Flair & Balanced
Galeon Yachts packed a lot of boat into the 420 Fly, and managed to do it with style.
For the purposes of this article, let’s define “pocket-size” as flying-bridge cruisers with LOAs longer than 45 feet. Those are the kind of boats whose owners want as much onboard accommodation and living space as possible, which is great, but so very often it can come at the expense of the aesthetic appeal of her lines. Capt. Richard Thiel alluded to the plight of the pocket-size motoryacht in his review of the Carver C34 [see “Same Difference,” September 2013, here ➤]. Oftentimes boat buyers are forced to choose between having standing headroom in the master and not driving a boat that looks like a ski boot. To anyone that’s ever had this dilemma, might I point you in the direction of the Galeon 420 Fly, which I tested off Dania Beach, Florida.
Galeon is a boatbuilder in the port city of Gdansk, Poland, and it’s been popular in Europe for more than 30 years. It has identified the U.S. market as The Next Big Thing for its line of flying bridge and express cruisers ranging from 29 to 78 feet, and have set up its first dealership here, down the street from Power & Motoryacht’s headquarters, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
The 420 Fly debuted last year at the Miami International Boat Show and was the source of much dock talk for a few reasons. One of which was her lines. For a boat of this size and type they are remarkably sleek. Sharply raked and sporting a dark windshield visor that nearly snarls, the 420 Fly looks about as much like a race car as a flying-bridge cruiser can.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but notice how truly spacious she was when I stepped onboard. The saloon boasts a noticeably high overhead (6 feet 5 inches), as well as a few pleasant surprises. A small settee to port turned out to be modular, and separated into two stools that could be placed anywhere the owner likes. A U-shaped settee to starboard was arguably even more versatile. The aft portion of the “U” was flush against the folding door connecting the saloon to the cockpit. When the door is opened, a passenger can grab the aft backrest and flip it forward on a metal track, so that the seat effectively reverses itself and now faces aft, towards the cockpit. It’s akin to the way seats on commuter trains can flip to face each other, and it was an effective use of space. That same portion of the U can also swing out into the cockpit, creating more outdoor seating, however I have to say this part of the convertible-furniture bit could have been a little less ungainly. At one point the furniture mover needs to pick the seat up and over the saloon door’s raised track. Still, it’s a cool idea that’s will get your neighbors at the marina talking about your boat.
The galley on my test boat was forward and to port, and with Corian countertops, 6 feet 7 inches of headroom, and electric windows right at my 6-foot head height, it’s a great place to slap together a breakfast burrito. The 420 is a true semi-custom boat, and the galley can be moved around the saloon according to the owner’s desires. She also comes in both two- and three-cabin layouts. If two staterooms are chosen, the galley is down on the accommodations level and slightly larger, though I prefer to have the galley up, which gives the boat a much more sociable feel.
The accommodations deck had the optional third cabin amidships. It’s actually pretty small, though it would be ideal for kids or as extra stowage space. The forepeak master is quite nice indeed, with 6 feet 7 inches of headroom, a serviceably sized en suite head, and loads of natural light thanks to large portholes to either side. Actually, the entire lower level of the boat is awash in light because the boat’s windshield acts as a giant skylight for much of it. I actually put my sunglasses back on as I descended into the area.
There were two other areas onboard that warrant mentioning. One is the engine room, which is accessible through a hatch in the cockpit. It’s got a workmanlike fit and finish, and is undeniably a little bit cramped, which is fine and not altogether uncommon on a boat this size. You can access everything you’d need to, including the fuel filters and dipsticks. However you’d also have to crawl on your hands and knees to service the 425-metric-horsepower Cummins diesels, and that’s where my concern was, because the sole of the engine room is a hard aluminum grate that is uncomfortable to stand on, let alone crawl on. Galeon installed the grate for a better view of the bilge, but if it were my boat, I’d opt for the optional aluminum-panel sole which I expect would be more comfortable on the knees.
Lastly, the bridge was nice and big, and had everything a cruiser needs. On my test boat there was a sunpad forward to port, and an L-shaped dinette to starboard and aft. Opposite that was a refrigerator and optional Kenyon electric barbecue. What else could you want?
The topside helm was located to starboard, and that’s where I conducted the majority of the sea trial. The ocean off of Dania was choppy and sloppy, but the 420 carved right through the threes and fours with no problem. Her seaworthy hull has 16 degrees of deadrise at the transom and a beefy displacement of 33,000 pounds with her tanks full. We got a top speed of 24.9 knots but I suspect the boat may be capable of more speed given that her engines did not turn full rpm, a condition the manufacturer’s rep onboard attributed to a severely fouled bottom and props. (Cummins Marine rates our test engines at 3000 rpm at WOT.) For what it’s worth, he also said the boat can do 30 knots with a clean hull. The steering was smooth and I carved breezy S turns across the water while smiling and admiring the lack of heel and overall stability the boat displayed. What’s more, the boat should perform well for quite a long time, owing to her sturdy, hand-laid hull, which is solid below the waterline and sports a skin coat of vinylester resin to protect against osmosis (the rest of the hull is made with polyester resin).
Overall the Galeon 420 Fly ably meets her designers goal of creating a good-looking cruiser with lots of entertainment space and a few tricks up her sleeve. She’s comparably priced to similar Italian builds I’ve tested, and I have to say Galeon very well may be giving the Italians agita as they make a push across the pond. Only time will tell how well the company’s foray into the U.S. market will go, but from what I saw, I have a hunch it just might work out for them.
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Noteworthy Options: Interior wenge matte paint ($13,976); bimini top ($9,188); hyrdraulic swim platform w/ teak ($37,117).
Better Boat: Cookin’ It Up (or Down) in the Galley
Galeon goes to great lengths to ensure that not only are its boats great for cruising with friends and family, but they are also tailored to its customers’ wants. The boat is semi-custom in that her layout can be done in multiple ways. The galley, for example, can go either up in the saloon, or down on the accommodations deck.
There’s a debate that has raged for some time. Generally speaking, having the galley up is the American way of laying out the boat, as Americans tend to like to do their own cooking, and want to be able to socialize while doing so. (Notice that issue of Bon Appetit on the coffee table there? Exactly.)
Also stereotypically speaking, Europeans tend to like the galley down, so a hired chef can prepare the meal while guests wait for it in privacy. It’s slightly more elegant but a bit less family-friendly.
Either way is perfectly OK. I’ve attended a family function or two when I was all too happy to slip away to do some work in the kitchen. So the galley-down has its time and place. But, I’m also an optimist. If I invited people to spend time on my own boat, hopefully they’d be people I’d want to hang out with—even while chopping garlic.
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 86°F; humidity: 60%; seas: 3-4'
Load During Boat Test
109 gal. fuel, 0 gal. water, 2 persons, 20 lb. gear.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/425-mhp Cummins Marine QSB 5.9 diesels
- Transmission/Ratio: ZF80A, w/ 1.96:1 gear ratio
- Props: 23 x 29 copper-aluminum alloy Clements 4-blades
- Price as Tested: $679,895
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.