REVIEW: FLEMING 58

By: JOHN WILLIS, Photography by: JOHN WILLIS, SUPPLIED

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  • Trade-A-Boat

THE 58 IS THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE FLEMING FLEET, POSSESSING ALL THE DNA EXPECTED FROM THIS FAMILY OF OCEAN-GOING PASSAGEMAKERS

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Fleming Yachts defy a world that constantly strives to redefine style. It recognises that premium quality is timeless. Fleming Yachts embrace time honoured principles of seafaring design and tradition and enhance them with state-of-the-art technical development. Miriam Webster’s dictionary describes "Rapture" as "an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion". Hence, the Fleming 58 is aptly named. It has a euphoric feeling of aquatic delight elevating me to a seafaring seventh heaven. What a beautiful craft!

Tony Fleming developed his exciting range of trawler-style pilothouse motoryachts after experience gained with American Marine, Grand Banks and Alaska series offerings. Tony has been aptly called a "Renaissance Man, having the skills of an engineer and the eye of an artist". Tony joined with business partner Anton Emmerton and American naval architect Larry Drake of San Diego, California, designing his ideal new pilothouse cruiser back in 1985. The quest for the best boatyard to build his dream became reality at the Tung Hwa facility located near Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

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Fleming Yachts has developed a world-wide reputation as the "ultimate cruising yacht", a claim backed by Tony’s extensive international cruises throughout remote parts of the northern hemisphere. The range now includes the Fleming 55, 65, the flagship 78 and the latest model 58 as tested. Fleming has now produced more than 330 motoryachts worldwide with constant vigilance thriving for the pinnacle of premium craftsmanship and seagoing prowess.

SALOON

From the moment you step aboard you are treated to a plethora of delights. Boarding is available from the side gate on the wide companionway surrounding the boat, with its deep side walkaround deck allowing total security. Alternatively, you can step up from the teak-lined rear platform, through the rear door into the cockpit. All of the cap rails have a faux teak trim that is virtually impossible to tell apart from a highly polished organic original, yet requires far less maintenance to keep it looking sharp.

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Her sheer and lines are stunning, with the off-white gelcoat surfaces giving an added air of glare-reduced grace to the teak floor and uncluttered entertainment arena. What a lovely spot to enjoy nautical life with refreshments or a meal around the polished Burrwood composite table top. Overhead is the shade of the extended flybridge and in the corner a small sink unit with bar fridge and a disguised container revealing a lower docking station with integrated Twin Disc joystick controls, engine stop/start, GPS position-hold and the activator for the hydraulic lift on the deck hatch to the large lazarette. The port side of the cockpit features the optional modular rear staircase to the flybridge which includes a space for storing the folding deck chairs.

Rapture parades a stunning blend of finishes and textures both internally and externally. Stepping into the saloon through the large French doors is an experience all of its own. It presents a delightful living and entertaining space that has the right blend of intimate teak cabinetry combined with plush ceiling liners, large timber framed windows (with Oceanair auto blinds) and I just had to feel the texture of the superb Ralph Lauren linen upholstery that beckoned you to relax and enjoy.

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The saloon features rear corner units with a pop-up TV with Sonos wireless audio throughout the boat, and a bar to port complete with icemaker, bottle and glass storage. She has a very comfortable centrally located L-shaped lounge/dinette with a solid timber high/low dining table with folding wings for a large dinner party, plus an optional three-seater settee on starboard. The euphoric craftsmanship continues from the magnificent cabinet work through to the hand-laid teak and holly floor which was covered by a plush drop-in carpet for demonstration purposes.

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As we progress forward in the saloon we find a full-size fridge-freezer, a large pullout pantry and a further icemaker to starboard plus a comprehensive galley to port. There’s plenty of space to prepare the feast on a bar bench, and like everywhere in the boat there is a multitude of drawer space and storage opportunities. The fittings and appliances include a Miele convection microwave oven, Miele oven, Miele dishwasher, Miele three-burner induction cooktop, twin-tub sink and some very convenient storage ideas for crockery and appliances.

We leave the saloon and galley behind as we venture forward to the pilothouse. This wheelhouse is one of the pinnacles of my experience, not only with the combined technology but also with the presentation. There are four large Raymarine multifunction units for all of the usual navigation, depth sounding, radar and mobile information, including visual monitoring for all operational and public areas. Plus Fleming has developed its own "Boning" micro-processor controlled wiring system, similar to C-Bus but with a whole lot more. There is digital control and monitoring for every fitting and system, including wind, atmospheric pressure, switch gear for all systems, redundancy for all major components including the autopilot; full engine data, lights, all pumping equipment, range, fuel consumption, door sensors, water circulating pumps, anchoring equipment, batteries and power consumption, plus switch gear for linking, genset, solar input, all lighting, 24/12 Volt DC/DC converters, CO2 detectors and fire system, desalinator and much, much more. The wiring has to be seen to be believed and readouts are all neatly displayed and easily navigated on a single multifunction screen directly in front of the helm.

