Warren Steptoe asks the answer to whether the M50 is a better boat than the M48 it replaces.
Maritimo’s M48 flybridge cruiser was a great success story for the iconic Aussie boat builder. It was one of the company’s most prolific models with more than 100 sold internationally to buyers in Italy, Spain, the UK, the USA and the UAE, as well as of course, in Australia and New Zealand.
Ever since inception a decade ago though, Maritimo has never been a company to stand still; nor has it ever rested on its proverbial laurels. Refining, updating, and upgrading existing models in response to an evermore sophisticated market – and introducing new ones as tastes grow and change has always been company policy.
Given the success and popularity of the M48, at the very least it would be a hard act to follow. Which obviously posed a considerable challenge to Maritimo’s engineers and their R & D folk. And poses for us some pretty serious questions about whether the M50 is actually a better boat?
I won’t keep you waiting any longer before getting on with this review; so will answer both those questions in brief right now.
The answer to whether the M50 is a better boat than the M48 is definitely yes –in several aspects.
And as to whether the name change merely indicates some different shiny bits designed to give the marketing department something to go on about, the answer is no! There’s a great deal more involved in the evolution of the M48 into the M50 than that! Small though several of the changes may be, some of them are none the less profound for it.
One of the first M50’s out of the mould was taken to Sydney under its own power from Maritimo’s Gold Coast headquarters. That’s a fair sea trial to check out any number of things including how the redesigned hull compares with the original on the open ocean; and how performance and fuel efficiency have been affected by the changes.
The M48 had a good reputation as a sea boat and talking to the skipper of the M50 involved in this particular passage, he reported no perceivable change to that. What surprised everybody it seemed though was the M50 recording a full 10% improvement in fuel consumption over an M48 with the same engines (Cummins QSM11’s) and drive train (shaft drive with conventional props and rudders) over the same voyage.
Our test boat had yet to be fitted out with an electronics package so only had one of Cummins’ neat little LCD display panels fitted in what looked like acres of dash space meant to ultimately contain three 15 inch display screens. Nevertheless we were able to utilize Cummins’ inhouse telemetry and a handheld GPS sitting on the dash to check out some performance and fuel efficiency figures for ourselves when we finally exited the Coomera River’s interminable 6 knot speed limit and progressively opened the taps.
Maritimo’s Sales and Marketing Manager Greg Haines was aboard and while we’d motored sedately downstream towards open water he’d been telling me about a comparison he’d conducted (as a result of the impressive maiden voyage to Sydney) between the new M50 and some popular displacement cruisers. The M50 compared pretty favorably to put it mildly he said, turning out to produce up to a 35% improvement over several highly regarded boats.
Our fuel efficiency/performance set up on this day wasn’t perhaps the ultimate in high tech – although accurate enough despite that.
At 7 knots (skirted lure trolling speed the fishos aboard observed) we were burning a whole 11 litres per hour (total.) At 8 knots this had increased to 18 l/hr. And at 9 knots 25 l/hr. As Greg pointed out; not bad for a flybridge motor cruiser of any style; and remarkably good for a planing hulled boat…
The hull was well and truly up and planing cleanly soon after; and the engine/hull package settled into a perceivable sweet spot at 15 knots through to about 18 knots.
At 17 knots total fuel consumption was 110 l/hr. At 20 knots it had increased to 146 l/hr. Engine noise increased a little at 25 knots while fuel consumption increased to 200 l/hr.
What can she do is the inevitable question from there and with the throttles on the stops the GPS couldn’t be persuaded to pass 29.7 knots. Where the QSM11’s were burning 260 l/hr. Damn close to a genuine 30 knots as and when required and/or desired! An option displacement cruisers clearly can’t match, (as Greg smilingly pointed out.)
Before moving on to internal refinements, readers might be interested in hearing about a conversation that took place while we were tootling along inside the Coomera River’s speed limit zone.
Drive pods have taken boating by storm over the past couple of years so when a few negative comments surfaced amongst the Maritimo crew aboard I immediately pricked up my ears.
Read into the conversation what you will while no doubt prospective M50 buyers will do their homework meanwhile; but the Maritimo blokes were far from full of praise for pod drives generally. And in particular were anything but enthusiastic about their use with Maritimo hulls; which apparently leave nothing to be desired in terms of outright performance and fuel efficiency when identically powered boats with shafts and rudders and pod drives are directly compared.
