Alaska 49 Aft Cabin: Above Board
Jeff Strang was lucky to get the chance to visit this towering cruiser for issue #439, after it was snapped up within hours of hitting the market.
If your minimalist sensibilities are easily offended then it's time to look away, the Alaska 49 Aft-Cabin is all about more. The crew from Leigh Smith Yachts had sensed that the Aussie market was hungry for something with serious superstructural credentials and this was the result. Their intuition was rewarded within just two hours of launching hull number one, when it was snapped up by a smitten buyer who just had to have it.
It's immediately obvious that the Alaska 49 was not built for speed. Its hulking upper body dismisses any notions of streamline, aerodynamic prowess, opting instead for more square footage of usable space. The sheltered flybridge is a popular feature among Australian boat owners, with clears allowing for the space to be opened up to ocean breezes or locked tight in a squall. The hard-topped aft-deck is a lounge lizard's dream, also equipped with clears as well as air-con and plenty of accessible fridge space for your social lubricants.
Unlike the 'more is better' mentality adopted in distributing deck space, the inner appointments have been applied in a more discreet manner. Simple, high-quality furnishings, glossy wood and subdued colours make for comfortable spaces – it's the little things like the Blum drawer slides that make a floating house a home.
The saloon features a dining area, entertainment section and galley, all of which have been reconfigured from the 49's 46-foot predecessor, thanks to the additional real estate made available by the elevated aft-deck. Forward and another tier down are two guest cabins, and then the pièce de résistance, a full-beam master suite with plenty of natural light, en suite and private entrance from the rear platform.
A 2100-litre fuel tank drip feeds a none-too-thirsty pair of Cummins QSB 6.7 engines for long range at slow cruising speeds. Open it wide and you can reportedly reach 28kts, if you don't mind guzzling the fuel, but if you're not in a hurry a gentle 7 or 8kts will provide a range of more than 1000 nautical miles.
PRICE (THEN) $1,050,000
LENGTH (overall) 15.24m
RANGE 1150nm (8kts at 1100rpm,29.9lt/h)
ENGINE 2 × 480hp Cummins QSB 6.7 turbo diesel
Where is it now?
Early versions have retained a good resale value, thanks to the appealing layout. The 2019 edition will set you back close to $1.3 million, but has been subject to a number of modern upgrades.
Beneteau Swift Trawler 50: Get Swifty
Kev Green introduced the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 as ‘a practical motorcruiser’ in issue #443. Clearly, this boat isn’t a young man’s game.
The name Swift Trawler seems like somewhat of an oxymoron. This popular category of leisure cruisers borrow their utilitarian form, low revving engines and long-range capabilities from the workhorses of the seas, making no bones about their slow and steady style. But then, it's all relative, and when it comes to traversing large chunks of nautical charts in this particular trawler ... well, you'll get there eventually.
The purpose of a boat like this is long-range cruising, heading north in the winter and south in the summer. What we have here is a retirement boat for the nautically-inclined grey nomad, and it suits that to a T. For all intents and purposes, the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 has been built for liveability and comes with an additional side of luxury, so you can do it in comfort.
To facilitate the whims of our aged demographic, the Swift Trawler has a large, voluminous semi-displacement hull. Contained within this GRP cocoon are two large cabins – with the option of a third – as well as an IPS pod system for easy manoeuvrability. The cosy interior features mahogany veneers that create a dark, intimate feeling, which is offset by ample windows that let in lots of light. However, our reviewer notes that all those square edges may pose a serious threat when it comes to bumps and bruises on the open ocean – some sock garters and a sensible pair of trousers may be called for.
Galley and bathroom fittings facilitate ease of use akin to a land-based dwelling. Up on deck are high bulwarks, forward sunpads, a small sheltered aft area and a swim platform. The flybridge has a much more social layout with loads of seating and a table which make it perfect for hosting afternoon soirées, sipping gin and the occasional game of bridge.
Our review boat was fuelled by two 1200-litre tanks, not particularly generous for a vessel of this size, but later models have been upgraded to dual 1350-litre repositories for a little extra range. The Volvo Penta IPS600 engines push the blunt bow onward at a cruising speed of 15.5kts at 3000 revs, giving a range of 317 nautical miles. Despite surprisingly limited aft-visibility from the saloon helm, it's a joy to handle.
All practicality aside, the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 is a good-looking boat. The handsome hull, staunch proportions and stylish interior have won our affections – now all we have to do is figure out how to retire early.
PRICE (then) From $1,750,000
LENGTH (overall) 14.99m
ENGINE 2 × Volvo Penta D6 IPS600
Where is it now?
