Without doubt, the Clipper Explorer 50 PH is a true pilothouse design, with a raised upper-level helm station which is separate from the galley and saloon area. This is a boat in two distinct parts, with a separation between the two formed by a solid wall dividing the upper and lower areas. An added bonus of the raised pilothouse is that it gives the height and headroom needed to incorporate a full-beam master stateroom beneath.
Brett Thurley, MD of Clipper Motor Yachts Australia, says that one of the reasons for the introduction of the new Explorer 50 PH was so that existing Clipper owners could step up into a boat that was well-suited for long-term passagemaking and living aboard.
When I stepped into the pilothouse on the Explorer 50 PH, it was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into making the area as perfect as possible. From the aluminium side doors for easy access to the bulwarks, the aft, forward-facing bench seat for guests or a first mate on long passages, to the triple panel, toughened-glass screens with individual wipers and the comfortable Marine Tech helm chair, everything is right. The teak and holly sole, anigre timber and lightly toned Ultraleather fabrics add a traditional look, while the driving position is excellent, with great visibility.
While the vessel is fully air-conditioned, if you like a bit of natural fresh air at times, the cross ventilation with the pilothouse doors and a couple of overhead hatches open takes care of that.
Our test boat had a single Raymarine e165 HybridTouch MFD in the centre of the leather dash, flanked by all the necessary gauges, switches and controls. The handcrafted teak and anigre steering wheel is a nice touch.
CHOICE OF LAYOUTS
There are two basic accommodation plans offering either two- or three-cabin layouts. In the two-cabin option, there is a full-beam master aft and a VIP double cabin forward, each with their own en suite and large double berths. Access is via a curved staircase from the starboard side of the pilothouse. The forward VIP has excellent headroom, copious storage and plenty of natural light.
In the three-cabin layout, there is a VIP forward with a double to port and twin bunk berths on the starboard side. Two en suite bathrooms are shared by the three cabins and access is from the centre of the pilothouse.
For those planning on serious passages or living aboard, I would highly recommend the two-cabin option, as the full-beam master is spacious and very cosy. It’s also positioned on the centreline of the boat, which is always a better place to sleep than in a forward or side cabin. The master has loads of storage in lockers and drawers, a separate vanity or small office area, three opening portholes, along with diamond-shaped veneer accents within the doors that illustrate the high quality of fit and finish throughout the vessel.
As flybridges go, this one is a ripper. Overhead, a fibreglass hardtop covers the forward section, with Strataglass panels all round. This is a party layout, with the business-end forward looking after the secondary helm that’s complete with a double Marine Tech helm chair, a mid-section with L-shaped lounges running down either side serviced by a couple of adjustable tables, and a barbecue and wetbar aft.
The aft deck can be used to stow the tender, with the assistance of a crane, but the owner of our test boat had decided on an ADC transom lift, which I personally think is a better option, especially if you are getting on in years.
The saloon layout is very conventional, with the galley forward and access to the pilothouse.
The galley is a very traditional-style U-shape with all the necessary equipment, including a Smeg four-burner hob, combo grill/microwave oven, dual-door Isotherm fridge/freezer and a composite benchtop with double underbench square sink. There are storage lockers above and below as well as plenty of drawer space.
Saloon seating includes a couple of tub chairs either side of a 40in pop-up TV, with a U-shaped lounge opposite. The extra-large dining table has height adjustment, so you could turn this into an extra double berth. Fusion speakers are set into the headlining.
Stainless steel rear sliding doors open to the cockpit, where there is a fridge/freezer and optional teak capping rails. In this boat, the owner chose ladder access to the flybridge – standard is a full fibreglass moulded staircase with storage beneath.
The standard boat doesn’t come with any cockpit seating, with Clipper leaving the choice of that to the owners when they take delivery of the boat. Brett points out that the cockpit is open to customisation and can easily be modified to suit an owner’s needs, including an extended transom.
The Explorer 50 PH is based on a semi-displacement hull form that is slippery through the water and, with a single engine, returns exceptionally good performance and fuel figures. It’s a boat that carries a lot of beam forward, which offers more internal space in the accommodation area.
It has an easy, low transition onto the plane and, with a pair of 480hp Cummins QSB 6.7 engines, has a top speed of around 20 knots (37km/h) and planes at around 14 knots (26km/h). It’s a great boat to cruise at around 16 knots (30km/h) if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, but drop that back to around eight knots (15km/h) and you can sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.
Having a full keel, buyers have the option of running a single- or twin-engine format. Power options are open to just about anything in the Cummins range, be it single or twin. The base engine package is a single Cummins QSB 380hp with an optional APU get-home unit, which runs from the generator.
Built in China, the Explorer 50 PH is constructed in solid GRP. The flybridge is a sandwich construction to minimise weight without compromising strength and rigidity.
There is a choice of three wood finishes, from the traditional teak to the more contemporary American walnut and the lighter anigre.
It is a great testimony to the brand that the first three Explorer 50 PHs were all sold to owners upgrading from previous Clippers. While boat number one is what Brett would like to refer to as the standard layout, he says that just about anything is possible and he is always happy to discuss an owner’s requirements.
CLIPPER EXPLORER 50 PH
Displacement (loaded): 25 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 3406lt
Water capacity: 757lt
Power standard: 380hp Cummins QSB
Power as tested: 2 x 480hp Cummins
Price from: $1.3m
Price as tested: $1.39m
More information: Clipper Motor Yachts Australia, tel (07) 5519 4019. Web: ClipperMotorYachts.com