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BOAT TESTS

Fjord 40 Open

Alongside the dictionary definition of the word unconventional, one might rightly expect to find an image of the Fjord 40. Quite simply, she looks like no other 40-footer around. Her styling is about the boldest I've ever seen in a waterborne craft, rivaling the over-the-top Wally Tender for imaginative pizzazz. And for good reason, it turns out: Both projects were developed by Patrick Banfield and Allseas Design.

About a week before the Miami International Boat Show, I got an e-mail asking me to fly down a day early to test the first Fjord 40 in the United States. I called Alex Harrison of Hanse Yachts, sales rep for the Fjord 40, who told me the boat would be docked at the Sea Isle Marina. Now, bear in mind, this marina is big, and there are hundreds of boats there during the show. But Harrison assured me I'd have no trouble finding the Fjord 40. He was right.

With her nearly plumb bow and massive freeboard, she sits in stark contrast to the curvaceous, sweeping contours so prevalent on yachts today. Powerful yet minimalist, her styling commands attention. Some may love it, others will not, but all will take notice. With such clean, simple surfaces above her waterline, it seemed to me that she'd been designed with as much attention to aerodynamics as to hydrodynamics. I couldn't wait to see how she performed.

The preceding two days had seen winds and thunderstorms pelting South Florida, but we caught a short break in the weather in which to test the 40 in the sheltered confines of Government Cut. From a standing start, the twin 375-hp Volvo Penta IPS drives delivered an impressive hole shot, effortlessly kicking the trim, 16,700-pound hull onto plane. Acceleration remained strong as the engines spun up to their rated rpm and my radar gun climbed past 42 mph. Volvo Penta's patented QL trim control system easily managed the modest bow rise in the midrange.

Eyeballing the next wave of storm clouds moving in from the west, we decided there was time for a quick run through the inlet to see how the Fjord 40 performed in a seaway. It proved to be a drenching decision, but not because of rain. Lumpy seas of six feet and more had stacked up inside the inlet, and it seemed like most of the larger waves were looking for a joyride in the cockpit of the Fjord 40. The boat handled nicely, but by the time we cleared the inlet, we were soaked from head to toe. To be fair, few other boats our size were even running the inlet that day, but I have to think that the bluff bow and virtual absence of flair made the trip wetter than it might have otherwise been.

Though we'd been doused, the return run back through the inlet rekindled our spirits. It was an exhilarating ride, leaping from crest to crest across the waves at 25 knots and more, with no seas coming aboard. The hull form and the IPS drives teamed up to deliver a feeling of complete control; no matter if seas were on the bow, abeam, or from astern, the 40 tracked with certitude even in seriously sloppy conditions.

We arrived back at the marina just as the next line of squalls pushed through. Fortunately the IPS drives and joystick control made it simple to thread our way through the maze of floating docks and back easily into our slip moments before the rain hit. Wet as I already was, I was nonetheless grateful for the shelter offered by the sleek hardtop; with the cloth filler snapped in between the front edge of the T-top and the top edge of the windshield, we waited out the deluge in comfort.

The wait gave me a chance to take a closer look at the windshield: a high-tech-looking, curved acrylic panel supported by stout angled posts on either side. A gap of about an inch along the bottom edge allows fresh air to enter the helm area while keeping rain water out. That's a nice touch, but on the down side, there's no structural frame across the top of the windscreen, presumably to keep the clean, stylish look. As a result the windscreen noticeably flexes if you grab it (as one might do in heavy seas), a marked contrast to the solid feel of everything else on the boat.

A day later, when the rain abated, I had another chance to go aboard the Fjord 40 and to admire her features in a whole new light. As I studied the handsome teak decking on the aft deck, swim platform, side decks, and foredeck, Harrison pointed out that it was vacuum-bagged to the decks, leaving no holes for water intrusion or bungs that might need to be replaced. The aft deck is dominated by a substantial drop-leaf, hi-lo table and a pair of facing settees that can accommodate up to eight guests. The seatbacks are reversible, so both settees can face either forward or aft; for dining, they can both face the table between them. With the table lowered, the whole shebang converts to a sunpad that's about seven feet long and eight feet wide. And if that isn't enough, the deck beneath lifts on hydraulic rams, offering open access to the remarkably uncluttered engine room below. Unfortunately there's no ladder down to the engine room, making for an awkward climb into and out of the space, especially if the motors are too hot to touch.

Speaking of hot, the bright, warm Florida sun made the on-deck galley area all the more appealing. Located just forward of the dinette (and abaft the helm area), the galley sports a stainless steel sink and a two-burner cooktop fueled by diesel rather than propane or electricity, so there's no need to have a genset or a second fuel source for cooking. Beneath the sink is a teak drawer for bottle stowage, while under the cooktop a stack of teak drawers with adjustable pegs securely stows dishes and glasses of varying sizes. Clever, but what really caught my eye was the magnetic closure on each drawer; push it almost closed and a magnetic piston pulls it tight, ensuring a soft but secure closure every time.

With all the open deck space on the Fjord 40, I had no great expectations for the lower deck area, and was therefore not too disappointed when I went below. To port is a modest but nicely appointed head with wet shower, while on the starboard side there's a small settee and a berth for wee ones. The main berth is in the bow, flanked by stowage lockers but no hanging locker.

But hey, she was not designed as a cruising yacht. She's a dayboat, and a real classy one at that. She's also fast, well built, and a great performer. But maybe best of all, wherever she goes, she'll turn heads.

For more information on Fjord Boats, including contact information, click here.

If you want to cook aboard, you generally have two choices. On boats with a genset, electric cooktops are customary, while those without a genset usually carry some other fuel for cooking: propane or alcohol in tanks or maybe charcoal for a grill.

But if your boat burns diesel fuel, you can use the Wallas stove, which has a ceramic surface like an electric cooktop and is fueled by the same diesel your engines use. Flush-mounted and vented, it can also be fitted with a lid that transforms it into a forced-air heating unit.—G.L.P.

Scan Marine Equipment
(206) 285-3675

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.