The largest Magellano yet reaffirms Azimut?s commitment to comfortable cruising without compromise.
Every so often Power & Motoryacht conducts extensive surveys of powerboat owners who indicate that they?re primarily interested in cruising. We want to learn more about what kinds of boats you like, how you use them, and what kind of articles you?d like to see in future issues. As is often the case with such things, the results are a revelation on a number of fronts. But one particular piece of information on a survey conducted a few years ago surprised me.
We discovered that the population of cruising boaters was actually made up of two segments. One were the hardcore, long-range boaters who expected to endure various deprivations in the course of making lengthy passages. Not surprisingly, the preferred type of vessel for this group was the trawler, or more accurately, the displacement-style cruiser, due primarily to its superior fuel efficiency and range. Interior comfort and speed were cited as secondary concerns by this group, as was the number of separate accommodation spaces, as these cruisers typically traveled as a couple.
The second group was also interested in passagemaking, but of a decidedly different sort. Their trips were more modest and they were far less willing to compromise on comfort and convenience. While they valued the ability to travel at leisurely, fuel-efficient speeds that would conserve fuel and maximize range, they also demanded the ability to put on a turn of speed to outrun weather or when they just didn?t feel like motoring in the single digits. Fuel consumption was not a primary concern, but range was, along with additional staterooms, as these cruisers often went to sea with family or friends.
We were well aware of the first group, which we dubbed ?The Bluewater Guys,? but the second group, whom we called ?The Gentlemen Cruisers,? were something of a surprise, and not just to us, for there were few boats on the market at the time that targeted them. Trawler-style cruisers with some luxury features and multiple staterooms were beginning to appear, but few were able to exceed displacement speed. Those that could did so using conventional planing hulls, which were less seakindly than the classic soft-chine hullform.
It was this void that Azimut aimed to fill with its Magellano series, and the primary means of doing so was its proprietary semi-displacement Dual Mode hull. The 76 is the fourth, newest, and largest of this family, and perhaps because of her size, is to my mind the most successful at combining the stability of a displacement vessel with the speed of a planing boat. My sea trial took place on a blustery, squally day that produced the kind of swells that Mr. Gentleman Cruiser is likely to find himself in (anything more challenging and he?ll probably stay in port), and the 76 handled them with ease. Yet she was able not only to make good speed?nearly 22 knots?but also to do so without noticeably compromising comfort.
Her performance was not due entirely to Dixon?s hullform. Our 76 was also fitted with a Seakeeper 26 gyro stabilizer, which significantly reduced roll and brought out the best of the Dual Mode hull. The Seakeeper is the only stabilization system that Azimut offers on the 76 (no fin systems are available), and while no company representative aboard would confirm the speculation, it felt as if the boat had been designed with the Seakeeper in mind. (It's technically an option but I was told that all 76s coming to the United States will be fitted with it.) Other than the obvious snubbing of roll, the gyro?s operation was imperceptible, unless you happened to be looking at the helm-mounted Seakeeper dashboard display, which graphically depicts the unit?s operation in real time. Although the Seakeeper measures roughly 4 feet by 4 feet by 3? feet, most owners will never know it?s aboard because it?s belowdecks in a lazarette that looks suspiciously as if it were designed to accommodate the unit.
It?s tempting to say that the Dual Mode hull and the Seakeeper provide a synergy that maximizes the 76?s cruising ability, but in fact they?re only part of the picture. Range is a key factor in any cruising vessel, whether she?s designed for long-range or coastal operation. As you see in our test results, the 76?s fuel efficiency is by no means comparable to that of a typical displacement vessel, but it?s well above that of a similar-size planing vessel. A generous fuel tankage of a little less than 2,000 gallons goes a long way toward making up the difference. According to our test results, it gives the 76 a range of 415 nautical miles at 16.7 knots, while maintaining a displacement-class range of 1,605 nautical miles at her optimum theoretical displacement hull speed of 9 knots. So in terms of fuel efficiency and range, the 76 backs up her claim of dual-mode operation.
Two other performance-related metrics are worth noting. One is modest running angles that peak at just three degrees at 1750 rpm and stay there all the way to WOT. The other is moderate sound levels?a maximum of just 70 decibels as measured at the lower helm. Together they provide the helmsman wide flexibility in choosing an optimum cruising speed.
Of course there are other factors that define a gentleman?s cruiser, and those are comfort and luxury. If you?re looking for that trademark dark-wood, small-window trawler interior, look elsewhere. Being a product of Azimut-Benetti, all Magellanos display the distinctive Italian design panache that you?ve come to expect from those brands. The 76 has a particularly pleasing design motif, with extensive use of canaletto (Italian walnut) set off by black and white accents. Together with extensive glass on the main deck and large side windows on the lower deck, the result is a bright, airy interior that?s nothing like the interior of a traditional displacement cruiser.
The main deck is laid out with comfort, convenience, and conviviality in mind. There are two helm seats; abaft them a starboard U-shaped couch can easily accommodate three couples. The port-side dining table seats eight, while the cockpit dining table can accommodate six. There?s also an eight-person dining table on the bridge. Fully aft and to starboard, the galley is U-shaped for safety underway and positioned to serve both interior and cockpit dining areas with equal ease. Below, everyone can enjoy a comfortable place to sleep with its own head, thanks to the four-stateroom layout: midship, full-beam master, forepeak VIP, port-side bunk room, and starboard twin-berth stateroom. The full-beam crew?s quarters abaft the engine room and forward of the lazarette can double as a fifth stateroom in a pinch.
The engine room is where you get a sense of just how serious the 76?s designers were about cruising. This boat?s mechanical spaces can compete with those of the best bluewater passagemakers. Engine access is superb, thanks in part to the configuration of the 1,000-horsepower MANs, which, because they're V-8s, sit lower in the vessel. There?s nearly total walkaround access to them, and 6-foot headroom and abundant lighting make this space a pleasure to work in.
Each of the ZF 550A gears has a power take-off to run the 76?s hydraulic system, a noble piece of fail-safe engineering, particularly since only the bow and stern thrusters are connected to it; both the windlass and the Seakeeper are electric. The upshot is that you can lean on the thrusters (via a proportional joystick) to your heart?s content without worrying about overtaxing the system.
The fuel system is also well thought-out, emphasizing that most admirable of cruising-boat characteristics?simplicity. Since there?s but one main fuel tank, which feeds a day tank, the system requires no intervention under normal circumstances. However, electric and manual transfer pumps are available just in case. There is also a manifold for the 220-volt bilge-pump system, which allows it to draw from any of five occupied areas, plus there?s a portable pickup in the engine room that should be especially handy for clean-up. A large Excelsior No. 5 manual pump mounted right by the engine room door provides the ultimate backup.
Azimut is indeed serious about cruising, but a special kind of cruising it likes to call ?Italian style,? which eschews any compromise in comfort, luxury, or style. A gentleman should expect nothing less.