Most were staring intently at the stunning lines of our luxurious Sealine T47 Flybridge Motoryacht.
Issue: October 2001
In an early 1980's Australian comedy movie, a bemused Italian immigrant, played by actor Walter Matthau, described average Aussies as "a weird mob". In many ways it's true. We're laid back, easy going, and unfortunately, when it comes to talking about this great land some could even be described as nonchalant.
Sure, they'll tell visitors "this is the best bloody place on earth", but most take Terra Australis for granted.
Take a look at Sydney Harbour for instance. If you'd asked overseas' visitors during the Olympics, or sailors on R & R from visiting American war ships at any time, they'll tell you Sydney Harbour is the most beautiful harbour in the world. And coming from patriotic American seamen, that's not faint praise.
Every morning and night thousands of people commute across the harbour on Sydney's ferry service. But it seems many barely look up from their newspapers long enough to acknowledge the Harbour Bridge let alone take in all the harbour views.
This point was not lost on the Modern Boating team as we cruised past Sydney's Circular Quay on our way to open water for this boat test. Sometimes the water traffic here, with the ferries, water taxis and other vessels going in all directions, make this stretch of water like a dodgem car track.
As we threaded our way through the traffic a Sydney Ferries' River Cat powered out of the Quay on our starboard side. We looked to see how many people were actually taking in the sights. Some passengers may have become nonchalant about Sydney Harbour's sights, but most were staring intently at the stunning lines of our luxurious Sealine T47 Flybridge Motoryacht. Everywhere we take this new Sealine she draws admiring glances. And with good reason. Her smooth, sleek lines are pleasing on the eye. It's also clearly evident to the naked eye that from the size of the wash she throws, there's more than enough power below decks to deliver top performance.
But we were to find out during this test it's this British boat builder's attention to detail and guts to try something different in an already well-tested market that make this solidly-built luxury motoryacht stand out amongst the competition.
Out on the water all of the team took turns at the helm, both upper and lower stations. We all agreed the electronic throttle and gear controls were silky smooth. But even though the hydraulic steering was smooth it was a little heavy - no great drama. It was also a bit of a spinning match to go from lock to lock, because it takes six full turns of the helm. It's something you need to keep in the back of your mind if you have to throw the boat into a tight turn.
Under power the Sealine T47 is a pleasure to drive and extremely responsive. The hull bites the water well during tight turns with no tail slippage. Out on the harbour, cutting through ferries' wakes and small swells didn't phase this boat at all.
The T47 also gets another tick in the box here for the low engine noise in the main saloon, even when running flat out. This boat is powered by twin Volvo TAMD74P EDC 480hp diesels. Flat out at 2600rpm the boat pulls 30 knots, but she cruises comfortably just under 23 knots doing 2200rpm. With a load of fuel, water and six passengers onboard, this gives her a cruising range of around 300nm, or from Sydney to Nambucca Heads.
What's so different about the T47 layout ? Well, most other similar vessels offer two main cabins and a smaller - almost token - third cabin. In some cases this third cabin seems more like an afterthought than an intended inclusion. While still useful, they're normally pokey and detract from the overall usable space in the main saloon.
But that's where the T47 is different, she only has two staterooms. A roomy double cabin in the bow for guests and an even larger owner's cabin situated behind the lower helm station. Both these cabins are luxuriously appointed. They are finished in highly lacquered cherry wood, have double beds, plenty of space to move around in, wardrobes, storage cabinets and en suites. The en suites are just as ambient as the staterooms, featuring marble top vanity units with mixer taps, plus all the goodies you'd expect to find in a top class hotel. The guest's shower cubicle has plenty of head height, but the good news for the owner is their shower recess is much larger than normal on a boat of this size. How's that? No you've got the room to shower with a friend and save water.
The next point scoring difference of the T47 is its spacious aft cockpit cabin. This type of cabin is normally reserved for crew, but we could hardly call this a crew cabin because they're usually cramped. This cabin was much bigger than expected. Stainless steel rails support the teak steps that lead us down into this cabin through a hatch beneath the lounge in the aft cockpit.
Once below, the cabin opens out to reveal an electric marine toilet, washer/drier, wash basin with mixer tap, wardrobe, opening porthole, door to lazarette and a single - come cosy double - berth. After spending a few minutes in this cabin the team agreed, none of us would have any problems spending a weekend, or longer, in this accommodation.
Moving back up into the aft cockpit our attention was quickly drawn to the main theme of this area outdoors entertaining. With the aft cabin hatch closed, and the first sections of the cushions back in place, the L-shaped lounge across the transom, which extends along the port side, has ample seating for six adults in luxurious comfort. It's a great place while underway to sit and watch the harbour scenery slide by.
