Clipper Explorer 43

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Clipper Explorer 43

Slow Cruising

Barry Thompson takes a look at the latest Clipper Explorer 43 and finds a boat that is totally in touch with its market, where speed and flash gives way to dignity and tradition.

Phil Gilbert has a passion, a passion for enjoying the maximum time on the water and with that he enjoys the slow pace of a trawler style motor yacht. As the New Zealand importer for the Explorer brand (known as Clipper in Australia), he is well qualified when it comes to talking about ‘slow cruising’.

In the last issue of PPB, he discussed just this in our Guest Column. He commented that the benefits of having a boat that can go slow efficiently as well as handle the transits at an adequate speed if required, is something that a lot more people are considering. “There appears to be a growing buyer awareness of the modern displacement and semi-displacement cruisers, often known as trawler styles”, said Phil.

He pointed to the remorseless (until recent times) increase’s in the cost of diesel that has certainly helped those promoting the more fuel miserly cruising craft, and may have encouraged those with craft capable of higher speeds to consider the alternatives. The ‘how much does she burn’ question is perhaps more pertinent now than ever.

In the case of this particular Explorer 43, it has provided exceptionally economical cruising this summer. According to Phil, the best cruise is between 8.5 to 10.5 knots and after 100 hours of running over the summer, at a variety of speeds, recorded an average of 19.8 lph. The 370hp Yanmar 6LY3 standard engine package gives the boat a top speed of 15 knots, but as Phil says, it’s not a speed that most ‘slow cruising’ owners run their boats. However, it is there if you need to get somewhere in a hurry or want to outrun an adverse weather front.

Built in China, the Explorer 43 (Clipper 40 in Australia) is one of the smallest of the current comprehensive Explorer/Clipper range, which comprises new designs and old favourites. These include the Explorer 36 and 40 classics, the 46 and 50 flybridge sedans, the all new 46 and 50 Pilothouse, a big volume 58′ pilothouse, a 60 and 62′ pilothouse and coming up, a new 70.

Revamped Interior

From the outside the latest Explorer 43 to land in Auckland, looks very much like Clippers/Explorers of the past and carries the same styling and lines of other models in the range, although there is now a much larger board platform.

Inside, the layout has been given a complete make-over, with a much more open plan arrangement. Gone is the drop down cabinetry from the rear of the galley, so the sightlines right through the saloon are unimpeded and you don’t get the impression there are two distinct spaces. You certainly get a feeling of openness and a friendly warming interior. Now, no matter where you are, galley, helm or dinette, it’s all neatly folded into one big area. High profile windows all round help flood loads of natural light inside.

The galley has been turned around and made a lot bigger due to the cabin layout below, now fitted with a double berth, as opposed to twin bunks. There is more bench space and the total footprint is marginally wider. Standard features include Corian bench surfaces, fridge and three hob electric stove.

With the extra space now available in the galley, the 240 volt electronics board has been moved and the 12 volt board positioned on the starboard side near the helm. This has allowed for the inclusion of a drinks locker at the end of the galley vanity. Overall the increased galley area has been very well utilised.

With a boat of this style, there is always going to be an emphasis on the comfort and practicality of the living spaces. The Explorer 43 features Ultra Suede covered loungers both sides of the saloon. The starboard side lounger pulls out to form a ¾ double berth and while the port side settee on this boat wasn’t configured for it, there is the option to do so.

Phil is quick to point out ‘his’ unique dining table, with its lift-out centre, which not only converts it to twin coffee tables, but also provides easy access to the centre of the lounge. Simple and very effective.

The all teak helm is the same as previous Explorer 43s, but with a larger wheel and comes complete with the very latest Simrad NS12 MFD. This is flanked by the usual instrumentation and controls for items such as the auto anchor for the Maxwell 12/10 vertical windlass, Bennett trim tabs and Fusion entertainment. A full-size sliding door gives ease of access to the wide side deck and is great if you are cruising short handed.

Detailing and finish is all very small ship, from the teak and holly flooring, teak cap rails and deck, to the shiplap panelling in the cabins. You have the option of a variety of timbers such as Teak, Anigre, Oak and Maple, in either satin, bleached or gloss.

Two Cabins

By making the changes to the galley, we now have a larger side cabin, without sacrificing any cabin space below. The ¾ double and the high single berth in the side cabin have been replaced with a larger raised double. There is still plenty of storage with a large wardrobe and under berth cavities.

“The idea of the double berth rather than the two bunks in the previous models was that the demographic of the owners of this style of boat is predominantly two couple use, so twin bunks doesn’t really suit”, said Phil.

The owner’s forward cabin has a queen size double berth, with drawer storage and a separate hatch for access to the bow thruster. Steps either side make getting on and off the bed that much easier. Double hanging lockers with auto lights and side trays take care of any extra gear. A Lewmar hatch overhead lets in extra light and a bug screen keeps out all the unwanted insects.

The head and shower compartment is shared by the two cabins and is certainly generous. A full size stand up shower comes with a teak slatted floor panel, bifold glass doors and there’s enough space for a seat recess. A Tecma salt/fresh water head, Corian bench top and stainless steel bowl are all standard fittings.

Ladder or Steps

As Phil pointed out earlier, the demographics for this boat are more mature boat owners and hence the use of proper steps to the flybridge. While a stainless ladder is an option, I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if your moving parts are not what they use to be. Built into the base of the steps is an optional sink unit with hot/cold water and extra storage. The rest of the cockpit comprises a Fridgetech freezer, a pair of aft cockpit seats and a single opening in the transom to the boarding platform. The poop deck overhang comes well aft, so if you are into your fishing, then I suggest that would be all done from the now much-enlarged boarding platform.

Up above, the Explorer 43 is very traditional, with just the necessary duplication of electronics and controls. The forward hi-low twin helm seat is supported with extra seating for your guests and while this owner chose a soft bimini, you do have the option of a hardtop with clears.

The bimini also has the added advantage of being able to fold down. Handy if you have a low bridge to pass under on the way back to your berth. The large aft deck can be used as a sun pad once the ADC crane has launched the Southern Pacific 280 inflatable.

Ticks The Boxes

The Explorer 43 is certainly a big volume boat for a trawler style and is presented well with its classic look. One of the benefits of the brand is that an owner can customise the standard layout to some extent and not be regimented into having a galley, helm or cockpit that isn’t ‘fit for his/her purpose. It’s an extremely practical boat that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to efficiency, comfort, finish and value for money.


  • Boat Design Name: Explorer 43
  • Year Launched: 2015
  • Designer: Explorer
  • Builder: Explorer Motoryachts
  • LOA: 13.4m
  • LOH: 12 m
  • Beam: 3.83 m
  • Draft: 1.02 m
  • Displ (loaded): 14 tonne
  • Max Speed:   15kts
  • Cruise Speed: 10kts
  • Construction: FRP
  • Fuel Cap: 1400lts
  • Water Cap: 1000lt
  • Engines Make/HP:   Yanmar 6LY3
  • Engine Controller:   Yanmar electronic
  • Drive Train:   Conventional shaft
  • Propellers: Hing Shen
  • Base Price of Boat:  $NZ595,000
  • Price As Tested: $NZ648,000

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