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BOATS

BOAT TESTS

Sealine T60

In the week of my visit, the range of tide at St. Helier, the principal port on the pretty island of Jersey, was about 24 feet. An unsettling moonscape of jagged rocks would appear slowly, twice a day, as the water receded—and then just as slowly disappear again as the tide came in. For boat owners unused to displays of nature’s worryingly sadistic tendencies, such tides concentrate the mind wonderfully, especially as the rocks in question look particularly hard and unforgiving.

Locals took pride in reminding me that this, of course, was nothing—mere neaps. At spring tide, they pointed out with an evil glint in their eye, you could add another six feet to what I was seeing, and on the really big tides in spring and autumn, the range routinely spans 35 feet or more.

All of which makes you wonder. Jersey, in the UK’s Channel Islands off the north coast of France, is one of Britain’s most popular boating centers. Thousands of local boats ply these waters, and each summer they are joined by thousands more from England’s south coast, about 90 miles to the north, and from France, just over the horizon. These boaters are either particularly skillful or extremely lucky, but they make it look easy.

Ironically, this made Jersey an appropriate place for Sealine to launch its new T60 motoryacht. For this is a boat whose designers have burned the midnight oil coming up with features intended to make the business of cruising easier. There are the usual Sealine features, of course, like the easily stowed bimini top and cockpit canopies, the nifty little knobs that control the blinds in the saloon, the hydraulically activated swim platform that allows a tender to be simply floated on and off its chocks, and, of course, the electrically extending cockpit, where the whole transom slides aft to provide extra space for entertaining.

But then there are the other features—loads of them. Take the engine controls. Twin Disc’s off-the-shelf Power Commander allows the helmsman to select a variety of electronic options: “troll,” which governs shaft speed down to as low as 50 rpm for very precise close-in maneuvering; the all-purpose “express,” which provides a low 130 rpm at the shaft at the first detent—equivalent to a five-to-one gearbox reduction—and then allows exceptionally smooth power take-up all the way to full throttle; and “cruise,” which is all most boats offer in the first place.

Down inside, the designers have thought hard about the way people use cruising boats. Sealine always keeps families in mind, whether it’s in the company’s 24-footer (not exported to the United States) or this big, new flagship, and families usually bring with them a lot of gear and lots of people. The question is always where to put everything and everyone. So the T60’s third cabin, which would be great for kids, has three standard berths and a fourth if you want it with two berths down, one up, and a fold-down Pullman. In other words, the boat can sleep eight with no one camping in the saloon, and each cabin has its own en suite head.

Stowage is also crucial. As well as the expected quota of drawers, cupboards, and hanging lockers throughout, you find an enormous drawer under the foot of the berth in the master cabin, while the neat hinged cushions on the curved saloon seats provide excellent hidden access to space that might otherwise be inaccessible. The infill panel that makes a double out of the twin starboard berths is particularly ingenious. Instead of being the usual annoying, large, loose, rigid object with no obvious home, it seemingly comes out of nowhere: The table between the berths unfolds to fill the gap, its deep four-sided fiddle rail swinging down at 90 degrees to become a sturdy box-section support. Seriously clever stuff.

But perhaps the most clever feature on this boat is also the most obvious: the deck layout. On most motoryachts of this size you come in from the cockpit and find yourself in the saloon. Go up a step or two onto the bridge deck, and you’re in the galley and dining area. This is a hangover from larger motoryachts, for owners who like to be seen lounging in luxury by those strolling on the quay but who also want a bit of privacy over dinner. On the T60, however, these two spaces are transposed: The saloon is up on the bridge deck, right behind the helm, enjoying great views from its elevated position out of the windshield and those big side windows. Skylight panels above the helm also add lots of sky to the scene. Meanwhile, the galley and dining area, with moveable furniture and a durable wenge hardwood floor, are down at cockpit level. For a cruising boat, this layout makes perfect sense: You need the view most when you’re relaxing, not when you’re eating. Why doesn’t everyone do it like this? Well, soon they just might.

Sealine’s modular construction methods are almost as clever as the 60’s layout. Whole areas of the accommodations are assembled clear of the hull, including all wiring and plumbing, which allows these services to be run and tested before the sections are lowered into the boat. Internal construction is substantially complete before the deck molding is secured onto the hull.

The joinery throughout the T60 is a high-quality confection of warm-hued pearwood complemented by pale beige upholstery and cream wool carpeting. Zebra ebony and madronna burr provide striking and attractive notes of contrast, as do the dark hardwood flooring, the leather around the helm area, and, of course, the Kirkstone granite countertop. The bold lacquerwork in the galley is described as “aubergine” by Sealine’s stylists. I guess “eggplant” wouldn’t quite cut it. And let’s face it, it’s purple. I would have preferred to see more fiddle rails around the surfaces, particularly in the galley and saloon. They keep things in place and off the floor.

Not that this stately flagship offers anything other than a dignified ride. Although lighter than most of her contemporaries—check out those impressive acceleration figures—and a lively performer with the standard 800-hp Caterpillars, the hull is reassuringly stable. As she rose through her own wake--the only sizeable waves we could find on test day—it was possible to feel the impact in her aft sections (deadrise aft is just 13 degrees) but the forefoot is a nice, sharp 45 degrees, and deadrise amidships is a respectable 22 degrees. It felt like a good seagoing hull, and with the steering set up to give just three turns of the wheel lock to lock, she was enjoyably responsive to drive.

The coast of Jersey is spectacularly pretty. As a backdrop to a boat test it couldn’t have been better. In spite of the water’s fearsome tendency to disappear twice a day, as if a giant plug had been pulled, it was easy to see why these are some of the most popular cruising waters in Europe—even with one eye constantly on the chart, and the other nervously checking the depthsounder. The beaches are broad and sandy, and there are enough bays and inlets for everyone. Your only companions at anchor are likely to be an occasional intrepid Englishman and a scattering of local boats. Listen out for their anchor chains, though. When they start to come up it’s a sure sign the tide has turned and that it is definitely time to go.

Global Yachts
(305) 371-2628

This article originally appeared in the November 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.