When Bill Barry-Cotter and his team of designers sat down to design the Maritimo M56 Cruising Motoryacht the mandate was for a long range cruiser that would be as much at home at 30 knots, as it was at a sedate cruise speed of 10-12 knots. Just as importantly it had to have all the gear aboard in its standard configuration – mechanical as well as creature comforts – that was entirely appropriate to a long-range cruising situation.
The intention of the Maritimo design team was to design and build a production cruiser as close to a passagemaker as was humanly practicable, so their clients could enjoy the speed and nimbleness of a fast cruiser, as well as the comfort, security and cruising capability typically associated with the more sedate passage-making ideal.
In the words of Luke Durman, Maritimo’s marketing director: “Powered by CAT C12’s 715MHP engines, you could call it a passagemaker on steroids! The long range cruising abilities, combined with the stability and quality engineering – all our Motoryachts are RINA Category A rated – clearly puts Maritimo’s Motoryacht range into the Passagemaker class and in a class of their own compared with flybridge cruisers of similar size.”
Following closely the passagemaker concept and principles, from a production cruiser manufacturing perspective, the next deliberate move for Maritimo was to identify where this boat would sit not only within its own range, but also within the worldwide cruising/passagemaking market. The idea was not to take on the absolutely dedicated passagemaking marques such as for instance Nordhavn, but rather, the objective was to provide the production motor yacht fraternity with the security and adaptability of a vessel more closely aligned to long-range coastal cruising.
To all concerned, 56 feet appeared to be the magic number and so their sums were all calculated and based around the new and more efficient underhull shape they had designed for their 550 ‘Convertible’ model. It was probably not such a coincidence either that it also nicely dove-tailed between the then current 52 and 60 models, for the final draft was for a vessel with a hull length of 17.07 metres and an overall length of 18.5 metres.
The innovation was evident from the moment I stepped aboard, with the ‘rise and fall’ boarding platform which extended 400mm above as well as below the water level – with the movement and precision of a Swiss watch. Gone was the typical scissor movement of other examples and in its place hydraulic rams and stainless steel tracks. The generous-sized cockpit was uncluttered yet there was plenty of innovation here too, with the deep and flush side storage lockerscomplete with shower, deck-wash and fender holders, a lazaretto the size of a footie field and the floor hatch forward of that which lifted to provide step-down access to the engine room.
Other features included an aft lounge in the transom beam, a sink module to portside, and with the longer flybridge of this model, a flybridge overhang for overhead protection. Gates up from boarding level, to encapsulate the cockpit, solid mooring hawse fittings, cleats and guides, completed the picture of the consummate cruiser. The walk to the bow followed the passagemaker theme in that the side decks were provided with bulwarks, the bow-rail and strategically placed grab rails, for the ultimate in safety.
Attention to detail was superb and nowhere was it more evident than with the anchoring features. Maritimo could well have just bolted the Muir windlass to the bow but no, there was a complete recess moulded into the bow so that the winch, remote footswitches, the chain guide and the fairlead for the permanently mounted anchor were neatly presented. There was even a dickey seat recessed into the front of the cabin bulge, with a neat teak table in front of it – the perfect romantic hide-away.
Overlapping double sliding doors provided unobstructed access to a saloon that was immediately conspicuous by its difference. Maritimo of course builds for an international audience and the other major change of direction for the designers, with this model, was in the interior layout and décor. Gone were the traditional opulent deep varnish finishes and rounded edges of previous models and in their place a contemporary European-inspired interior of satin-wood finishes and square edges.
I am reliably told that overseas audiences are craving for this square look now and I must say that once over the initial shock of the change I soon warmed to the idea. The workmanship was none-the-less absolutely first class, the innovation and ideas were typically Maritimo and certainly in my opinion the best aspect of all was its absolute suitability to a long-range cruising situation – it was a home, not a house!
The décor included a pleasant contrast of satin-finish teak woodwork and plush vinyl panels, a nice ceiling feature, roller blinds which totally privatised the rear and sides of the saloon, well presented windscreen mullions, and even access to the starboard walkway though the impressive S/S and glass slide-back trawler style side door.
The saloon offered a feeling of expansiveness both in area as well as features provided. Conducive to an extended period at sea, practicality and user-friendliness was typified by for instance the internal access to the flybridge level, as you entered the portside saloon door. Maximising space, a bar and entertainment module including television, stereo/DVD, storage, icemaker, servery and AC/DC switch panels, were all fitted underneath this stairway.
Forward of that again was the L-shaped leather lounge which ran down the portside and along the front bulkhead. Forward of that again was the large area of front bulkhead complete with lift-up lids which secreted substantial-sized storage compartments for all the odds and ends that traditionally lie about the front bulkhead of any cruiser. You know the ones!
Opposite this portside lounge was the dining setting which included a ‘work of art’ rise and fall folding-leaf stainless steel and teak table mounted in front of a starboard side lounge. Sensibly, it catered for three people, but add two or three Ottoman stools and you could seat the whole complement. Or, perhaps more pertinently, you could follow the migratory path to the flybridge level – which was another saloon and dining area, in itself!
For me though, the crowning glory of this room was the galley, sensibly positioned to starboard as you entered the saloon. Again subscribing to this contemporary European look, it was what could only be described as a very serious effort at providing everything required of a cook, with house-size specification and a refreshingly different layout. There was even an island bench provided, along with rudimentary items such as separate refrigerator and freezer, 4-burner stove, microwave convection oven, dishwasher, trash compactor, a deep sink and Corian bench-top and a pantry door which opened for the pantry to slide out on rollers.
