Sealine T51 Review

Issue: January 2003

What’s in a name ? Quite a lot in this case. Anyone who loves boats can see from these photographs that the motoryacht Inspiration is the kind of boat boaties dream about. In fact, she is truly an inspirational dreamboat.

A mere play on words ? Not really. This beautiful lady is indeed an inspiration in more than name alone. This British-built Sealine T51 belongs to the William Brownlee-Smith Family Trust, in short Bill and Karien Brownlee-Smith.

Bill commissioned her as a mobile venue for what Bill calls, “various business functions within our company ?– City Finance Franchising and its associated group of companies, City Finance Loans and Cash Solutions and its 112 exclusive franchised areas throughout Australia. We hold all kinds of get togethers, meetings, seminars and motivational meetings onboard,” he said.

“In the nine months we’ve had her so far, she’s journeyed up to the Whitsundays in the north and south as far as Sydney from our base on the Gold Coast.”

Inspiration works for her living. She’s no mere corporate toy left like so many others slowly decaying in a marina berth somewhere.

Talking to Bill though, it’s quite apparent that even though she’s a business asset, it does nothing to diminish his enthusiasm for this beautiful vessel.

Most boaties can identify with this. It goes without saying that the love of boats and boating is something the Modern Boating team and our readers all have in common.

The team sees it all the time when we meet boating folk during our travels. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they are proud of a second hand tinnie, they finally managed to scrape the bucks together for, or like Bill and his boat Inspiration. Even though he did have to scrape quite a few more dollars together to get this boat on the water.

By the time virtually everything on the factory options list had been fitted to the boat, plus freight from the UK and GST, the bill came close to A$2 million.

But how Bill and Karien finished up with this Sealine is an interesting story in itself. Initially, they attended the 2001 Sanctuary Cove Boat Show looking for a motoryacht to suit the needs of their business. They settled on a possible three.

Then, they enlisted the help of long-time friend Athol Rusden. Athol’s been a seaman all his long life ? a sea captain for much of it ? and he’s now in his late seventies, or early eighties, Bill wasn’t too sure.

So Athol and the Brownlee-Smiths sea trialled three boats off Sydney in what Bill describes as “some pretty rough weather out through the heads.”

It’s not prudent to name the other two vessels, because the Sealine T51 ultimately won out, but Athol gave it the nod, because of its soft ride in the trying conditions and her overall seaworthiness. What Bill called he and Karien’s “favourable impression of the boat’s workmanship and attention to important details,” sealed their decision.

Next came the deal itself and as Bill put it, “if we weren’t already sold on the boat, I can’t speak highly enough of the outstanding standard of service from Sealine’s Sydney connection Paul Smithson”.

Some nine months later, when the Modern Boating got to spend a few hours onboard Inspiration, Bill was still talking happy. Happy with her economical operation and the boat’s overall performance. During our conversation the inevitable question, “How fast does it go ?” came up ? it’s a boy thing.

There are three power options for the Sealine T51: a pair of Cummins QSM11s; twin Caterpillar 3196s; and the Volvo D12s chosen for Inspiration. The factory estimates her top speed at 29 to 31 knots, but Bill confessed he’s pushed the GPS to 32 knots with a tailwind.

The ladies will probably be more interested in Inspiration’s amenities, which have been put to the test a couple of times now. The first trip was out to the barrier reef off Hamilton Island. The second was an overnight sojourn into the Hawkesbury River. Both trips had 10 people onboard and went extremely well. Everything needed to cater for the guests was at hand.

Unfortunately for the Modern Boating team there were no exotic destinations for this test, we had to be content with a few hours spent on the southern end of Moreton Bay around Couran Cove, which is near Inspiration’s berth in Sanctuary Cove. It’s a nice part of the world too, but…

It was clearly obvious that a few days onboard Inspiration would be inspirational indeed for those franchisees of City Finance Loans and Cash Solutions.

The photo spread on Inspiration is probably enough to have readers immersed in dreams of their own, but we know that you, like us, are also interested in more details about this beautiful boat.

Bill and Karien employ Ian Gage as a professional skipper for Inspiration’s time on the water. Ian kindly helped us out during the photo shoot, then took us for a tour of the boat, which turned out to be full of surprises.

Starting at the stern, what at first glance appeared to be a teak bar top across the transom, on closer inspection turned out to be a hydraulic davit with a 300kg lift capacity; although apparently it does also serve well as a bar top. Ian said that no sooner was the anchor down than the guests were normally leaning on it with a drink in their hands.

