Designing a master cabin first and then constructing a boat around it isn’t exactly a conventional form of boat building, but that was the approach adopted by Dean Leigh-Smith and his team at the Gold Coast City Marina.
The result is the Alaska 46 Flybridge, which was unveiled to the world at the recent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. The new Alaska 46 isn’t a one-off, it’s the culmination of years of experience gained by Dean and his team of Stewart Smith, John Bennetts and Bruce King – a team that, since the appearance of the first Alaska 42 Sedan in 2003, has overseen the building and delivery of some 80 Alaskas from Shanghai’s Double Happiness Yacht factory. The Alaska now comes in eight different models, ranging in size from 42ft to 60ft.
The new design has given the boat a full-beam, mid-cabin, master stateroom, which is rare for a boat of this size. The stateroom is accessed by a companionway leading from in front of the galley on the port side and through two sliding doors that are set at 45 degrees to each other. When rolled back they open the cabin right up. The superbly finished room has been done in North American cherrywood – a theme that flows throughout the boat’s interior.
This model has a vanity table with a lift-up lid, complete with mirror, which is just the right height for the owner’s partner to be able to sit on the edge of the bed. The en suite head is spacious and has been made to seem even bigger by the inclusion of an overhead mirror, while the shower stall retains traditional styling with a wooden grate on the floor.
Past the master cabin the companionway takes a turn down the centerline of the boat for entry into the second cabin, with its yacht-style bunks in the forepeak – and a second shower and toilet.
Storage areas abound, with ‘his and hers’ hanging lockers and plenty of drawers. Good use has been made of space on this boat, with storage in some unexpected places. In particular, the companionway stairs lift up to reveal a very large storage space – again, something of a surprise inclusion for a boat of this size.
Although the decks in the accommodation, main cabin and galley area are finished with teak and holly, most owners prefer carpet. Regardless, the teak and holly finish is standard.
Access to the boat is via the swim platform – although in this case it’s a boarding platform with a stainless steel rail that holds the barbecue and bait preparation table – before heading through a gate into the cockpit, which is set up with a lounge and a nicely finished wood table.
But one needs to step through the stainless steel-framed bi-fold doors into the main cabin before the layout and design can be fully appreciated. You could expect this finish and fit-out in a boat twice the size and price. It’s obvious that the experience gained in building and fitting out all those boats over some eight years has been incorporated as standard in the 46 Flybridge.
The main cabin is open through the galley right up to the lower helm station and the front windscreen – it makes for a very sociable area, with a light and airy ambience. At night, privacy can be maintained by closing the wooden louvre blinds and curtains.
The yacht-style galley has a deep sink, fourburner cooktop, a fridge under the cooktop and another fridge/freezer opposite. Counting the fridge on the flybridge, there’s plenty of cold storage. An innovative idea is the galley exhaust system. Instead of being overhead, as is usual, this is a downdraught extractor set in the bench top. But where’s the microwave? It is almost hidden in the side of the helm seat on the opposite side.
COMMAND AND CONTROL
Two people can sit side by side quite cozily on the helm seat within easy reach of the big woodrimmed wheel and throttles. The instrument binnacle is big enough to house a Raymarine E120 screen with smaller displays for the ST60 Tri-data, ST600 autopilot, SmartCraft engine management screen for the twin QSB 480s, plus a full set of analogue instruments and other controls such as the bow thruster, Bennett trim tabs and rudder angle display.
The display is duplicated upstairs on the flybridge, which comes with either a hard or soft top and two bolster seats at the portside helm station.
Other impressive features include the onepiece oval handrail, manufactured at Gold Coast City Marina, which ran right around the boat from each side of the transom, and the wide walk-around side decks. There’s no need to turn sideways past the cabin to get to the bow, and the layout of the engine room is an engineer’s dream.
We don’t normally sea trial a boat that hasn’t been commissioned – this was the first time the boat had been on the water since arriving at Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard – but despite this and the fact the weather on the Broadwater was not very sociable, the Alaska 46 put on an impressive performance.
With its semi-displacement hull, the 46 will run happily all day at 10 to 12 knots (18.5 to 22.2km/h) or give it a few more revs and it is up on the plane with the sweet spot at around 18 knots (33.3km/h). Wide open it reached a top speed of 24.9 knots (46.1km/h) at 3300rpm. At this stage, the trim tabs had not been fitted and the bow rode up a little; a touch on the tabs will bring the bow down so the boat rides a little flatter and there should be a corresponding increase in top speed. Not that this boat was designed to be driven flat-out all day, but it’s nice to know the extra speed is there if needed.
The Alaska 46 Flybridge is an impressive boat and a credit to the Leigh-Smith team – it’s world class. And the biggest surprise is the price. For $895,000 (as tested), this is a whole lot of boat and value for the money. ¿
SPECIFICATIONS: ALASKA 46 MID-CAB FLYBRIDGE
Dry weight: 16,000kg
Fuel capacity: 2270lt
Water capacity: 756lt
Sleeping capacity: 4-6 people
Engines (as tested): 2 x Cummins QSB 480hp
Engines (standard): 2 x Cummins QSB 425hp
Price (as tested): $895,000
For more information, contact Alaska Motor Yachts, tel: (07) 5502 5866, or visit: www.alaskamotoryachts.com.au.