An Impressive Yacht For Her Size
First impressions are very important, and my first impression of the Princess V48, nestled between a 2017 Tiara 53 Coupe and a 2017 Cruisers 48 Cantius, was that she appeared large for a 48. With the high gunwale and tall transom she looked considerably more robust than her stablemates. It is this high gunwale that provides the large interior space with six-feet of headroom in the aft cabin, and huge volume in the galley and saloon. Once away from the dock you feel the high waist making the V48 again seem like a much larger yacht.
I really enjoy taking a new boat into San Francisco Bay for a day of thrashing her about, taking several dozen photos, collecting performance data, and then writing about my impressions of the new yacht. Even better is when Rob Newman at Silver Seas Yachts hires me to relocate a brand new, just commissioned, Princess V48 from Newport Beach to Sausalito, an opportunity to write my impressions of the first of the new breed of Princess Sport Yachts.
The V48 is the first Princess Yacht with Volvo IPS drives. Princess is a conservative yacht builder, using tried and true designs and manufacturing techniques that produce meticulous yachts in lengths to 131 feet. The latest fit, finish, and materials used in their 40-meter yachts are also found in the V48. For example, it's hard to miss the fine touches such as leather accents on the cabinet knobs and hand rails, and lights inside drawers where the Princess china is stowed. The galley drawers have soft closure mechanisms on the tracks so they do not slam shut or vibrate, and the hinges on the hanging lockers have soft closure features. Subtle, but key first impressions!
Down six steps from the helm is the port side galley complete with stainless steel sink, three-burner cook top, under-counter microwave, and a floor to overhead refrigerator/freezer with the most secure latching system I have seen. Natural light flows into the galley from the atrium, making the space bright and spacious. First impressions!
Across from the galley to starboard, is the lounge area with U-shaped seating around a two by seven-foot hi/lo table. This area can convert to a berth should you need an extra sleeping area.
Forward of the galley is the day head to port, and entrance to the centerline VIP stateroom.
The VIP suite, with scissor berths that open up the space has 6-feet 7-inches of headroom. It connects to the large full-feature head, doing double duty as a day head, with a separate door to the galley. Completing the tour below deck, we find the full beam master and in-suite head aft of the galley.
With more than six-feet of headroom, large porthole on both sides, and full size berth, the master suite is a very inviting space. To starboard is a lounge area, and to port is a large dresser with a spacious hanging locker forward. The master head is forward on the starboard side. A very well designed master suite complete with custom fitted bedding and leather seating. Impressive!
The master head has an enclosed shower, and porcelain sink with a mirrored cabinet above. Both the day head and master head have solid surface countertops same as the galley, and use Dometic quiet flush toilets.
Our V48 has walnut interior with the cabin sole material matching the cabinetry. Accent material in white leather brightens the interior, finishing a fine array of first impressions.
Day One Underway
After arriving late in the afternoon the previous day and planning to get underway after a good night's rest, we were off the dock at first light, and first in line at the fuel dock to top-off the tanks. The twenty minute run at no-wake speed to the fuel dock allowed us time to set up the navigation system the way I like it, and become familiar with the various switches and systems.
The first time fueling a vessel I am always extra careful since I don't know how fast she can take in fuel before the tank venting fails. Does it spit and dribble, and are the level indicator gauges accurate? As expected from a quality yacht builder though, we filled the tanks quickly with no burps or drips, and when the level indicator showed 100% the tanks took just another five gallons and then sounded full. The fuel dock opened at 0700 and by 0745 we had full fuel tanks and full coffee cups for our sprint to Santa Barbara.
