In China this is the year of the pig. But in Sweden it's clearly the year of the IPS, as numerous builders in multiple countries introduce models designed to accommodate Volvo Penta's innovative propulsion system. In this regard Cranchi was no exception, having promoted its first IPS model (the Mediterranee 43 Open) for nearly two years prior to its debut earlier this year. Then recently Cranchi offered an encore, the Mediterranee 43 HT, a hardtop version that offers warm sun and fresh air when you want it and protection from the elements when you need it. I spent a day getting to know the first 43 HT to be delivered to the United States and came away impressed with her exceptional performance, handling, and style.
To be honest, I've long had an affinity for Cranchis. Maybe it's because of the fine Italian craftsmanship evident in their construction or their stylish look that's contemporary but not overly so. Or it could be the spirited performance and the solid, secure feeling that I've come to expect from Cranchi. Then again, maybe it's the dedication and enthusiasm of Cranchi's Florida-based director for North America, James Clayton, and his sales and marketing coordinator, Brittany Carr, both of whom joined me during my sea trial of the 43 HT. Most likely, it's the synergy of all these elements.
Certainly, the keynote feature of the 43 is her IPS and the implications of it on maneuverability, performance, and efficiency. I'll address each of those issues in due course, but the other major ramification of IPS stems from engine placement: With the engines farther aft, there's more space on the lower deck for accommodations. How that additional space gets used is what will ultimately distinguish the success of each builder's IPS-equipped model. The importance of this became immediately apparent as I took my first walk-through of the boat's interior.
In open/express-style yachts of this size, it's almost a given that the master stateroom is in the bow, while a midcabin stateroom, often having limited headroom, is tucked in under the bridge deck. So as I walked through the Cranchi 43 HT, it was not surprising to find a stateroom in each of the aforementioned locations. But I was perplexed and had to inquire of Clayton, "Which of these two is the master?" Even more surprising was his answer, "I'm not sure." Truth be told, with a queen-size berth on centerline, port and starboard hanging lockers, and an en suite head, the bow stateroom is as roomy and comfortable as the master on any boat of this size and style.
But the midcabin stateroom was a real eye-popper. Thanks to the aft engine placement, it offers a queen-size berth athwartships in a full-beam space that measures 6'10" in the fore and aft direction and more than 13 feet across. Opposite the berth, along the port side, there's a hanging locker, a settee, vanity, and a recessed flat-panel TV. Because of the raised helm deck directly above, there's more than seven feet of headroom at the foot of the berth and 6'1" headroom at the doorway. There's also a private entry to a head with sink and shower; a second doorway from the saloon lets guests enter the head without intruding on the stateroom. Surprising, this midcabin head is larger than the one adjoining the bow stateroom, compounding the question of which stateroom is the master. I noted, though, that because the midcabin head has two doorways, its shower has only a curtain, not a full separate enclosure like the head in the bow.
Nonetheless, while some owners will certainly use the (traditional) bow stateroom as the master, I expect that an equal number will claim the roomy midcabin stateroom as their own. Either way, guests will feel well-accommodated. And for pairs of couples who regularly cruise together, the separate but equal spaces will be especially attractive, leaving neither couple to feel as though they've had to compromise.
Between the two staterooms is a cozy saloon and galley area at the base of a teak stairway up to the bridge deck. The treads on the stairs are comfortably spaced, and each is illuminated by a blue LED that assures safe access even in subdued light. Saloon soles are matte-finished teak, a fitting departure from the more traditional teak and holly, given the contemporary style of the boat's interior, but perhaps more prone to spotting from greasy foods. The step-saver galley puts all the essentials within arm's reach; the Corian countertop has a two-burner cooktop (with pot restraint) and a 14-inch-diameter, six-inch-deep stainless steel sink big enough to be useful. Alongside is a five-cubic-foot, two-door refrigerator/freezer and a microwave oven. Above, a double-door cabinet with shelves and holders can accomodate dishes, cups, and glasses for six, which are included as standard equipment. About the only detail I didn't care for in the saloon was the plastic molding that surrounded an overhead port and adorned the ends of the cabinetry. I would have preferred wood molding to match the attractive oak and wenge joinery in the saloon.
One thing conspicuous by its absence in the saloon was noise, specifically air-conditioner noise. The business end of the whopping 38,000-Btu chilled-water A/C system is back under the aft deck, so even when coping with Florida heat and humidity on a sweltering July day, the lower deck was cool and quiet. Taking a cue from my query about the air conditioning, Clayton went on to explain that Cranchi paid a lot of attention to locating auxiliary systems, placing a high priority on ease of access. The design goal was to have all systems replaceable within 20 minutes. Examples include the freshwater tank, located under the forward berth and built in two parts so it can be removed through the doorways, and the vacuum generator (for the MSDs) in a hatch beneath the saloon sole.
The same philosophy was evident in the engine room. Rams lift a big hatch in the aft deck, allowing unencumbered access to both the Volvo Penta diesels and the systems surrounding them. Between the engines, batteries are mounted in boxes along the centerline, keeping their weight as low as possible. Equipment foundations are made of either stainless steel or plastic; to keep maintenance to a minimum, there's no wood.
Taking the 43 out for sea trials, Clayton invited Carr to maneuver the boat out through the confined spaces of the boat basin and into the ICW. He did so with a purpose, knowing that she is a novice boat handler. No matter. Using the highly intuitive IPS joystick, she maneuvered the 43 with ease. And taking a turn at the helm myself, I was (again) impressed by how easy boat handling can be, thanks to Volvo Penta's IPS and joystick system.
I was also impressed by the boat's positive helm response, again due to the IPS drives, which have no rudders but instead vector the propeller thrust for steering. Acceleration was swift and sure, thanks to dual counter-rotating props and a horizontal shaft angle that are inherent in IPS. Cranchi's attention to weight control coupled with the efficiency of the IPS drive yielded a top speed of more than 39 mph while delivering 0.9 miles per gallon. And at best cruise, she can boast 1.33 miles per gallon at almost 30 mph. Those are exceptional numbers for a boat of this size and style.
While much of the 43 HT's appeal stems from her choice of propusion system, Cranchi has done its share by delivering a smart-looking, well-thought-out boat that should make her stand out from others in the IPS crowd. She's an exceptional yacht with a lot to offer.
For more information on Cranchi Boats, including contact information, click here.
Cranchi specifies a standard fixed swim platform on its Mediterranee models. But our 43 HT had a TNT hydraulic platform (price on application). Decked in teak, it looked just like a fixed platform when raised. Extending full beam and nearly five feet fore and aft, it was big enough for a boatload of guests. But what really captured my interest was that almost all of the hydraulic components for the platform, including the beefy rams, are above the waterline and easily accessible. The rams are behind the cockpit seat backs, for example. Keeping components out of the water also helps reduce corrosion.—G.L.P.
TNT Lift Systems
8-kW Fisher Panda diesel genset w/ hushbox; 34,000-Btu Webasto Bluecall Premium chilled water A/C; cockpit carpet and wet bar w/ sink, BBQ, Isotherm icemaker and ‘fridge; teak foredeck; IPS joystick controls; Raymarine E-120 GPS/chartplotter, autopilot; bow sunpads; 1-kW electric windlass
searchlight; 6/fender covers; teak cockpit sole; Raymarine color radar; gloss finish on interior joinery; stern enclosure
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600s
- Transmission/Ratio: Volvo Penta/1.94:1
- Props: Volvo Penta T5 Nibral Alloy
- Price as Tested: $724,906
This article originally appeared in the October 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.