The F34 is virtually a scaled down version of her sister ship the F42/5 which took out the 2006 Modern Boating Imported Boat of the Year (Over 24') award.
STEAMING AHEAD - All aboard Sealine's new family fun ship!
Sealine is a relative newcomer to Australia. Its boats made a short foray here about five years ago before disappearing. But recently, Peter Redford and his team at Five Star Motor Cruiser picked up the importation rights. They're now re-establishing the brand here, big time.
The first boat off the ship was a Sealine F42/5 Flybridge, which turned out to be one of the most innovative boats to reach our shores in years.
It was so good in fact that it took out the 2006 Modern Boating Imported Boat of the Year (Over 24') award.
Then came the T60, also a brilliant and innovative vessel. And a T50 is due off the ship any day. But hold onto your bobby socks, because now there's an F34 in stock, which offers all the innovations of the bigger boats, but in a smaller (and less expensive) package.
It may surprise some readers that the F34 is one of the few Sealines built to a price ($400,000 base price), but potential buyers in the market for a 34-foot flybridge cruiser don't need to worry about this boat short changing them.
Sealine has built this vessel to a price, but it still has a wow factor backed up by design, performance and quality.
The F34 is virtually a scaled down version of her sister ship the F42/5. And the good news is she also features Sealine's patented Expanding Cockpit System (SECS), which nearly doubles the usable aft cockpit space and turns this 35ft 6in boat into a 37-footer.
Interior headroom of 6ft 3in is also excellent for a boat of this size and so is the space in the main saloon.
But to achieve this a few minor compromises had to be made. The side walkways around the main cabin are a bit narrow and awkward to negotiate. The stairs and entrance hatch to the flybridge are also narrow, as is the doorway into the smallish bathroom.
But don't get me wrong, in reality these are probably on par with many other less innovative 34-footers on the market. And anyway, a few compromises are a small price to pay for all the room and luxury this boat has to offer. Like the concealed anchor housing system, plus much more. She exceeds the Modern Boating team's expectations and we're still trying to work out how Sealine can do it for the price.
Out on the water, this sterndrive vessel needs trim tabs to extract maximum performance out of the hull. On take-off she requires a small amount of fiddling to get the trim right, but once trimmed the ride is smooth and stable.
Aggressive chines, carried well forward, coupled with a sharp bow entry, allow the boat to slice through chop and swells effortlessly and keep the spray were it should be, outboard. There was a slight station-wagon effect in the aft cockpit at full noise, when a small amount of mist was sucked inboard, but it was minimal and didn't cause a problem.
Twin 230hp Cummins 4.2 MS diesels provide the power and propel this more than 7 ton (fully loaded) to a top speed of 32 knots at 3800rpm. We found a comfortable and economical cruise speed to be 24 knots at 3000rpm.
I've already mentioned the SECS and the extra room it creates in the aft cockpit. What was a standard sized cockpit for a 34-footer becomes a top area for a bit of alfresco dining when the SECS is engaged. It's a great spot for four people to dine and watch the sun go down over the water. Sealine has also included a removable timber table that hides in a locker above the aft cockpit.
The transom lounge is a great place for guests to sit when underway, because it keeps them out of the elements. But at rest, if they do decide to go for swim, there's a transom shower to wash off the salt and sand.
The F34 features a curved-glass sliding door leading to the saloon, similar to the one in the F42/5. It's also ventilated to prevent fogging. The main saloon is spacious and designed to make maximum use of every nook and cranny. Finished in cherrywood and plush leather, the look and feel is five-star all the way. There's plenty of storage and the raised helm station offers everything even the most fastidious skipper could want. But what really caught the team's collective eye is the clever way the lounge and dining table convert into a king-sized bed. The design of the galley on the portside is impressive too. Sure, it's a mini L-shape with the sinks, stoves, ovens, storage and refrigerators normally found in a compact galley, but wait, there's more... The bench top that covers the stove slides rearwards, effectively doubling the galley's bench space. That's clever! There's also a corner cabinet against the forward saloon bulkhead housing the wine bottles and glasses racks, which pulls out to reveal handy pantry storage.
The main stateroom is in the bow. It offers the same levels of luxury as the saloon, but has a centre-folding mattress that makes getting at the under-bed storage a breeze.
There's one luxurious, but compact bathroom onboard, set on the portside opposite the guest's stateroom. This cabin isn't quite as luxurious as the master, but does feature standing headroom next to the hanging lockers and a king-sized bed, also with good headroom.
All the cabins have opening portholes for ventilation (if air-con isn't your bag) and there's sliding-windows in the saloon. The flybridge features a comprehensive helm station and a dual swivelling helm seat.
But the flybridge has other secrets. With the bimini removed and the rear radar/antenna wing folded down, this boat can be easily trucked around the country.
This is a boat with real class and a stack of innovations hiding above and below decks. With a starting price around $400,000, the Sealine F34 represents excellent value for money.
Sure, there are a few compromises made to retain a spacious saloon and accommodation, such as the narrow walkways around the main cabin, but it's a tiny price to pay for what you get, a 34-footer with almost as much room as a larger 37-footer.
This boat has the price and feature list to make her the choice of many families looking for a top cruiser for weekends or extended cruises away.
The good news is she's not going to leave the bank manger red in the face.
Twin 230hp Cummins 4.2 MS diesels provide the power for the Sealine F34.
In blustery conditions on Sydney Harbour, the F34 returned the following performance figures.
KNOTS - RPM
24 - 3000
32 - 3800
Length: 35' 6"
Draft: 3' 2"
Headroom: 6' 3"
Fuel: Two x 322lt
WORDS IAN MACRAE
+ Extending aft cockpit; Top pricing
- Cabin walk-arounds
F42/5 GETS GOLD
At Modern Boating we test (on average) 15 boats per edition, which equates to some 120 boats per year. That's a lot of boats ! But it certainly keeps us up-to-date with current boating trends. And after testing the Sealine F42/5, I can confidently say this is one of the most innovative boats to hit Aussie shores in years.
Like most boats in this class, her standard of fit-out and finish is first rate and she utilises the standard, two double cabin galley down layout as seen in most 42-foot flybridge cruisers.
So what makes this boat so different ? It's not one feature; it's many that combine to deliver an amazing, value-for-money boat that's poised to set the Aussie boat show circuit on fire. She certainly set us on fire, because the F42/5 Flybridge Cruiser was awarded the 2006 Modern Boating Imported Boat of the Year (Over 24ft).