Gulf Craft Majesty 50 Review

Bridging the Gulf

Issue: November 2006

IF ANY BOAT BUILDER has come a long way in a hurry it’s Gulf Craft. When they were first imported they were fairly mainstream and well priced for what you got, but nothing to make your blood run hot. Now the latest Gulf Craft to reach Australia has leapt several generations ahead of the earlier models and is simply spectacular. In a brand separation exercise the new vessel is not even associated by name with lesser Gulf Craft products. 

Majesty Yachts is the name and the Majesty 50 is the boat sitting in the Freedom Marine’s yard near Fremantle. Sitting, rather than floating and not due to get wet for some weeks, which is why this story is about our impressions rather than a full test. With an overall length of 51ft 9in, it’s a bulky boat in the current fashion. But, unlike a lot of fashionable imports, it doesn’t forget that Australians generally like to get a little bit active when they are afloat. So, open space is provided for more than just sun baking and there’s solid shade for a lot of the open space.

No one would buy a Majesty 50 for serious fishing, but serious cruising and partying, that’s another story. There’s a good link between cockpit and saloon for indoor outdoor living via a wide, heavyweight curved sliding door. It feels tsunami-proof and a mile in front of the usual double sliders. The cockpit is a useful size for active or passive playing and it spills over onto a king-size swim platform. The piece of transom in between has a lounge mounted on its inboard side – either reducing the cockpit’s size or improving its amenities (I’ll go for improving). You could store a matching folding table and chairs in the storage under the cockpit’s teak-laid deck, where it would share space with the paid skipper (the home market in the Gulf has lots of those), or banished child. Basic sleeping is laid on down there and there probably would be times when it could come in handy – perhaps for a chronic snorer. Semi-spiral stairs lead to the flybridge and steps from each forward corner give access to the side decks. 

The side deck steps are good, but are short on handholds for the transition from climbing to walking. But there’s no such problems getting to the bridge, which, being in one piece with the hardtop, is enormous. A low Targa arch carrying radar, aerials and mast light also forms the rear support for the fabric canopy. Unshaded flybridges don’t go over well on the West Coast, but there is no denying that the naked bridge version wins out on aesthetics. Aft of the arch is the natural spot for sun lovers, although there’s also a recess in the foredeck that might take a traditional European sun bed. The flybridge layout puts the driver at the windscreen and passengers on a long U-shaped lounge to port. It is a far better driving position for not having a bunch of passengers in front of it and the visibility all round is excellent.

Gauges for the twin 510hp Caterpillars (Volvos from 370 to 575 are optional) are tried and true analogues, but the space age is represented in the onescreen- does-everything display for the Raymarine electronics. There is also autopilot, motor synchronisation and trim tab controls, as well as satisfyingly large numbers of switches for the likes of windscreen wipers, capstan and hi-fi. It is a top spot and well laid out. And except for the boring bits of a trip you would want to keep your paid skipper in the lazarette and do the driving yourself. A wetbar is conveniently located directly behind the driving seat. Once inside the boat there is an astonishing amount of room, much more than on the typical Australian interpretation of a flybridge cruiser. 

You need to keep telling yourself that this is only a 50-footer and, even more significantly, only a 41-footer on the
waterline. The beam is not exceptional at 4.47m, but the narrow side decks let the saloon make the most of it. The saloon offers gracious living with a sumptuous lounge to port wrapping around a coffee table and a shorter lounge to starboard with an entertainment unit at its after end. If the sunlight is interfering with the TV screen, just lower the sunshade over the sliding glass door. The walkway forward rises a couple of steps and the dining area to port and the main helm station to starboard of it rise a little more to make room for the cabins below. Abundant areas of glass and a great deal of subtle electric lighting illuminate the combined space. 

The balance of lacquered timber, soft linings, carpet and laid teak is very good. And it all reeks quality. The galley, sited aft of the helm, is curiously located, at least to my eyes. It seems to be intended for the use of a hired cook. Its deck is way down and, just to make sure no eye contact is possible with the first class passengers, it has a waist-high timber wall round the top. Basically, you cook in a pit. Once down there you do it with some style and with plenty of good gear.

The total area is a bit on the small side, but it all works. Electric cook top, sink, fridge, freezer, microwave and cupboards to gladden the heart of a hoarder. But you would want to do plenty of preparation before boarding, because there is not much bench space. Perhaps it is an admission of a simple truth – galleys on boats are mainly for heating microwave meals, or boiling water for tea. 

Thoughts of resale values inhibit fry-ups that leave fall-out on deck head linings and odours in dark corners. Serious cooking nowadays is usually done on barbecues up top and here the Majesty scores well. There are few better places for a barbecue than that big swim platform. Then, everyone eats in the cockpit.

An interesting feature of this high spec cruising boat is that the bathroom/bedroom ratio exceeds the shore-side average. Majesty work wonders here with three spacious sleeping cabins and two bathrooms that are bigger than many I have seen onshore. The master cabin is in the bow. It’s roomy, a vast island bed with exactly the right resilience, opening scuttles, a skylight, and storage for weeks of voyaging. The en-suite separates washbasin area from toilet and shower, leaving the question of how do you keep the toilet roll dry. The day bathroom is identical and it’s a mirror image across the alleyway. 

Aft, to starboard, is a double cabin. It’s smaller, but still has room to move and space to store. To port is a twin. There are parts of these of cabins under the saloon deck, but headroom is nowhere near as cramped as on the average sports cruiser. Covers in the lower deck alleyway expose components that are all too often hidden and hard to reach, such as the black and grey water tanks and their associated plumbing and valves. Great things to ignore most of the time, but vital to reach when things go wrong. As a poor soul that has looked after
engines in cramped and nasty spaces, I look at engine rooms with keen, but jaundiced eyes. This one cheered me up. Though a bit tight to get into, it used what space was available well. Good things about the Caterpillar engines included the dipsticks and sump pumps, which flanked the central aisle, and all service points were accessible.

Shaft seals were drip-free and plumbing generally was well laid out and of good quality. I did not hear the Caterpillars running, nor feel the hull under way. What did the hull’s appearance suggest about sea going performance ? She is more than four tonnes lighter than the similar sized, although beamier, Riviera 47 and has the shallowish draught of 1.19m at full load. This might suggest a more skittish behaviour, but the shapely bow and a far from flat after body have things to say about that. Put me down as keen to get hold of the wheel when she goes afloat. In the meantime, almost everything visible about how she is put together, fitted out and equipped, says this is exactly the kind of boat I want to borrow or be good friends with the owner of.

LOA: ………………………………. 15.77m
Length waterline: …………….. 12.52m
Beam: ……………………………….4.47m
Draft: ………………………………..1.19m
Fuel: ………………………………… 1835lt
Freshwater: ………………………… 367lt
Displacement: …………..15.25 tonnes
Engines: Twin Caterpillar 510hp diesels
Price:…………………… From $959,275

Words Mike Brown