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The twin-lever digital throttles are a dream to use and combine with joystick and thruster controls on both the upper and lower stations. They feature "Express" mode controls that virtually slip the engine drive for smooth low-speed manoeuvring, easing the high thrust of large propellers. I could seriously write a book about the high-tech but user-friendly systems, but let’s just say that this is real life state-of-the-art technology! The leather helm chair makes you feel like King Odin himself and the neat presentation is finished off with a large stainless steel spoked steering wheel. There’s a lovely L-shaped pilothouse lounge with chart table behind where crew can join the skipper at the helm, and sliding pilothouse doors either side. Of course all internals feature ducted heating and air-con, and Rapture’s owner Norman declared that the dayhead with vanity in the wheelhouse was "one of the best things on the boat!"

Leading off from the centre of the wheelhouse is the main stairwell to the upper deck. The flybridge helm features all the electronic essentials found in the pilothouse, all under the protection of the targa and hardtop that supports the radar, aerials and solar panels. But this elevated platform is actually a refined entertainment arena all of its own and a terrific place to enjoy the journey or a mooring. There are more lounges and a huge dinette to serve the party. It has its own refrigeration, barbecue and a davit for the 3.8m Swift Mirage inflatable with gutsy 60hp Yamaha. To the rear we find yet another docking station with joystick control as well as the hatch for the rear stairwell. This is the ideal position for docking with immediate vision over the port side and stern.

CLASSIC MARITIME

The staircase to the lower accommodation level leads off the helm and turns 90 degrees as it flows below. If you are looking for so-called "Euro" minimalistic décor then the enchantment of the Fleming 58’s superb seafaring demeanor may pass you by. The timber cabinetry encases you in a rich splendour of classic maritime luxury. Close your eyes and use your sense of touch and smell to truly experience the superb fit-out.

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The major difference from its smaller 55ft sistership is the option of a full-beam master stateroom complete with queen island bed with beautifully upholstered bedhead, a settee dressed in velvet, make-up dresser, full walk-in wardrobe and a superb en suite with lashings of premium fittings, and even heated towel rails!

There are a number of optional internal layouts but our demonstrator had a large V-berth up front that seemed even more spacious due to a skylight/hatch encased in a large ceiling recess. There is a guest cabin to port with convertible bunks, with both quarters serviced by a larger bathroom to starboard. This is a bathroom, not an en suite! It’s much larger and has a huge shower and repeats the tasteful fittings and craftsmanship, yet still retains the maritime feel. Master and forward cabins have TV with Foxtel, Blu-ray and premium sound systems, Sonos, and a choice of mood lighting. The teak and holly flooring promotes a terrific flow right throughout the boat.

LET’S GET SERIOUS

The Fleming 58 Rapture is 48 tonnes of boat! That translates to solid, soft and dependable displacement and an incredibly quiet and surprisingly efficient ride. It boasts a solid fibreglass hull with core reinforcing in the upper deck structure only. There are only three main moulds for the build, and the rest of the package is craftsman built by hand. The stability is well assisted by ABT-TRAC digital/mechanical fin stabilisers, and Norman tells us that "I get a mouthful from my wife who can quickly tell if the stabilisers are turned off!"

Rapture is powered by twin 800hp MAN i6-800 12.4-litre electronic turbo-diesel engines with direct fuel injection and closed system cooling. Each engine delivers 2674Nm of torque driving through Twin Disc Quickshift transmissions and Seatorque enclosed shaft coupling systems with 2.609:1 reduction ratio.

The engineroom reflects the professionalism of the rest of the package with good access through the cockpit floor. It displays neat, well-defined systems and accessories allowing terrific serviceability of the multitudes of gear. Regular maintenance of fuel filters and water strainers is easily achieved and within easy reach of the central walkway between the engines.

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This is a very quiet boat, not only due to the smooth running nature of the engines and quality drive system, but also due to the strength and insulation of the solid fibreglass hull construction. In fact max noise in the saloon at WOT was a minimal 71dB(a) and that’s not much above ambient background noise. At a slow cruise around 8.1kts at 900rpm she uses only 17lt/h giving a whopping 2615nm range (no reserve) from 5488-litre capacity. That is true passagemaking economy.

When cruising around home in Moreton Bay, Norman normally raises the bar to around 10kts at 1200rpm which over doubles the consumption to 40.5lt/h reducing range to 1355nm. If you are really keen to get home fast she will open up to a speedy 20.5kts at 2300rpm drinking 275lt/h. The range doesn’t really matter as you would be mad to sit at high-speed all day – but it’s sure nice to have it in reserve!so SO MUCH MORE!

To be honest I am frustrated by the available wordcount as there is just so much more to this wonderful craft worth mentioning. It has dual windlasses (one hydraulic and one electric for redundancy), three separate battery banks (each with their own charging), 38hp hydraulic bowthruster, full fire system, CE rated, Onan genset, ASEA Frequency Converter allowing world-wide power compatibility, watermaker/desal, lazerette with watertight door and much, much more.

So when the time comes for your transit to seventh heaven on the high seas you simply must inspect the Fleming 58 pilothouse cruiser. Rapture indeed, this is aquatic rhapsody in motion!  

Check out the full review in issue #503 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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