— By Capt. Bill Pike
— October 2003
Top of the Line
|Part 2: The boat felt solid and reassuring while moving across the water.|
Whooping around in open water was a blast, although a near-flat-calm sea obviated a rough-water wringout. I recorded an average top speed of 32.2 mph, which was respectable, considering our test boat’s hefty displacement and comparatively small powerplants. The turning radius was tight for an inboard/tunnel configuration, and prop blowout was nonexistent, even with the wheel hardover. Additionally, the boat felt solid and reassuring while moving across the water, a characteristic of most Formulas I’ve test driven over the years.
Solidity was also on my mind while doing a dockside walk-through after our return to Walker’s. I concentrated on three important facets of boatbuilding rather than the express-style layout of our test boat, which was pretty straightforward stuff, with a master stateroom forward, a VIP aft with convertible lounges for sleeping, and a saloon/galley area in between.
Construction came first. Whether I was counting freshwater pumps through a hatch in the saloon sole—Thunderbird installs two biggies instead of just one—or examining the sequential book-matching of veneers on bulkheads and cabinetry, all the details of construction I came across were gratifying. The hull-to-deck joint was chemically bonded with Plexus adhesive and then, in belt-and-suspenders fashion, bolted through backing plates. Laminates were both tough and flawlessly surfaced, thanks to the Ashland AME 5000 modified-epoxy resin that’s used throughout. And structural support came not only from a matrix of Perma Panel, a decay-resistant wood product that’s encapsulated in resin and then laminated into the hull, but from pultrusions (chemically bonded fiberglass stiffeners under engines and along gunwales) and bulkheads circumscribed by glass bonding.
Engineering was the next facet I focused on. For starters, getting into the 47’s machinery spaces was easy, whether I lifted the cockpit sole via motorized actuators or just dropped through the dayhatch. In either case, elbowroom was plentiful, with 2'8" between the engines and 4'10" from deck to overhead with the sole in place. Standard-issue essentials included a 12.6-kW Westerbeke genset, duplex Racors for each main, a 29,000-Btu Marine Air air-conditioning system, and an oil X-Change-R system. The 47’s an expensive boat, but the standards list is long.
My last facet—fit and finish—was the flashiest. Galley drawers were superfine—comprised of solid, clear-grained maple with dove-tailed joints and glossy American cherry facades. Satin-nickel door hardware and other fixtures were equally sweet—the stuff was beautiful and beautifully installed. And the upholstery was thick, supple Ultraleather, with full-grain leather as an option. It’s no wonder Formula’s known for the sculpted look of its lounges, both below decks and topside.
As I began packing up the test gear at the end of the walk-through, it occurred to me that I’d failed to check out one critical component onboard—the whopping entertainment system. So I dialed up some tunes on the Kenwood and kicked back for just a teensy bit.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. If Walker’s Marine was the perfect place to crank up a test on the stylish, savvily engineered Formula 47 Yacht, then Mr. Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks At Forty” (at 98 dB-A) was the perfect way to end it.
Thunderbird Products Phone: (800) 736-7685. www.formulaboats.com.
This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.