A Chinese cruiser called Alaska, customised and sold on the Gold Coast? The rush is on!
The Alaska 46 sedan may have the air of a traditional cruiser but it has the performance and turn of speed that has many people raising their eyebrows as it motors past.
Each of the China-built cruisers gets the personal touch from Jeff Leigh-Smith, and his son Dean, who operates the Gold Coast City Marina. They are continually tweaking the models, so each one that lands in Australia is a little better than the previous one.
The 46 Sedan now comes with a European-style boarding platform that is to cockpit level. This in turn opens up the cockpit and provides a platform for a barbeque and a stainless steel bait preparation station with rod holders if you are into casting the odd line out the back.
The hardtop canopy over the cockpit has also been extended so that it covers the whole of the cockpit and provides an al fresco dining area. With the fold-back doors into the saloon both the cockpit and the saloon become one area.
The main saloon is fairly standard with a couple of lounges down each side and a fold-down table.
The gloss cherrywood joinery is neatly done and in a couple of book racks on either side of the cockpit built into the partitions that separate the big cabin windows have been added.
Dean Leigh-Smith says that they have gone for the navy jacket feel with modern furnishings in the saloon, and this has been achieved with blue macro suede on the lounges, matching cushions and curtains with roman blinds. It’s been done very effectively by Identity, a local interior designer operating out of the Gold Coast Marina.
The whole chic ambience is finished off with carpet, mood lighting behind the curtain pelmets and overhead down lights set in the lined cabin roof.
A find is the 12V Palsonic 17in-flat screen TV that also has a USB port, so that digital photographs can be viewed on the big screen. On the way home, in the six-knot zone of the Coomera River, we checked out the photographs taken during the test.
The helm station and the galley opposite are an integral part of the entertainment area. Behind the helm seat is a small bar with a fridge and bottle holders on top.
The yacht-style galley has plenty of Corian bench space, a four-burner cooktop, fridge/freezer, three big draws and cupboards with louvred doors. The garbage bin accessed through the bench top can be emptied though a door from the side deck. This innovative feature introduced in previous models saves having to cart the trash through the saloon to dispose of it.
The microwave is housed in an overhead unit finishing about 20mm from the edge of the bench top, so there is no overhang to bang your head on.
There is 3.5 cubic metres of lined storage space under the stairs and back under the galley. Just the place for a washer/dryer or to store provisions for an extended cruise.
The accommodation is down three steps – the only steps on the boat.
The master feels warm with its double berth wood finish, his and hers hanging lockers, a vanity table with a stool and a big mirror, while the second cabin has two bunks and even bigger mirror. There are two toilets, and en suite for the master cabin with a walk-in shower and a day head.
At the helm
The driver looks out through traditional flat glass windows, so there is no distortion. While the Leigh-Smiths have introduced modern ideas into the Alaska, they still like to stick to many of the tried and tested traditional designs. As Dean says, “if they work why change them?”
The 46 Sedan is powered by two Cummins 5.9lt, QSB 425hp diesels. This means that the dash comes with electronic controls and a Smartcraft engine readout. There are the usual analogue and digital instruments as well as a Raymarine Tridata and autopilot next to each other. The autopilot is mounted on the dash and to operate it the driver has to lean well forward to reach it, I would have preferred it closer. I’ll tell you why later.
The big rudder angle gauge was very handy, right in front of the wheel where it is easily seen. The big steering wheel is wood rimmed and drives a Capilano system. This means that the steering can be set up with the traditional six turns from lock to lock or adjusted to only one and a half turns lock to lock. A bow thruster is also fitted.
This boat had an optional Raymarine C80 plotter/sounder mounted in the dash, if an owner wants something bigger, there is room for a C120.
Born to run
Now to look at the Alaska you could be forgiven for thinking that it was a sedate cruiser that plodded along at 10 knots.
Sure it will trot along happily at 10 knots if you have all the time in the world, but if you want to pick up the pace a little it will do 18 knots at 2500rpm using only 91lt per hour total.
There are 2300lt of fuel onboard in two tanks that feed into a day tank. At a steady 18 knots the Alaska 46 loves the open sea and would eat the trip to the Whitsundays or beyond.