"Hang on a sec. Isn't that a bar fridge under that barbie? Crack us a coldie will ya?" "Ah, sorry mate, we're working." "Oh yeah, I forgot." While this class of boat lends itself more to popping champagne corks than cracking cold beers, we can still see ourselves cruising the Whitsundays, cooking a steak on that BBQ and enjoying a cold beer as the sun sets over the water.
A stylish folding-teak table also enhances the outside entertaining theme in the aft cockpit, but there are only two folding chairs. Ideal for lovers, or simply a great place to relax.
To add to the Sealine T47's already mounting point score, it's back into the main saloon. By having only two main staterooms, complimented by the over-sized aft cockpit cabin, Sealine's designers gain around 2sq m of extra space to play with. Some of this extra space goes to the owner's cabin, but the majority increases the usable space in the open-plan saloon.
The sunken galley further enhances this open feel. At first glance the galley looks like any well-equipped, single bench kitchen. "But wait, there's more." The floor lifts exposing two lockers. These slide out to reveal plenty of extra storage in deep plastic trays. While on the subject of galleys, and the things they contain, there are four refrigerators onboard the Sealine T47. One on the flybridge, others in the aft cockpit and main saloon, plus another in the galley itself. Keeping food and drinks onboard cold isn't a problem.
Back in the main saloon it's even more ambience with subtle lighting, deep-pile carpet, a marble top bar, entertainment centre, club chairs and the best fold out and up coffee/dining table the team's ever seen.
If it's party time, don't worry if some friends have a few too many and need to stay over for the night. If you run out of room in the aft cabin and guest's stateroom, there's always the double bed beneath the beautiful U-shaped leather settee. A feature of this bed is its luxurious mattress and handy cushion that folds back to provide a divider. Even two mates can bunk down together without feeling too embarrassed in the morning.
The lower helm station is also a skipper's dream. It's extremely well laid out and features comprehensive instrumentation. But there is another side to this helm position that's not quite as obvious. Unlike many similar boats the Sealine T47 keeps an extremely level attitude when running, even in a big sea. Yes, you can safely drive her from inside the cabin and still see over the bow. Isn't that better than freezing your butt off on the flybridge, while the others enjoy "hot toddies" below. But if we were in the Whitsundays the flybridge is the place to be.
For the skipper there is dual adjustable seating, paired easy to view gauges, clear instrumentation and most importantly a comfortable driving position. There's also an L-shaped navigator's lounge with a nifty six glass, one bottle drink holder tray on top of the wetbar. For those wanting to soak up a few rays, there's a large sunpad, with fold-up backrests, to sprawl out on behind the helm seat. At the rear of the flybridge is a targa arch, which supports the radar dome, antennae and navigation lights. Out on the deck, the Sealine attention to detail we spoke of earlier is clearly evident.
How many times have you ever wondered where you were going to store all the gear that just seems to keep multiplying every time you take your boat out ? Well, the Sealine T47 has that covered. There's dedicated storage for lifejackets, canopies and cockpit cushions in the overhead lockers moulded into the flybridge sole.
Extra gear can be stowed in the spare lockers on the flybridge, under the cockpit seats, below the rear swim platform and in a locker on the foredeck. And speaking of the swim platform, it also has folding transom chocks designed to support a small tender. When not in use these chocks fold back into the swim platform locker. Out of sight, out of mind. While at the transom, we should also mention the test boat was fitted with an optional hydraulic passerelle (gang plank) with dinghy lift. This helps makes boarding from a marina, or lifting a tender into position, a breeze.
Another point scorer for this boat is the height of the bow rail and the width of the walkways down each side of the main cabin. Although these aren't overly wide they do have deep toe rails. Even in a big sea, with the help of grab rails along the sides of the flybridge, the crew can safely negotiate the trip to the bow. Like all the decking on this dreamboat, these walkways and the foredeck are all hand-laid teak. They are functional, easily maintained and look superb. The boat also features eight oversized stainless steel cleats, a bow fairlead and a big self-draining chain locker with fender storage. Again, attention to detail.
What does the team think of the T47 ? Well, the reason this Sealine draws admiring glances every where she goes is simple, it a darn fine looking boat both inside and out. The quality of fixtures, fittings and fabrics used in her fit-out are second to none, while the craftsmanship employed during every facet of the boat's construction is clearly evident. Everywhere Sealine's attention to detail shines through. Full-length rubber door strips instead of anti-rattle pads, strong magnetic door catches, so cupboard doors won't fly open in a big sea, three electric saloon windows for ventilation, anti-slip rubber strips on the steps, the list goes on and on. Not surprisingly, it's these little things that make one boat stand out in the crowd.
What does she cost ? Only $1,200,000, which isn't much when you say it quickly. But you have to remember when you buy one of these boats you're getting a floating mansion for the money. And you show me where else you can get a luxury Sydney waterside mansion with majestic views of the harbour for $1,200,000. Normally there'd at least be another naught on the end.
Story & Photos by Ian Macrae