By John Wooldridge
In Mediterranean waters off Palma de Mallorca, we had an opportunity to thoroughly test the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 in challenging conditions. We found her well suited for liveaboard distance cruisers.
The 50’s bridge deck extends well aft to provide shelter for the teak-planked cockpit, which is large enough for several chairs and has a huge watertight hatch in the sole for excellent access to the engine room.
Wide opening doors lead into a compact saloon that has excellent views, whether to port, starboard, or aft. Up two steps, the large, U-shaped galley shows considerable design effort to make the chef’s life easier, and there’s loads of stowage space above and below the counters for appliances and cookware.
Sightlines from the helm are truly outstanding, with only a quick glance out the starboard sliding door required to check the aft quarter for traffic. Of particular note: the console is hinged for easy access to the electrical wiring and termination of ship-handling controls.
A quarter-turn staircase leads down to the accommodations level.That area features a full-beam amidships master, a nearly full-beam forepeak VIP, and a guest stateroom to port that can have either double twin bunks or a single convertible berth and a small but workable office. Headroom, as throughout the rest of the ship, is more than sufficient for this 6-foot-3-inch boat tester.
The ST 50’s hand layup begins with ISO-NPG gelcoat, followed by a vinylester skin coat for print-through and osmotic protection. Beneteau engineers design the layup of the hull, deck, and flying bridge structures using various kinds of mat and woven roving to address mechanical and stress needs. Specialized directional weaves are designated for places in way of the anchor locker, the intricate supporting structure for the pods, the chines, and the keel.
That keel is a solid fiberglass structure. Balsa is the core material used for stiffening in the hull, deck house, and flying bridge, but solid fiberglass is used wherever fasteners are employed. The stringers are laid up with polyester resin, and incorporated into the bottom with layers of mono- or bi-directional fabrics. The hull and deck are glued and screwed following current industry practices. The flying bridge is also glued and screwed to the wheelhouse, as well as the mullions of the windshield. Beneteau provides a limited five-year warranty for the hull, deck, and other structures, as well as a limited three-year warranty for manufacturing and assembly.
When I finished gathering all the performance data, which included measuring sound in the cabins below and in the saloon aft, not just at the helm, we spent several hours just putting the ST 50 through her paces on all points of the compass.
The hull shape is truly marvelous not only because of its soft, deep entry, but, in view of the heavy wave action on test day, also for its natural balance when it comes to roll and pitch dampening. The deep keel combined with the Volvo Penta IPS drives made the boat track straight, and her helm response was quick. The ST 50 showed no problems whatsoever climbing the waves at a workable angle or running down their faces.
Back inside the breakwater, I found a buoy and measured the joystick capabilities of the IPS drives, finding them easy to understand and operate. I could even step out of the pilothouse door and reach inside to adjust the well-placed joystick—a benefit when you want a good view of a tight slip or need to make adjustments to land softly on a side-tie.
Beneteau America, 410-990-0270; www.beneteauusa.com
: 35,264 lb.
: 634 gal.
: 212 gal.
: 2/435-mhp Volvo Penta IPS600s
Hydraulic swim platform ($23,970); desalinator ($19,160); underwater lights ($2,625); 23-bottle wine cellar ($2,705); dishwasher ($1,755); chilled-water air conditioning ($49,690).
Air temperature: 70ºF; wind: 20 knots; Load: Fuel: 90%. Water: full. Four people aboard. Speeds are two-way averages measured with the Raymarine GPS. Fuel burn estimates are via the Volvo engine display. Range is based on 90% of advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.