52 LE — By Capt. Bill Pike — November 2002
|Part 2: The only thing I didn’t like about our 52 was the engine room—there simply ain’t one.|
It was my turn at the helm once we got back. Having sea trialed several Bluewaters over the years, I was not surprised by the responsiveness of the boat to her rudders and the sweet feel of the wheel. The oomph of Teleflex Sea Star hydraulics combined with engine-driven power assist was partly responsible, but engine placement was also a factor. Bluewater mounts its prime movers low, which yields a fairly low shaft angle, and when they are teamed up with those conical tunnels, the approach yields a more efficient prop/water interface. Moreover, rather than conventionally installing the engines near the keel, the company spaces them as far apart as possible. The upshot? Increased responsiveness and more pivot power in close-quarters handling situations.
Docking our test boat provides a good example. After centering the wheel and turning off the optional Raymarine R80RC Plus radar (no sense exposing people in the marina to unnecessary radiation), I used the Mathers single-lever sticks to do a twin-screw pirouette at the mouth of the slip--just a couple of détente clicks did the trick. Then I backed in with the down-current diesel alone, a ploy that kept the rear of the 52 from falling off with the tide. Handling the bow was a snap. All I needed was a couple of corrective shots from the optional SidePower thruster. The whole thing took just a couple of minutes. Apple-pie easy.
The interior of the 52 is like a lot like other Bluewater interiors I’ve looked at: expansive, sensibly appointed, and homelike enough to accommodate freestanding furniture for the most part. No problem changing the decor here--all you have to do is hit your local furniture store and buy a new sofa and a couple of chairs.
The layout's a classic--master stateroom aft, with en suite head (molded-fiberglass bathtub included), VIP forward, with en suite head again, and galley/saloon/dinette area in between. One notable aspect is the profusion of solidly residential brand names on the equipage: Hunter-Douglas blinds, Grohe plumbing fixtures, Whirlpool dishwasher, Corian countertops. Another is the visibility from inside the boat. Because the windows are large, numerous, and thoughtfully positioned, you can sit on the 52’s Flexsteel sofa or in one of her barrel chairs in the saloon and watch what’s going on outside. Nice for intensely nosey guys like me.
The only thing I didn’t like about our 52 was the engine room--there simply ain’t one. To offer Guardian Power, Bluewater has to install its powerplants inside take-apart furniture and cabinetry in the master stateroom and galley, a stratagem that makes doing routine maintenance, bilge checks, and other chores a little like disassembling and then reassembling a puzzle. On the upside, the company keeps the number of pieces to a minimum and installs beefy, well-built hinges that facilitate movement. Thick layers of Soundown foam inside the machinery spaces and locks that prevent inadvertent opening underway also help.
One final but important point: Your typical coastal-cruising motoryacht spends a fair amount of time either in marinas or at anchor doing duty as a second home. What I especially like about Bluewater’s approach to this mission is the real livability and kick-back comfort that result. For instance, our test boat’s genset, like most other gensets, is destined to do most of its running when folks are asleep--it’s therefore mounted in a Soundown-lined locker under a hatch in the middle of the saloon, as far from both staterooms as possible. Ventilation’s excellent, too. Not only do most of the windows slide open to reveal dense-mesh screens, but the convenient amidships entry door has a sliding screen as well--just like at home. And then there’s the sink and other appliances in the galley: They're not downsized or marinized in the least. They're big and robust--again, just like home.
"What kinda top speed ya gonna put in yer magazine," Jaeckel smiled as he helped load the last case of test gear into the trunk of my rental car. It was day’s end and I was a little tired but a lot convinced that the 52 LE will take a guy places most other motoryachts won’t.
"Gotta go with the conventional speeds...the ones in the channel," I responded. "That stuff near the island was a little, how shall I put it: rarefied."
"Haha," Jaeckel laughed, slapping me on the back, "Not for a Bluewater."
Bluewater Phone: (320) 679-3811. Fax: (320) 679-3820. www.bluewateryacht.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.