If you believe that space is everything then the Sealine F43 from England is the boat for you. A capacious cruiser, it doesn't waste a scrap of space. Bridge overhangs, voids between hull and deck, all of them are put to good use. And in ways I've never visualised before.
Another thing you mightn't notice at first is that the F43 cruiser contains a very livable aft cabin. But unlike a lot of aft-cabin cruisers, this boat isn't vertically challenged. You get space in a high-volume hull and sportiness, stability and seaworthiness.
The designers have added some other deft touches to set this aft-cabin apart. Things like a folding radar arch that reduces bridge clearance (especially handy around the Gold Coast canals), an icebox set in the transom where you will want it while wetting a line, and separate shower stalls help make boating more pleasant.
A manorial cruiser ideal for extended families or retiring couples with grandkids in tow, the English-made Sealine F43 tops it off with plenty of signature high-gloss timber finish, big chrome windows, designer deck fittings, and above decks and internal all-weather helms.
The importer says his philosophy behind bringing the Sealine F43 to Oz was to offer an aft-cabin cruiser with UK feel and build quality, sporty lines, three double cabins, and two heads. The Sealine has this, but not the lofty price tag of other up-market English-built boats.
Yet pretty much everything is built-in together with impressive engineering and haughty performance. The boat lends itself to passagemaking, comfortable liveaboard cruising, and gadding about year-round.
The Sealine F43 is built to Design Category B, which means that according to the book it can withstand Beaufort Force 8 winds (near gale at 34-40kt) and waves up to 4m high. Put a traditional top-heavy aft-cab in BF8 and it will give you the impression it's about to topple over. Not the Sealine.
Fuel and water tanks, and the twin Volvo engines, are all located amidships so as not to adversely effect trim. There is a neat fuel switching system alongside the lower helm, so you can always maintain a level load, while the engines are very accessible despite being mid-mounted.
The saloon floor panels lift-up to reveal enough working room to satisfy a fussy mechanic. Inboard mounting of fuel and oil filters and strainers will make running checks a snap. You also get four automatic fire-extinguishers and a good amount of soundproofing.
A high-volume production boatbuilder, Sealine uses galvanised iron beams for the engine bearers and sub-floor structure. Longitudinals are glassed-in and run well forward for rigidity.
The standard of fibreglass moulding is impressive. There are lots of curves and rakish lines that fall somewhere between flybridge cruiser and mini-motoryacht.
With a reputation for making up-market boats under 50ft, Sealine prides itself on a fitout normally seen on much bigger craft. The F43 has, for example, the finest Scottish leather, Italian silk fabrics and high-gloss timber or convincing veneered or laminex finishes. Solid stainless features everywhere you turn.
DECKED OUT FOR CRUISING
The F43 has a clever deck design with some special features. Outdoor living areas take in the transom, bridge and foredeck, plus a cockpit - unusual for an aft-cabin cruiser. Shaded by the bridge overhead, six people can sit around a table for alfresco lunches at anchor.
A rail-mounted barby would be a nice addition.
While the recessed cockpit is small by convertible standards, the design of the transom is a lot more practical than many boats. The wide teak-stripped boarding platform is big enough for a couple to kick back on. The teak-topped platform above this affords comfortable seating.
You can kick back on the transom of the F43 like you might on a jetty, watch the sunset with a cold drink in hand, cast a line for a bream, peel a kilo of prawns, read a book, take a dip with the swim ladder down, or think about nothing much at all while the tide whisks by.
There is a wet locker built into the boarding platform, a second locker in a tier above it, and a terrific stainless steel ice or baitbox or fish-well built into the transom.
Unlike so many aft-cabins, the boat hasn't got a blunt rear end that falls straight to the water but graduated steps that are practical. An emergency hatch leads back into the aft cabin so you can give fishing reports to your partner in bed. There's also a hot and cold transom shower and optional aft davit for your tender.
Meanwhile, under the bridge overhang are cleverly positioned lockers for lifejackets and covers. Moulded steps lead to the side decks, which are a tad tight, but at least the high stainless bowrail and solid handrails make for a secure passage.
You can use the foredeck as a big sunbaking area and it's a shilling to a pound that the kids will park themselves up front when cruising for views.
The anchor is recessed and the chain locker contains fender storage. This way, the foredeck is kept clean and uncluttered like the boat's lines.
Deck gear is impressive, with big designer horn cleats, a spotlight, dedicated stowage for the outdoor table and for the full covers for the cockpit in lockers.
As a place from which to watch the world go by it's pretty hard to pass-up the bridge. Sealine was one of the first companies to use an integrated moulded staircase, which requires only a slight duck of the head to get to the bridge.
The aft sunpad built upon the flybridge overhang is the box seat, with views on tap while you are reclining (my kind of lounge). An L-shaped lounge to port can seat five people, while the helm seat is a two-person sliding bench.
Vision for the skipper is good, but keeping the transom off the marina will take guesswork at first.
While shiny white glass, gleaming stainless and rich teak mark the exterior, the interior is remembered for the lovely light fabrics which create a sense of space.
There are darker choices if you are concerned about high maintenance, but as it was the F43 presented well while still new.
The colour combo included cream novaseude and camel leather for the lounges, a coffee-coloured carpet, white headliner and soft-touch walls.
Despite the fact you step down into the saloon from the cockpit, it's not stuffy like some American-made aft-cabs. Opening side windows with stainless frames, a big sliding saloon door, and optional airconditioning add to the sense of airiness.
To starboard is a six-person L-shaped lounge around a dining table topped with a timber laminate. The two-person lounge opposite is freestanding, so you can pull it up for those big family hoedowns.
Amenities include an Engel fridge and storage locker alongside the entertainment centre to port with a television/VCR cabinet.
