Established in 1972, Sealine is a British boat builder with a proud history in the design and manufacture of recreational cruising boats – and today, its fleet consists of ten craft across four product lines.
It begins with the overtly sporting ‘S’ Series, comprising five boats from 35 to 47 feet. Then comes the F Series with three Flybridge Cruisers in hull lengths of 42, 46 and 48 feet. There is just one ‘C’ Series Cruiser and at 48 feet, it shares the same underpinnings as the F48. And finally, right at the very pinnacle of the fleet comes the Yacht Series, with two traditionally styled luxury craft in lengths of either 50 or 60 feet.
The new F48 is therefore the largest of the three Flybridge motor cruisers and as such, Sealine’s aim with the new boat is to provide effective and generously proportioned social and living areas with as little compromise on style and performance as possible. So just how successful has that approach been?
It all starts with the flybridge
The flybridge concept is one that attracts both advocates and critics. On the one hand, a flybridge generates substantial extra accommodation for sunbathing and entertaining. It also provides a better vantage point for enjoying the view, plus a commanding secondary helm position for genuine open-air driving and better close-quarters control. On the downside, it puts additional weight up high, in exactly the place that is most compromising to the handling and seakeeping ability of a planing craft. And it also creates substantial extra windage, rendering a vessel much more prone to the bullying influence of an awkward breeze.
But happily, in the case of the F48, the boat’s profile remains relatively low, minimising the dynamic disadvantages. And better still, the provision of Zeus joystick control at both upper deck and fly helm stations means that the close-quarters handling issues are kept well in check.
As for the natural advantages of a flybridge, the Sealine takes them about as far as its physical dimensions permit, with a tremendously large and well-appointed platform. At the dash, you get twin helm seats, plus the full complement of equipment, including colour speed and depth log, VHF Raymarine 240 E radio and Zeus POD drive system with joystick control. You also get plenty of space for socialising and lounging and the option of either an aft sunpad or an entertaining area. As a lover of fast, sporting powerboats, I have never been a great fan of flybridges, but the upper tier on the F48 is immensely impressive.
On the inside
It seems that successful modern cruiser design tends to adhere to the Italian-inspired school of thought, where curve and angle are deliberately forced to coexist in close proximity. You certainly see that in the exterior lines of the F48 – and when you step inside, that same feeling of clean-cut modernity continues.
The main deck is a large, open-plan affair with a lounge area aft and two pairs of beautifully appointed seats up at the helm. The panoramic view that greets you is immediately very striking, but it’s the means by which the main deck connects to the lower deck that is particularly ingenious. As you head down the broad open stairwell, the light follows you down from the raked screen to generate a very bright lower deck that feels very much integrated with the upper space.
Down here, you get a large galley to port with a full-height fridge freezer, hob, oven and grill, plus an L-shaped dinette on the starboard side. Ahead of you in the gentle V of the bow is the guest cabin, with a separate shower and communal heads compartment. Behind you is the master cabin, which enjoys the full beam of 4.48 metres, plus standing headroom, well-proportioned wardrobes and an en-suite bathroom.
It’s a very sensible, user-friendly layout and yet this boat also has some useful potential for customisation. For instance, the lower deck dinette can be replaced either with an office space or a permanent third cabin. And up on the main deck, if you don’t fancy the idea of two forward-facing pilot seats on the port side, you can opt instead for a raised dinette area. Add in a range of woods and finishes and the F48 you choose really can feel that bit more like your own.
On the water
The F48’s hull is identical not just to that of the C48 but also the SC47, so it is unsurprising to find that its dynamic behaviour is very reassuring. We reach a top end just shy of 30 knots in a little over 40 seconds before easing back to a useful cruising speed of 22 knots at 3,000rpm. At this point, you can expect a useable range in excess of 200 nautical miles from the 1,500-litre tank. It’s very composed and relaxing too, with a commendably soft ride and only a very muted noise reaching your ears from the engine bay.
When you get more aggressive at the helm, the F48 heels into a turn with great bravado, much in the same way as a smaller, more sporting craft would. And yet the driving experience here is more about predictable compliance than white-knuckle vigour – and so you would expect of a flybridge cruiser. With the extra weight and windage, things just happen that bit more slowly. It heels and turns but it doesn’t carve and grip in the way that a Windy-style sports cruiser might, so if you want slightly better dynamics and pace at the expense of that excellent flybridge, then you need to look instead at the C48, which is basically an F48 with the top half sliced off.
But issues of personal preference aside, what is beyond doubt is the excellence of the Zeus joystick system, which brings an extraordinary degree of manoeuvering accuracy even to a novice skipper. It enables you to crab sideways into a berth, spin on the spot or hold station for as long as you choose. In fact, with the Skyhook feature, you can simply press a button, enabling you to keep the boat on a fixed heading in a tight spot, whatever the wind and tidal stream are doing. In short, on a boat with a steep cross-section and an elevated flybridge in a nation as windy as Britain, its value is beyond doubt.
The F48 is a great looking 30-knot cruiser that is easy to drive, pleasantly refined and extremely well appointed. Natural light down below is outstanding and the flybridge is an excellent asset. The American style interior on boat number one is a touch garish for my European sensibilities but with the promise of paler woods and a more appropriately subdued design for the British market, there is no doubt that the F48 is a very capable craft and a worthy flagship for Sealine’s Flybridge line. You can see its official launch on stand M100 at this September’s Southampton Boat Show.