BOAT TEST CLIPPER CORDOVA 52
The efficient Clipper Cordova 52 gives new meaning to the term two-speed economy, says would-be buyer JOHN ZAMMIT
I'm telling you, passagemakers are the flavour of the month if not year and decade. Judging by the number of new long-range boats landing on our shores, there's a real resurgence in this timeless style of boat. I shouldn't be all that surprised. After all, like most boaters, I'm also thinking about my next one. I've owned a series of fast planing boats, done a bit of coastal cruising, so the idea of a passagemaker for more efficient extended cruising now holds a lot of appeal.
Of course, there's the obvious advantage of less fuel consumption with a displacement boat. This in itself helps justify the fact that it will take longer to reach your destination. But the other attraction for me is the style of boating - it's much more relaxed. Traveling at 8 to 10kts gives you more time to enjoy the journey. I like that. That said, coming from a planing boat, there is one concern always in the back of my mind: what happens when you need that turn of speed to get ahead of a weather front, some instant grunt for crossing a river bar or beating some other issue?
Enter Clipper Motor Yachts, a passagemaker that's again making big inroads on the Australian cruising market. The builder is no stranger to us, having been here since the late-70s, but has now evolved to include the Cordova range of new-age 45 to 60 footers. Having all the advantages of traditional displacement cruisers, the Cordovas feature a double-chine hull that enables them to get up on the plane. The result is that they can happily cruise along economically at displacement speeds but can also reach 18kts and more and, thus, answer my call.
While the Clipper Cordova 52 has been around since the middle of last year, a new version has arrived with an interior makeover. We had a close look at this boat on a day when, well, it was best doing your boating from inside. That's been Queensland this year, right?
At just over 16m long and with a 4.81m beam, the Cordova 52 is an accommodating boat that features three comfortable cabins, two bathrooms, a single-level living space and large flybridge. The owners, a cruising couple, previously had a 48-foot prestige cruising sailboat and this was their first foray into powerboats. They intend to do the Whitsundays and have fitted out the boat to suit their cruising lifestyle.
Seated at the lower helm, it's obvious this boat is set-up for long-range coastal cruising. I found the optional dual helm seat very comfortable and, with the inbuilt adjustments (fore, aft and back rake), I was able to get it positioned just right for me. I often like to stand at the helm, especially negotiating at close quarters or in unfamiliar waters. Thankfully, I had a perfect view over the bow due to the removable custom raised foot platform fitted to the floor below. It serves a double purpose - standing on the platform improves the sight lines for anyone of less-than-average height and, having a hinged lid, it provides additional storage. Sometimes the simple ideas work the best!
The traditional-looking dash is nicely laid out. But in terms of making boating even more comfortable and enjoyable, this owner had ensured he ticked all the boxes. I found a Raymarine E120 touchscreen with GPS-plotter, fishfinder, radar and autopilot, an anchor chain counter, and controls for the bow and stern thrusters, even Wesmar stabilisers. Add to that Cummins SmartCraft engine-monitoring screens, and an array of analogue gauges and switches, and there's not a lot of room left on the dash. Although loaded, it certainly doesn't look overcrowded.
Another nice thing about this boat is the helm door leading out to the fully covered walkaround decks. It makes for pleasant cruising with the door open on a nice day at sea, but also convenient for accessing the sidedecks or to look over the side when docking. It's also handy travelling at night, stepping out and taking in the view forward instead of just through the windscreen. This way, you can pick out objects or distant lights more clearly. And I tell you this from experience.
The single-level living space on the Cordova 52 works well. The most significant change to this particular incarnation is the portside galley moved slightly aft to make room for a comfortable forward-facing observer's bench. Underway, it's an ideal spot for a companion or guests, allowing them to see forward over the bow and converse with the skipper.
A hinged table comes up from the forward bulkhead and allows this area to double as a chart table with room for a laptop and 240V and 12V power outlets nearby. You could also have meals here, with the boat on autopilot while you keep a proper watch ahead. It's a clever arrangement. I've been on long passages and would have welcomed a setup like this.
The galley is directly aft, with heaps of bench space and storage. Smeg appliances include a four-burner hotplate and convection microwave and a large under-bench Isotherm fridge/freezer. There's a double-bowl sink with flickmixer tap and more than enough powerpoints. This is a well thought-out galley, allowing the cook to comfortably interact with the skipper or guests.
Farther aft, the saloon has U-shaped seating around a high/low table opposite inbuilt cabinets that run waist-height along the entire length of the on the starboardside. There's a lot packed in here including pop-up TV, Bose surround sound system and LED lighting, but it all comes together. The traditional timber look, in this case Afromosia (a slightly lighter timber than teak), has warmth and contrasts with the light leather upholstery and headlining. A vast amount of light from the wide side windows and windscreen enliven things again.
