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Cranchi Mediterranee 47 HT

As I write this, a commuter heading down I-80 in Kearney, Nebraska, may be getting an early-morning eyeful as 47 feet of Italian yacht passes him port to port. The yacht is a Cranchi Mediterranee 47 HT whose odyssey started in a lamination room back at the builder's Lake Como, Italy, headquarters several months ago and will end with Warren and Gail Dent taking possession of her in Seattle. And that's when the real journey begins, as the Dents plan on cruising their 47 to the scenic waters of British Columbia's Desolation Sound.

But surely these anxious owners could've selected a locally built boat? Why would they choose a vessel built halfway around the world from their homeport? After all, it's no small feat to ship a boat to the States, then truck it across the country.

Warren explains. The couple's powerboating life started five years ago with a 24-foot Cobalt, quickly followed by a 37-foot Formula PC. Then they began looking beyond day boating and wanted a craft that had more range and accommodation spaces but still possessed runabout-like performance. After a lot of research, they found Cranchi. Warren says several factors made him pull the trigger on the 47. "We were impressed with the finish of the boat," he says, adding that the detail extended beyond the everyday areas like the centerline, U-shape cockpit seating and high-gloss cherrywood-accented saloon; all the nooks and crannies were well finished.

I agree. I had a chance to intercept this 47 before she hit the highway (sorry for delaying your delivery, Warren and Gail) and, after a day aboard in Pompano Beach, Florida, was also impressed by the quality of the finish. It's especially evident below decks where access hatches meet the deck. I've seen some other boats where the hatches rest on wood frames. Cranchi uses composite frames, which offer substantial support along with a smooth finish and aesthetic appeal. The cabinets and closets are also grain-matched, form fit, and clean, and the laminate on the inside of the hull is finished smooth.

In addition, where pumps or ancillary gear need to be secured in out-of-way places, Cranchi uses King StarBoard, a synthetic polymer, for mounting brackets, as opposed to wood (larger structures like the water tanks and genset are supported on sturdy stainless steel mounts). Cranchi's U.S. distributor, James Clayton, says the backing plates will last a lifetime—unlike wood-based mounts—and can be formed into any shape. King StarBoard is used liberally on the 47, for everything from supports under the foredeck sunpads to the fabricated locking mechanism for the tender garage.

The Dents also commented on how looks matter. "In general, we have been unimpressed with the style of hardtop express cruisers under 50 feet," says Warren. "Many of them look like an add-on or an afterthought to the open design." Like the Dents, I found the 47's hardtop works with the boat's lines as opposed to making the boat appear that she's just wearing a big hat. The top incorporates an aggressive forward rake that follows the 47's sleek, low-profile lines and curved side windows. Its curves are further accented along the inside with high-density foam (painted metallic gray) that's molded, sets hard, and is durable yet softly contoured, providing a contemporary visage. (This painted foam is also found below decks to cover air-conditioning vents as well as on the foredeck to cover speakers.) The look works. However, as this is new technology, Clayton says there is some question about the durability of the paint if it spends a lot of time in direct sunlight—the gray contains a lot of black that will absorb heat, possibly leading to paint degradation.

The hardtop retracts, so you can stand at the centerline helm seat, drop the teak footrest, and pop your head through the top for wind-in-your-hair driving. I did it, and it was fun, but it also revealed a drawback. If you are more than six feet tall and stand at the wheel, you'll hit your head on the hardtop when it's closed. (I told you it was an aggressively raked top.)

Visibility in all directions, however, is excellent, even at 40-plus mph. I took special note of the forward sightlines as I bumped the Volvo Penta single-lever throttles forward to ease the 47 out of her slip. Her nose slopes down, similar to some high-performance raceboats, so that clean visibility came in handy. While waiting for the bridge at Hillsboro Inlet, I effortlessly kept all nearby boats, buoys, and other potential hazards in check.

I didn't have to worry too much, though. I easily handled the 47 thanks to solidly performing ZF transmissions with a nearly 2:1 gear reduction, torquey 575-hp Volvo Penta D9 diesels (the standard engine for this boat, but 500-hp Volvo Pentas are also available), and 24x38.5, five-blade Teignbridge wheels all working in concert. I never needed the standard bow thruster; the 47 held station with just a throttle bump here and there, in spite of a wickedly strong incoming tide.

Now a word on accessing those workhorse powerplants: difficult. There is a day hatch under the centerline bridge-deck table, but the oil dipsticks and oil fills cannot be reached from here. There's another hatch in the tender garage that enables better engine access, provided you don't have your three-person PWC stowed here. From this space I managed to slide my 5'7" frame over the standard soundshield-encased 12-kW Fischer Panda genset and into the compartment. I could get one arm between the engines and reach the dipsticks and oil fills.

One great engine-room feature is the 47's water-containment well. It's a tall plastic cylinder that surrounds the transducers. This tube-like setup sits above the outside water level so that if water intrudes the hull at the transducer, it cannot rise above the well and enter the bilge.

But neat features are numerous on the 47. The below-deck galley has an under-counter drawer that pulls out and then spins 90 degrees to maximize cabinet space. Then there's the guest cabin with 5'10" headroom courtesy of a raised bridge deck. While midcabins are usually reserved for kids, because this one's headroom is substantial, an adult couple will be quite comfortable here. And that centerline bridge-deck seating and entertainment area sports a full grill, wet bar, and an ice maker that makes wet ice. What's wet ice, you ask? It's ice that begins to melt after it's made so that the cubes don't collect and stick to each other at the bottom. (The excess water drains overboard.)

While I'm not sure that wet ice was on the Dents' list of requirements, it shows what attracted the couple to Cranchi. This is a builder that cleverly blends innovative accents with sleek lines, solid performance, and an efficient two-stateroom layout. And when you consider that Warren Dent comes from an innovative company himself—a small one called Microsoft—you could say that the merger of this boat and these owners was meant to be.

Perhaps there's a 47 HT in your future. But that one you just saw on a truck heading through San Francisco? Sorry, she's spoken for.

Cranchi
(011) 39 0342 683 359

This article originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.