Phantom 43 — By Richard Thiel — October 2000
Long-Term Love Affair
|Part 2: Fairline Phantom 43 continued|
A lift-up center section allows access to a deck hatch that leads to the lazarette, six feet long and containing just the battery charger. I dumped our deflated eight-foot inflatable, 6-hp outboard, two bikes, canvas, and the flying-bridge lounge filler cushion here and had room left over. The freshwater pump and rudder quadrants are accessible behind a hinged aft panel.
A larger hatch forward leads to an anteroom mostly taken up by the standard 8-kW Onan genset with hush box and battery box. Aft, a stainless steel box contains solenoids activated by small helm rocker switches, a design that saves helm space and is more pleasant to use. To port are three properly labeled air conditioning pumps, and all through-hulls, even the A/C inlets, have strainers.
The engine space is tight but generally workable. It’s easy to check the oil, but the coolant is another matter. The Volvo Penta engines have no remote expansion tanks, and their coolant fills are right up under the sole. You can check (but not top off) the port engine by blindly sticking your finger into the filler opening, but the only way to access the starboard engine is from the saloon. The entire sole opens via two hatches, but because the port hatch overlaps the starboard one, you must open both to check the starboard engine. So you must first remove the carpet runner (if installed), then the table, then the aft part of the settee. This could be easily and cheaply avoided with a pair of remote coolant tanks and/or small access hatches in the saloon sole.
The saloon, awash in leather and cherry, is truly comfortable. To port, as you enter past the heavy yet smooth-sliding door, is a Sony automotive AM/FM stereo (the optional eight-CD changer is under the lower helm seat), and in a cherry corner cabinet, the TV/VCR sits over the icemaker. Forward, a settee is actually two seats that can be moved across to the beautiful double-fold, hi-lo saloon table. It’s surrounded by the comfortable U-shape settee, the center portion of which is a fold-out double bed. I slept on this for a week (two teenagers got the staterooms) and found it firm and comfortable, although I did have trouble reinstalling the cushions after the mattress was retracted. I also had a problem finding a place for those cushions and the table when the bed was folded out.
Forward on the same side is the lower helm. Like many of you, I first thought it redundant, expecting to use the flying bridge in all but the worst weather. But this soon became my favorite operating venue. Elevated to provide headroom for the stateroom beneath and served by a windshield with heavy-duty wipers with integral washers, it offers superb visibility. It may not be the better spot for spotting lobster pots, but it is definitely superior for docking, offering a much better view aft and better communication with line handlers. Assisting that and offering a breath of fresh air are port and starboard electric windows.
The helm is complete, down to placing all breakers at your fingertips (possible since they are small) and a surplus of electronics space, although our boat didn’t need all of it because she has Raytheon’s Pathfinder combination radar/chartplotter. The Volvo Penta electronic controls are in the center on a pedestal that makes them easy to reach from either of the two pedestal seats. Everything here is laid out with an eye to ergonomics, although passage in and out of the seats is tight.
Down three steps, the lower level offers a port galley that worked well during my week afloat. I feared the below-counter refrigerator might prove small, but it was completely adequate. There’s plenty of Avonite workspace (especially with the two lids covering the deep stainless steel sinks in place), cabinetry, and, thanks to the windshield above and two ports, light. Beneath is a shallow in-sole stowage space; there’s a bigger one behind the stairs, unless you order the washer/dryer, which our boat had and which was convenient and effective, but really slow.
Both the starboard guest and forward master stateroom have hanging closets (the master’s is half-height because of the TV), A/C controls, opening ports, drawer stowage, and near-identical en suite heads, with circular showers and the same headroom as the saloon, about 6'3". The guest has twin berths, but an insert transforms them into a queen, while the master has a full-size hatch with integral screen and shade.
Most of my time was spent on the flying bridge, both underway and at rest. It feels narrow, because of the generous side decks, but it’s actually quite roomy. The helm is low, yet the windshield offers good protection, and the three pedestal seats are comfortable and well positioned, but the helm lacks fuel gauges and the Pathfinder is to starboard where you can’t see it from the helm seat. A port-side chart flat is a good place for the current chart and spares in a separate compartment beneath. Aft and to starboard a peninsula contains a refrigerator, sink, and an optional electric grill that really works. Farther aft, comfortable seating surrounds a fiberglass table that lowers to create a sunpad. All is protected by the sturdiest bimini I’ve ever seen: It’s secured by four plastic-sheathed stainless steel cables with turnbuckles, and I never saw it budge once, even in the six-footers. A stylish aft mast holds a spotlight, various antennas, and the radar, the latter mounted (like too many these day) a bit too low and close to people for my taste.
When it comes to human relationships, it’s said that familiarity breeds contempt. Such is definitely not the case with our Phantom 43. Indeed, our experience with her is best summed up by another old saw: To know her is to love her. She’s become a part of the family, and we’re gonna hate to see her go.
Fairline Boats of North America Phone: (843) 342-3453. Fax: (843) 342-3483. www.fairline.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.