A new edition of the Swift Trawler 50 was released in 2016 with a few tweaks but overall the same successful design.
Fairway 43 Flybridge: Spend Time
In 1979 the world suffered the second of two energy crises as the price of oil skyrocketed. For the folks at Fairway Motor Yachts, who were busy developing their first 36-foot cruiser, it was imperative that they produce a fuel-efficient formula, and that's something they've continued doing to the present day.
One of the most important efficiency factors taken into account with the boat you see here, Fairway's 43 Flybridge, is weight. By sticking with a single-engine powerhouse, they've been able to reduce weight and fuel consumption, as well as the initial purchase price and ongoing running costs – that means you get more bang for your buck!
In addition, clever ECO Cruise hull design cuts down on resistance to help the 43 slice through the water with minimal effort, reaching a top speed just under 20kts. If frugality overrides your need to travel quickly, then the miserly 10lt/h fuel consumption at seven-and-a-half knots will float your boat.
But all that counts for nothing if the boat's lacking in creature comforts – after all, if you're going slow, you want to enjoy the journey. And as such, the Fairway 43 Flybridge makes every effort to provide a luxurious oceangoing experience. A social layout and surprisingly roomy accommodation make long stays aboard a relaxing endeavour. The addition of an easy helm and a variety of outdoor spaces ensure that stress levels will remain at a minimum, while the rear swim platform will act as the perfect staging ground should you wish to wash away the day's cares with a twilight dip.
The overall quality of aesthetic is top-notch and extends to both the a chic exterior and warm, inviting interior. Plenty of timber panelling and swathes of creamy upholstery lend a classic nautical façade, while top-tier tech lies in wait for operational needs. Garmin electronics and a Cummins QSB 6.7 engine enable any owner with a hint of oceangoing ambition to blaze their own trail, just so long as they don't mind taking their time.
PRICE (then) From $650,000
LENGTH (overall) 13m
ENGINE Cummins QSB 6.7
Where is it now?
There’s no point trying to fix what isn’t broken and the popularity of the Fairway 43 Flybridge is a fair indicator that no changes are needed at this point in time.
Fleming 55 Pilothouse: Retire in Style
Reviewer John Willis felt right at home aboard the stunning Fleming 55 on his visit for issue #458.
In our current world of electronic communication and same-day delivery the post office is thought of as a symbol of slower times. Times when a ha'penny would buy a pound of boiled sweets – whatever that means – and techno-savvy audiophiles enjoyed the latest hit-symphonies on their very own in-home wireless sets. How appropriate then that a traditionally-styled vessel that runs at old-world speeds should be named Post Office. It's a boat that forgoes the hubris of youth and chugs along with the quiet confidence of one in their twilight years, and indeed, the slow-boat category caters to owners with such traits as well.
But here's the punchline, the name Post Office, is in fact a reference to the owner's retirement – post-office, as in after leaving the workplace – ba-dum tss. This passagemaker is built for the aimless wanderings of one who's working-life has come to an end. And it's lucky that the owner has time to spare, as it'll no doubt take some time to figure out exactly what all the gadgets and gizmos on board are for. Indeed, the wood-panelled interior has been inlaid with more Raymarine electronic doohickeys than you can poke a stylus at – there's even CCTV to deter neighbourhood toughs when at rest at the boat's Kirribilli berth.
The internal layout has a natural flow through a number of living spaces and on to three large cabins, which are serviced by two bathrooms. No details have been spared when it comes to the fittings and furnishings, build-quality and sound proofing, bringing the boat's wet-weight up to a hefty 36 tonnes. The voluptuous vessel is powered by two 500hp Cummins QSC 8.3s, which draw from a mammoth 3880-litre fuel holding. A cruising range of 2000 nautical miles at eight knots allows for long, lazy trips chasing the warmer weather.
There's a forest's worth of teak throughout the warmly lit interior, while outer areas are neatly accented by flashes of chrome. The ride is smooth and quiet, and a luxurious leather helm seat will serve just as well for an afternoon nap as for a squally oceanic traverse. Make no mistake, this vessel brings the comfort and charm of classic boating into the modern age with smart technology and contemporary construction. What better way to shift into the slow lane than aboard Post Office?
PRICE (then) $2,650,000
LENGTH (overall) 16.99m
WEIGHT 30t (dry)
ENGINE 2 × Cummins QSC 8.3
Where is it now?
Classic never goes out of style and the Fleming 55, one of the most successful production yachts in history, isn’t likely reach its own retirement anytime soon.