The weather forecast for the day called for easterly Santa Ana winds at 20 knots later in the morning along with 3- to 5-foot westerly swells at 18 seconds. Nice conditions for a high speed run up the coast. Powering up to a spirited 25 knots after passing the Newport Beach breakwater, and engaging the autopilot for a direct line across Los Angeles Harbor towards Point Vincente, we covered our first thirty miles in calm seas and calm winds. Sprinting past the anchored container ships and bulk carriers our next fifty miles across Santa Monica Bay, parallel to the northbound traffic separation lane, we found the ocean swell building and the beginnings of the Santa Ana wind chop. Just past Point Dume, and approaching Point Mugu, we got a VHF radio call from the U.S. Navy alerting us that we were approaching a danger area and that the Pacific Missile Range was active for test firing. We were not allowed to continue on our current course and needed to hold outside the security zone. Oops, forgot to check the USCG Local Notice to Mariners for Southern California before departing.
It seemed this would be a good area to take performance data so we divert from our mission and thrashed about around Point Dume, waiting for the expected 75 minute delay for the missile boys to play with their toys.
At wide open throttle our Sport Yacht handled the seas with authority, tracking true in the chop with no rattles or shakes when she came off a wave top. I put the helm hard over, and the V48 leaned comfortably and turned well at speed, doing a circle in about three boat lengths. After stopping the boat, and then backing down hard into the three-foot wind chop, she responded well. The 15-degree dead-rise, modified-V hull is a perfect match for the Volvo IPS drives. From a dead stop pushing the throttles far forward the V48 accelerated well, coming on plane in about ten seconds, reaching a top end of 29.9 knots, as indicated on the Garmin navigation system. Princess states that the V48 can make a top speed of 33 knots in flat water. With less fuel, and perhaps a little down trim tab, she probably can. We had two people on board, an 80 percent fuel load along with strong winds, tide, and a moderate swell.
Since we had time to exercise all of the systems and functions, I wanted to see how well the Garmin autopilot could navigate the preprogrammed Williamson turn in these conditions, of course, at wide open throttle. To my surprise the autopilot did an admirable job bringing the boat back around to a reciprocal course. Since I practice these maneuvers regularly on many different types of vessels my manual turn was better, but the program did a respectable job, and in an emergency Man-Over-Board situation with no one else on board this would be an ideal tool. Just to be sure we ran the Williamson several more times, in both directions, and various speeds. The autopilot was mated perfectly with the IPS drives.
Just as we were running out of things to play with, and having finished a light lunch, missile command announced over the VHF radio a successful firing, and the danger zone was once again open for vessel transit. After a quick sprint across the flattening seas of the Santa Barbara Channel we were at the marina fuel dock topping-off the tanks, having made the 140-mile run from Newport Beach to Santa Barbara in seven hours, burning an average of 24 gallons per hour with a fuel economy of better than 0.8 miles per gallon. Very respectable for a trip mostly at or above 80% engine load and varying sea conditions.
After being assigned a berth for the evening, we did our engine and vessel system checks, made a few adjustments to the navigation system, explored the bilges, and opened every hatch in the cabin sole that we could find.
The engine room of the V48 is accessed through a large hatch in the cockpit and has nearly standing headroom. Access to all of the engine and vessel vitals is easy with engine lubrication oil dipsticks at the bottom of the access ladder in front of the D6's. The sea strainers are also easy to see and access. Getting to the POD drive to check the oil level requires a maneuver between the engines and under a very large overhead storage locker. I'm not sure if I prefer no locker and easier access, or having the huge volume of storage with more twisting and turning to get to the back of the engines.
The Onan 13.5 KW generator and fuel filters are on the forward bulkhead shared with the master stateroom. There is something about a gel coated, large, and well laid out engine room that exudes attention to detail and quality. Another strong impression!
The V48 sports a teak swim platform with hydraulic lift large enough for an eleven foot tender weighing up to 880-pounds. The transom features a sizable stowage locker with room for lines, fenders, and a plethora of water toys. Access to the cockpit is from the starboard side of the swim platform via three steps and a twenty-one inch stainless steel door. To access the side decks and foredeck, the steps on the port side lead directly there. The cockpit has a U-shaped social area surrounding a multi-leaf hi/lo table perfect for dining and cocktails. Most of the cockpit is covered with a standard equipment extensible sunshade.