Included in the front bulkhead was a stairway down onto a companionway which included a washer/dryer laundry combo and linen cupboard (at the base of the steps – nice to see it was not jammed into some tight corner or worse still in someone’s bedroom), and of course, entry to the single-berth cabin to starboard, the ‘queen-size’ guest stateroom forward, the two-way guest/house bathroom to starboard between the two rooms, and the main ‘kingsize’ master stateroom virtually amidships and to port.
Décor was equally impressive below decks, and equally contemporary; the floors were all carpeted and the teak woodwork and plush vinyl panel theme of above decks, prevailed here too. For me, the bonded glass side windows in the single bedroom and the master were a revelation, and I also appreciated the effort that had gone into the wooden mouldings which covered the joins of all the wood wall panels – no messy Sikaflex joins or worse still, cracked Sikaflex joins – visible anywhere. Overhead and side hatches were provided in the guest and master staterooms, along with a stereo/DVD, Palsonic television, lighting air conditioning, vinyl-lined locker-style wardrobes complete with storage drawers also, drawers and cupboards and even bedside tables. The single accommodation is optional fore and aft single berth, Pullman-style berths one above the other, or you can have a double-size berth; in this instance it was just the one single lower berth.
Both staterooms had an ensuite attached, featuring a vanity, separate shower cubicle, full-size electric Tecma heads, mirrors, side porthole and overhead hatches and as expected, appealing quality fittings. The starboard side two-way head doubled as the house bathroom.
The Second Saloon
Yes the upstairs flybridge level was in reality the second saloon, in every sense of the word. A homely, ambient and very inviting area, realistically this would be where you would spend most of your time at sea. With just the one internal access up from the saloon, business and pleasure up could be easily combined. Apart from the helm station the focal point of this level was the L-shaped leather lounge around a ‘folding’ table akin to the saloon version below. Guests could either be seated here, on the lounge opposite the helm, or if it was just a mum and dad situation the two impressive Melphi Marine upholstered Maritimo ‘skipper’ chairs would suffice.
Other features on this level included a slide-out pantry-style bar, a refrigerator/icemaker combo, a Webasto overhead sun-roof (nicely presented better than most, with proper ‘smooth-glide’ alloy tracks and wooden facias), a hatch cover to stop people falling down the stairs, and storage in the flybridge peak and within the lounges. There was even an aft deck for those who like to while the hours away enjoying the panoramic view from above.
There was no fixed table and chairs, so this area was awaiting a caring client who will ‘dress’ it accordingly! The helm itself was what could only be described as comprehensive. An innovative dash layout, I did like the split personality which saw the two NX45 12-inch Simrad electronics packages nicely segregated from the actual wheel area which housed the immediate controls and instrumentation. A nice ergonomic dash and seating position, and controls off to the side, right at your fingertips, were perfectly placed for a long journey. The adjustable woodgrain and S/S sports steering wheel added the finishing touches!
A Performer Too!
Below decks was an engineering masterpiece, with all the mechanical peripherals included in this one engine bay bounded by the lazaretto aft, and the 3850-litre integral GRP fuel tank forward. The 20.5kW of air conditioning, Idromar 130L/h watermaker, Cat C22 – 17.5kVA generator, Mastervolt Combi 24V/2000W Inverter/Charger and the engine and house battery banks were all easily accessible for maintenance purposes.
As were of course the two engines, the C12 ACERT 12-litre, in-line 6-cylinder, turbocharged and after-cooled Caterpillar diesels, which ran through ZF 325-1A 2.037:1 ratio gearboxes and conventional shaft drive, to the Teignbridge 4-blade, 30”D x 37.5”P propellers. Performance was good, for the M56 rose to the plane nicely, there was no apparent hump to climb over, it was smooth, vibration-free and extremely quiet up on the flybridge level, even with doors open, and it was a good sea boat cruising at 20 knots as we powered through the slop and swell of the Southport Seaway bar.
Once back into the serenity of the Broadwater we were able to stretch her out to the top speed of 30.2 knots at the maximum 2368rpm. The surprise came in the economy of the package however, for at a passage-cruising 10 knots at 1100rpm, we had a range of 713NM. From there on and indeed right up to the maximum 2368rpm, the figure leaped back and forth between 442NM and 513NM!
Once over the initial shock of the ‘European’ look in the saloon, you will quickly appreciate this vessel for its multitude of virtues. The exterior design is appealing (the extra flybridge length helps), the GRP and composite hull appeared well built and certainly presentation was extremely good – no dings in the woodwork, no ugly badly aligned door or cupboard gaps, no glue everywhere, no bare wood or glass inside drawers and cupboards and wardrobes.
It accelerated like a thoroughbred and it took the grisly head and following seas we experienced, in its stride. As for the price, I consider $A1,820,000 to be more than competitive when stacked up against what the rest of the world has to offer – in that size and configuration.
- Design Name: Maritimo M56
- Year Launched: 2009
- Designer: Bill Barry-Cotter
- Interior Designer: Maritimo
- Builder: Maritimo
- LOA: 18.5 m
- Beam: 5.2 m
- LWL: 15.1 m
- Draft: 1.35. m
- Displacement: 27,000 kg
- Max Speed: 30.2 knots
- Cruise Speed: 25 knots
- Construction: GRP & Core
- Fuel Cap: 3850 litres
- Water Cap: 800 litres
- Engines Make: 2 x Caterpillar C12 @ 715 hp