Cruisers looking for the horizon and distant shores often forget about homegrown cruising opportunities such as those of the Great Lakes and other heartland waters. But those looking for a new ride should not forget about the boatbuilders who call the Midwest home either, and Carver Yachts holds a prominent spot on that list. No wonder, when one considers how popular its Voyager series is in the cruising world, with more than 450 units of the 570/560 models produced.
“The Voyager series has been designed as a long-range, pilothouse-style cruising yacht with superior onboard accommodations,” says Dick Nocenti, marketing director at Carver Yachts. “These are boats that provide a group of people private staterooms and great volumes of storage.”
Hull number one of the three-stateroom 570 Voyager was launched in 2001. Three years later, the 560 was christened, utilizing the same modified-V hull of her predecessor. The new model offered a sky lounge on the main deck, a hydraulic swim platform, and a re-proportioned cockpit/saloon area providing added cockpit space. The profile and exterior lines of the 560 were also refreshed to present a sleeker appearance.
Buyers in the market for a used 560 will want to focus on the choice between the forward saloon skylounge or a lower helm station. Both layouts are functional, but like any compromise they present different strengths and weaknesses that can become chief deciding factors.
A sturdy ladder leads from the shaded cockpit to the immense flying bridge on the 560. – photo by Billy Black
For what it’s worth, Nocenti says Carver owners favored the lower helm station two to one when they bought these boats new. They found the ability to pilot the vessel in a climate-controlled environment not only added a nice comfort level to their boating, but it extended the usage of the boat in cold-weather regions by months. The curved, aviation-style lower helm is highly functional with fair sightlines and a double-wide electric helm seat.
Cruisers whose specific mission was geared to warm-weather cruising or entertaining often chose the extra seating and social area the skylounge provided.
With either choice, boaters are getting a strong platform built for cruising. Carver uses double-gusseted steel plates in the engine bearers to secure the mains. Hullsides, decks, and cabin tops are hand-laid composite laminates. Like all Carvers, the hull bottom is solid fiberglass.
A dinette and settee bracket the saloon, just one of four onboard entertainment areas. – photo by Bill Black
The majority of the Voyagers were powered with Volvo Penta diesels. A pair of 480-horsepower engines was standard; the 675-horsepower upgrade was the option. There were similar horsepower options available from Cummins. All of these engines have proven to be sturdy workhorses over time. Properly run and maintained they should provide many hours of service.
Back in 2004, Power & Motoryacht put the 560 Voyager through her paces for the July issue. The review said, “A steady 15-knot wind provided a short chop across the water. Despite the conditions and the fact that we were running sans trim tabs, the 560 made a respectable top speed of 36 mph with her optional twin 675-horsepower Volvo Penta D12 EVC diesels at 2330 rpm. (We recorded a 36-mph top end on the 570, which was powered by twin 635-horsepower Cummins QSM11 diesels.) At 2000 rpm she ran at 30.1 mph.”
A 15.5-kilowatt Kohler generator was standard and dealt with electrical demands sufficiently. Genset options ranged up to a 23-kilowatt model, and the largest option was required if the boat was fitted with the optional exterior grill.
The saloon is bright and airy. A dinette is to port and there’s a well-outfitted entertainment area with room for a 32-inch TV. The sofa had options for either a sleeper or a recliner with stowage below. Even though it’s a three-stateroom layout with plenty of living space, the sleeper is a nice backup especially with the abundant area for provisions Carver provides.
Galley lighting was increased threefold over the life of this model and drawer-style refrigeration is stylish and functional under the granite counters; the sole is also sometimes granite, but you may find other materials specified. Options include a dishwasher and trash compactor, the latter being, in my opinion, a more functional addition. All in all this yacht is live aboard friendly.
“The 560 has a unique layout and an incredible amount of stowage for the cruising owner,” says Dick Curry, a broker at Staten Island Yacht Sales and winner of multiple Carver Salesman of the Year awards.
The staterooms are all forward and adorned with high-quality cherry joinery with exotic inlays and high-gloss finish. The builder saw to it that there’s no shortage of drawers, cedar-lined lockers, and compartments to deposit clothing and gear. The washer and dryer have a dedicated locker within the master. The master stateroom takes advantage of the full 15-foot 4-inch beam with an oversized athwartship queen berth. A split head is a nice feature with the MSD opposite the vanity.
The forward guest stateroom in the bow sports a queen-sized island berth. It shares a head with the other guest stateroom, where visitors or kids enjoy bunk-style berths.
The aft-facing, internal steps to the bridgedeck are at the top of the companionway. From the cockpit, the angled ladder leading to the upper deck is inviting with sturdy grabrails to assist guests on the climb.
The skylounge adds a social dimension. – photo by Billy Black
The flying bridge itself, at 73 square feet, has room for your average Sweet 16 party. Facing settees—one large and U-shaped—seat eight adults comfortably. Look for many creature comforts in this area including a hardtop with enclosure, air conditioning, various refrigeration choices, and grills.
The upper helm has an access panel for wiring and a sufficient area on the dashboard for today’s integrated electronics. These are two good features for a new owner looking to upgrade.
The cockpit is an area of almost 70 square feet. A transom lounge seats five. The lazarrette beneath the sole may be useful stowage or fitted out as crew’s quarters.
The flying-bridge overhang extends seven feet from the after saloon bulkhead, protecting all from the elements. The overhead lighting illuminates the area well when darkness sets in. The engine room is accessed via a large, easily opened hatch in the cockpit sole.
“The bow thruster is standard, but the optional stern thruster is a docking godsend for the cruising couple,” Curry says. “The video-camera option also eases docking, especially if the yacht is upper helm only. The side decks are a bit narrow so the starboard-side access door (standard in the 560) is a plus. I also recommend the forward shore power and the dual (port and starboard) shore-power connections.” A central vacuum system is also a solid time saver.
“I see a number of Voyagers cruising on Lake Michigan where I do my boating,” Nocenti says. “These boats have typically incorporated a davit system on the swim platform in which to carry a rigid-bottom launch.”
A typical upgrade to a previously owned Voyager would be in the elecronics package. The Voyager’s intended use as a cruiser is well-documented, so updated navigation and communication instruments that incorporate the most recent developments in technology would be a smart addition to a used 560.
Solid construction, access for easy upgrades, a desirable layout, and long-life diesel engines combine for a sought-after cruiser on the brokerage market, and Carver’s Voyager 560 checks off all the boxes.
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.