Kadey-Krogen 48: Trawl Me Maybe
John Ford received a warm welcome from Brian and Christine Harwood aboard their Kadey-Krogen 48 in issue #456.
Kadey-Krogen isn't a name you hear all that often around Australian boating circles, but when the Harwood's were looking for a switch to life on the water they discovered that the brand had a world-class reputation overseas. The slow-going vessels are produced in a similarly slow fashion, at the time of review 36 years of ongoing production had seen the company produce fewer than 600 motoryachts.
The style is unmistakably that of North Sea commercial trawlers and the passagemaking ability is the same. The 48's full-displacement hull was individually engineered to combine sharp entry, deep keel and a wineglass-shaped transom to maximise stability and reduce roll. At its core, the design leads to an easily-driven hull, reduced power requirements, reduced weight and greater fuel capacity for extended range. At seven knots the 3785-litre tanks will cover 3020 nautical
miles, or 4730 nautical miles at a speed of six knots.
Interior styling offers a distinctly nautical feel with plenty of wood, louvred cupboards and contrasting beams that run overhead. A homely galley, comfortable lounge and dinette, and two generous cabins make this the perfect boat for oceangoing retirees. The second cabin has been set up with a large desk, bookshelves and a lounge that converts to a bed. Primarily, it's designed as an office-space that can convert into guest accommodation.
The pilothouse is up to a professional standard and is easy to access from either the galley or starboard bulwarks. Two separate navigation systems from Furuno and SeaMap, radar, fishfinder and depth display are all laid out in a logical way among a number of engine gauges.
The engineroom is similarly simple and allows owner-operators to get at all the necessary access points of the John Deere 6068TFM with ease.
The Kadey-Krogen 48 is a perfect vessel if you're not in a hurry to get anywhere. With an eight-knot cruising speed, the Harwood's have picked the ideal slow-going vessel for years of exploration.
PRICE (then) As tested US $1,250,000 ex-factory
LENGTH (overall) 16.15m
ENGINE 225hp John Deere 6068TFM
Where is it now?
Kadey-Krogen is still producing this hull with a number of options. Given the brand’s limited production, secondhand sellers are rare.
Outer Reef 630: Cruisin’ for a Snoozin’
A rare mixture of business and pleasure is what John Ford encountered aboard Jinsei in issue #456.
Outer Reef go by the claim that its yachts are a source of maximum cruising pleasure and long-range capability, and after a day on Jinsei our reviewer was ready to back those claims. Or at least, from the pleasure perspective. As far as range is concerned, the owners were planning a trip from Queensland to Tasmania in the following months and we have every reason to believe the boat did a splendid job of it.
The Outer Reef 630's European Standard Ocean Category A certification indicates that the vessel is capable of unrestricted navigation in open ocean, with waves up to six metres and sustained winds of more than 40kts. None of this is surprising when looking at the boat from a distance, a squat stature resulting from sturdy engineering gives the blue-water wanderer a purposeful presence. A trawler-style semi-displacement hull with a raised pilothouse, covered flybridge and cockpit, and Portuguese bridge; it's closer to a floating fortress than a Mediterranean showboat.
Beneath this bold exterior is a welcoming interior in the style of Ken Freiokh. The spacious open-plan layout creates a convivial family atmosphere, which was an important consideration for the owners who will be travelling with a couple of kids in tow. Satin teak wall panelling offers an alternate use of a classic nautical material, while the saloon floors have been clad in a smooth white-oak colour that matches with cream Ultraleather upholstery.
A boat of this calibre necessitates the fitting of top-tier appliances, navigational equipment and entertainment systems, and thus the Outer Reef has been loaded with technological treats. Owner operation is made possible with easy-docking thrusters and well-functioning stabilisers. The combined 1000 horsepower that flows from twin Caterpillar C9 ACERT engines may seem generous, but when you consider that whole package weighs more than 33 tonnes dry the slow-boat credentials become apparent.
Truly, the Outer Reef 630 Long Range Motoryacht is a beautiful boat that would serve any expedition-minded seaman well, but it comes at quite a price. Our review boat was purchased new for US $2.25 million which, at the time of purchase, came in a little under $2.5 million; nowadays, on the other hand, that same bill would translate to something closer to A $3.2 million.
Outer Reef 630
PRICE (then) From US $2,250,000
LENGTH (overall) 19.22m
ENGINE 2 × 500hp Caterpillar C9 ACERT
Where is it now?
The Fleming 58 is a rare beast, but it’s by no means extinct. Signs of it are scarce on the secondhand market, such is their enduring class, and new models come with much the same specifications as our review boat.
