REVIEW: VANDUTCH 55
The VanDutch 55 is a towering statement of European luxury boat design and fashion. Jack Murphy dons the suit and sunnies for this review.
Based in Sydney Harbour, Skyfall, as this VanDutch 55 is known, has quickly made a name for herself. She proudly stands out among the fleet of weekend warriors in their white flybridge cruisers. There’s simply nothing suburban about Skyfall, in fact she would probably be more suited to the waters of the Mediterranean around the Côte d’Azur.
After leaving the marina at Middle Harbour we steamed out towards North Head. Dennis van Damme from VanDutch Australia was driving and I think he could see that I was seriously squirming in my seat at the anticipation of having a turn at the wheel.
I pushed the Volvo Penta throttles flat and grabbed the wheel with both hands. Once at your desired speed you really don’t need to touch the throttles; the hull slices the swell in two and deflects the spray without any banging, crunching or vibration. Additionally, this soft-riding hull isn’t just a one-trick pony; it also turns hard at speed and is quite predictable considering the extravagant design and sharp hull entry to the water.
For me it was definitely a stand-up and drive boat as the visibility wasn’t great when seated and you have to go full stretch to reach the throttles. The windshield design on the other hand was extremely impressive.
When it comes to docking the boat the high topsides do catch the wind a little, however, with EVC (Electronic Vessel Control) as standard, the bow and stern thrusters (including joystick control) make this procedure child’s play.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
When it comes to the decking, you may think the VanDutch 55 has a teak fitout – but think again. Since day dot VanDutch has used Esthec on all its boats. This strong and durable material from the Netherlands consists of composites and fillers. It is also said to be much more environmentally friendly than teak.
One of the largest Esthec surfaces on the VanDutch 55 has to be the deck space on the bow – I reckon you could almost land a Robinson R44 helicopter on it if you wanted. The area is a perfect spot for sunbathing but access can be a little tricky when the bimini is folded down as you don’t have much to hang on to when walking around the gunwales.
Still, this boat has more hidden gadgets than a James Bond car. The captain and front passenger seats lift electronically for the optimum driving/seating position, the anchor is on a hydraulic pivoting arm for hidden stowage under the deck and an extra-long ladder magically extends out from the swimplatform. There are also pop-up cleats and flush deck hatches to ensure no more stubbed toes or uncomfortable sunbathing.
If sitting in the sun isn’t your thing, the previously mentioned electric bimini can be erected in a matter of minutes. The leisure area and helm lounge seats are made from quick-dry foam with Silvertex, so wet bums are a thing of the past. Lifting up the lounge seats also reveal the innards of the VanDutch 55 plus some extra storage space. The helm station features a proximity ignition, Humphree trim tabs and Raymarine/Simrad navigation with an engine control screen.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES
The VanDutch 55 comfortably sleeps six and comes standard with a generator, which means the party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. There’s ample headroom below deck and plenty of space for a small crowd.
On the starboard side of the cabin you’ll notice a cool and very compact kitchen with twin refrigerators, an induction cooker, microwave and even a Nespresso machine. Behind that is the head and shower that includes a fan, cupboards, washbasin and a mirror with a light. To port is a guest bedroom, which is adequate for two smaller crewmates.
In the main cabin is an hydraulically operated table for eight that can also transform into another bed so your friends don’t have to drive home after getting a little tipsy topside. The master bedroom is airy and light and has a spacious feel. There’s a ceiling hatch (with mosquito protection), plus plenty of room to walk around either side of the bed, which in any boat is a luxury. The linen is as soft as butter and the pillows (yep, I tested them too) are exactly to my liking.
The floor throughout is Esthec, finished in a biscuit colour. But you do have an extensive palette to choose from if the colourways are not to your liking. The cabin walls are lined with reflective surfaces giving an even greater feeling of space, and with the flick of a remote the mirrored kitchen splashback lights up to a reveal a flatscreen TV! The 55 has sound systems galore too, with iPod, radio and wireless music syncing with the Apple AirPort Express.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE
With 1800 horses under her belt the VanDutch 55 certainly doesn’t mess around. Although it may sound like a lot on paper, the twin 900hp Volvo Penta D13s do have to push along 20 tonnes of boat.
At wide open throttle she gets close to 40kts but according to VanDutch, in the right conditions the 55 can hit a blistering 45kts. However, when you’re actually at the wheel it doesn’t feel fast at all. The soft-riding hull, well-insulated engineroom and large windshield lets you cruise at high speeds without making you feel like you’re getting knocked around in a washing machine.
The engineroom is hidden underneath the aft lounges that lift hydraulically and is very roomy… now if they could just make the lounge hatch shoot open a little faster it would work well as an ejector seat.
With the VanDutch 55, what you see is what you get. Your options include an array of colours to customise the hull, cushions, Esthec decking and joinery. However, it’s a crying shame the boat doesn’t come standard with a set of outriggers – just kidding! So if you want one of these magnificent beauties and you’re flexible on the colour scheme, you can expect a 12-week wait. If you want one built from scratch you’re looking at a six-month wait.
The VanDutch 55 is a masterclass in modern boating. With sleek, sexy lines it’ll turn heads wherever it goes. A well thought-out layout, matched with superb performance at sea, the VanDutch 55 is a fast boat adorned in finery and ready for action.
- Superb hull performance and manoeuvrability
- Plenty of accommodation for guests
- Well thought-out cabin with great head height
- Sexy as hell
- You can open but can’t close the central cabin hatch from below deck
- Access to the bow can be a little wobbly when the bimini is stowed
VANDUTCH 55 SPECIFICATIONS
PRICE AS TESTED
MATERIAL Vacuum-bagged sandwich construction with painted hull
TYPE Warped plane monohull with prop pockets
LENGTH 16.48m overall
DRAFT 1.15m (loaded)
PEOPLE (NIGHT) 6
MAKE/MODEL 2 x Volvo Penta D13
TYPE In-line six-cylinder turbodiesel
RATED HP 900 (each)
DISPLACEMENT 12.78lt (each)
4407/4 Daydream Street,
Warriewood, NSW, 2102
Phone: (02) 9986 0138
Fax: (02) 9986 0139
See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #448, January / February 2014. Why not subscribe today?
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