The Sportstop is unique in that the cockpit feels open like most sports cruiser of this style, but there's added protection from the weather thanks to the integrated hardtop with a built-in sunroof
It was a perfect spring mornings as the Modern Boating team made their way down to the Rose Bay Marina to meet up with the Bavaria Motor Boat boys, who were readying a new BMB 34 Sportstop for a burl down Sydney Harbour.
The new marina management has taken a different approach here, there's a waterside cafe and a few boutique marine businesses including the recently established harbour office for BMB Powerboats no mechanic and no chandlery.
This new approach appeared popular with the locals who were keeping the cafe staff quite busy, considering it was only 10am on a weekday.
I guess with two other mechanics at Rose Bay and a choice of three chandlers only five minutes away at Rushcutters Bay, boaties can't complain about this marina's facilities.
The team had arranged to meet with Larry Norman, but the first chap we ran into was another of the BMB team, James Judd.
This should have no significance to this story except, in a past life, he was the broker I had dealings with when trying to buy a yacht a couple of years ago.
At that time he was one of the most helpful brokers I had ever dealt with. I clearly remember him taking me to see several boats during a couple of days and although, none of those fulfilled my needs he didn't just leave it at that.
James kept in touch with me during my search and was always willing to offer genuine assistance while I searched for the right boat.
And from the start of this test this approach seemed to have been adopted by all the staff at BMB Powerboats, because the vessel was well prepared. And on this particular morning Sydney Harbour looked spectacular, as did the BMB 34.
The Sportstop is unique in that the cockpit feels open like most sports cruiser of this style, but there's added protection from the weather thanks to the integrated hardtop with a built-in sunroof.
The test craft was powered by twin 300hp MPI MerCruiser sterndrives spinning duo props through Bravo III legs. However, Larry and Andrew quickly pointed out that, due to revised supply contracts, all new BMBs would be offered with Volvo powerplants.
But this MerCruiser powered BMB proved to be well balanced, easy to trim and felt secure in turns. Once up on the plane the boat just wanted to go and she delivered a top speed of 33knots.
During the sea trials I felt that the test boat could have been fitted with slightly smaller pitch props, because the engines maxed out at 4000rpm and they should have revved out to around 4600rpm.
Smaller props would probably give better cruising speeds and perhaps an improved top end. With this set-up there was little time between 22 knots at 3000rpm and the max 33 knots at 4000rpm. The 34 Sportstop had four power options, starting with twin 5.7lt 320hp petrol engines for $359,000 through to twin 300hp diesel Volvos. Pricing for a diesel version of the BMB 34 starts at $427,000.
If you're into speed the twin 8.1lt 420hp petrol package, at $357,000, would deliver plenty of thrills, but let's not talk about fuel consumption.
Factory specifications say the twin 320hp Volvo packages, that were comparable to the test boat, would deliver a top speed between 36-38 knots.
Cruising slowly down the harbour I took the time to examine the BMB's exterior, which was finished to a high standard.
There was one feature at the helm station that caught my eye; a trim tab gauge. Once calibrated this would be a helpful tool that's often overlooked on boats of this size.
Other standard instrumentation included: oil; volt; temp; a Navman chartplotter; horn; and 12V outlet socket.
On board the BMB 34 German attention to detail was clearly evident right down to little features like the discreet cockpit shower.
Essentially, the BMB styling offers clean sophisticated lines, a faultless finish and an array of practical features integrated into the vessel's design.
The team often comments about the number of drink holders on American sportsboats, but the BMB takes drink holders to a completely new level.
On this boat all the drink holders are either wooden, or stainless steel. And in the cockpit alone there are more than 16 places to rest your drink.
Other features include: a wetbar with fridge; lovely teak decks; a stainless steel transom ladder integrated into the swim platform; a stainless steel fender rack; bow sunpad; a large convertible sun lounge; and adjustable helm seats.
There's also a massive insulated icebox underneath the rear lounge accessed via an electro hydraulic engine hatch.
But it's the BMB's stately interior that really makes this craft stand out in the crowd. Climb down the wooden companionway stairs and you are greeted by a beautiful mahogany and birds-eye interior that exudes the scent of warm wood.
There is a starboard side head with a well thought out layout that contains some excellent storage areas including a sealed ' water resistant ' storage area for the loo paper. The manual pump-out toilet has a hinged seat covering it, so you can sit and shower without drenching the throne.
The galley is also located on the starboard side amidships. It's illuminated by 12V down lights and a well-positioned deck hatch that filled the work areas with natural light.
The surfaces are a practical laminate and there are neat covers over the sink to increase bench space. Appliances include a 240V/metho cook top, shore-power microwave, fridge with custom wooden door and plenty of under-bench storage. The main settee is located on the portside opposite the galley.
Here also the emphasis is on attention to detail; there's even an under table storage area where the sauces were located.
This settee forms a hub for electronic entertainment that includes a flat-screen TV, DVD player, CD/FM radio, which are all standard features on this craft.
Accommodation is spacious and comfortable. The forward double berth is fitted out with closets and an ingenious blind that covers the sealed deck hatch, so that the occupants aren't startled by the morning light after an night utilising all those drink holders.
Another double bed is located aft with lockers, 12V lights, natural light and ventilation. The aft cabin also offers access to the dashboard wiring harness. Overall, the BMB 34 Sportstop is a craft that offers a solid, well-built hull with well-rounded handling.
And now with the choice between either petrol or diesel powerplants, everyone should be happy. There is also the choice of a non-sportstop model at a $20,000 saving. Most high-quality finishes are standard on the 34 Sportstop; however, if you have a yearning for more features like a genset, air-conditioning and additional teak work that's fine, because they are all offered as options.
The engine room itself was big and easy to access via an electronic hydraulic hatch. The test boat had twin 350 MPI MerCruisers spinning duo props through a Bravo III leg; however, all future craft will be offered with Volvo powerplants.
At 1000rpm the MerCruiser produced a nice troll speed of 6 knots, the hull just held the plane at 18 knots pulling 2600rpm and she cruised around 22 knots at 3000rpm. From there it wasn't far to 4000rpm and a maximum speed of 33 knots.