Beneteau's Swift Trawler is yet another variation of the practical motor cruiser. Traditionally, trawler-style yachts have taken cues from the working vessels that lend them their name – seaworthy hulls, high bulwarks, enclosed decks, low-revving engines and long range fuel tanks. Interiors are usually fairly utilitarian to both maximise space and minimise maintenance, so plenty of hardwood and benches with little else to cause fuss.
Major builders such as Grand Banks and Fleming have been producing sturdy boats like these for decades, but Beneteau have tweaked the concept considerably, as product manager Thomas Gaillard showed me during the walk-through of this new 47 when it launched in Cannes, France. “We have created a simple, low maintenance boat that's strong, yet can be easily handled,” explained the Beneteau veteran, who has overseen dozens of vessels in both power and sail built during his many years at the company.
Back in 2003, the French company refreshed this traditional concept when it launched its Trawler range, which has gone on to number five models ranging from 30 to 50 feet – the 47 being the latest member of this flotilla of semi-displacement hulls.
It has a large flybridge, which may compromise classic trawler stability, but for the average coastal cruiser, it greatly adds to the attraction by creating a three-tiered living space. Three is also the magic number when it comes to cabins, with owners enjoying a spacious bow berth with ensuite.
All this greatly pleases Melbourne-based dealer Sundance Marine, who think the vessel is well suited to our waters. “The Swift Trawler 47 is the ideal boat for travelling together with the family, or very comfortably as a couple,” commented Sam Barwell, Beneteau brand manager at Sundance.
“She has all the characteristics of a long-distance cruiser and is simple to use.
“The result of a collaboration between Beneteau Power and Andreani Design, she is the latest addition to a range that has been tirelessly cruising rivers and seas across the world for 15 years. Both cruising and at anchor, everything is designed to simplify life on board and to enjoy every minute.”
Single level saloon
Aesthetics are an emotive subject but there's no arguing with the angular shape of the Swift 47, something I noted before stepping onto the wide hydraulic swimplatform and walking through the single transom door to the aft cockpit.
Here the teak-clad deck is shaded by the flybridge extension and a bench lies across the transom. Sliding doors lead into the saloon, which is a light-filled area thanks to vertical bulkheads that contain large windows, with dinette at the rear.
The galley is to port and features a front bulkhead that doubles as the base for the helm seat, beside which you'll find stairs down to the accommodation.
The vertical outside bulkheads pay off in the saloon by maximising the volume and usable space so there are lots of cupboards around the galley and elsewhere. A bench seat to starboard adjoins the rectangular wooden dinette table that dominates the floor space; there's an option for a second bench to port as well. Cleverly, one bench houses a sofa bed. The cockpit and saloon flow seamlessly at the same level, before a step elevates the steering position.
In the galley, cooking takes place on a three burner gas hob (or an electric option) with oven, and there's space for a microwave (run off the optional 7.5kVA generator which can also power the air conditioning). The L-shaped Corian worktops create ample working room, including space for a double sink and fiddles to stop the cups from rolling off.
Another good feature for tropical cruisers is the perishables storage, made up of four refrigerated drawers on the review boat. Other options include a small dishwasher and cupboard space at the bottom of the accommodation stairs for a washing machine; ideal for long-term living.
Up front the main steering console is raised and has a double bench seat with starboard-side door for easy deck access and another door through the waist high bulwark for boarding – another practical addition. Cleverly, the double seat pivots forward to create more bench space in the galley below.
The instrument layout on our review boat had twin Raymarine plotter screens and autopilot. Beside the throttles were two joysticks for the fore and aft thrusters; a useful option given the windage created by the tall superstructure and the limited manoeuvrability of shaft drive engines. On one screen was Beneteau's proprietary digital bus system named Ship Control. This simple menu-driven system gave digital readings from all main house systems; a most useful tool for the skipper. For example, it can quickly give you power readings from both the inverter and the generator set, and there's a touch panel for 12V systems. Smart! The helm position affords clear views all around, including aft which would give me confidence when manoeuvring in confined spaces such as marinas.
In addition, an optional camera can be fitted which is ideal when you are steering from the flybridge which has restricted views aft. Nearby, on starboard, sat the main electrical panel, which proved handy for access when underway.
The stairs to the accommodation are wide with a handrail that guides me securely down to the cabins. The three cabin layout has the owner’s suite forward with two aft guest cabins that include bunks on the port side and a double to starboard.
