A major reason V-bottoms are running the speeds they are these days is because builders have done an excellent job shaving pounds off their boats. In recent years Outerlimits Powerboats went to epoxy-built boats because of weight savings and increased strength.
So it's no surprise that company principals are always looking for ways to reduce weight in their boats without sacrificing durability. After all, every pound can make a difference.
In the 46 Limited, Outerlimits installed a touch-screen system in the cabin to control major functions such as the lights and stereo. While buyers crave cutting-edge technology, it actually lightened the boat by 100 pounds because fewer wires had to be run.
Innovative changes like these have helped Outerlimits create 125-mph V-bottoms.
Looking at the 46 Limited on the trailer, we counted five steps in the boat's running surface. The second step had vent holes, which were fed by a NACA duct on the boat's deck.
For power, Outerlimits used Mercury Racing's premier package of HP1075SCi engines and No. 6 drives. The drives were set on 1-inch spacers and the 18" x 34 1/2" custom-made propellers came from Hering Propellers in Marysville, Wash.
Few 46-foot boats get on plane as quickly as the Outerlimits did. With the tabs down, it came over in just 3.5 seconds. Even without tabs the boat took 3.9 seconds and there was no loss of horizon.
The power plants showed some serious punch with the boat cruising along at 89 mph in 20 seconds. At that speed the engines were turning a little more than 4,000 rpm and still had plenty of range left. Not surprising, the engine package was just as responsive in midrange-acceleration drills. It launched from 40 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and 40 to 70 mph in a steady 7.6 seconds.
But those times don't mean much if the boat doesn't handle well. The 46 Limited received exceptional marks from our lead tester in slalom turns and tracked perfectly during several speed runs on Outerlimits' home waters in Bristol, R.I.
The boat delivered the "big" number that its customers often demand. The V-bottom ran 124.5 mph on GPS with the engines turning 6,100 rpm. The fact the boat had roughly 150 gallons of gas and two people on board made the speed mark even more notable.
"It's a fast, good handling boat," said lead tester Bob Teague. "That's what their customers want."
Take a tour of the Outerlimits plant and you'll find workers who spend days in the engine compartments sanding and prepping before the engines and hardware are installed. It can be a hassle but the time and effort is worth the money.
The bilge was done in a dark orange and had a polished finish. The big-block engines were installed in a staggered formation, and the supply lines from the oil tanks and sea strainer were stainless braided. Other custom touches included chrome-plated fuel valves and billet aluminum oil tanks.
A rack on the firewall allowed four fenders to be stashed as well as an aluminum anchor. Lines could be stowed in spaces in the cockpit gunwales, which could be closed with a zipper.
Easy access to the lines and fenders is a necessity when pulling up to the docks, especially to protect the paint job from The Art of Design. The Elkhart, Ind., company paints all the new boats produced by Outerlimits. Also helping to keep the boat from major dings was a painted rubrail with a stainless-steel insert.
To not distract from the boat's sleek lines, the builder stayed away from handrails on the deck and installed pin receptacles to hold fenders and lines. A pull-up navigation light and a pop-up cleat were on the bow.
Outerlimits says it was the first builder to offer the touch-screen technology or "multiplex power management system" in its boat. Besides the weight savings, it controls most functions in the cabin including the lights, stereo system and flat-screen television.
The touch-screen is right at home in the plush cabin of the 46 Limited. In addition to the big V-berth, there were facing lounges. The cabin had a suspended headliner with can lights that were perfectly tucked away. For natural lighting a couple of deck hatches could be opened.
A head locker to starboard had all the essentials including a flushing toilet, sink and a shower. Across from the unit was a small galley with an ice chest hidden under a lift-up lid. Other than a sink, the amenities were kept to a minimum.
Out in the cockpit, there was a side-by-side bolster up front?a third bolster could be dropped in on the port side. The arrangement allowed for a solo operation or a driver and throttleman. The steering wheel, which was on the starboard side, could be moved to a hub in front of the center seat. Hardin Marine throttles and shifters were next to the starboard gunwale.
The helm featured Monster gauges from Livorsi Marine that were set in a panel painted to match the boat. In addition to the Garmin GPS map and Mercury SmartCraft SystemView screens, there were mechanical indicators for the drives and tabs.
The 46 Limited also came equipped with a David Clark intercom system and plug-ins for those seated up front and rear-bench passengers. For those lucky enough to catch a ride in the back, Outerlimits created formed seats on the bench and provided grab handles on the gunwales for those seated on the outside.
Outerlimits Powerboats is fortunate to have a high number of repeat customers who are often looking to move up to larger models. No doubt they return because of the company's stellar build quality and offshore performance.
Owners of the 46 Limited may one day look to move up to the company's 51 Sport Yacht, but most won't want to change a thing.
Editor's Note: The review of the Outerlimits 46' Limited originally appeared in the March, 2007 issue of Powerboat magazine.