Palm Beach 55: Teak Me Out Tonight
Jeff Strang was given the privilege of reviewing a heavily-laden luxury cruiser in issue #435.
Palm Beach's 55 is not like other old-style slow boats. Though it does possess the bones of a classic cruiser, it's got a polished exterior that makes it appear more like a Miami-vice showpiece than a floating caravan. This full-bespoke beauty is, in fact, a certified showboat, as confirmed by its title of Best in Show at the 2011 Newport International Boat Show.
But we shan't let smooth lines and shining chrome take away from the main theme; as soon as you set foot inside you'll immediately feel that you're going nowhere fast. The interior has been painstakingly crafted out of solid timber, from floorboards to window frames – even the anchor locker is Burmese teak! The internal finishes are akin to a villa in The Hamptons, and you could be fooled into thinking it was built in a similar matter were it not for the nautical precision with which things are laid out.
The hull has been formed with construction methods that would be dismissed as high-tech wizardry to the layman, even to this day. All of the woodwork has been precision sculpted using CNC techniques, ensuring millimetre-perfect accuracy, while the furnishings are exquisite. You won't find a stitch out of place in the forward master cabin, starboard VIP or additional portside single bunk. And the bathrooms – oh, the bathrooms – only the finest porcelain will suffice onboard a boat of this standard.
As you may be expecting, comforts extend beyond fixtures and fittings to the gizmos and gadgets as well. All of the electronics and running systems are (or at least were at the time) the best of the best. The Palm Beach 55 isn't a slow boat on account of its lack of power either, it's loaded with twin Volvo Penta IPS engines that put out 600 horses each at 2300 revs, at which point you'll be flirting with the 30-knot mark. Within the slow-life specifications, what we have here is a relative Usain Bolt.
It's the sheer, uncompromising luxury that tethers this sleek vessel to the slow lane. Its high-tech hull manages to offset a hefty hardwood load, just not quite enough to blow the wig off your guest's diamond-shine dome.
PRICE (then) From $2,500,000
LENGTH (overall) 18.29m
ENGINE 2 x 600hp Volvo Penta IPS800
Where is it now?
Elegance is timeless and we can’t see the Palm Beach 55 going out of style anytime soon. Custom builds can still be commissioned and in the years since our original review Palm Beach has produced a number of uniquely finished 55s.
Ranger Tug R-27: Chug ‘n Tug
Back in issue #433 Kevin Smith embarked on a voyage of discovery aboard the little tugboat that could.
A single glance at the Ranger Tug R-27 is enough to dismiss any need for speed you may have been harbouring. The classic styling and burly bow radiate the kind of old-world charm that begs passengers to kick back and enjoy the scenery in comfort and efficient cruising style.
The Ranger Tug R-27 is designed to feel homely without skimping on luxury inclusions and modern conveniences. One of the benefits of sacrificing speed for comfort is a large, low swim platform, which makes getting on and off easier from both the water and dock – it also helps for hauling large catches aboard. There's plenty of space in the cockpit to lounge, there's probably even room to bust out the old game of Twister for some limb-tangling fun. A few extra add-ons could see the area fit for any oceangoing pursuit.
Inside the cabin you'll feel right at home with a comforting combination of teak, suede and leather, as well as brass accoutrements just to class it up a notch. There are plenty of windows to brighten the mood, which is especially nice when seated at the portside office-style desk and chair working on a manuscript of some kind – it's not as if you're in a hurry.
A large open-plan galley and dinette will wile away the hours before hitting the small berth conversion, where you'll stay basking in the morning light until nature beckons you toward the electric-flush toilet.
Seated high at the helm, you'll have an excellent field of vision as you finesse the modern controls. A 180hp Yanmar 4BY2 turbo diesel engine provides the grunt, so to speak, which can facilitate a surprisingly speedy 20-knot WOT. But the beauty of a rig like this is its generous economy – the 378.5-litre tank will last about 250 nautical miles at a gentle cruise.
The Ranger Tug R-27 is as much a destination as any point on your nautical charts. On a boat like this you're encouraged to enjoy the journey, soak in the sea air and work on that tan. It'd take more than a white beach with a couple of coconuts to get us off-board this beauty.
Ranger Tug R-27
PRICE (then) From $239,000
LENGTH (overall) 8.26m
ENGINE 180hp Yanmar 4BY2
Where is it now?
The Ranger Tug R-27 remains a popular cruiser. In 2019 the brand will launch a luxury edition with a whopping 300hp engine.