There's also a large sliding glass door leading out from the saloon to the cockpit, where there's a moulded staircase up to the flybridge and a eutectic freezer nearby. The flybridge extends back over the cockpit, which means you can still enjoy the fresh air come rain or shine. The covered sidedecks with high bulwarks tracing the boat make getting around safe and easy, even for young children and pets.
Access to the engineroom is via the lazarette and after stepping down there's a large service area. In this case, it housed a washer-dryer, water tanks outboard on either side, a watermaker, with plenty of room left over for stowage of water toys, occasional tables and chairs, fishing gear, and so on.
Moving forward through a half-height door reveals a pair of 425hp Cummins QSB5.9 engines. There's easy access to everything including the twin fuel filters on the forward bulkhead for each engine. I also noted Wesmar stabilisers, battery charger, inverter, air-conditioning and hot-water service. Aft of the engines, the Onan generator is easily accessible. Everything is typical Clipper, read: neat and tidy, with details like stainless steel engine mounts and oil changing system bundled as standard.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Another thing I find especially appealing about this style of boat is the extended flybridge. The Clipper 52 certainly doesn't disappoint in this area. It's a very social environment with plenty of room to sit and relax, either under the fully moulded FRP hardtop or farther aft in the open air. Behind the L-shaped seating around a table is a workstation with barbecue, sink, refrigerator and storage, while farther aft is the tender and davit well out of the way of guests.
Optional three-sided clears in the flybridge let you drive in all elements, using the large stainless steel wheel and instrumentation duplicated from below. On an overcast day in quite lumpy seas, I found the vision excellent and was thus able to anticipate the larger waves underway. The boat travelled extremely well, both at displacement speed and when wound up to just over 17kts.
Meanwhile, the boat's accommodation is accessed by three steps leading off the saloon down a central companionway adjacent to the helm. The master stateroom forward is fitted with a queen-size bed and has an en suite bathroom. There's a guest stateroom to port fitted with a double bed and a third cabin with twin beds side by side. Both guest cabins share a bathroom. All cabins have air-conditioning, there are LCD TV's in the master and guest stateroom, excellent hanging space and storage, and plenty of light and ventilation courtesy of portholes and opening hatches. The bathrooms feature Corian benchtops, glass bowls with elegant tapware and separate shower stalls.
Clipper says its Cordova customers come from all types of boating backgrounds: some out of sailboats who are eager to go cruising without the associated hassle of handling sails, others from mainstream planing powerboats who have had their fill of going fast and the associated fuel costs; and those who are just wanting a family-friendly style of boat. All have one thing in common, though, and that is they want to go boating in comfort. The advantage of cruising at displacement speed with a turn of speed to get home or out of trouble at the push of some throttles holds immense appeal. The best of both worlds.
(FACTS & FIGURES)
Clipper Cordova 52
HANDLING & PERFORMANCE
At 1800rpm (the engines are rated to 3400rpm) we were doing 10.1kts using 18lt/h per side. The Wesmar stabilisers really came into their own at slower speeds, especially when running beam on, but once up to speed they could be switched off without making too much difference. They do take around a knot-and-a-half off the top speed, though, but I think stabilisers are a worthwhile addition with this type of boat destined for long passages.
Normal cruise in displacement mode is around 9 or 10kts, and a fast-cruise planing is around 15kts. Clipper says if you want to increase the range of these boats it's okay to run them on one engine at 8kts and then switch to the other engine every three or four hours. This was, the range improves dramatically up to 1300 or 1400nm, Clipper claims.
Twin 425hp Cummins QSB5.9 diesels, 1400lt fuel, 600lt water and two adults. Fuel burn is total for both engines.
RPM SPEED LT/H RANGE
1200 8kts 17.5 1180nm
1500 9kts 26.8 870nm
1800 10kts 36 720nm
2000 12kts 60 520nm
2200 13kts 78 433nm
2550 15kts 98 397nm
2800 18kts 130 360nm
3000 19.5kts 170 298nm
* <I>Official sea-trial data supplied by Clipper Motor Yachts</I>
PRICE AS TESTED
Wesmar stabilisers, clears to three sides of hardtop, windshield and side-window exterior covers, Steelhead 350kg davit and
<B> $1.249 million</B>
MATERIAL: Handlaid fibreglass hull
LENGTH OVERALL: 16.15m
WEIGHT: 19 tonnes
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x Cummins QSB5.9
TYPE: Electronic six-cylinder turbo-diesel with aftercooling
RATED HP: 425 (each)
The Clipper Cordova 52 comes loaded with all the good gear as standard, things that many others brands consider options, and therefore ticks all the boxes. As such, these boats are proving popular with customers who want a loaded base for spending extended time aboard and comfort cruising at an economical or fast clip.
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