BOAT TEST: SALTHOUSE CORSAIR EURO 49
The Salthouse Corsair Euro 49 uses the same hull as her predecessors but is some 1.5m longer due to an extended stern. But it’s the sharper styling, gorgeous fitout and technology smarts that give this pearl its true lustre, says LAWRENCE SCHAFFLER
I have to confess to an element of wariness when asked to review the new Corsair Euro. Simply extending an existing hull design (and one that carries something of an iconic status in its New Zealand homeland) sounds suspiciously like foolish tampering. I'm no hydrodynamic expert, but surely you'd run the risk of unsettling the sweet sea manners that are synonymous with the legendary Corsairs?
I'm happy to report my fears were unfounded. The longer hull (49ft compared with the earlier models' 44ft) not only looks more elegant but performs as flawlessly as her shorter sisters. Yes, there is much more buoyancy in the stern, but it has been addressed by repositioning some of the hardware and loading in more water and diesel.
Even more remarkable is that while Black Pearl is the first of three Corsair Euro 49s (two sister ships are under construction), all were ordered off "concept drawings" - an impressive leap of faith for buyers signing up for a $NZ1.3 million unproven vessel. But their confidence will be well-rewarded - this boat's a sublime piece of work.
Black Pearl will be based in Wellington, NZ, and her owners (a family of six keen diving and fishing fanatics) plan to use her on extended voyages around the Marlborough Sounds. And she's superbly equipped for that. She carries cruising essentials such as a watermaker, dive compressor, genset (mounted well aft in respect of the accommodation) and - wait for it - a transom-mounted clay pigeon launching device for keeping your shooting eye in trim (I kid you not).
Added length aside, the major development in the Corsair Euro is suggested in the second part of that title. Salthouse has given the new model a more "European flair" - something best illustrated in the new cabin top with its gleaming fluting along the sides. Check out the low-profile spoiler that has been added for mounting the satellite dome and aerials and the mast's modernised wingtip extensions. Together with extensive decor input from the owners, it makes a grand visual impact.
The Euro 49 remains a classically themed design but oozes excellent pragmatism and functionality - classy rather than brassy - and it's all presented with a whispered elegance.
Extending the hull hasn't altered the beam one centimetre, yet there's a lot more space in the 49-footer. That's largely a result of rearranged bulkheads and the much, much larger cockpit. The added room delivers masses of subtle design tweaks over the 44ft Corsairs, but the two most significant improvements (for me) are the addition of a second bathroom (in the cockpit) and the removal of the centre post between the cockpit and galley.
With a single bathroom, ablutions for larger families/groups aboard previous Corsairs demanded judicious planning and, after a heavy night, some eye-watering self-control. The second cockpit bathroom (almost as palatial as its internal sister) alleviates the pressure.
Previous Corsairs employed a large, fully opening window/hatch at the rear of the galley to promote a sense of flow/communication between the slaving chef and the hungry hordes fishing/lounging in the cockpit. It was braced by a large midships post that detracted a little from the spatial dynamics. The Euro 49 does away with the post completely, creating a much freer sense of space. Salthouse achieved this by redesigning the bracing for the cabin top. In fact, the cabin top was entirely re-tooled.
As with all of the Next Generation boats, Black Pearl presents exquisitely detailed timber joinery, and this is nowhere more in display than around the galley. Drawers glide open and close silently, equipped with vacuum push-lock latches. And the full-height, pull-out pantry shelving system - now something of a standard feature on Salthouse's designs - is still one of my favourite features, and I don't even like cooking!
Black Pearl is beautifully styled and reflects in large part the creative eye of the owners (perhaps we should just be, um, honest and say the owner's wife's eye...). The interior is a classic blend of that gleaming cherrywood joinery (she's the first Next Generation launch to use gloss rather than matt varnish), white/dark grey vinyl and granite surfaces in the galley.
Sleeping accommodation is split between Herr Kapitan's sumptuous island bed in the forepeak (bathroom en suite) and a large, three-berth (one above, two below) cabin slightly aft on the port side. With an inset squab the two lower bunks quickly convert into a very spacious double bed. Lowering the saloon table creates another double bed, but snorers and unwashed fishermen may find themselves sleeping on the expansive cockpit settees.
Speaking of unwashed fishermen, the boat's rod locker is very cleverly incorporated into the extended cockpit overhang. It's an athwartships overhead type that hinges open to present a selection of your favourite hunting weapons - practical but aesthetically sensible.
In a similar practical-yet-stylish vein, Salthouse has used the extra underfloor space to run stainless steel ducting through the cockpit lockers. The ducting carries hot air and is designed to aid the drying of wetsuits after a day's serious diving.
