BOAT TEST: SESSA CRUISER 38
Sporty and fun to drive the Sessa C38 cruiser is a sort of Alfa Romeo on water — a little bit sassy with that peppy Alfa performance to back it up — with just the right amount of bling and plenty of chic.
I have to say that my hopes were high. Described to me as an Italian-designed 38ft sportsyacht fitted with twin 300hp-energised Volvo Penta D4 duoprop legs this boat promised much. Add in joystick docking, stylish accommodation, a social cockpit with a hardtop and huge electric sunroof and all the ingredients were on hand to deliver a boat test to remember.
Were my expectations met? Performance wise, you betcha! Value for money? Well, you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck. Styling, layout, fit and finish, and livability all get a big tick. In my view, with a bit of tweaking here and there and few more inclusions as standard, this boat would be right up there.
The Sessa C38 is a recent arrival to Australia and its Italian heritage is evident in the way they've merged technology, style and performance. Sporty and fun to drive the C38 is a sort of Alfa Romeo on water - a little bit sassy with that peppy Alfa performance to back it up - with just the right amount of bling and plenty of chic.
Not yet a familiar name in Australia, Sessa is better known in the UK, Europe and the Americas. A family-owned company founded in 1958, Sessa Marine produced a range of small boats until 1988 when it acquired Fyberstamp, a company producing large hulls for major Italian shipyards. Sessa currently outputs around 400 hulls a year, ranging from 20 to 68 feet. The four product ranges are called the Fishing Line, Key Largo, Cruiser Line (including the top-of-the-range C38) and the Yacht Line.
The company's flagship, the C68, is also soon to be delivered to an Australia owner.
The Yacht and Cruiser Lines consist of 10 sportsyachts in all from 32 to 68 feet, including three flybridge cruisers from 40 to 54 feet. All are manufactured at Sessa's shipyard in Cividate al Piano, close to Lake Iseo in the north of Italy. Recently upgraded, the yard employs more than 300 people and covers an area of 37,000m².
Officially launched in Australia at the Melbourne Summer Boat Show in February, Sessa has already attracted keen interest here and dealers have been appointed in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, with an agent in NSW soon to be announced.
The C38 is typical of a lot of sportsyachts in terms of cockpit layout featuring U-shape seating around a foldout table aft to port and a wetbar opposite. Forward of the seating is a large chaise lounge adjacent the starboard helm.
The reason this layout is popular is that generally it works. The difference is in the detail and while some get it right, others, not so much. In this case Sessa has it right. The teak-laid cockpit is roomy and all on a single level. The seating is wide and comfortable and the foldout table, when open, is big enough to accommodate all the components of a large buffet lunch and, when folded, still provides plenty of room for drinks. The wetbar with glass bench top and funky flick-mixer includes a stainless steel sink and under-bench fridge and icemaker.
Being located close to the cockpit entry also means that if you're lounging around on the swimplatform, which on these type of boats usually forms part of the outdoor entertaining area, you don't need to go far to get a cool drink or a snack. Incidentally, the swimplatform features a fully drained icebox, swim ladder and hot and cold transom shower.
The chaise lounge adjacent to the helm is a genuine double and a nice spot to sit or lounge underway, chatting with the skipper. Overhead a full GRP hardtop means that all-weather boating is an option, but if the sun is shining, like it was the day of our test, then open up the huge electrically operated sunroof and get yourself a dose of vitamin D.
There's lots of choice on where to relax on this boat and the foredeck provides another option. Getting there along the sidedecks is simple enough with high siderails and cleverly placed handholds making it safe and easy. The foredeck features a large sunpad with inbuilt drinkholders and a pair of waterproof speakers.
SPACE AND LIGHT
Below decks in the compact galley/saloon, light walnut woodwork combined with fabric wall panels, white-gloss cupboards, contrasting bench and table tops and dark leather seating all blend nicely providing the anticipated chic. Overhead, skylights let in plenty of natural light as do portholes at either side, which also provide cross-flow ventilation.
The galley incorporates a stainless steel sink, twin-burner gas cooktop, under-bench microwave and 130lt fridge/freezer. Storage is taken care of with cupboards and drawers, overhead and under-bench. Opposite to port the dinette features a foldup table and directly opposite, a wall-mounted LED TV.
Two cabins lead off the galley/saloon and both are surprisingly large and well fitted out. The master cabin forward has an island queen bed and plenty of storage and hanging space. The mid-cabin features twin single beds with an infill to convert to a king size. There's surprisingly good head-height inside the entry to this cabin, where inbuilt seating has storage underneath. Both cabins feature plenty of natural light with opening portholes and, in the forward cabin, an overhead hatch. The mid-cabin features large panoramic hull windows.
The single bathroom amidships serves as an en suite to the master cabin with a separate door to service the second cabin and act as the dayhead. Here too the style continues with a fashionable ceramic bowl, mirrored cabinets and a separate shower with a plexiglass door. The head is located inside the shower cubicle, a teak lid forming a shower seat when not in use.
Being a sterndrive the engines are located completely aft, with a large open space forward of the motors. Our test boat wasn't fitted with a generator so I would imagine this is where you might locate that. Even so, there'd still be room leftover for some water toys, maybe a rollup dinghy, dive gear or whatever.
