues common to the older 4788’s , This is no longer true.
  •  What’s particularly alarming in the issues I’m discovering UNIQUE to the 490’s that didn’t exist in the 4788’s. Whereas corrosion of the exterior of the aluminum window frames did occur on some (99’s-01s especially) model year 4788s. I’m now seeing window frames on some 2006 and 2007 490’s that were TOTALLY shot through with corrosion so bad that they’ve lost their structural integrity. I’m seeing pilothouse windshields flex (YIKES!)  I know a 2007 490 in Oregon (misrepresented as a “freshwater shed kept boat” by unscrupulous Oregon broker- the boat was originally from Florida)  that needed it’s complete window frames replaced. That was not an easy  or inexpensive job.
  • I always knew of the dry rotting plywood that was laminated to the hull- inside the lazarette when NEW.  This issue was repaired by the dealers when new- IF caught. Of course there were several Meridian Dealerships that went out-of-business in 2008, that still had new unsold boats from early still in their inventory (especially Alameda Ca.) which were liquidated by National Liquidators or given to other dealers to sell. It’s safe to say- that those boats never received the needed repairs when new. NOW here we are 11 years or more later, and the rot on those boats has spread to under the generators (frames are also rusting away) .
  • The bow pulpits are cored with plywood, and I’m also seeing rot there the same as the 4788’s .
  • The foredeck under the pulpit, and windlass are also showing softness from water egress-the same as the 4788’s. Sealants only last so long.
  • I’m seeing leaks in the salon, galley  AND in the pilothouse in places where the 4788 never leaked at all.
  •  The drain hoses and pot metal drains they were attached to were not of the highest quality.   If the 490’s have the 330hp Cummins, then they too are suffering the same engine ills as the 4788’s.
  • The good news is that Cummins has engine swap out deals where they take out your old engines, and replace them with factory reman’s with full new engine warranties. The engines are easily swapped out, and it’s relatively cheap at $40k -$50k for two engines- (depending on the location of the Cummins Dealer) and their overhead. Price out a new engine for a Mercedes Benz AMG sometime. All of a sudden these diesels are a bargain.
  • The good news is that 490’s are selling for half the price (or less) when they were new or even “newer”.
  • Let me repeat- I’m NOT seeing any of the 490 issues in the Meridian 540’s or 580’s. They were excellent yachts when new, and are still excellent yachts. You DO get what you pay for.
  • 2019 Market Summary: Only three (3) 490s were sold east of I-5 for all of 2019.

Although no Meridian 58’s or 490’s hulls were laid up after 2008,  a few 490’s and 580’s 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.

Although built in the same moulds as the Bayliner Yachts, the Meridians have different shaped port lights 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 portside pilothouse doors. The fit and finish of the interior is richer with the Meridians, better grade carpeting, hardware, and a MUCH higher quality pilothouse helm chair, etc.

Electronic Controls for the Electronic Cummins engines on QSM serie’s of diesels. The  Meridan 540s and 580’s had this as early as 03, but the 490’s didn’t have electronic controls until late 2007.


Meridian History & Updates; the first year (2003) the Meridian 490’s were introduced they actually were just leftover 2002 4788’s models with teak interiors, with the HIN number changed (which can be easily seen on the first 03 models). The portlight shapes are different in the hull, as are the engine air intakes.  Other than that…pretty much identical exteriors.  I had clients attempt to purchase new 03 Meridians back in 03. 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 2002 4788’s. (Time has shown this to have been a wise decision because that photo veneer began fogging where exposed to light, then vertical cracks appeared. Many owners have had great success using “wraps” instead of expensive wood veneers. Certainly faster.

The salon TV’s on Meriidan 490’s no longer have a cover, so you always have a “glass eye” staring at you. Their prices were substantially ($150k dealer cost) higher than the 02 Bayliners. Brunswick did a major dealer “sweep” in 2002 and eliminated many long time Bayliner dealers from selling this “new” line of boats, instead Sea Ray dealers marketed the Meridians.  As you can imagine this threw this market in total disarray as most Sea Ray dealers who had been selling Sea Rays for years, 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 huge 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.



