Issue: June 2006
ROOM TO MOVE – A wide transom and huge cockpit make this boat stand out from the pack.
Precision Cruisers have an impressive heritage going back to the 1970s when the company built commercial fishing and cray boats demanded by the fishing industry for the rugged conditions off the Western Australia coast. From the commercial hulls came the popular 17m recreational hull. During the America’s Cup defence in Perth in 1986-87, anyone who was anyone turned up to watch the event in a Precision 17m boat.
The 58 is a semi-custom built vessel that exploits many of the design features of the 17m hull. The 58 hull has undergone extensive tank testing and, with the addition of a three-quarter keel and propeller tunnels, Precision has got the sea-keeping and handling characteristics of this 58-footer spot on.
Precision introduced the 58 as an alternative to the traditional 65-footer. The 65 is a small ship and the systems onboard were a little more complicated than the average owner cared to worry about. Precision has simplified the engineering systems in the 58 and it can be handled comfortably by two people.
Previously, Precision concentrated on building game boats. The company recognized the potential in the cruising market so the 58 was introduced.
The 58 is part game boat, with its high flared bow and bull nose, but with a lot more accommodation below.
The interior layout differs to the traditional 65, too. In the 58, there’s one level throughout the saloon and the galley, and the flybridge is not as high as the 65.
The idea was to have one level through the saloon, reducing the number of steps down to the forward accommodation. This allowed for three big cabins to be integrated into the forward space. The philosophy was to allocate a third of the space to the forward accommodation, a third to the saloon and a third to the cockpit. It makes sense, as one of the biggest advantages of a Precision is the size of the cockpit. This vessel’s cockpit is a legacy of the original cray boats and the 58’s cockpit is about the same size as the 17m boat.
Walking into the main saloon is just like walking into an up-market apartment. The aft cabin bulkhead has been moved back about 300mm to open up the saloon lounge area and the space it has cribbed back from the cockpit is unnoticeable.
The decor is clean and not overdone with 100 per cent wool carpet on the floor and Victorian ash and European beech used in the craftsmen-built cabinetry. Although the saloon is all on the one level, the lounge area, with its wood inlaid coffee table, is separate. It’s very comfortable sitting here with the 30in TV set and entertainment centre. The centre includes a DVD player, AM/FM radio and surround sound, as well as a wine storage cupboard and upright spirits storage.
The scatter cushions and roman blinds on the re-styled cabin windows complete the picture. Much of the interior design is owner driven and has come from feedback the Precision team has had from owners, who are virtually Precision family members.
The galley is a cook’s delight. It’s U-shaped and comes with a four-burner cooktop, microwave/convection oven, Corian benchtops, range hood, plenty of storage drawers and cupboards, a top loading freezer and matching side by side refrigerators, plus an integrated dishwasher. Other niceties the ladies will like are the slide out spice racks and the big storage drawer for those awkward size pots and pans.
Now for the big surprise! Lifting the hatch in the galley floor reveals a huge storage area. It can be used as a pantry and to store any manner of odds and ends that need to be kept out of the way.
The dinette, which is more of a dining table, completes the open main saloon. This is not just any table. When not in use it stows close to its lounge on the starboard side to give more room to access the companionway to the accommodation. When needed for a dinner party, it slides out electrically – very innovative.
Steps, with a washer/dryer hidden under them, lead down to the forward cabins. The master cabin is big, with a walk around queen-size bed with an innerspring mattress, hanging lockers and bedside tables. My first reaction was: “there’s no mirror over the vanity table”. Then it became obvious. In a stroke of genius the designers have mounted a large mirror around the opening porthole.
They have done the same in the en-suite as well. Both the owner’s en-suite and the second bathroom reflect the workmanship of the rest of the fitout. The bench tops are Corian and the floor is finished with Italian marble tiles, making it very classy.
The forward stateroom also features a queen-size bed and is very comfortable for over-nighting guests. The third cabin has a couple of bunks for the younger members of the family.