In the forepeak, plenty of space is given to the owner's island bed with headroom to spare for my 178cm frame. The portlights on the flared bows added light (and a lovely kaleidoscope of colours when underway). The dark cherry wood interior on the review boat suite was naturally illuminated by the elongated portlights and the opening stainless portholes are a stylish and practical touch as you sit at the benches on each side. Louvred cupboard doors are another pleasing touch.
For ablutions, the ensuite toilet has its own cubicle with separate shower to starboard. The second bathroom in the corridor is shared with the guest cabins.
Notable points in the guest cabins included the in-fill that can turn the bunks into a double and ample locker space in both. Not so good are the shallow sinks in both bathrooms that will spill if underway. The Swift 47 is definitely a family-friendly boat thanks to those bunks in the third cabin which of course can sleep adults as well (but I'd grab the top bunk which has the portholes).
The deck shows another trawler feature – high bulwarks that remain level toward the foredeck – topped with a sturdy rail to guide you safely forward. At the bow, a double sunpad awaits with plenty of usable space around it and the additional elevated seating facilitates the thrill of safe bow-riding. Should the rays become too much, there's also a handy pull-out canvas bimini (when at anchor). Anchoring is well taken care of via a large Lewmar 2000W windlass with capstan (which is also controlled from the steering positions) and a second bow roller for that essential backup rode.
Returning to the aft deck, the ladder up to the flybridge can be slid against the saloon bulkhead when idle to maximise space and allow the two deck hatches to be lifted. This moveable ladder is also a smart way of creating a gentle ascent when its deployed. The flybridge could grace a 60-footer and will win plenty of admirers for its size. It has central bench seating around a fairly large wooden table and the front bench adjoins the single swivel seat for the skipper.
The steering console houses twin Raymarine hybrid touch- plotters, which is ideal for running one screen on radar and another on charting. Other controls include Cummins engine analogue dials – nicely angled to be viewable even in strong sunlight – but the optional fibreglass hardtop ensured plenty of shade across this zone anyway. Key engine controls here were the throttles and thrusters. The bimini top is also an ideal location for the Raymarine broadband radar and VHF.
At the back stood the wet bar with high rails all around and a space with two more chairs; these high rails are ideal when moving in a seaway on the Swift Trawler 47.
The Swift 47 has a semi-displacement hull with Lenco trim tabs, and Beneteau's return to shaftdrive engines will find favour with trawler traditionalists (as opposed to the Volvo IPS pods fitted on previous Swift 50 models). The downside of shaft drives is their space incursion, meaning access to the twin Cummins 425hp motors is via the main saloon, which can also cause unwanted noise. However, the engine room, does contain thick two-inch soundproofing.
The layout has stainless fuel tanks (965L each) sensibly forward of the engines to benefit the trim. There is enough space around the turbocharged motors to give access to service points and the 7.5kVA generator. Other engine room gear can include a watermaker and there's an inbuilt fire protection system.
The vee-hull has strongly flared forward sections to create volume and deflect spray – something that I've found works well on all the Swifts I've taken to sea – while the aft is cut-out and flattened to promote planing; this is also helped by being considerably lighter than conventional displacement trawlers at 12,685 kilograms.
It's constructed from infused foam cored GRP with sandwich above and solid fibreglass below the waterline and on the chines. These hulls have an EU rating of 'B' which denotes offshore classification, rather than 'A' for ocean, which is just about right for their usage.
Another departure from more traditional vessels is the relatively shallow draft (1.15m) which may not be ideal offshore but allows fast cruising – estimated at about 19 knots, way beyond heavy displacement trawlers.
The performance chart shows frugal numbers with a vast range in displacement mode (or when seas are heavy) of 728 nautical miles at 7.65 knots, while in semi-displacement at 18.5 knots it's a modest 248 nautical miles.
Overall, I'd say this boat should have wide appeal to both cruising sailors and casual weekenders who want to escape to that favourite anchorage without compromising seaworthiness, as the Swift 47 successfully combines a practical semi-planing hull with ample creature comforts.
Facts and Figures:
Beneteau Swift Trawler 47
$1,115,000 AUD (subject to
exchange rate fluctuations)
LOA 14.74m (48ft)
Displacement 12,685 kg
Fuel 1930 L
Water 640 L
MAKE/MODEL 2x shaft drive
Cummins 425hp 6.7L, plus stern and bow thrusters
phone 1300 55 99 89