Jefferson 52 Pilothouse SE
Jefferson 52 Pilothouse SE — By Capt. Bill Pike —
This Chinese-built performer has standards galore.
It was breezy. Here and there, I could see wind gusts ruffling what little open water there was at Fort Lauderdale’s boat-chocked Billfish Marina. On the plus side of the close-quarters maneuvering equation, there wasn’t much current. As Alan Schmitz, dealer support guy for Jefferson Yachts’ Billfish-based facility, began casting lines off our 52-foot Pilothouse SE (Jefferson’s using SE, or Special Edition, to denote boats being built in mainland China rather than Taiwan these days), I detected little or no movement of the yacht from my spot on the flying bridge. She just sat there.
Visibility from the upper helm was good. Whether leaning over the flying-bridge cowling or taking a few steps aft towards the boat deck, I could easily keep tabs on Schmitz’s progress. “Good to go,” he grinned once he’d finished hanging the last line on an upwind piling. Having kicked the bow to port with the starboard engine to put Schmitz near the piling, I recentered the boat in her slip with a pulse from the port main and then clutched ahead on both diesels.
For true boathandling fun, nothing beats a combination of great visibility, plenty of low-end, twin-screw propeller torque, and a set of fine engine controls. Ours were split mechanical SRs from Teleflex Morse—in my book, some of the sturdiest, smoothest mechanicals on the market today.
The trip down the New River to Port Everglades and beyond proved just as endearing. In two narrow, twisty places, one known locally as “The Wiggles” and the other as “Little Florida,” the boat behaved with mannerly elegance. In the first location, I had to ease backwards a boat length or so to accommodate a large, inbound motoryacht, an exercise smoothed out by our boat’s wind-resistant heft and torquey maneuverability, but also by her modest but effective keel. In the second location, I had to turn a bend so tight I swear I caught sight of our swim platform dead ahead, a phenomenon facilitated by some big, strapping, stainless steel rudders.
The rudders also did us proud out in the open Atlantic. For starters, our 52 tracked steadfastly in the light conditions prevailing at the time, whether I was going upsea, downsea, or sidesea. Then too, the test boat’s turning radius was tight, a virtue partly attributable to a nicely balanced, bow-up running attitude, but also to rudders positioned and installed for maximum effectiveness. And finally, during a simulated mechanical breakdown, the 52 kept right on truckin’ on just one engine. At 1750 rpm, for example, I recorded a speed of 11.2 mph and at 2600 rpm a speed of 13.4 mph, regardless of whether the starboard main was shut down or the port. Moreover, in both cases, I could easily steer to starboard or port.
This article originally appeared in the July 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.