Day Two Underway
The run from Santa Barbara to San Francisco is in the range of 300 miles, and depending on the vessel, it can be done in one day or a day and night, with or without a fuel stop. To minimize engine hours, we usually plan to make Monterey for fuel with an overnight stay at the dock, and then cover the final 80 miles to San Francisco on day three. An alternative is to top-off the fuel tanks in Morro Bay and continue overnight directly to San Francisco. Since it was important to Rob to have the vessel in San Francisco before 0800 the next day, we decided to make the fuel stop in Morro Bay and continue our voyage overnight.
Underway from Santa Barbara at 0300 we cruised along the coast dodging oil platforms at a modest eight knots in calm seas and a full moon, arriving at Point Conception at first light around 0700 as planned. As the sun rose we increased speed and were soon making 18 knots in 4- to 6-foot seas. Every mile further north our V48 proved her sea keeping abilities. The weather forecast called for good conditions close to shore and good size wind waves just six miles out. Once past oil platform Irene near Point Arguello, we maneuvered close in following the three nautical mile line with one exception. Having learned from not consulting the local Notice to Mariners a day earlier, I did not want to make the same mistake, and discovered that Vandenberg Air Force Base danger zones three and four were closed. After passing Irene, we set a course outside the danger zones and came close in again at Purisima Point.
Shortly after 1200 we arrived in Morro Bay and got in line behind several sailboats at the only fueling facility in the harbor. We had covered the 125 miles from Santa Barbara to Morro Bay in a little under 8 hours, burning an average of 17.5 gallons per hour, for an economy average of nearly 0.9 miles per gallon. Every one of the sailing vessels was having a difficult time securing to the fuel wharf with one particular boat finally getting a line over on his fourth attempt. After all that effort, he must have pumped fuel for five minutes before the fire drill began again, getting away from the dock.
I do not particularly like fueling in Morro Bay because the facility is a poorly maintained wharf with no fenders. Long metal spikes stick out where fenders used to be, and the piles you lay up next to are rusted metal. Not an ideal situation for anyone in a plastic boat, especially a $1 million + brand new boat.
Princess offers the V48 in two basic designs, the V48 Open with a full length cockpit and sunroof or the enclosed Deck Saloon model. The helm is an all-weather station that can be buttoned down in rough weather or opened up on warm days. A large five by eight-foot sunroof slides open at the touch of a switch, and the side windows power open for ventilation or to talk to crew on the side decks. The helm has a double-wide seat for two, and is well laid out with good visibility through the windshield and side windows. The minimalist black console has a large Garmin 8400 series multifunction display on the left, a tilt steering wheel sits on the right, and the Volvo engine monitor rests on a tier above the wheel. Analog engine tachometers are on a second tier above the Volvo display, while the IPS joystick is on a shelf to the right at elbow height for easy access. Just beside the joystick are the electronic throttles. To the left of the wheel, and much to my surprise, is the bow thruster control. Behind the helm is the entertainment console with a pop-up TV, and to port there is a table with room for four for dining or entertaining. The V48 is an IMO design category B, and has a maximum capacity of 15 persons and nearly a thousand pounds of gear. I can easily see room to entertain fifteen on this boat.
Finally, it was our turn at the fuel dock. We opened up the huge sunroof along the three-foot square side windows and shifted to joystick docking. The way the fuel wharf is situated, there is always current and it is always windy. Fortunately, the tide was flooding so our preferred starboard side to the wharf was perfect for putting the bow into the current. The difficulty was the 20 knot wind from the north blowing us off the dock. About 15-feet from the protruding gelcoat scrapers, I could see why my fellow yachtsman were such a hard time getting situated. Lining up the stern as far forward as possible left nearly twenty-feet of bow protruding past the wharf exposed to the full force of the wind while the stern was in the lee. We had been practicing joystick control for the past 45 minutes while waiting, and maneuvering about as easily as it gets. However, our tall boat was a handful in those conditions as the joystick couldn't keep the bow from blowing off the wharf while we finessed the stern next to the unprotected metal piles. I could see why Princess felt it necessary to install the bow thruster then. Within seconds, problem solved. We secured the stern first, and then used that noisy thruster to bring the bow back as we got the fenders lined up. All good, and we only needed 140 gallons of diesel.
