We travelled halfway around the world to test this latest British import.
While thoughts of Sweden may conjure up images of the seafaring Vikings of old, on a recent trip to this beautiful country I realised that boating in this Nordic state is a much more civilised affair today. I’d actually gone to England to test this new Sealine T50 flybridge cruiser, but it seems that as soon as one of these immensely popular 50-footers comes off the production line it’s sold. The only boat available for testing (pre-delivery) was located outside of the Swedish capital of Stockholm.
Snow and ice
I was astounded by the sheer number of waterways and channels we flew over crossing the Swedish coast on route to Stockholm, the whole region screamed ‘boats’. And while it was a brilliant early summer’s day, I couldn’t help thinking what it would be like buried under tonnes of winter snow and ice.
By Aussie standards the Swedes’ boating season is relatively short (only three months), but don’t they get out there and enjoy it while they can! Boat sales, especially for the bigger cruisers, are booming. But still, it was also hard to imagine the beautiful waterway we tested this T50 on would be under almost 2m of ice, and all of the boats would be on the hardstand in a couple of months.
The first thing I noticed about the T50 when I stepped onboard was the clever use of available space to create a vessel that was obviously well suited to family cruising and entertaining. Her full-beam master cabin with en-suite, luxurious forward stateroom, open-plan saloon and generous cockpit, give an immense feeling of space. Couple these with a 300 nautical mile cruising range at 30 knots and you have an ideal family cruising boat with all the comforts of a luxurious home.
The T50 continues with many of the innovations incorporated into the bigger T60, but at quite a cost saving. Like its smaller sister ship the 42/45, the T50 features Sealine’s brilliant Extended Cockpit System, which adds an extra metre-plus of useable space to the cockpit, once the transom lounge and bulkhead are slid backwards by electric rams, out over the swim platform. Not only does this almost double the room in the cockpit when the boat is at rest, it cuts down on berthing fees. You only pay for a vessel’s waterline length not the interior space this system creates, which is equivalent to most 60-footers.
Extra space is also created below deck thanks to the boat’s V-drive engine installations. The V-drives allow the engines to be mounted almost at the transom, so the fuel tanks can be positioned forward of the engine room. This cuts down on noise in the owner’s cabin when the boat is underway, or at night when the generator is running.
If it’s luxury you’re after, checkout the mixed woods such as pear, zebra ebony and madrona burr, hand-laid teak and the sumptuous upholstery and deep-pile carpet used in her fit-out. This boat can boast more ambience than a five-star hotel, plus a few things the hotels don’t throw in such as your own washing machine/dryer.
Step through the sliding curved-glass doors, which are vented to stop fogging, and the saloon is an entertainer’s delight. The fully functional galley is sited at the rear on the portside. This aids serving and lets cookie join in the conversation while preparing lunch.
The saloon has three levels; from the galley you step up to the dining and lounge area; then, up again to the lower helm station. There are two skylights above the helm station, which, coupled with the saloon’s surrounding windows, give the skipper good all-round vision, when driving from the lower station and flood the saloon with natural light. Once the sun goes down quality Venetian blinds keep prying eyes at bay.
Still on the helm station, there are large electrically operated windows to port and starboard. These aid cross ventilation in the saloon and in most situations reduce the need to turn the air-conditioning on.
As well as the forward guest and owner’s amidships staterooms, there’s a two-bunk cabin to port that the kids will get a kick out of using and a single bunk crew cabin under the cockpit stairs. But having mentioned the crew cabin, twin screws and a bow thruster make this an easy boat for a couple to handle and a skipper is just another luxury. Most will use this extra cabin for additional storage or naughty children.
The innovations continue in the aft cockpit. There are lifejacket lockers in the gunwales, the cockpit table stows in an overhead locker in the flybridge extension and the cockpit covers roll up and stow in the aft clamshell locker. Plus, the cleats are large enough for this boat and the stairs to the flybridge are wide, set at a low angle and are easy to traverse.
Topside the flybridge has it all; barbecue, wet bar, massive U-shaped with table, a sun pad for those wishing to grab a few rays and dual helm seats. Add a bimini and opening clears for Aussie conditions and she’d be perfect.
Performance & handling
The T50 features a sharp bow entry and wide chines that she carries well forward to control lateral stability. Underway air is trapped between the keel and the chines, creating cushions of air to soften the ride. The drive shafts and props are in mini tunnels, so they operate more efficiently in clean water for better manoeuvrability.
These tunnels also have a metal hood that not only protects the running gear from above, but effectively increases the length of the tunnels, which improves water flow along the hull and aids overall ride.
In a big sea, this more than 20-tonne boat (wet) cruises along with a gentle lope that’s easy on passengers and crew. She doesn’t crash down hard off waves, or bang incessantly across the surface. Also, having the fuel tanks in front of the engines not only balances the hull beautifully; improving her ride, it means the engines can be easily removed through the cockpit floor if a re-power was ever required in the distant future.
Twin Volvo D9 575hp diesels, spinning four-blade props, provide the power and propel the T50 to 32 knots at 2500rpm (wide-open throttle). Running at 2000rpm allows the boat to cruise effortlessly at 22 knots and extends her range considerably.
This might sound a bit illogical, but the T50 is the biggest 50-footer I’ve ever tested. She really does have much more room than many larger boats, so her $1.6m price tag put her right up there in the value for money stakes.
The Sealine T50 will make her first Aussie appearance at the 2008 Melbourne Boating & Lifestyle Show from February 1-3.