Where's the innovation? Here's some out-of-the-box thinking!

Hugin

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Hope you’re all enjoy the summer. I can report that here in Central Europe, exactly midpoint between the Baltic and Adriatic the heat is on. So this Saturday – SWMBO away for the weekend and the fan running - I started playing with some out of the box ideas for a game-changing flybridge cruiser around 14-15 tons dry displacement. That’s the class where you will find Princess 43, Fairline Squadron 42, Azimut 45 and Prestige 500. And many more! Not that I could afford such a beast with my current income, but one can always dream.

Researching the issue a bit I was quite surprised by the extent to which Volvo and IPS has conquered the market…. It’s virtually a monopoly, with something like 75% of boats of this type and size from the known European builders equipped with either IPS500 or IPS600. Only Princess, Fairline and Azimut haven’t completely surrendered to IPS yet… and of these only Azimut prefers Cummins over Volvo.

I am also a bit puzzled by the lack of innovation. It seems the best idea boat builders can come up with is to introduce new boat models virtually identical to all the competitors. Only variation seems to be 2 or 3 cabins and the Galley Up or Galley Down issue. The Prestige boats are well known now for their midship Owner’s Cabins with separate access way from the salon above… and hats off to them for that idea. Galeon seems to try some innovative features on their new 500 Fly, but it remains to be seen if it’s just for the appearance of being innovative or if the ideas have lasting merit. Apart from that, new ideas are virtually non-existent.

Anyway, I was getting some ideas about an innovative boat design with….. shock and horror…. no IPS and no Volvos!

Instead I would go for conventional shafts and engines moved well forward to allow a modest down angle. FPT N60 or Cummins QSB 5.9 engines could be obvious choices; both options providing 2x480hp. Upgrades to 550-570 hp per engine (6.7 liter engines) are available from both these engine suppliers.

Engines forward means there’s no space for a midship full-beam Owner’s Cabin….. OTOH, there’s plenty of space for a comfortable aft cabin.

Aft Cabin boats have ghastly appearances, you say? I’d agree with that probably in 95% of cases, but what if the aft cabin was integrated in the sleeker lines we have become accustomed to from builders of flybridge boats around 45ft? I believe I have found a way to do just that, so no one would really identify it as an Aft Cabin boat until they noticed the discreet side hull windows towards the stern.

Moving forward to the lower accommodation deck, there will be space for a decent Owner’s Cabin in the bow, followed by 2 heads (starboard and port)… one of these obviously ensuite. Aft of the heads a twin cabin is shoe-horned in to starboard and a single cabin to port. The galley will be in the salon. I write shoe-horn, but in reality the fit will be no tighter than what is commonly seen. Especially the Italians don't seem reluctant to squeeze in a pair of bunk beds where others would think twice before specifying an extra closet.

Hold on….! That’s 4 cabins in total! Most of the current production boats in this class only have 2 cabins.... max 3 cabins.

Yep, that’s correct, 4 cabins with total 8 berths (a double and a single in the large aft cabin). The charter market would probably love such a set up allowing for 3 couples and a paid captain to all enjoy some comfort and privacy. Private owners could opt for a practical utility room in lieu of the single cabin ad still have 6-7 berths in 3 cabins. Or the twin cabin could become an office/study with a single fold down berth. Or both! Flexibility abounds!

The aft cockpit will be more like a lounging area; the starboard half of the deck slightly - but only slightly - raised due to the cabin below and with a low set corner settee… not bench type seating. This means outdoor dining moves somewhere else…. Either to the fly bridge (often the preferred option anyway) or to the forward deck. Yep, there will be a bow cockpit with adequate seating, a table which lowers to create a huge sun bed and of course enough real and perceived safety to make the bow an area guest actually would enjoy using.

The access to the bow cockpit would be via sliding side doors from the salon. One next to the lower helm station and the other to port…..opposite of the helm. These sliding doors would be similar to what is seen on a Jeanneau NC11 to name just an example. From there deep and wide side decks lead forward to the bow cockpit. The side decks leading aft could on the other hand be reduced to the narrowest possible. They will not be needed for traffic, only for placing fenders and maybe the odd emergency, so reducing their width provides extra width both in the salon and on the flybridge.

