Having sailed the Moorings 4600 and 4800 we wanted to try the 4500 out this year. Because of the hurricane and smaller boat inventory there were no Moorings 4500’s available for our dates. That’s when our vacation specialist mentioned the Sunsail 454, saying it was practically the same boat and would save us a few thousand dollars. So we opted to give it a try. Having always used Moorings, I was interested to see what the differences would be between Sunsail and Moorings.
Because of the Irma recovery effort, the Moorings and Sunsail bases are combined and run out of the Moorings facilities. Most of the docks at Wickman’s Cay are shutdown and lined with demasted and damaged boats that are being repaired. They are in the process of building new facilities for Sunsail, but for the time being, Moorings and Sunsail charters are handled by the same staff, and you get the exact same level of service. I don’t know if this will always be the case, although I hear from fellow sailors that the Sunsail service is good.
Upon boarding our boat we also couldn’t spot any difference in the quality of the the boat or the amenities onboard. The boat was less than 3 months old and was in great shape.
I’ve sailed on the Moorings 4600, and 4800’s over the last 5 years, so how is it that the slightly smaller 4500 is my favorite boat yet? It’s all about the small details that matter:
- The open salon with large windows allows you to see all of the beauty surrounding you whether you’re inside or out.
- The auto bilge shower meant no pushing a button to drain the shower.
- The cabin and especially the head layout is drastically improved, larger, and has higher ceilings.
- Deep line bags make it easy to keep things organized at the helm.
- Two electric winches and centralization of the lines make it even easier to sail than the 4800.
- Recessed LED lighting on the back of the boat meant we didn’t need to bring our own lights for more subtle outdoor lighting.
- Improvements in the multi-zone audio system (although they still need to add helm speakers)
Bigger is not always better, and the Sunsail 454 proves that.
As a matter fact the only downside I could find to this boat over the others was the location of the trash can. It’s under the sink and it felt like every time I wanted to throw something away that someone was standing in front of the trash can. The trash is also not available from outside, so if you’re wet you have to track that through the salon to get to the trash.
P.S. We spoke to the Moorings Staff and studied the spec sheet. The only difference we could find between the Sunsail 454 and the Moorings 4500 was that the 4500 has blue underwater LED lighting and a water desalinator. While the blue lights do look cool at night, the cold hard cash we saved (or instead spent on painkillers) is cooler.