Racor fuel filter/water separators are located on the forward bulkhead, a handy spot as you can just poke your head in to check them without having to climb right in. The battery switches are here too, so same applies. Also in the engineroom are the 20lt hot-water service that operates on heat exchange and shorepower, an automatic fire suppressant system and twin fuel tanks (445lt each). The Volvo Penta D4 engines are easy to access, with enough space around and between each to get to everything.
You can tell a lot about a boat by the way the engineroom is laid out and here everything was neatly stowed, clipped and labeled, which to me is always a good sign.
Conditions on the day of our test didn't exactly detract from the experience - bright sunshine, 29°C and water as flat as the proverbial night carter's hat. I have to admit to spending much of the time driving standing on a raised platform that hinges down from under the helm seat, peering out through the open sunroof. Classic wind-in-the-hair boating. I loved it!
The stylish champagne-coloured dash with leather sun lid looks good and eliminates glare. The bolstered double helm seat is covered in a soft, pale leather and combined with the inbuilt footrest I found it easy and comfortable. Overall, with the bonus of relatively unimpeded 360-degree vision, it's a nice driving position, but for a minor detail. Small side panels either side of the dash looked unfinished with the screw heads securing the panels in place still exposed. A bit picky maybe but to me it was out of character.
The joystick docking made getting out of our tight berth at Royal Brighton Yacht Club very easy. The boat is also fitted with a bowthruster, and while some might think it overkill I think if the technology is there, why not use it. After all boating is all about chilling out not being stressed out.
I have to say I found the Sessa C38 to be a sporty drive with plenty of power - push the throttles forward and she jumps out of the hole. Underway engine noise is low and we had no problem holding a conversation at the helm. With flat seas we ran her up to 2600rpm and 24kts, while I fiddled with the trim and tabs to get the attitude right. At that rate we were using 62lt/h of fuel, which means your covering good ground without breaking the bank.
With sterndrives getting the trim angle right can take a bit of fiddling, but once set for the conditions I've found you just leave them until the sea state changes. In this case I needed very little trim and about 40 per cent tabs to get her just right. We went through the whole rev range up to WOT of 3400rpm and 36kts and she felt solid and steady.
She's surefooted and soft riding. In one sense, having such calm seas on the day of our test for this boat was a good thing. It let us really push her to her limits, which meant throwing her around at speed into the tightest turns and serpentines and she didn't put a foot wrong.
I think this boat would suit a couple or a family with kids. She'd make a great dayboat or entertainer and with her turn of speed you can get to your playground fast and stay there longer. With two cabins, a safe cruising range of around 300nm and 286lt of water, the Sessa C38 is ideal for getting away for a weekend or a few days; although I'm unsure our test boat had been specked-up to cater for that. For my money I would option in a generator (or at least an inverter) and air-conditioning, but having said that much of the above is subjective and depends on how you intend to use the boat.
› Performance and handling
› Social layout
› Roomy accommodation
› Fit and finish
› Value for money
› Could do with genset or inverter
› No air-conditioning
› Hot-water service too small
› Dashboard side panels
[TRADE-A-BOAT SAYS… ]
There's a lot to like about the Sessa C38 and as she is presented today this boat represents good value for money and in this section of the market I think this chic little Italian number stands out from the crowd.
SPECIFICATIONS: SESSA C38
PRICE AS TESTED
Volvo Penta power trim, joystick control, cockpit refrigerator and sunpad, bowthruster, GPS Raymarine C125, TV pre-rig for dinette/bow cabin, bimini and camping cover, LED spotlights, step for stand-up driving, teak cockpit, leather sofa upholstery in cabin, walnut floor in dinette and cabins, ivory lacquered kitchen with stainless steel top, black coloured hull, underwater lights, fabric cushion in dinette, leather cushion in dinette, bed sheets,dinette table tablecloth, mosquito nets, stainless steel anchor upgrade, Inox fender holder, icemaker, LED TVs in bow cabin and dinette, and set of black Sessa Marine fender covers
Twin 300hp Volvo Penta D4 engines
RPM SPEED FUEL BURN
1200 7.8kts 10.8lt/h
1400 8.8kts 18lt/h
1600 7kts 24lt/h
1800 10.9kts 34lt/h
2000 13.5kts 40lt/h
2200 16.6kts 50lt/h
2400 20.6kts 56lt/h
2600 24kts 62lt/h
2800 28.5kts 72lt/h
3000 30.2kts 84lt/h
3200 33kts 98lt/h
3400 35.7kts 114lt/h
*Sea-trial figures supplied by the author. Fuel burn is for both engines combined.
TYPE Planing monohull
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 4+2
HOLDING TANK 95lt
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta D4-300 w/ DPH Duoprop sterndrives
TYPE Four-cylinder turbo-diesel
RATED HP 300 (each)
DISPLACEMENT 3.7lt (each)
Royal Brighton Yacht Club,
253 The Esplanade,
Brighton, VIC, 3186
Phone: (03) 9592 4022
Originally published in Trade-a-Boat 438, April 2013
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