Review: Alaska 47 Sedan Cruiser

By: Ben Keys, Photography by: Eddie Lo; Supplied

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  • Trade-A-Boat

There’s something to be said for paring life on the water back to its bare essentials. The Alaska 47 Sedan offers a return to simple, relaxed boating.

 

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Alaska 47 Sedan Cruiser Review

After owning 14 vessels, Terry Mallon knows the business of boating pretty well.
It's no stretch to say that this is one boatie who understands what works for him.
It’s no surprise then that Terry and his wife Barbara opted for the classically-styled Alaska  47 Sedan as yacht number 14.

If you’re familiar with this timeless range of cruisers then you'll understand why. Designed and imported by the Leigh-Smith family from their Sanctuary Cove base, savvy buyers have been snapping up the Alaska line for decades.

The Mallon’s recent line-up of vessels has included an ever-larger series of Rivieras, right up to the 52ft SUV, plus other Alaska models (including an earlier version of the 47). But it’s the current Martha B that has this Gold Coast couple smiling.

"Out of all the 14 boats we’ve had, this is the boat that Barb and I can really say ‘This is our boat’," Terry told us.

"This Alaska 47 does everything we want, and we’re very, very happy with it".

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STYLISH SIMPLICITY

For those who aren't familiar with the Alaska range, they’re best described as smooth-riding classic sedan/flybridge cruisers, with an emphasis on solid handling and superior economy.

Since the Leigh-Smith family introduced the first 42ft offering in 2003, their approach toward the Alaska range has sought to provide efficient performance from reduced horsepower, without sacrificing creature comforts. And hasn’t this tactic found plenty of fans…

To date, Alaska has delivered almost 100 yachts to satisfied customers; an Alaska 49 Sedan currently being built has been designated hull #96, due to launch in the first quarter of 2019. 

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But what is it about the latest Alaska sedan that has this particular yachtie so pleased with his new vessel?

Terry was happy to explain that it came down to simplicity and straightforward handling – which is just what you want from a sub-50-foot sedan.

"The ease of operation is the best," he told us.

"She’s a simple boat to handle. She just ploughs through the water nice and comfortably.

"If I’m in a hurry I can plant it, if not I can just tootle along.

"Plus, it’s so comfortable inside. All the galley arrangements and seating are on one level, and the back windows and doors open up. Basically the whole cockpit and saloon become one space."

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ONE-LEVEL LIVING

Much of Terry and Barbara’s boating centres around the Broadwater and Moreton Bay, with Peel Island a favoured destination; the open plan of the 47 makes on-board living (and socialising) a relaxed affair on these sheltered waters.

Roll-down mesh screens keep the Queensland sun at bay on the covered aft deck. Fisherman Terry has also installed a stainless baitboard, rod holders and a barbecue on the swimplatform, where a tender is stored on flip-down davits.

Thick acrylic breezeway doors to the side decks protect passengers socialising aft when the anchorage becomes windy, but the opening to the saloon is where this Alaska really shines.

Stainless-framed doors concertina across to starboard, on either side of these hopper windows swing up and out to create a seamless connection between inside and out.

Throughout the saloon there’s a contrasting mix of gloss cherrywood finishes and modern appliances sitting opposite a plush L-shaped settee and high-low dining table.

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Here and at the helm, smart use of the Alaska’s 4.25m beam gives one the impression of being on a much larger yacht and it carries through to the accommodation spaces below.

The skipper enjoys a functional helm, where a large timber and stainless wheel adds a traditional touch, in line with the 47’s classic looks.

Controls fall easily to hand and short-handing is made simple with the inclusion of a helm-side door for immediate access to the side decks.

Such a simple yet useful addition, this door (and its partner on the portside) allows the skipper to quickly move forward and aft to check position or set lines while docking; it also increases safety for night vision underway.

At anchor, these twin forward doors promote cross-flow ventilation throughout the yacht, negating the need for air-conditioners or generators if desired.

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PREDICTABLE HANDLING

Combined with the spacious and relaxed living areas, Martha B’s performance really gels with Terry and Barbara’s style of boating.

"The main benefit of this boat is that it is solid and sits comfortably in the water," Terry explained.

"The semi-displacement hull is very economical to run if you don’t drive it flat out.

"Plus, she’s very well built and also extremely easy to handle due to those shaft drives."

Much of that delicious Alaska handling can be linked to these boats’ tendency to lay flat through turns – a product of the variable deadrise hull.

While a fine entry slices through the chop, flat running-surfaces support loaded weight aft with the net result being that each Alaska runs true, with no signs of wallowing, regardless of speed.

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This 47 packs a pair of 480hp Cummins QSB diesels beneath the engine room hatches, where high-capacity and high-pressure common rail diesel tech provides the punch required to move this 18-ton vessel.

Our test within the broadwater produced top speeds of 26kt, but a more sensible cruising range of around 11.5kt at 2,000rpm sees each Cummins sipping just 50L per hour.

The engine space is clinically-white, with plenty of room for attending to maintenance and clear labels to make it easier for the skipper who's keen to take on some tasks themselves.

By installing the engines well forward, the Alaska's engineers have also kept the shaft angle low to increase the efficiency of the four-bladed bronze props.

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CHERRY ON TOP

Below decks, Martha B’s owners enjoy sumptuous, traditionally-styled accommodation, courtesy of that lush cherrywood fitout.

The forward VIP cabin, which regularly hosts the Mallon’s children or friends, offers a V-berth with an infill, allowing easy conversion from
one bed to two.

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A skylight and portlights allow plenty of fresh air and light, while the hanging locker is lined in cedar – another traditional touch.

This cabin shares the dayhead to port and the master suite is situated further aft along the centreline. All cabins are accessed via stairs from the helm station.

The master itself is everything you’d expect from an Alaska – an appealing blend of function and form, all highlighted in gleaming timber.

The centreline queen bed faces forward, with the well-appointed ensuite on starboard.
There are more of those cedar-lined lockers and the whole space enjoys ample natural light.

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THE WRAP

As with every Alaska, this 47 Sedan offers owners a compelling blend of classic and modern ideas.

Much as the stately spoked-wheel at the helm channels power from those high-tech Cummins diesels, the Alaska’s timeless lines disguise an efficient, contemporary hull design below the water.

This inspired mix of the new and the old is what keeps buyers coming back for more, and just one more reason Leigh-Smith Yachts will continue to find success with this popular range of boats.

SEA TRIALS

Twin Cummins QSB 480hp diesels, five people on board, 25% fuel capacity, 50% water.

Rpm Speed (kt) Fuel (L/nm)
1000 6.5 6.0
1500 9.5 22
2000 11.5 50
2500  17 80
3000  21 130
3400 (WOT) 26 180

*Fuel figures recorded by author. Fuel burn is for both engines combined.

This story was originally published in issue #509 of Trade-a-Boat magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest boat news, reviews and travel inspiration.

 


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