The salon could have space enough for a good sized galley to port; a larger than normal dinette (seating up to 8 people) to starboard, a double helm seat, stairs leading down to the aft cabin and even a small breakfast dinette for 2 people to port. Sounds too ambitious..?

Well, I think it’s doable; the salon will be circa 16 sq.m total, which is only about 1 sq.m. less than the Prestige 500… the current space champion in this weight class.

This is all hypothetical of course….. But I would be interested to hear from the many owners of flybridge boats around this size… and there seems to be quite many on here….. Are my thoughts completely bonkers or do some of them have merits? Hope some of you will play in the summer heat.
 

PowerYachtBlog

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The Ferretti 690 Altura managed all this in 70 feet of length. I think it is impossible to manage it in 14/15 meters, especially since you are still going for a planning hull and large engines.

Also do no not be to sure that people want all out four cabins in 14 meters, because when it comes to facts people will choose extra comfort over a cabin any day especially when buying new.
The used brokerage market is a different cattle all together and in my experience working with Italians (especially from the South) an extra cabin in a 12 meter motor boat usually wins over in most cases.
 

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Sealine could have made the F43 a four cabin boat by moving the galley up to the kitched and putting a bunk cabin where the galley is to port.

The fact they only sold about 10% of boats with the three cabin option over a nearly 20 year production run tells you no-one wanted it
 

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In fact here is how a quad cab F43 might have looked

F43%20quad%20cab.jpg
 

Tranona

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don't think it is lack of innovation - simply the result of builders responding to what buyers value. They are only concerned with what new boat customers want not what dreamers think could be done. In a competitive market the basics of design in a particular class tend towards the mean, just as in cars. Trying something different tends to be punished unless there is a real benefit to real buyers.
 

BruceK

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In fact here is how a quad cab F43 might have looked

F43%20quad%20cab.jpg

It would be interesting to put that to a poll. I cant make up my mind if I like it or not. I have 3 double berths. Great for couples, very limiting if it's a bunch of blokes on a jaunt.
 

desperatelyseeking

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You've pretty much described a Pearl 50. I agree 100% that the bow area needs more thought. The bow seating on the Monte Carlo 70 is stunning and for med boats that berth stern-to offers much more privacy. I also agree that Flybridge area is key, i wonder when hardtops with retracting sun roofs will make there way down to 50ft boats or will they just look too stubby.
 

Hugin

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its sounds a bit like you've thought up a Sealine 390/410/F43

Yes, fairly good comparison.... except the Sealine had the galley down and for some reason an extra dinette to starboard was the norm rather than a 3rd cabin, so it was still only a 2-cabin layout. Anyway, I believe the aft cabin can be even better "camouflaged" but the Sealines look(ed) quite nice despite the raised aft cockpit.
 

Hugin

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They are only concerned with what new boat customers want

Hmmm, no one in the 40-60ft market knew they wanted full-beam midship owner's cabin with separate companionway from the salon until Prestige showed it was an option. That's what boat shows are for.... to show potential boat buyers what they (should/could) want; because without input most of them just want what they already got. In order to sell new expensive boats you need to make boat owners want something else (usually something bigger) than what they already got.
 

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Full beam midships cabin have been going on for quite some time and giving credit to Prestige for this is totally wrong, since in reality they never gave it to the market. In reality they did not even exist when midships cabin started cropping up in Italy by Italian builders.

Azimut started doing it for real with the Azimut 55 launched in 2000. It was a marking of an era and innovation from them ie. Azimut. The AZ54 launched in 1993 already had a midships owners cabin but the cabin was not entirely full beam.
Anyways Azimut slashed the competition with this feature and from 2001 to 2009 it sold 500 55s. The next production flybridge with a similar cabin layout was the Aicon 56 launched in 2001, which also sold quite well over 100 units.
Sub fifty feet the first boat that I can think of with a full beam midships cabin was the Gobbi 425 SC (45 feet over-all), which the Gobbi team did in close cooperation with some Azimut guys before the take over of the brand in 2001. They manage to do this mostly for going stern drives in a boat of this size. The project of the 425 was presented in 2000, and the first unit was just launched in Genoa October 2001.

