Swift Trawler 42 — By Capt. Bill Pike
— January 2004
|Sail-savvy Beneteau unveils a powerboat that’s as romantic as an old Bogart flick.|
Humphrey Bogart should be test-driving this baby, not me. That’s what I was thinking as I watched Beneteau’s Swift Trawler 42 sedately cross Back Creek en route to her slip at Bert Jabin’s Yacht Yard in Annapolis, Maryland. I folded my arms across my chest and stood there smiling, admiring the boat’s classic lines from the balcony of Jabin’s office. By stretching my imagination only slightly, I could envision the Beneteau playing a feature role in any number of romantic old movies, although To Have and Have Not seemed to top the list. In spite of her French lineage and modern appearance, I could imagine the boat working her way through the cinematic shadows and intrigues of Vichy Martinique in the early 1940’s, Bogart at the helm.
The 42 slowed to a crawl, then began sidling gently to starboard toward an empty pier. I heard a couple of short bursts from the electric bow thruster as her shapely curves compressed a couple of fenders. A guy inside moved away from the lower helm station, eased through the nearby sliding door onto the wide, teak-plank side deck, and stepped ashore via the hinged door in the bulwarks. He began tying up with a casual air.
I scrutinized the 42 more closely. Maybe “classic” wasn’t exactly the best word for describing such a craft. Maybe, given the glossiness of her electric-blue hull, the burnished gleam of her stainless steel quarterguards and rubrails, and the modern Raymarine radar antenna mounted halfway up the white, all-aluminum mast, “neo-classical” was more applicable. The boat’s tumblehome hull form, high bulwarks, and custom, round portlights were flat-out traditional, for sure. But the materials and components giving substance to these features were wholly contemporary.
I struck out for the Beneteau with an enthusiastic gait, a clipboard in one hand and a Pelican case burgeoning with boat-testing paraphernalia in the other. Wayne Burdick, the guy I’d been watching from the balcony, was just securing the last dockline when I arrived. Burdick is president of South Carolina-based Beneteau USA, which in the future will likely take over the 42 project from the French plant that was handling it when I did my test. I noted with relish that the guy seemed to know his way around a clove hitch, a simple talent I seldom encounter on the boat-test trail these days, sadly enough.
Since the 42’s twin 370-hp Yanmars were still running, we decided to do our sea trial in Chesapeake Bay immediately. I took the con at the lower station, where visibility was superb—I could see the transom through the sliding saloon doors, check the sides of the boat through the two cabin doors, and had virtually unobstructed forward visibility thanks to the narrowness of the windshield mullions.
Unfortunately, the single-lever, mechanical Volvo Penta engine controls were sticky—I much prefer precisely detented electronic types from Volvo and other manufacturers—but maneuvering was excellent. I departed the dock easily enough and spun the boat within her own length by simply clutching the mains in and out of gear. I managed to zigzag through a couple of anchorages en route to the bay with rudders alone.
This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.