By Captain John
Mission Statement for the Beneteau Swift 50
The Swift 50 is an attempt to find a middle ground between displacement-speed trawler-type vessels and high-speed express cruisers and motoryachts. Beneteau has created the Swift 50 with the intention of “making living aboard easy” and as economical as possible both in terms of the initial buy and in the cost of annual operating expenses. By offering a base boat without lots of standard equipment the builder allows the buyer to outfit the boat exactly as needed for its intended purpose and thereby not waste money on unneeded equipment.
The Swift 50's design capitalizes on all advantages of the IPS pod drive propulsion system. Not only is the system smoother and quieter, but the slow-speed, close-quarters maneuverability is far superior to that of a conventional inboard-drive vessel. Because the engines are in the stern, the accommodations can be enlarged, giving her the room below of a 55-footer. Because pod drives are more efficient than inboards, smaller engines can be used to go the same semi-displacement speeds, thus saving fuel. •
Because the boat is powered by pod drives its fuel consumption is pretty much a straight line once she gets on plane. From 13.8 knots (3000 rpm) to 21.6 knots (3600 rpm) WOT her range varies only 3 nautical miles, from a low of 279 to a high of 282. That means that a captain can set his speed to match the sea conditions and not worry about wasting fuel.
Joystick is Standard.
There are few trawler-type boats built with pods, even fewer with a joystick as standard. Not only is there a joystick on the Swift 50, but also a bow thruster. Here the Swift 50 has redundancy and extra power when docking in close quarters. With a joystick and bow thruster she should be the easiest-to-dock 50-footer on the market. •
Top Speed Over 20 Knots.
Displacement trawlers typically travel from 6 knots to 9 knots depending on their length and horsepower. The hull was designed around the IPS drive to maximize its efficiency at all planing speeds.•
Optional Crew Cabin.
The lazarette can be fitted-out as a crew cabin with a bunk, a shower, and a head. This is a handy feature for a couple who might like to have a young crew member aboard to help out with manual chores. The standard layout utilizes this space as a lazarette. Either way, it’s a useful space, accessible from the main deck or the swim platform through a hatch in the transom.
Lightweight with Narrow Beam.
The way the Swift 50 attains its 20-knots+ WOT with minimum horsepower is a 15' 3" (4.64 m) beam and just 35,264 lbs. of displacement. (15,995 kgs.). She has from a few inches to as much as 2' (.60 m) less beam and from 10,000 lbs. to 20,000 lbs. (4,545 kgs to 9,090 kgs.) less displacement than trawler-type boats on the market.•
This design concept was first started in megayachts a few years ago and is noteworthy because of its remarkable visibility from the lower helm.
We normally do not put the price in the "distinguishing features" section, but in this case we think it belongs here because it is certainly a major aspect of the boat that sets her apart from other boats that fulfill its function on the market. Well-equipped, this vessel is about $1.1 million (FOB select East Coast destinations).•
Long Options List.
By not presuming to know how the boat will be used by each customer, Beneteau has not stuffed the boat full of standard equipment and has thereby kept the base price low. However, the builder fully expects buyers to add the equipment needed for their specific mission. For example, owners in northern latitudes do not need air conditioning so why build it in as standard if some customers will not want or need it?
Unusual Standard Features
• Teak decks• Serving hatch unit -- A “dumbwaiter” to pass food and drinks easily from the galley to the flying bridge.• Steps inset in topsides at bulwark door.• Galley trash can hatch outside. Empty the trash from on deck; no need to carry a full bag of trash through the cabin.• 25.5" (65 cm) bulwarks around the side deck and aft deck.• Door on sidedeck to protect aft deck from wind and spray.• Large swim ladder with solid wood steps and ss hand holds.• Sliding windows above the side decks
She has 49’2” (14.99 m) LOA and a LWL (water line length) of 43'9" (13.33 m). She has a beam of 15’3” (4.64 m), she draws 3’5” (1.04 m), and has a fuel capacity of 714 gallons (2,702 L). Our test model weighed-in at 39,652 lbs. (17,986 kgs.), and was powered by twin Volvo Penta IPS600 diesels, delivering 435 horsepower each. We recorded a top speed of 21.6 knots at full throttle of 3600 rpm, burning 44 gph (167.2 lph) giving us a range of 280 nm. If we backed-off 300 rpm to 3300 rpm, we ran at 17.6 knots burning 36 gph (136.8 lph) and giving us a range of 279 nautical miles. At 3000 rpms she travels at 13.8 knots and has a range of 282 nm. In each case we have baked-in a 10% fuel reserve.Unlike displacement-speed trawlers, Beneteau’s objective with the Swift Series is to provide a cruising speed in the high teens. Based on our test I’d say running the boat at 20 knots is almost as efficient as 13.8 knots. So, captains can match their speed to the sea conditions and forget about wasting money on an inefficient fuel burn.