2003 Meridian 490 with a serious tender on TNT lift.  Drive on, drive off.


2007 Meridian 490

2010 Meridian 490


2003 custom upgraded Meridian 490  This was the coolest 490 I’ve yet seen. Serious $$$$ was spent on her when new, and since. Yes, she’s had at least one new engine (that I’m aware of), because that’s a lot of weight to push with 330 hp engines, and her original owner ran her BALLS TO THE WALL.

2007 Meridian 490 with the electronic smokeless quiet 380 hp engines.


2008 Meridian in Alaska

2004 Meridian 490 w/custom hardtop.

THIS is why the Meridian 490’s cost more than the Bayliner 4788’s they replaced. It’s the fit and finish. It’s the higher grade soft goods, hardware and fixtures.

Hideaway Bed option on a 2004 490

2004 490

2008 490



the 2004 and 2005 490’s have the light colored countertops.

2004 /2005 galley








Florida residents can legally leave their purchase here in Florida for 90 days without Florida sales tax being due. You can buy another 90 day decal, which must be purchased from a Dealer or Yacht Broker at time of purchase that allows a buyer another 90 days on top of the original 90 days- for a total of 180 days. So-fly here, cruise the Bahamas (45 miles from America), the Keys, or Cuba (90 miles from Marathon or Key West) and experience crystal clear water while enjoying your new yacht.  Don’t be in such a hurry to return to opaque water.



The Meridian Pilothouse Motoryachts were all built in the Washington State plant. The 490’s were trucked directly to their dealers, but the 540’s and 580s were trucked to Galveston Texas where they were assembled then run on their bottoms to the East Coast Dealers when new. SOME may have also been trucked to their dealers in the Midwest.  The 540’s and 580’s  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 coast wise (or across the Caribbean) if you have the time.

OR VIA SHIP -I’m finding that with the higher and higher prices of trucking, it now makes sense if your going coast to coast to just use SHIPS (link on front page) . It’s almost the same kind of money as trucking, plus the boat does not need to have any thing taken apart. They can drop you off in Costa Rica , Mexico, or British Columbia Canada.  I’ve recently (2014) sent 4788’s and 490’s from Ft. Lauderdale- to New Zealand and Australia from $35k to $50k.

In 2016 a 5788 went to New Zealand from West Palm Beach for $75k . SHIPPING PRICES is all Supply and Demand so please contact the shippers direct (links here on my site).

2014:  Dockwise and Seven Star have merged.

2016:  I’ve been told that the normally scheduled ships from the USA to Australia and New Zealand are on hold until further notice due to the low demand due to Australia’s economic problems, plus the strong US dollar, which has now made American goods quite pricey.

2018: Ships are running again. The uptick in the economy has allowed them to return service to Ensenada Mexico (close to California) and BC -close to Washington State



Note that the air intake covers on the 490 Meridian extend past the rub rail. This is the reason the Meridians have their beam listed at 15’01” while the Bayliners are 14’11”, it’s solely the engine air intake vent covers.

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, and props. Most all were brought from the factory like this. They were DESIGNED to be trucked so it’s no “big deal” (other than a lot of 5200 has to be removed and replaced). Expect to pay at least $3k at each end for a yard to take it apart, and to reassemble. Don’t forget these expenses when a trucker gives you quotes.

ALL the truckers I used to use (who dismantled, prepped, trucked, and reassembled) for trucking these boats got out of the boat transport business years ago when all the manufacturers went out of business, whilst at the same time it became cheaper for a buyer to use SHIPS from Florida to the West Coast of America. Therefore I no longer have any particular truckers I can recommend.




Meridian 580 that arrived 12/15 via truck from the Great Lakes waiting to have it's bridge reassembled.

Meridian 580 that arrived 12/15 in Florida via truck from Ohio waiting to have it’s bridge reassembled. Originally quoted $28k, it ended up costing almost $50k. I could had told them that.




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