On a beautiful day right after the Miami boat show I had a chance to test the Fairline Squadron 50 in the Bay of Biscayne. What I found out is that the British builder put quite a lot of thought into this purposefully built motoryacht with a flying bridge that puts many in her class to shame.
The Squadron 50 is defined by her details. For example, it’s not often a boatbuilder goes out of its way to highlight portlights during a test, but then again it’s not often a boat company will hire a third party—in this case, Falcon Special Projects—to engineer laptop-computer-style hinges for a yacht’s master-cabin windows. “The hinges will never go floppy,” Fairline Head of Marketing Oliver Winbolt explained to me with near childlike exuberance. “So many boaters don’t like it when their portlights go loose. So we gave them a nice, tight hinge.”
As for the bigger things on the boat, those garnered the same amount of exacting attention. The engine room on my test boat was clean and elegantly laid out. With five feet of headroom, it housed a pair of 715-horsepower CAT C12 ACERTs and a 22.5-kW Onan generator (a 17.5 kW model is also available). Engine-room access is through the cockpit, and the fuel filters are thoughtfully placed within reach on the front bulkhead for easy maintenance.
On the accommodations level, the Squadron features somewhat of an oddity aboard a 50-footer. That master I alluded to before is not amidships like many new boats in this class. Instead it’s in the bow—and for an interesting reason. Fairline feels that amidships masters are not optimal since, when a boat is in a slip, the master cabin loses any semblance of a view, and often can become quite dark. By placing the master forward, the owner can put those aforementioned portlights to much better use. The area amidships is occupied by two nearly identical guest cabins (one is en suite), which also enjoy excellent natural light and headroom.
Out on the warm waters of Biscayne Bay, the Squadron did not disappoint. She got up on plane easily for a boat of this type and hit a jaunty 32.4 knots on the pins. Her CAT controls were smooth and responsive and she came hardover at 26 knots in three and a half boat lengths. I did note a tad too much heel for my liking on this turn, but that could be due to any number of mostly correctable factors. At the inner helm the ride was notably quiet and the large windshield made for great sightlines. Twin Garmin 6012 multifunction displays—the first of their kind to be used by a British builder—were intuitive and easy to use (most likely durable too). After finishing my tests at the indoor helm, I moved up top via wide, sturdy steps to check out the flying bridge and outdoor helm. As I suspected, even as we chugged through turns at cruise, there was no wobble.
And the space was, by just about any measure aboard a 50-footer, huge. A floating bar, sink, fridge, and optional grill service the area while a bimini top provides much welcome shade. There’s even a hidden garbage bin built into a forward bulwark. I liked that detail. Trash is often an afterthought on boats, tossed into a Hefty Cinch Sak hung off an armrest. But not on this one. Fairline covered all of its bases to make sure even the smallest details were accounted for. How very civilized.
: 21 tons
: 604 gal.
: 145 gal.
: 2/715-hp CAT C12 ACERT diesels
: 22.5 kW Onan
: 27 x 36 4-blade
Air temperature: 85°F; humidity: 60%; seas: 1 to 2 feet; load: 450 gal. fuel, 100 gal. water, 5 persons, 500 lb. gear. Speeds are two-way averages measured w/ Garmin display. GPH estimates taken via CAT display. Range is 90% advertised fuel capacity. Sound levels measured at the helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation.