A World Unfolding
With a contemporary yet salty look, the Cranchi Eco Trawler 53 LD offers her own appealing set of cruising parameters.
If you stop for a moment and really consider the leaps and bounds boating has made in the last 20 years, you could only draw the conclusion that incredible options have opened up in ways previously unforeseen and unpredicted. The idea that builders would be creating a wealth of choices in the marketplace where before there wasn’t even a segment is something that few saw coming. Category killers have joined the fray, and remember, boatbuilding is a tiny industry compared to automotive and others, so the investment in new-model development is incredible.
While there are others, the boat type that is the most striking example of this creation to my mind is the fast trawler. It’s the kind of boat that may have initially made us say, Who would want that? (as only someone who didn’t have the idea first could do), only to watch the compass of our opinion swing 180 degrees as we saw the way these models could meet a boater halfway. The boats bring some of the efficiency and low fuel burn, but with the option of being able to get out of their own way when a storm is a-brewin’ or a meeting after the weekend got moved up—and to hit those useful speeds, sometimes right around 20 knots, without breaking the bank completely. (Hey, the fact that it’s even an option leaves many bluewater passagemakers two days behind).
Let’s face it. There are those among us who appreciate the salty profile of a trawler, but don’t have the time for a true offshore cruiser (maybe later, but for now a coastal cruiser is enough).
The Eco Trawler 53 LD from Cranchi brings a degree of Italian design flair to the trawler discussion and it just works—she’s got a bit of an origami feel to her, all angles and flat planes. She looks new for certain, but she’s got aspects to her shape that are reminiscent of the classics. Isn’t that what timeless design does? When we dug into the details and really got to know her, we couldn’t help but see a whole world of possibilities unfold from this hull. Don’t underestimate a builder with the history that Cranchi has, since institutional memory can sometimes combine with present-day technology and market forces to stretch into something that surprises everyone.
Consider the disruptive force that the Volvo Penta IPS system has had on boating in general, and in boats using the word “trawler” in their branding in particular, and you know the world is now friendly to pods and won’t ever look back. This boat makes the most of its 435-horsepower IPS600s with efficient cruising speeds throughout the rpm range, according to Cranchi’s test data.
When I got aboard the Eco Trawler 53 LD for her sea trial at the Cranchi testing and commissioning facility in Marano Lagunare, on the northern Adriatic coast between Venice and Trieste, I was greeted by the company rep and also a regional Volvo Penta service technician, whose laptop was tethered to the engines via a tangled vine of wires stretching down through the open engine room hatch in the cockpit sole.
So it turned out there would be a mellow boat ride today as they tried to sort some software glitch, but the boat handled at a slow cruise just fine, and the lines of sight from those vertical windows surrounding the lower helm really made for great sightseeing in a lovely part of the world. But this boat can get up and move, according to the builder’s sea-trial report. She topped out at a two-way average of 22.5 knots while the Volvo Penta IPS600s burned a bit over 40 gallons per hour, a reasonably efficient combination that could open up huge cruising possibilities, which traditional displacement trawlers can’t muster.
Volvo has strict design criteria for boatbuilders, which place the pods aft in the hull for naval architecture and engineering reasons. Many builders link the engines directly to the pods (rather than using jackshafts to move the engines forward), and so the engines end up back there, too. Cranchi does that here, and so using IPS helps deliver more usable space in the hull—if the amidships master doesn’t convince you, just have a look at the athwartships crew’s quarters abaft the chain locker in the bow to see what kind of creative thinking the technology inspires.
Interestingly, the IPS joystick on both upper and lower helms is placed on centerline, on the console ahead of the wheel—a spot that I considered awkward until I realized the way I would use it. I like designs that make you think, and this Eco Trawler certainly does that.
To discuss what this boat has to offer in terms of comfort aboard I will begin—where else? The foredeck. Cranchi has been paying attention to what happens on boats and also what other builders are doing. Two enormous sunpads forward are punctuated by a couple of hatches to the forepeak VIP, and I liked the grabrails. A wide settee sits at the base of that broad windshield, and a fabric sunshade top (for use at anchor) can be deployed to make the area even more special. Traveling fore and aft on this boat is simplified by side decks that are 15 inches wide at the deck. That’s face-forward wide, in case you were wondering, a good thing because there’s a 9½-inch step about half of the way there.
The cockpit makes the most of the shade from the flying bridge, largely because the upper deck is designed with a flare outboard aft to offer more shelter as well as to accommodate a dinghy. The forward end of the flying bridge is taken up with a helm offset to port (and which lines up with the stairs to the cockpit to improve the view aft for close-quarters maneuvering).
To go inside from the cockpit, a 31½-inch door slides open, and combines with another, 19-inch swinging door in the aft bulkhead to really open up the space between saloon and cockpit. An aft galley to port has lots of locker and fridge and freezer space, while an L-shaped settee to starboard ensures the chef will never want for company. Large windows let in light and really brighten the space, and the 6-foot, 5-inch overhead doesn’t hurt either. Up two (slightly awkward) 6-inch steps forward and we’re on the helm deck, where a companion dinette to port and the helm console offset slightly to starboard create a sociable area for when conditions above aren’t amenable to alfresco cruising. The companionway to the accommodations is abaft the helm seat, and, frankly, we would not mind seeing those stairs protected a bit better with a railing and perhaps even a swinging gate.
Belowdecks, the amidships master suite anchors a three-stateroom layout, with an athwartships berth, a voluminous hanging locker that could almost count as a walk-in, and an aft head with a large shower. The forepeak and port-side guest staterooms share the dayhead off the passageway. All areas are very sleekly designed with clean, unbroken walnut-veneer panels, and modern touches such as basin sinks, stitched fine leather, and contemporary geometric drawer pulls.
That port-side stateroom is a flexible space at the build stage. The boat I tested had a pair of single berths, but one can opt for bunks, or an office with a desk and love-seat settee, or even a dinette.
And when you’re ready to go on your next cruise, consider your options. As I said, this is a boat that makes you think.
Test Boat Specifications
- Transmission/Ratio: Volvo Penta IPS, 1.82:1 gear ratio
- Props: Volvo Penta TS4
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.