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Black Thunder's 46 EC is built to kick offshore chop butt, by Mike Davidson



Those hot boaters who are privileged enough to own a Black Thunder 46 EC are in good hands. This boat is built to last, built to thrill, and will most certainly not fall short of most anyone's expec- tations of what a highdollar luxury offshore cruiser should be. We have our own mental checklist of what a $421,000 boat should give us, and Black Thunder has an excellent handle on that checklist. The 46 EC we encountered in Miami gave us twin high- output and reliable Mercury 575 SC engines, cockpit seating for at least eight of our friends, every onboard amenity we could ever desire, and a level of luxury to appease even the most jaded of tastes. If you have the means, the 46 EC isn't a bad way to spend a day or a week on the water if you ask us.

The Black Thunder is designed from the get-go to kick offshore chop butt, no matter what the conditions throw at it. To that end, this boat is laid up using top-shelf glass and Baltek AL600 coring. The hull and deck are built in separate molds then bolted together every six inches. The joints are further rein- forced four more layers of fiberglass before the rest of the hull is deemed ready for the rigging process. The traditional deep vee-bottom design culminates at the transom with 23 degrees of deadrise, giving this boat a sharp entry and the ability to slice and dice its way through the swells and boat wakes. The 46 is a long, long hull and we were all smiles as we stared out across the deck of this beast and found miles and miles of straight, flawless fiberglass. The deck is also built to walk on, with stainless-steel railing running its length and a pair of escape hatches dotting its centerline. Tear-away paint graphics never looked so good as they did on our test boat. The four colors faded from white, red, blue and black. Boarding the 46 EC can be accomplished at either end of the boat. The rear swim plat hp form ends with a drop-down board- ing ladder and the deck meets the cockpit with several steps down the port side of the dashboard. Stainless-steel grab rails are every- where to help ease you into the boat. Because the port side of the dash is reserved as an

The Black Thunder is designed to perform, no matter what the conditions throw at it,

entry way, all of the controls and electron- ics are positioned around the helm. The 46 EC's cockpit is 31 inches longer than the standard 46 hull and that extra room is utilized for an extra row of seating. Many configurations are avail- able and our cockpit was fitted with an extra-wide two-person bolster behind the helm, a single port-side bolster, twin bolsters in the second row and a huge rear bench seat. The McLeod electric bolsters are supremely comfortable and Black Thunder carried the graphics across the upholstery. The helm is specifically designed to house all the controls for a twin-engine equipped craft. At the top, a pair of twin tachometers flank the GPS speedome- ter, each one situated in its own rounded dash pod. The rest of the controls, meters and electronics receive the same attention to detail. The Lowrance GPS system and audio-system controls sit at the driver's left, while the Gaffrig drive and throttle controls occupy the space to the right of the steering wheel. A curious circum- stance that we did note was that the steer- ing wheel was not placed in the center of the dashboard, a feature that likely benefits the different seating configurations offered by Black Thunder. Stepping through the cabin door into the richly appointed region below deck is an area where the Black Thunder truly shines. The company does a great job of combining all the high performance wizardry topside to make the boat a solid performer, but once you get below deck and take in the leather, wood trim and accessories, the situa- tion goes from good to great. This cabin is nicer than some hotel rooms we've stayed in, with a more comfortable sleeping area to boot. The v-berth is curtained off from the rest of the cabin and there is over six feet of headroom to wander around beneath when making your way from the head to the galley or back to the cockpit.

Black Thunder's Dennis Griffith is proud of the boat's excellent paint job, designed by Mitcher-T of Middleville, Ml, (269-795-2228) and executed by Radical Graphics of Union, MO, (636- 583-3368).

Black Thunder - Powerboats built only for speed, and the cruiser that offered luxury but high performance