56 — By Capt. Bill Pike — December 2002
|Part 2: I was able to walk upright throughout all three staterooms.|
Another aspect of the 56's design that's worth mentioning is the headroom. Compliments of a full-bodied hull, di Simoni was able to lower the boat's internal substructure, cabin sole and all. Such a move boosts headroom at the lower station for sure, but it also cranks up headroom in lots of other places, especially on the lower deck. More to the point, I was able to walk upright throughout all three staterooms: the full-beam master aft, the VIP forward, and, believe it or not, the twin-berth guest stateroom on the starboard side. No stooping in the heads, either!
Which brings up one final virtue of the 56's design--the liveaboard sensibleness of its interior layout. Let me give you just one example. Both the master and the VIP have en suite heads for after-hours privacy. Great? Heck yes, but what's especially groovy and somewhat unusual about the setup is this: With the doors of both these staterooms closed, as they normally will be at night, the guest stateroom automatically picks up a private head of its own, sort of. All you have to do is toodle on down the hall.
But the 56 isn't only about design. The sea trial in Biscayne Bay went well enough. Both upper and lower helm stations were outfitted with top-of-the-line electronics and offered excellent sightlines in virtually all directions. Tracking was also excellent, and turns were fairly broad, which is typical of straight-shot inboards. Performance was off, however, most likely due to a prop-pitching problem. I recorded an average top speed of 33.4 mph at 2210 rpm, almost 100 rpm less than our twin 800-hp Caterpillar 3406Es are rated to turn. What's more, total fuel burn was 75.6 gph at WOT, down something like 5 gph from the two-engine total I would expect, based on Caterpillar's published fuel curves.
As we returned to the marina, Aicon's stateside rep Marc-Udo Broich pointed a finger towards the Raymarine radar scanner behind us on the flying bridge--it was installed on a tall, welded-aluminum pedestal atop the radar arch. He'd taken a story I'd written some years ago to heart, he said, convincing Aicon to mount its radar scanners well above head level on the flying bridge, thus obviating electromagnetic-radiation-associated health risks.
Once we'd gotten the 56 tied up in her slip, Broich and I entered the engine room through a hatch in the cockpit. While we had to stoop slightly due to the five-foot headroom, I was impressed with several details. For starters, I liked that there were two engine-driven emergency bilge pumps, not just one (or even none), in addition to the conventional electric Jabsco. I was also gratified to see a set of duplex Separ fuel filters on the forward firewall--duplex filters mean safety, convenience, and redundancy as well. And finally, I was delighted by the fact that the six AGM 8D batteries--two engine crankers and four house-types--were divided into two separate banks, one in a watertight compartment abaft the rear collision bulkhead, and the other in the engine room itself. This greatly improves the odds on having a working battery--and more importantly, a working VHF--in a flooding or other emergency.
Construction details were equally reassuring. Not only are stringers and transversals made of foam-cored FRP, but interior decks and bulkheads are made of foam-cored FRP panels bonded in place--there's virtually no plywood in the 56. Another element that promotes solidity and strength: a hull-to-deck joint that's secured with Sikaflex 292 polyurethane adhesive and stainless steel bolts on five-inch centers and four thoroughly hull-bonded bulkheads, two of the watertight collision-type, one fore, the other aft.
While I was favorably impressed thus far, my take on our test boat's joinery was mixed. On the one hand, a lot of what I saw was fine, even nicely done. But lapses in quality cropped up here and there, often strangely juxtaposed with artisanal-grade work. The cherry trim pieces around the door to the day head--the one that also serves the twin stateroom--were typical. While I could see they'd been finished and varnished with great care, they were nevertheless sloppily fitted, sloppily fastened, and horror of horrors, butt-joined, not mitered. When I asked Broich about this, he explained that our test boat was the first to be imported from Sicily, and her completion had been "rushed."
Overall, I liked the Aicon 56. She's a very pretty, easy-to-handle motoryacht and an eminently practical one, thanks to the sleight of hand di Simoni melded into the design. Plus a long list of mainstream standards are included in the base price.
"I'm excited about this boat," an enthused Broich said at the end of our day together.
And well he should be.
Aicon USA Phone: (954) 786-0211. Fax: (954)786-9774. www.aiconyachts.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.