It’s twelve years since the Leigh-Smiths sold their first Alaska into Australia and since then have delivered 88 boats. Barry Thompson checks out the latest Alaska 47 Sedan.
WHILE the Alaska 47 Sedan is not a new boat to market – there are already three in Australia – boat #4 is refinement at its best, the individual changes and improvements are subtle, added together they make the latest Alaska 47 Sedan a class leader. This is a new generation model that offers all of the living and entertaining virtually on the one level, an extended hull that includes a 40% bigger integral swim platform and a larger saloon.
“The additional waterline length not only gives us a greater swim platform area, it also provides additional aft buoyancy and at the low cruise range has increased the efficiency of the hull”, says Ryan Leigh Smith, a director of Leigh- Smith Yachts, the Australian and New Zealand importer for the Alaska range of motor yachts. The Alaska range is manufactured by DHS in Shanghai for Leigh-Smith Yachts based at Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast. One of the first things I noticed when I stepped aboard the Alaska 47 Sedan is attention to detail, which is evident not only in the places you see, but also those you don’t. Originally when Ryan and brother Dean entered the market with the Alaska’s they were promoted as an economical option, but today people are not looking for cheap, as much as they after quality, albeit at a competitive price. The new Alaska 47 Sedan goes a long way to addressing those needs.
The focus on detail starts in the cockpit area with a new high gloss moulding complete with contour lines under the aft deck, replacing a none skid pattern, newly designed oval stainless rails and easier access to the lazarette. The cockpit table folds back so you can now stand in the lazarette as well as access it without having to stoop and bend under the previously fixed table. In the centre aft section of the cockpit is a large island lounge with access both sides to the extended platform.
There is storage under the lounger and access from the platform to a wet locker or fish bin, outdoor shower, sink unit with fresh water and extra storage. If you are into your fishing, then this is the best place to do it. Tender stowage is either using snap davits off the aft rails or a Freedom transom lift. A full rise and fall platform can be fitted, although will require some modifications to the platform area to accommodate the extra weight and engineering. The stainless saloon doors open wide along with dual flip-up rear windows to bring the outside in. This open plan is ideal for entertaining and increased livability with climate controlled air conditioning or natural ventilation with screens. You have the choice of a black Breezeway shade cloth or full vinyl covers with clears. You can now also get side acrylic doors fitted that stop the wind or rain funnelling down the bulwarks into the cockpit when at anchor.
With the full-width opening between the saloon and cockpit, the Alaska 47 Sedan becomes a very big boat internally and with the clears/breezeways around the cockpit. A single step breaks the continuity of the sole, another subtle improvement from the previous Alaska 47 Sedan, is the access from the cockpit to saloon, which has been made a little easier by raising the cockpit sole and increasing the size of the step between the two. Small thing, but it does make a difference. “We are always listening to our owners and it’s small details like this that they comment on and then we can act upon and improve things with the next boat”, said Ryan.
The layout of the saloon is somewhat unique to Alaska, with the galley running full length along the port side. The Corian surfaces provide generous servery spaces and all the necessary galley amenities are provided. There’s a four burner electric cooktop, microwave, deep stainless sinks with Corian ‘lids’, and under bench, an icemaker, F&P dishdrawer and Isotherm fridge/freezers. In keeping with the quality improvements, the 47 is fitted with Blum soft close drawers.
Opposite is the large L shape lounge, finished in ultra-leather with a high/low table that also has the option of being convertible to a large berth. High-gloss African Cherry timber is used throughout the boat, but you do have a number of other timber options and surfaces. That’s totally the owner’s decision. Traditionally in the older Alaska’s there was a lot of timbers used, but Ryan says that the call now is for less and lighter tone timbers and soft fabrics. On the latest Alaska 47, all the timber around the windows has been replaced with stitched ultra-leather, with timber accents. The head lining panels in the saloon have been changed from longitudinal to square, which is another of the subtle changes that have helped enhance the quality image of the new Alaska 47 as well as increasing serviceability. “The idea behind the neutral colours is also to reflect the light and airiness of the boat and harmoniously bring the outdoor and indoor spaces together without clashing”, says Ryan. The Alaska 47 Sedan features a very large helm with space for multiple screens. Our boat came with one Raymarine 15” touch screen plus a myriad of instruments and controls for everything from the Muir winch to the Bennett tabs. Again this is an area that is totally customisable and based on your electronics and control choices. An extra large triple helm bench seat is a nice touch, with storage under in deep drawers.
Dual side doors in conjunction with two stainless steel sunroofs have increased natural ventilation and the new cockpit control station makes the tasks of docking a breeze.
TWO OR THREE CABINS
Accommodation now boasts a master stateroom with island queen-size berth amidships with its own en-suite. This has proven a real turning point for the brand, as full beam master cabins are certainly in vogue and being able to incorporate that into a boat with little more than 4m beam is a credit to the designers. A very neat sliding door arrangement to port allows the stateroom to retain its full beam status when open, or with them shut, a separate companionway allows privacy and access to the forward cabin and day head.
The cabin itself is very spacious, even when the sliding doors are closed. Storage is plentiful and there’s a separate vanity/ bureau incorporated into the cabinetry. While the entire boat is air-conditioned, if an owner prefers natural air, then flow through ventilation is provided both from opening side ports and overhead hatches. Ultra leather panels with chrome inserts and high gloss timber accents are accentuated with overhead LED lighting throughout the forward companionway, providing a clean and classy look. To port is the guest en-suite and day head and forward the second cabin. While our boat featured two extra long 2.2m single bunks, the choice of berths is again up to the owner. In fact, the entire accommodation plan can be fully customised to suit, including changing from a two to a three-cabin layout.
The hull shape has remained unchanged for years, albeit with some small alterations. Most obvious is the extension to the hull of the new 47 Sedan. However essentially it’s the same basic hull of the original Alaska, with a variable deadrise deep vee entry, which planes out to a moderate vee at the stern. The boat sits very flat on the water at speed and has a reputation for good sea keeping ability. Powered by a pair of Cummins QSB-6.7L- 480hp engines give a WOT speed of 25+ knots and cruise at 18 knots. You can drop back to twin Cummins 425s or Alaska also offer a range of similar horsepower rated engines from Yanmar.
BETTER WITH AGE
Ryan points out that before they started work on the latest 47 Sedan, he had 16 pages of improvements that he needed to work into the new boat. This was wide ranging from areas such as wiring, plumbing and engineering to the quality of all the fixtures. A lot of these were very minor, but collectively they have brought the boat up to another level. The Alaska 47 Sedan is definitely a worldclass product and both Dean and Ryan should be justifiably proud of what they have achieved and how, in just a few years they have successfully transformed not only the boat, but also the image of the Alaska brand. The 47 Sedan is a prime example of the high quality that they are now presenting in all their Alaska models.