Black Pearl's owners have taken full advantage of her extra room, equipping their Euro 49 with standard 240V domestic conveniences such as a washing machine, drier and extra fridges. No expensive has been spared. But for me the vessel's coolest feature is its C-Zone digital network.
Rather than run a complex wiring loom around the boat (and believe me, on a boat with this amount of technology and electronics the loom would be very complex), Salthouse has elected to use C-Zone.
A network comprising a single "spine" to which all components are connected, C-Zone not only radically reduces the amount of wiring and switches required, but also offers a remarkable degree of control over those components.
For example, you're able to programme "lighting profiles" into the system, reflecting a variety of ideal modes/moods (cruising at night, at anchor, entertaining, sleeping, etc). It micro-monitors the boat's various systems, with inbuilt alarms to warn you of any aberrations or malfunctions. And it's all easily viewed in digital crispness on the large Murphy screen (part of the MTU engine package) and the even larger Simrad C12 chartplotter.
For me, the magic is best illustrated by the remote control (not unlike one belonging to a top-end European sedan). Having docked the boat, the owner clicks the remote as they disembark. C-Zone automatically defaults to dock mode - switching off all the lights/electronics, activating the monitoring programme (bilge pumps) and sets the alarms. How cool is that?
Keeping all this electronic wizardry alive understandably requires some serious power - so we have 660amp/h house batteries, a 150amp/h start battery and a separate battery for the bow and stern thrusters, the latter doubling as the generator powerpack.
Black Pearl is fully air-conditioned and strategically-positioned outlets around the helm station/saloon also act as demisters - an essential feature for winter boating around the Marlborough Sounds, where things can fog up quickly.
Using handlaid GRP (balsa core) with a vinylester barrier coat as an osmosis-antidote, this boat is solidly constructed. And despite being considerably heavier than her shorter sisters (12 tonnes laden versus nine), <I>Black Pearl'</I>s powered by the same engines - what is now becoming almost standard fare in Next Generation Corsairs - a pair of 345hp MTU 6R700 M94 common rail diesels.
The builders have also pulled off a great job with engine insulation - a crucial issue given that there is no flybridge for escaping the noise. A sound meter on an iPhone app showed the engines producing 80 to 81 decibels at cruise speed. Normal conversation registers around 75dB; flat out, the noise level climbs to 90dB. Underwater exhausts help to minimise the noise and eliminate any burnt-diesel odours.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Relatively light for their generous torque, the engines propel Black Pearl to around 29kts at wide open throttle (3850rpm). At cruise speed (17kts) the engines are turning over at 2500rpm and burning 50lt/h between them. She carries 1220lt of diesel - plenty of range for extensive exploring. Back at 5kts, the official figure is 2.6lt/h… almost hybrid-like economy due to the light but strong construction that includes Gaboon ply, which is 8-10kg lighter per sheet than the usual.
"We intend to start educating the buyer about the false information and propaganda of the mass-produced builders who imply weight is value for money. The opposite is true! It costs far more to build a lighter boat with higher performance," explains Dean Salthouse.
Salthouse also told trade-a-boat that his semi displacement warped conical hull shape is equally happy at high speed as low and displacement speed. "A big factor is that this hull shape rises easily to the plane without dragging its stern. The fuel curve shows little if any difference through the range. However in the 49' I feel the 17kt mark stands out as noticeably memorable. But even at full-speed people don't believe our figure!"
SALTHOUSE CORSAIR EURO 49
BEHIND THE WHEEL
As with the smaller Corsairs, the Euro 49 retains the full keel and skeg with a single rudder - a large contributor to the unwavering tracking (forward and reverse). She draws about a metre. Manoeuvring this lady is a breeze at docking time thanks to power steering (hence the Aston Martin-like helm - small, flat and unobtrusive) and bow and stern thrusters.
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL: GRP/balsa core
TYPE: Semi-displacement warped monohull
LENGTH OVERALL: 15m
WATERLINE LENGTH: 14m
WEIGHT: 12 tonnes (laden)
MAKE/MODEL: 2 x MTU 6R 700 M94
TYPE: Turbo-diesel with common rail injection
RATED HP: 345hp (each)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
"And it is, it is, a glorious thing to be a Pirate King."
So sings the leader of the affable rogues in Gilbert & Sullivan's ever-popular Pirates of Penzance operetta. Had his ship been this Black Pearl, he'd sing with even greater gusto. This beauty carries everything any self-respecting pirate king would aspire to own, not the least of which is that large island double bed and gourmet kitchen for the wenches.
From Trade-a-Boat issue 420 (Nov, 2011) . Photos: Bryce Taylor.
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