Dedicated crockery cupboards and a cutlery drawer are built into the return for the galley, which is quite high.
In true English fashion, the boat's lower-helm is as purposeful as its bridge. The bench seat on slides affords a good view through an armour-plate windscreen. There is no distortion and, as the boat rides quite flat, you don't struggle to see over the foredeck.
The side opening windows grant ample fresh air.
A touch of tradition comes from the timber wheel and mock walnut dash facia, but the electronic Volvo shifts, optional bow thruster control, Eltrim electronic trim tabs, chartlight, drinkholder and switchpanels above and alongside the wheel are the stuff of modern cruising boats.
The testboat had Raytheon speed and depth readouts, with plenty of room to flush-mount your GPS plotter. That and an autopilot are pretty much all you need.
Both the lower helm and galley sole are finished in te ak-and-holly strip-planking.
The galley is set down to port with a useful amount of white Corian bench space, an underfloor stowage area, sufficient cupboards for a month of grub, and hatches for ventilation while you cook. Standard appliances include a microwave, fridge, two-burner electric cooktop or gas oven/grill, and twin sinks with pressure water.
For long night or day cruising, the lower helm allows you to go places while conversing with the cook and your crew parked on the lounge facing the entertainment system.
Given fair weather and following seas, interstate travel isn't out of the question. The F43 offers all-weather cruising comforts.
Back aft, down a companionway to port, is the boat's aft stateroom. You get headroom around an island bed which faces fore and aft beneath a protrusion which is the moulded cockpit above. The aft wall, meanwhile, has a hatch granting access to the steering arms.
It's a little tight moving about some areas of the aft cabin, but the upside is that you get lots of homebody comforts. There are twin hanging lockers, a vanity with mirror, a television cabinet, and opening windows along the transom for fresh air.
To port is a separate fully-moulded head with Corian benchtops, chrome fittings, extractor fan and handbasin.
In the opposite corner is a compartment devoted entirely to the ensuite and shower. Mums will warm to the fact they don't have to sit on a loo to take a shower with a hand-held nozzle.
Back up front is the optional amidships cabin with two very good-sized single berths that, with infill, form a full-sized double berth. The cabin has headroom at its entrance and a hanging locker for your clobber.
You can have this cabin fitted out as a dedicated dining area, which may possibly appeal to some cruising couples.
The forepeak cabin has an offset double berth that creates room for a hanging locker to starboard and ensuite with shower to port that doubles as a dayhead via a door in the companionway.
There is plenty of storage up front including a vanity unit, drawers, overhead lockers, and an under-bunk hold.
When you convert the dinette lounge in the saloon to a double, you can sleep eight people aboard this 43-footer.
As it is, three couples will derive plenty of privacy. Conversely, three generations of family could cruise aboard in comfort and bunk down, making it one of the roomiest 43s around town.
RUNNING AROUND TOWN
Unlike your aft-cabin of old, this boat travels remarkably flat given that it has rear accommodation. But it's not so flat that it falls the other way and buries its bow at sea at displacement speeds - a bugbear of former aft-cabins that try to be sleek.
We slipped over the lazy swells in the Pacific without the hull dragging or labouring like aft-cabins with oversized behinds. Wind was light, so there no spray up top. Stability seemed good running man-on to the swell.
A number of engine options are available ranging from twin 370hp Volvo TAMD 63Ps to the TAMD 74L EDC engines which produce 480hp aside. The boat doesn't mind carrying these top spec motors, which at 2600rpm produced around 32.5kt when the boat was clean.
Cruising clip in the mid-20s will see you eat up the sea miles in style. And while the below-water exhausts burble at idle, they help reduce engine noise when you are running around.
It's an easy boat to operate with a bow thruster letting you do anything including walk this hull sideways.
While not built to the superyacht standard of some truly top-end British motoryachts, the Sealine marque is destined to go places.
The F43 is the first Sealine to arrive here, but not the last. It offers an enticing combination of space and sportiness, apartment-style living and serious seaworthiness.
Think of it as a holiday home afloat. Pack your Sunday best, load the cupboards with provisions, fill the fuel and water tanks, unfurl a chart on the table, and power-up the chartplotter. And don't forget to put the dog out and the answering machine on before you lock the front door...
- Sporty styling and up-market finish surpass the blunt treatment usually given to aft-cabin cruising boats.
- A low centre of gravity leads to nice seahandling and you can count on British engineering to get you home.
- Room to sleep all the family, a fantastic transom for kicking back to rest, and a comfortable bridge for entertaining.
- The finish around the window frames was uneven in parts and the varnish work wasn't perfect.
- Pre-delivery detailing would fix both.
- The light-coloured carpet and lounges will show-up dirt.
- The steering could be a tad more responsive and in keeping with the boat's sporty lines.
|Price as Tested $965,000 with Volvo TAMD 74L/EDC diesel engines|
|Imported with select options including bow thruster, genset, airconditioning, holding tank, 12V icebox on bridge, saloon fridge, windscreen wipers with washers, and so on.|
|Priced From $865,000|
|Type: Variable-deadrise/moderate- vee planing hull|
|Length (overall): 13.24m|
|Weight: 10,500kg (dry)|
|Berths: Six plus two|
|Make/model: Twin Volvo TAMD 74L/EDC|
|Type: Six-cylinder diesel engine with electronic injection|
|Rated hp (ea): 480hp each|
|Displacement (ea): 7.28lt|
|Weight (ea): 860kg|
|including transmission and props|
|Gearboxes (Make/ratio): ZF|
|Supplied by Marine Group Sales, Birkenhead Point Marina, Drummoyne (NSW), tel (02) 9819 6615; or fax (02) 9819 6613. Also more information at: www.sealine.com|
|For further information on the Sealine range go to our New Boats Section.|