It is worth to point out that while looking into brokerage boats a few weeks ago I stumbled upon an Italcraft C58 from 1993 and this had a full beam midships owners cabin.
Also during the Genoa boat show of 2000, VZ also made a build of its 18 model for a client with a full beam owners cabin. VZ at the time used to build only 2/3 boats a year.
So originally this Italcraft might have been the first midships full beam cabin boat sub 70 feet ever made. The original C58 had a full beam owner cabin located fore, with a crew cabin in-front, this layout was widely used by a lot of Italian custom builders of the time, see Sanlorenzo, Maiora's etc, and in reality the space in these cabins is more less the same, and headroom is usually better.
Italcraft had been very innovative in its history mostly in hull shape and propulsion systems thanks to the association with Sonny Levi, if they where first in this it would be another surprise.
 
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Hugin

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You've pretty much described a Pearl 50

I believe the Pearl 50 is a different kettle of fish.... there's quite a big level difference between the salon and the aft cockpit.... 5 steps it seems. It makes it more of a typical aft cabin design even if the "packaging" hide it to some extent.

I agree 100% that the bow area needs more thought.

Yes, it's a completely wasted area on most boats below 50ft. Even if there's a sun pad it is rarely a valued place; isolated from the rest of the boat and usually the perceived safety is poor as you in most cases lie on a bulge above the gunwale level.

I also agree that Flybridge area is key, i wonder when hardtops with retracting sun roofs will make there way down to 50ft boats or will they just look too stubby.

I was thinking the same..... the challenge is to create an eye-pleasing design of course, but it is already an option on even smaller boats. Carver 40 for starters http://carveryachts.com/models/C40/overview
 

Hugin

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Full beam midships cabin have been going on for quite some time and giving credit to Prestige for this is totally wrong

But it's not only the full-beam midships cabin..... it's the separate companionway from the salon and the fact that it is available in boats of less than 10 tons / 42ft. that makes Prestige stand out a bit. The sheer "acreage" of the main salon in all their models up to 20 tons simply dwarfs most of the competitors for comparable size and price. I don't wish to sound like a Prestige sales rep but allegedly their boats outsell anything of comparable concept, size and price.
 

Hugin

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Italcraft had been very innovative in its history mostly in hull shape and propulsion systems thanks to the association with Sonny Levi, if they where first in this it would be another surprise.

PS, thanks for the historical overview of the full-beam midships cabin. Browsing the lesser known Italian builders I did indeed come across many unusual layouts and ideas.
 

PowerYachtBlog

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But it's not only the full-beam midships cabin..... it's the separate companionway from the salon and the fact that it is available in boats of less than 10 tons / 42ft. that makes Prestige stand out a bit. The sheer "acreage" of the main salon in all their models up to 20 tons simply dwarfs most of the competitors for comparable size and price. I don't wish to sound like a Prestige sales rep but allegedly their boats outsell anything of comparable concept, size and price.

I am not a fan of this design, though I guess there is a market for it. Depends how you use the boat, in our areas is mostly families so having two separate cabins is not much desired from experience.

But I am sure the layout can work a lot if its two grown up couples or when children go older, which is a sales pitch I have used when selling eighties/nineties Italian sport cruisers with aft cabins as the Pershing 40 or 45, and it usually works.
There was this Italian styled lobster boat by Abati the 55 Portland, which had three cabins and three separate entrances from the main deck which was pretty curious.
For them it worked quite well cause they sold quite a bit of these, for the market they had 99% of which was Italian.
 

Whitelighter

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Yes, fairly good comparison.... except the Sealine had the galley down and for some reason an extra dinette to starboard was the norm rather than a 3rd cabin, so it was still only a 2-cabin layout. Anyway, I believe the aft cabin can be even better "camouflaged" but the Sealines look(ed) quite nice despite the raised aft cockpit.

That's my point. They offered a third cabin that only 10% of customers bought.
As my floor plan shows they had room to put the galley up and offer a 4th bunk cabin but never did.
All that should tell you sonething - that there wasn't rely the demand.

Even the 3rd cabin wasn't popular
 
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Deleted User YDKXO

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The Ferretti 690 Altura managed all this in 70 feet of length. I think it is impossible to manage it in 14/15 meters, especially since you are still going for a planning hull and large engines.
Thats a coincidence! I was just looking at adverts for used examples of that model. Don't know much about the F690. Ferretti didn't seem to sell that many; was it the horrible hull colour or something more fundamental wrong with the boat?
 
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