The crews’ quarters are also at the stern. Ian lifted the upholstery away from the lounge across the transom to reveal the hatch to the cabin. Open the hatch and there’s a ladder that leads down into the stern cabin where there’s a pair of bunks and a head. It’s all air-conditioned of course, as is the rest of the boat’s interior.

It was also interesting to note that the windows in the saloon could be opened electrically, just in case fresh air proved more preferable than air-conditioning. The portholes in the staterooms must also open, because there were insect screens fitted.

There was also teak decking laid all the way to the bow. This is an excellent non-slip surface and makes it safer for crew, or guests to go forward.

It also breaks up the expanses of white gelcoat inevitable on a 51′ fibreglass hull, which adds considerably to the boat’s looks. Even the steps up to the side decks and the flybridge had teak surfaces.

All this exterior timberwork has been left natural, but inside the saloon the teak and cherrywood timberwork has an immaculate high-gloss finish.

The warmth of the timberwork blends well with the beige upholstery in the main saloon. It’s the first thing that strikes you when you step through the big sliding smoked glass entryway. If her sleek lines didn’t start you dreaming, the decor soon will.

One of the things we really liked about Inspiration was the way her layout allows guests to form their own intimate groups in separate areas, or for a fair sized group to gather in the aft lounge.

There’s a large U-shaped lounge and table to starboard and a smaller double seater to port beside the entertainment unit cabinet.

The galley is up one step from the aft lounge and set to starboard with the dinette up another step to port. Between them is the stairway, protected by a shaped smoked glass and timber railing, down to the sleeping area.

A lower helm and navigation station can be reached through the galley. It’s, one step up to the double seat behind the controls. The lower station has the major instrumentation to monitor the engines and genset, plus a Raymarine R75 radar, ST80 Multiview and the Raychart 112 GPS unit.

The electrical switch and control panel is located between the galley and the lower helm station. This has a lightly smoked glass cover, which makes the gauges and switches visible at a glance, but not too obvious if you don’t want to see them.

Big LCD displays for navigation and smaller repeater gauges monitoring the engines make sure the boat’s vital signs remain visible when driving her from the flybridge.

Up on the flybridge there’s also ample space for socialising. Aside from the upper control station there’s a huge lounge seat, a sun pad, a small BBQ grill, a bar fridge and a sink complete with hot and cold running water. A necessary shade top made this area habitable during the day under the hot sun.

Down the stairs from the main saloon are three staterooms and two heads. One of these is the en suite for the master stateroom in the bow, while the other has a dual entry from the guests’ staterooms and the boat’s central passageway.

The master stateroom is notable for its headroom. There’s also a large overhead hatch/skylight that keeps the cabin bright with the sunshade open, or kept moody with electrical lighting when the sunshade’s closed. The guest stateroom also has a double bed, while there is a pair of single beds in the second guest stateroom. This one is the smallest of the three as you might expect and is set back underneath the galley.

The conditions offshore were relatively calm on the day of the test, after morning showers had flattened the seas. So it became a case of criss-crossing through the camera boat’s wake to gain some idea of how the hull handled slop.

And the team agreed with old Athol. Not only did the boat’s deep-vee slice through the slop with ease, there was absolutely no banging. To be totally honest we didn’t even hear anything. This is a solid hull and running noises were extremely low.

The T51 turned as you would expect a 51 footer, not exactly like a ski boat, but the turning circle wasn’t huge either.

Following our offshore run the boat’s hydraulic power steering, electronic engine controls and a 25hp bow thruster helped Ian expertly manoeuvre Inspiration into a tricky berth beside the brewery at Sanctuary Cove.

With only a metre or so to spare, between a timber wharf and a rock wall, he spun her 180 degrees, before backing her into place between the fingers of the marina. We were quite happy to stand back and watch before finally giving a hand with the lines.

With Inspiration back in her berth after our all too brief time aboard, Ian opened the pair of big hatches in the aft deck floor that access the engine room. It was time for him to get back to work.

And for the Modern Boating team ? Well, we’d had our dose of inspiration, it was time head off to get our film processed and get the fingers typing. 

Engine Room
There are three power options available for the Sealine T51: a pair of Cummins QSM11s; a pair of Caterpillar 3196s; and the Volvo D12s chosen for Inspiration. Each Volvo is rated to 675hp.

The Sealine factory estimates the boat’s top speed at 29 to 31 knots, but Bill confessed he’s seen 32 knots on the GPS. There is plenty of room in the fully insulated and sound dampened engine room to carry out daily maintenance and servicing.

Story by Warren Steptoe