Setting the scene for the premiere of the new 2003 line of Meridian Yachts, a clear, blue sky served as the backdrop at New York City's Chelsea Piers, as these new innovative, and technologically sound vessels were introduced, by Meridian's president and master of ceremonies, William J. Barrington.
The vessels, which join the ranks of their elite sister companies (all governed by the Brunswick Boat Group), of Sea Ray, Hatteras, Maxum and Sealine, range in size from 34 to 58 ft. (10.3 to 17.6 m) and include the latest technological and design innovations - specifically Meridian's own unique Docking on Command (DOC) system, which allows the most novice of boaters to guide their vessel into the tightest of spaces.
MarineNews was present at this world premiere event that occurred at Pier 59 on the afternoon of August 8, 2002.
Ask the executives at Meridian the reason for hatching out this new vessel plan and a simple response would be given - "There was a need or a "hole that needed to be filled." More than two years ago, the folks at Meridian, everyone from executives, to engineers, to interior designers, brainstormed the idea for the new yacht that would offer spacious livable cruising options, with the most reliable and technological equipment onboard. "Conventional designs were falling short and some fresh thinking was needed," said Bill Barrington, president of Meridian Yachts. "We brought our design team together and asked them to leave convention behind." And that's just what they did - all in-house.
Meridian, which prides itself on the ability to design, engineer and fabricate its vessels all within its Everett, Wash. headquarters - from the smallest model, which is the 341 Sedan, to the largest of the group - the Meridian 580, which boasts the widest beam in its class.
Measuring 34 ft. (10.3 m), the 341, which features a two-stateroom layout with a bonded, tempered, safety-glass window system offering panoramic views. Regarding equipment, all members of the Meridian line are powered exclusively by Cummins (CMI)
Marine diesel engines. The 341 holds twin MerCruiser 5.7L gas inboards, in addition to optional twin MerCruiser 6.2L MPI gas inboards or twin 250 Cummins MerCruiser diesel inboards. As an added piece of engineering technology, all Meridian engine beds hold transverse crossbeams in order to add strength and reduce vibration, thus transferring the weight, torque and thrust of the propulsion system to the hull's structural components. Adding to the unique hull structure are PYI dripless shaft seals, which work to lessen water penetration on the hull and wear on the engine drive system. All Meridian Yachts are equipped with standard four-blade Nibral propellers offering smooth, quiet sailing.
An Engineering Apex
Priding themselves as one of the strongest, and most durable yachts afloat, Meridian does not fall short of this promise through its durability and strength of its fleet. According to the company's director of engineering, Chris Wachowski, "The primary focus was constructing a vessel that blended innovative style with leading edge technology."
Wachowski added that not only are the yachts one of the most livable on the water, but also boast a hull that is most seaworthy, via longitudinal stiffeners that provide added strength on the hull sides. These stiffeners, which absorb stress that would normally continue to move through the vessel, provide durability and strength, which was carried over into the construction process as well.
Exceeding the expectations of both the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Boat and Yacht Council, all of the Meridian Yachts were
built via a fiberglass construction process, which according to Wachowski, was accomplished via closed cell foam coring material. This process, which involved each part to be laid by hand using heavy-grade woven and biaxial stitched fabric, ensures that no air seeps into the hull.
On the electrical side, all Meridian Yachts are equipped with copper-strand wiring, which are color-coded for ease of maintenance and service. In addition to the exclusive Cummins engines that power the Meridian fleet, all of the vessels feature low maintenance Onan electronic quiet diesel marine generators. All navigation systems, which were installed at Meridian's Arlington, Wash. facility were provided by Raymarine, with compasses supplied by Ritchie and searchlights by ITT (ITT)
Jabsco. The vessels also boast an air conditioning system by Marine Air and use Racor fuel filters and Rule bilge pumps. But by far, what is probably the most innovative system onboard each vessel in the Meridian fleet is its Docking-on-Command (DOC) system, which allows exact control when docking and/or maneuvering the vessel into tight spaces. The joystick-operated device, which is manufactured by ICS (joystick by Sleipner), allows even the most novice of captains to guide their vessels into the smallest of slips. This feature, which is especially helpful on Meridian's largest vessel - the 580 - was demonstrated for the editors of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News on a trip along the Hudson River courtesy of Meridian Yachts. As the vessel made its way back to its docking area at Pier 59, its master was able to maneuver its bow and stern in forward, aft and side-by-side motions with literally the touch of one button.
Constructed mainly for longer excursions, the 580 can sleep up to eight passengers in its salon and three staterooms, and is equipped with a fully galley that includes a stainless-steel sink, and a variety of electric appliances - all manufactured by GE. Standard equipment on the 580 includes twin 635 Cummins Mercruiser diesel engines and a 12 kW Onan generator.
Style = Substance
In order to capture the essence of style blended with modern technology, Meridian tapped the expertise of Ellen Henry and Martin Pieramico, the line's senior interior designer and senior industrial engineer, respectively. MarineNews had the opportunity to speak with both Henry and Pieramico to gain their insight on how they instilled the Meridian look on all of the vessels. Both designers had myriad of ideas for each vessel - from the smaller, more intimate 341 - to the mammoth 580.
Before even taking their design concepts to reality, Henry and Pieramico perform preliminary research by targeting their customer base in conjunction with Meridian's worldwide dealer network. The two designers also attend an event called "Color Marketing," which held twice and year, bringing together designers from a variety of industries. Through this event, the designers can then craft their palette specifically from the ideas and concepts picked up from this event.
The design process, which involves more than just the transpiration of sketches and plans, begins with conceptualization. Once these ideas have become a reality, Pieramico and Henry will then implement them into a cardboard layout or mock-style yacht giving customers and dealers a walk-through of their ideas. "The walk through allows us (the designers) to focus on who the customer is, and what exactly it is that they want," Pieramico said. "We listen to both our external and internal customers and focus on creating a vessel that fits into Brunswick's portfolio - a comfortable, clean styling that is very integral from bow to stern."
Once the walk-through is complete, the design team implements feedback received, before beginning the actual vessel prototype, that is consistent all-around with no wasted space, while exuding an upscale, classic look.
"Rather than trying to be trendy, we try to provide a timeless look that is both elegant and tasteful," Henry said. "Much of our inspiration comes from other upscale, classic vessels such as Sun Seeker and Sun Princess, traveling to various boat shows and being that we're based outside of the Seattle area - the local influence of Asia and Europe."