Long Range Cruiser.
That range of 279 nautical miles covers the offshore run between a lot of popular ports in cruising areas around the world. In fact, the Swift 50 can cruise at 17.6 knots from Labrador to South America and always be within range of a fuel pump. Pull the throttle back to her displacement speed of about 7.4 knots (at 1800 rpm) and she has a range of 540 nautical miles burning just 7.85 gph. Now she has the range to cruise most anywhere except long ocean voyages. I did not test the boat with a single engine running at displacement speeds but from previous IPS experience, I would anticipate her to handle just fine at those speeds and thereby extend her range even more.
Her hull shape, including hard chines and a keel, was designed to resist rolling. It was a calm day for our test, and I did my best to cross my own wake at the worst angle, so I could get her to roll. The Swift 50 was more stable than some full-displacement vessels I’ve done that with. Underway at top speed, she responded with alacrity to the wheel which is a signature element of the IPS system. In a hard-over to hard-over turn at speed her healing was minimal. Visibility was never an issue, even when I pushed the throttle up to get her on plane. In fact, all the big panels of glass make it a pleasure to sit at this helm station, and the design of the galley cabinets allow the captain to see what’s coming up from behind.
Beneteau has included a bow thruster for redundancy, but the IPS pod drive system gives the captain excellent control in tight quarters. This is a real plus for the kind of short-handed cruising that’s increasingly popular with the baby boomer crowd. And, with three different control stations (one optional), the guess-work is eliminated from docking the Swift 50.
The View From the Dock
As I walked down the dock I was anxious to get aboard the Swift 50. I’m always interested in seeing how things are evolving, in terms of yacht design, and this looked to me like something I needed to see. Her lines are that of a contemporary interpretation of the trawler; there’s no tugboat or fishing boat stuff here, but things like hardware and fittings are clearly sized for offshore duty. This boat is meant to do more than just be a floating condo at a marina. At the same time, she’s comfortable and spacious enough to be a live-aboard for a couple who wants to be on the move, up and down the coast.
A Walk Around the Deck
I stepped aboard the sizable swim platform and the first thing I noticed was the teak decks which are standard. I found the teak deck well built. Going forward from the cockpit, there is a wing door on the starboard side only. The starboard side deck is wider than the port side by 3’’ and therefore that is the working side of this vessel. There is a door amidships in the bulwark, and steps set into the topsides beneath the door for boarding from a floating dock.
A little door in the side of the cabin leads to the galley trash can. This is a clever little detail that avoids having to carry the galley trash through the cabin. As I moved around I noticed that all hardware, the cleats, the windlass, the handrails, etc., are all heavy duty, yacht-quality material, built to last in service at sea. Beneteau told us it is also raising the handrail to starboard along the entire length of the bulwark for added protection to 31" from 25" (to 80 cm from 65 cm).
The aft deck is a functional, Spartan area. There’s an “L” shaped bench seat, and lift-up access to the engine room and lazarette. Our test boat included the optional third control station here, with IPS joystick and bow thruster control. It’s ideal for backing into very tight spaces, and we certainly did just that during our test.
Below the aft deck is the lazarette which can also be accessed through an optional watertight door in the transom. It’s a large space, and it can be ordered as a crew cabin, with head and shower. This space is made possible because the Swift 50 has jackshafts coming from the engines which tie into the pods under the lazerette/crew cabin.
The engine room is not exceptionally large, but there’s room to work on the twin Volvo Penta’s D6 435-hp engines. Because the boat uses jackshafts it was possible to move the engines forward, creating better weight distribution as well as providing room for an aft crew cabin. Starting with hull #10 the Swift 50 will carry 714 gallons (2,702 L) of fuel. This is not a lot of fuel by normal standards among vessels in this category, but by keeping weight down the boat can go faster. Obviously, one's cruising destinations and speeds should be worked out in advance of buying the boat to make sure her tankage is up to the task required. Beneteau has been building the Swift Series (which includes five models ranging from 34' to 52') for 10 years, long enough to determine how its customers use its boats. Based on actual usage habits, the builder has determined that smaller tanks actually better match usage patterns than do large tanks among its customers. Lugging around unneeded fuel only costs money in lower speeds and fuel efficiency.The engine room is large enough for the optional watermaker and is already plumbed for a fuel polisher. The boat comes standard with an inert gas fire suppression system that protects the engines from damage when discharged.
Since lightweight is one of the keys to the performance of this boat it is not surprising that the hull is sandwich composite above the waterline. There Beneteau uses end-grain balsa core. The chines and bottom of the boat are solid laminate.
