There’s no doubt about it. Europeans place a high premium on efficiency, vastly more so than consumers on this side of the pond. And not just with regard to fuel economy, but in relation to space utilization as well. But with fuel prices on the rise and little prospect for relief any time soon, it’s time to take a closer look at the European approach to yachting. A case in point is the new Elling E3, an exceptional Dutch yacht that has been marketed successfully in Europe for years. Rated under ISO Rules, CE Category A for extended ocean passages, she enjoys a well-deserved reputation for comfort, fuel efficiency, and safety—so much so that her self-righting hull reportedly offers full 180-degree positive stability. (Full disclosure: We did not attempt to verify this feature during our sea trial.)
For the European market the Elling E3 is powered by a single 76-hp diesel that delivers a maximum speed of about 8 knots. Engine options for the American market include either a 370-hp Volvo Penta or a 450-hp Cummins diesel, advertised to deliver maximum speeds of 15 or 19 knots, respectively. My test boat, one of only three Ellings in the United States, was powered by a single 180-hp Cummins diesel. (Her owner, a former sailor, had “downsized” several features that are part of Elling’s standard U.S. configuration, including the engine, electronics, entertainment system, and other items.)
To put these engine options into context, understand that the E3 is built on a semidisplacement hull form; with only a modest 76-hp engine, she will cruise quite efficiently at speeds up to her theoretical hull speed of about 8 knots. At higher speeds, a pure displacement hull would wallow in its own stern wave; but the hard chine and flatter aft sections on the Elling’s semidisplacement hull develop dynamic lift, so a larger engine can push the hull over “the hump” to speeds in the high teens with reasonable efficiency. Sadly, the 180-hp version is neither fish nor fowl; with two and a half times the standard horsepower, the E3 delivered only 2 knots more speed than the European version. Owners seeking a good turn of speed should opt for the 370-hp or 450-hp engines to reap the benefits of the hull form’s full potential.
This is not to be critical—quite the contrary. Although I prefer faster boats, the several hours I spent during my sea trial were quite enjoyable. Despite the Chesapeake Bay’s afternoon wind-driven chop of three feet or more, the yacht was comfortable on all headings. Even in beam seas, roll motion was moderate, thanks to roll-damping properties inherent in her hard-chine hull. There’s something relaxing in the quiet thrumming of a single diesel, barely audible as the hull works with the sea instead of fighting it, and sound levels barely below normal conversation—a mere 64 dB-A at 2250 rpm, while making a bit over 8 knots.
Of course, the V-8s are also thirstier, knocking back a little more than 62 gph at WOT. But 0.70 mpg at 23 mph (3500 rpm) isn’t bad. Worth noting also is the fact that like all diesels, the Cummins MerCruisers can be cruised at 90-percent throttle all day long, where gasoline mills like the MerCruisers do best (and last longer) at 3800 rpm or less. In other words, you’ll be able to cruise faster and more economically with the diesel option.
Which might be an important factor, since this boat invites horizon-chasing. Her flying bridge is both comfortable and practical, offering good sightlines and an excellent driving position from one of two comfortable pedestal bucket seats. SmartCraft monitors and dedicated room for displays (our boat had optional twin Northstar 6000is) make for a simple, easy-to-read instrument panel. And while you’re enjoying the 36’s nimbleness, your guests will be appreciating the large L-shape settee and table aft, also a great place to hang out after you drop the hook. Our boat had the optional hardtop, which I would order for the shade it provides, even though to my eye it makes the boat seem a bit top-heavy.
Next page >
Elling E3: Part 2 > Page 1,