Day Three Arrival At San Francisco Bay
Underway from Morro Bay we were ready for the final 200 mile leg to San Francisco with full fuel tanks. Our voyage plan was to arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge around sunrise, an hour into the flood and predictably calm water. With five hours of sunlight remaining we wanted to make it to Point Sur before slowing for the overnight cruise to San Francisco. As usual, the afternoon winds whipped up the waves to combine with the NW swells along the coast from Cape San Martin past Point Sur serving us a bumpy ride and keeping us very close to shore. Things started to calm as we made it past Point Sur and approached Yankee Point just around sunset. Setting our speed to 8.5 knots for the overnight, I projected our arrival at the San Francisco sea buoy for 0630, and through the Golden Gate shortly thereafter.
The V48 performed well in varying sea conditions and at varying speeds. She was well mannered, easy to control, and rock solid. There was never a creek, groan, or rattle from anywhere on board. Silver Seas promised me a fully commissioned vessel and they were right on. In our three day extensive sea trial I could only find four items to put on the repair list, and they were minor cosmetic issues that could be addressed in a few hours. I can usually find several dozen issues with a fully commissioned and sea-ready yacht, and try very hard to find and note everything.
Our entire voyage was 419 miles, covered in 35 hours of engine time, for an average velocity made good of 12 knots. Considering our slow overnight SOG, time in and out of Newport Beach, Santa Barbara, and Morro Bay, our delay for the missile testing, and occasional rough seas, I considered this very good. We used a total of 520 gallons of fuel giving us an average miles per gallon of 0.8 – again very respectable.
My final thought is how quiet this yacht is. Sitting at the helm with the engines purring along at 2900 RPM the feeling is that of the low rumble you get sitting in the first class seat on a transpacific flight; conversation is normal and not strained. Sleeping in the master stateroom with the shared bulkhead to the engine room is the same low, unobtrusive, rumble that I find relaxing.
Measured Performance With Full Fuel Tanks And Two Persons On Board
Time to plane – less than 10 seconds
Max speed – 29.8 kts burning 45.8 GPH total and WOT of 3400 RPM
Best cruise speed – 21.5 kts at 2900 RPM burning 32.1 GPH total *see text for details
1000 RPM 5.9 kts 1.6 GPH 3.7 MPG
1300 RPM 7.1 kts 2.2 GPH 3.2 MPG
1500 RPM 8.2 kts 5.7 GPH 1.4 MPG
1800 RPM 9.7 kts 10.0 GPH 0.97 MPG
2100 RPM 11.0 kts 14.0 GPH 0.78 MPG
2500 RPM 15.6 kts 24.0 GPH 0.65 MPG
2900 RPM 21.5 kts 32.1 GPH 0.67 MPG
3400 RPM (WOT) 29.8 kts 45.8 GPH 0.65 MPG
All data taken in the open ocean with a 3- to 5-foot long ocean swell and 2- to 3-wind chop in 15- to 20-knot winds. Your performance will vary, especially in the calm waters of San Francisco Bay.
2017 Princess V48 Sport Yacht
LOA – 50' 10" Fuel – 350 gallons
Beam – 13' 6" Water – 91 gallons
Draft – 3' 9" Air clearance – 14' 1"
Power – Volvo IPS600 (435 HP)
Displacement – 31, 300 lbs
Maximum GPS measured speed – 29.8 knots
If you are looking for a roomy, fast, and sporty mid-size sport yacht, then you need to look at the Princess V48 Sport Yacht. She competes well with yachts from other quality builders. For more information or to arrange for your own personal test ride contact Silver Seas Yachts in Sausalito or navigate to their website at http://www.silverseasyachts.com/
Silver Seas Yachts, 300 Harbor Drive, Sausalito, CA 94965, (415) 367-4022.
Don't forget to check your boat regularly this winter to make sure she is safe and sound in her berth, and send me an email to email@example.com if you come across a good story to tell.