Mediterranée 50 — By Capt. Bill Pike
|Italian craftsmanship, solid engineering, and a wave-bashin' hull--this 50 has it all.|
I love going fast, especially on the water. There's no better way to latch onto the very essence of being alive, in my opinion, than driving a lithe, high-performance speedboat, with 1,000 horsepower in her machinery spaces, at well over the speed limit on our nation's interstate highways. No better way to experience life at its most gutsy level, with moments of sheer intensity and a heightened awareness that's seldom encountered in tamer pursuits.
I think one design element in particular is critical to the true enjoyment of going fast afloat: a good running surface. I remember feeling excitement--and excitement only--while driving a Douglas Marine Skater Cat on Long Island Sound at approximately 116 mph several years ago. Not long after, while test-driving an experimental catamaran in the same size range in Florida waters at not even half the speed of the Skater, I remember feeling considerable anxiety and discomfort during my time behind the wheel. What made one boat inspire confidence and the other fear? Although balance, a proper job of rigging, expertly tuned control surfaces, and steering hydraulics played their parts, bottom shape was the most important factor, in my opinion.
But there's more to life than going fast, of course. Another thing I love is driving a nicely designed and balanced offshore-capable boat offshore. Especially in rousing sea conditions pretty much like the ones James Clayton, Cranchi's stateside rep, and I encountered recently while testing the Cranchi Mediterraneé 50, a three-stateroom, two-head Italian cruiser with sea-chompin', bluewater-stompin' handling. And here again, I think the primary reason why the boat performed so well offshore was a well-designed running surface.
Clayton and I started our day routinely enough. With no chance of collecting accurate high-speed numbers offshore given the conditions out there, we gathered the acceleration and other data shown here in the lee of Peanut Island in the port of Palm Beach. The results were impressive, mostly thanks to a sporty top end of 35.8 mph and decibel readings in the cruising range that made conversation possible most of the time.
Operational aspects were impressive as well, thanks to a comfortable driver's seat that was adjustable fore and aft as well as up and down, excellent sightlines forward, and a savvily prioritized dashboard layout I like a lot, except for one detail. Cranchi mounts the Volvo Penta electronic engine controls vertically, which makes centering the levers in neutral much less intuitive than I'd like. Why not swap them out with the two engine-start switches on the flat just to the right of the steering wheel, so clutching the engines out of gear leaves the levers standing straight up?
When we got to the open Atlantic for the rough-water portion of PMY's testing procedure, the Gulf Stream looked like a battlefield, with four- to six-foot seas soldiering down from the north, pushed along by winds gusting to 25 knots or so. Nevertheless, the driving experience was marvelous, thanks to a running surface with both complex and unique features. Although shallow prop pockets, spray-knocking chines that extend well forward, and lifting strakes which fade out of existence astern contribute to the overall theme, the true genius of the 50's underwater form seems to lie in combining flattened aft sections that boost transverse stability and a succession of dramatically deep, knife-like bow sections that slice waves with a vengeance.