The impression of the accommodation and saloon area is one of compact spaciousness. The designers have cleverly used all the available space and kept it in proportion.
It’s the same on the fully enclosed flybridge ? it too is spacious and bigger than the 65. So much so there’s room for a balcony at the back of the flybridge where people can watch and sit out of the way if there’s some serious fishing going on from the cockpit. The L-shaped lounge that runs the length of the port side folds out to form another double berth, so the boat can sleep eight people all up overnight.
The helm console runs almost the full width of the curved windscreen just waiting to flush-mount some serious electronic navigation screens in a burl panel. The monitor for the CCTV, that has cameras over both shafts and down the centerline in the engine room, also sits up here.
It doesn’t matter how many high-tech navigation plotters and other devices you have, they still don’t replace good old-fashioned paper charts. Precision has thought of this and included a full-size chart table and chart drawer as part of the wet bar, with fridge, icemaker and sink on the flybridge.
As I sat in the central helm chair in front of the anodized wheel and the Twin-Disc electronic controls mounted on a leather-bound binnacle, I thought to myself I could get very comfortable with this boat. After sliding out through the Southport Seaway, I was hooked!
Precision’s reputation for building excellent seaboats is unchallenged. The 58 is very much at home in the open sea. There was a bit of a sea running on the day and, as we idled out at about 10 knots, it was soon evident this vessel, which weighs in at a dry weight of 26,500kg, likes a bit of sea.
The 58 is powered by twin, 1015hp, Caterpillar C18s. There is room in the engine room for bigger engines, but the C18s do the job well. While most owners won’t venture too often into the engine room to notice, Precision has applied the same level of finish to the machinery space as the rest of the boat. The whole compartment is gel coated and there’s a checker-plate walkway down the centre.
The 58 loves to sit on about 18 knots, which incidentally is the most economical speed. Cranking it up to 1900rpm produces the best cruising speed of around 25 knots. At this speed, the Cats are using 115lt a side, and at 2130rpm the GPS read an honest 31.8 knots. In flat water there are probably a few more revs available and another four or five knots in the boat.
Underway, the Precision 58 is remarkably smooth and there’s no hint of vibration from the engines, drive trains and the shafts swinging five-bladed, Teignbridge propellers.
It is also the only big boat I can recall having driven, that can turn 180 degrees in its own wake simply by using the throttle controls. And that was without using the bow thruster! The wide 5.3m beam and the fact the propellers are set 2.6m apart makes it possible.
Standing, or sitting in that very comfortable skipper’s chair, the view out the curved windscreen at the helm station is impressive. It wouldn’t be hard to put the helm on autopilot on a long passage and catch a few ‘Zs’ in the chair ? it’s that comfortable.
But because the flybridge is so big, it’s impossible to see the corners of the boat out the back. This makes it hard for docking stern first in a marina.
This is why the optional remote control (which can be used in the cockpit or on the balcony at the back of the flybridge), is a must ? it makes backing into a marina berth quite simple.
Trim tabs are fitted more to balance the boat fore and aft than to counter side winds. In full load configuration, (that is 5000lt of fuel stored on the centreline, and 800lt of water), the tabs are set down and in light ship mode they are set in the up position.
With its $2 million-plus price tag the Precision 58 is aimed at owners who are successful in their professions and expect value for their hard-earned cash. There’s no doubt Precision Cruisers have raised the level of semi-custom building to meet that market and their range is a fine example of Aussie design and craftsmanship, which can hold its own anywhere in the world.
Twin 1015hp Caterpillar C18 diesels, with five bladed Teignbridge props, power the Precision 58.
The performance figures were recorded with half fuel and water and three people on board in smooth seas.
KNOTS – RPM
1.1 – 880
4.4 – 1900
8.8 – 2130
HULL LENGTH: 17.68m
DRY WEIGHT: 26,500kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 5000lt
WATER CAPACITY: 850lt
SLEEPING CAPACITY: 8
WORDS : KEVAN WOLFE
+ Semi-custom built; Good manoeuvrability
– Rear visibility