The ladder to the flying bridge is molded-in which is something I like to see. The upper deck is large enough for an appropriate-sized tender, and the factory can install an optional hydraulic davit on the boat deck. That area has already been reinforced during initial construction to take it. I'd put as large a tender as possible there and not worry if the outboard motor or part of the tender hangs over the rails. Forward the seating area features a convertible table. Storage is underneath the bench seat. A built-in “serving hatch” makes bringing food from the galley a snap with the standard dumbwaiter. A sink with hot and cold water is standard, and there’s room for an optional electric grill and refrigerator/ice maker. Helm and companion bucket seats are part of a fully-functional helm station, and the size of the space is, what I consider, “just right” for running at sea.
The salon has an L-shaped bench seat and is opposite a counter which houses a wet bar, shelves for glasses and dishes and refreshments. An automatic high-low flat screen TV can be installed as an option. There is a convertible dining table/ coffee table. Cabinetry is typical of Beneteau: it is Alpi Wood mahogany with Wenge trim. A convertible sofa in the salon is available here as an option.
Going forward and up a few steps is a U-shaped galley to starboard. A 3-burner gas stovetop is standard and there is a gas oven. Over the stove top is an extractor hood. (An electric stove top is optional.) To port there are two stainless steel drawers, one is a 64 liter refrigerator drawer, and the other is an 84 liter freezer. There are two ss sinks with mixer faucet. The galley has quite a bit of counter space, and a glass plate folds over the 3-burner stove creating more working space when it is not in use. A window over the galley slides open. Opposite the galley is a small booth dinette for two. It's the place where a cruising couple will share their morning joe and plan the day. This also makes a chart table when underway and is designed to turn into a pilot berth. This is a thoughtful concept and gives the captain a place to catch 20 winks on a long passage while the first officer is at the helm.
The helm is to starboard, opposite the convertible dinette/sea berth. There’s room for plenty of electronics, and the individual optional and optional packages allow the captain to set this boat up to meet his needs; whatever his intended use seems to be. The wheel is wrapped in leather.At the helm there is a fresh-air intake that is operated manually. The windshield has defoggers and three windshield wipers. Both the joystick and the bow thruster toggles are close to the side door making it handy for the skipper to look out the door and still reach the controls when backing into a slip. The door also makes it easy for the captain to pop out to handle dock lines when single-handing the boat.
Down below, the master stateroom is full-beam and amidships, the most comfortable place on the boat. There are two large hanging lockers, a cabinet that can be used as a vanity or a desk. A split head makes it faster for a couple to get ready with the shower and sink to starboard, and the toilet and small wash basin are separate to port.
Up forward is a VIP cabin that is as big and luxurious as many master cabins. It has 78" (1.98 m) of headroom. There’s plenty of nooks and crannies for storage, and a big hanging locker to port. A shared head with stall shower is to starboard in the companionway. A third cabin features upper and lower berths. In keeping with the live-aboard-ability, this cabin can be fitted-out at the factory as an office, with a Pullman berth above a desk and cabinet. This is also where an optional stacked washer and dryer would be built-in. The dryer is vented so that moisture is going out on the deck instead of staying in the boat.
The trawler concept has come a long way since the mid-1960s and is now, essentially, divided into two groups -- those boats with ocean-crossing range (2,200+ nm) which are slow and those without the range which are often much faster. Clearly, the Swift 50 is in the latter category. Some trawler-types on the market will go a few knots faster than the Swift 50, but they have far bigger engines and they cost a lot more. Beneteau's goal with the Swift 50 was to optimize interior space and performance. To that end the Volvo Penta's IPS600 system with joystick, is the piece of the puzzle that made it all work. It is important to note that the IPS600 propulsion package with joystick is not cheap. A straight inboard with a bow thruster would have been far less expensive, but not nearly as efficient nor as easy to dock. Because Beneteau builds more boats in this size and class than any other builder in the world it can take advantage of efficiencies in purchasing and the spreading of overhead over more units. The result is good value for the consumer and boaters now have an option of a well-designed, well-built cruising boat by a major manufacturer.
Test Result Highlights
- Top speed for the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 (2013-) is 24.8 mph (39.9 kph), burning 44.00 gallons per hour (gph) or 166.54 liters per hour (lph).
- Best cruise for the Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 (2013-) is 15.9 mph (25.6 kph), and the boat gets 0.57 miles per gallon (mpg) or 0.24 kilometers per liter (kpl), giving the boat a cruising range of 324 miles (521.43 kilometers).
- Tested power is 2 x 435-hp Volvo Penta D6 IPS600.
Standard and Optional Features
|Washdown: Fresh Water||Optional|
|Outlet: 12-Volt Acc||Standard|
Boats More Than 30 Feet
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