Conviviality is the watchword
Yacht Class n°12 (march-april-may 2018)
To seduce, this pretty speedboat not only displays sensual curves, but she also emphasizes her conviviality, thanks to a deck plan more open than it looks, offering a welcome interaction between indoors and outdoors. And her performances and behavior at sea are not outdone…
Texte : Philippe Leblond - Photos : DR
Dutch shipyards have an established reputation, especially in terms of large custom units in steel. Their constant reliable construction and level of finish have been recurrently emphasized. More modest in size than the yachts we usually write about, the Zeelander Z55 is characterized by this quality but also by her original craftsmanship. Inspired by American lobster boats, typical of New England, she charms by her classic lines and her dynamism, even though she features a lower deck with three cabins and two shower rooms. The Z55, who made her European debut at the Cannes Yachting Festival, is the big sister of the Z44 (13.52 m). Her architecture was actually inspired by the first and only other model of this young Dutch shipyard founded in 2002, although she got more living areas. However, a 55 foot makes no room for customizable layouts. This is why the shipyard catches up with a large selection of wood species, leathers (saddle stitching) and fabrics, to allow the owner to create a decoration meeting as closely as possible his expectations. To board ship, two options: via either one of the two side access doors, when docked at the quayside, or via the spacious hydraulic swim platform on a Mediterranean mooring. Her stern pivots backwards, creating a significant swimming platform in synthetic teak. Actually, on the evening after our test, a group of guests used it as a dance floor, thanks to the Zeelander's night-club worthy sound system... Given the traditional identity of this yacht, the synthetic teak does not really fit in, even if its low maintenance is a strong argument. From there, a large cockpit gate provides safe access to the outdoor lounge. A welcoming place, to say the least, since a dozen people can take place there. Note however that the table is not big enough to reach the guests on the starboard sofa. Behind this large saloon: the galley-bar (hob, stainless steel sink, built-in microwave, fridge, cutlery drawers, Corian worktop...) faced by three revolving stools, sheltered by a small bimini extending the flybridge. We appreciate that the sliding bay window can be entirely opened to allow all passengers, in the salon or outside, to share the same social area. This perception is even reinforced by the large electric sunroof.
Curves reclaim their spot
The indoor saloon and its long sofa are also friendly. In addition, the pivoting pilot and copilot seats can turn around to face the table at mealtime. Surprisingly, the wheelhouse has a central position. It integrates three good-sized GPS-plotter and enjoys an excellent visibility, although we regret that the armchair is not facing the helm. Note that these two seats, fitted with footrests, are depth adjustable and equipped with shock absorber. To starboard, a beautiful winding staircase leads down to the cabins. In contrast with the demonstrative main deck decoration and its plastic moldings, white saddles and chrome, the lower deck is entirely clad in light satin wood, carpeted floor and Alcantara stretch ceilings. This "zen" atmosphere singularly contrasts with the taut and angular furniture we find in almost all modern yachts. Here, curves reclaim their spot, be it in the main deck kitchen or the spacious and "cozy" cabins. Guests are housed in the bow but enjoy the most generous headroom: 2.08 m (2.04 m in the bathroom) along with numerous cupboards. In front of the bed, the partition features an integrated flat screen TV. Note that the only natural light comes from a large circular dayhead. But the bathroom, with its shower cubicle and its two access doors (the other one is for the "children" cabin), enjoys three portholes. So, does the small cabin with bunk beds. Finally, the master cabin, with its six vertical portholes, is well worth a visit with its large double bed perpendicular to the axis of the boat and its open-plan bathroom fitted a bathroom sink, encircled on the right by the shower and on the left by the toilet, both presenting semi cylindrical volumes. Another originality is its dressing table featuring a large mirror on the back of the retractable television. It is located at the foot of the queen size bed framed by two bedside tables, and on its left, bordered by a large wardrobe. The cabin is isolated from the mechanical compartment by the tender garage. Note that the cold unit, the air conditioning and lighting are powered by a 13 kW Cummins-Onan generator located in engine room.
A dynamic and manoeuvrable hull
After this grand tour, let's start the Volvo (2 x IPS1050, 800 hp) and satisfy our appetite for navigation whetted by this hull that promises nice sensations. Her ultra-thin, slightly flared and haughty bow, plus her tumblehome stern, auspicious of a voluptuous wake, are an invitation to cast-off. The IPS 1050 revs ups, with two counter rotating propellers, is steady. Lifting-off, with a sensitive nose up, is a mere formality and quickly the Zeelander reaches her cruising speed. The latter can be selected from a large speed range, between 1 500 and 2 000 rpm. From our speed and consumption measurements, we anticipate a 421 miles range at 18 knots, the best pace for long navigation. In this area, the shipyard expects 450 miles at 26 knots with Volvo IPS950, which only have 700 hp each and a top speed a few knots slower. At the maximum speed of 2 200 rpm, we almost reached 33 knots, with 20 passengers and a 60% filled fuel tank (approximately 1 800 litres). Obviously with a lighter crew, this threshold should gain two or three more knots. Note that, according to the shipyard, she can reach 36-38 knots with the highest motorization: Volvo 900 hp (IPS1 200). As for piloting and behaviour, the Z55 is also at her best. Her sleek hull softly cuts swell and chop. In a beam sea, a small flaps adjustment offsets a slight lateral imbalance that may alter her course. In turns, the Zeelander is really at ease and precise in her trajectories, helped by an excessive internal heel, facilitating short-radius turns. We also praise the agility of the Volvo IPS pods and their double propellers, ensuring a nice traction when at full speed and in sharp turns. Pleasure at the helm is real, and thanks also to an easy handling, with soft and precise controls. Some downsizes however: a mushy and too large steering gear ratio plus a pilot seat offset from the wheel. Back at the port, we appreciated the Z55's maneuverability, helped by the joystick and a low windage for a 17 metres unit.
Silence is golden
The engineers of the Dutch shipyard also worked hard on soundproofing, to make sure that the noise pollution remains decent in this small size unit. Thus, we measured respectively 57 dbA in the saloon and 58 in the amidships master suite, in slow motion. 72 and 67 dbA in cruising speed. This is impressive for a speedboat of this size and conception.
- Overall length : 16,95 m
- Max beam : 5,00 m
- Draft : 1,50 m
- Displacement : 24 t
- Fuel : 3 300 l
- Water : 750 l
- Material : polyester
- Engine : 2 x Volvo Penta IPS 1050
- Power : 2 x 800 ch
- Max speed : 32,8 knots
- Cruising range : 421 milles à 18,0 nds
- Price : 2 600 000 € avec Volvo IPS 1050
- Naval architect : Zeelander Yachts
- Exterior designer : Cor D. Rover - Zeelander
- Interior designer : Zeelander Yachts
- Builder : Zeelander Yachts (Groot - Ammers - Pays-Bas)
- Importer : NL Marine & SLCA Yacht (06)