To put it mildly the Maritimo crew’s negativity about pod drives is somewhat at odds with commonly heard wisdom from other similarly credible boating industry people. It’s food for thought however the conversation’s viewed, and I’d suggest is something people looking for a new boat need to talk to both sides of the topic at some length about…
Having raised a bit of a contentious matter, let’s forget about what’s under the water awhile and focus on the M50’s interior.
Full Beam Master
The M50’s interior configuration is similar to the M48 in that it features an enclosed flybridge with
internal staircase (it’s definitely more staircase than a ‘bridge ladder)access from deck level inside the cabin.
In the M50 the walkaround side decks have been widened a little because how easy it was to go forward was apparently a very popular aspect of the M48.
As the old saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” and while I’m sure readers will agree; that says nothing about “it” even better!
A comment which applies in spades to what is inarguably THE major change from the M48 in the M50. This is to be found downstairs below the salon where an all new full beam master stateroom is no less than 250% larger than the M48’s.
As you enter this amazing space you meet a bureau cum desk in what’s effectively a foyer before stepping downstairs into the bedroom proper – or turning sharp right into an ensuite bathroom.This is surprisingly spacious, and is definitely more of a domestic size space than the maritime one you expect to find in a boat. An impression only enhanced by what non sailors would I think consider a “normal” toilet, vanity, tapware, and shower recess.
Interestingly, Maritimo chose to locate the master stateroom’s (king size) bed at an angle from portside rather than straight along the centerline or across the beam like so many other full beam staterooms do. If taken aback initially, the angled bed quickly grows on you while you appreciate the space it provides for a sizable private lounge cum retreat along the stateroom’s starboard side.
Twin portholes over the retreat’s chaise lounge and another single one portside forward of the bed open for natural ventilation, and insect screens for all three are on the options list if a natural airflow might sometimes be preferable to controlling the climate with the air conditioning.
Like the M48, the M50 still has a roomy double berth VIP cabin in the bows (which I thought notable for how “square” it seems, unlike so many bow cabins which can’t avoid their being at the literal pointy end,) with a smaller bunk bed cabin along the starboard side of the companionway. These two cabins share a second bathroom which, like the main one, is too big to call a head.
Like the master suite’s this is absolutely a bathroom and although the floor plan reveals it’s actually a little smaller, is much the same size as the main ensuite with (in the test boat, no doubt Maritimo will happily arrange décor to suit any owner,) a virtually identical décor.
The way the M48’s galley was situated at the aft end of the cabin was always a strong selling point and once again, well enough has been left alone there. New bi fold doors in the aft cabin bulkhead mean the galley can be connected directly with the cockpit, or separated.
Our test boat’s galley flooring was very stylishly done in honey and oak. This particular boat was optioned with a Miele upgrade including a 4 ring ceramic cooktop with touch controls instead of the usual knobs, and a convection/microwave oven. The galley’s pantry; and fridge and freezer space are all quite generous, a description as “domestic size” tempts again…
Another interesting feature of the galley is the way the dishwasher has been set up ‘island style’ slightly off centre in the galley’s floor space where it very effectively multitasks as an additional preparation bench and handy serving space set right beside to and fro traffic.
Our test M50’s interior cabinetwork, (non carpeted) flooring and the bridge stairs were all done in a high gloss finish involving no less than 13 coats of a top quality polyurethane. Durable; and very nice.
You actually step up into the lounge/dining area from the galley. Apparently the flybridge floor had to be raised slightly to maintain ample headroom in the salon, and of course in the master stateroom below. This was incidentally achieved without making the M50 any higher overall than its predecessor. The salon’s dining table ingeniously folds out to accommodate more diners or compacts to afford extra lounge space.
A wine rack and the bar fills space from the bridge stairs forward to the dinette lounge portside. The bar fridge is supplemented by an icemaker. (The galley freezer incorporates a second icemaker in case supplies can’t be maintained by the one in the bar.) More bottle space and a capacious glass rack are located forward in the opposite corner of the lounge/dining space to the dinette lounge.
Our test boat’s entertainment package was by Bose and, as sound systems do in today’s world, it naturally has an I Pod dock too.
Lifting the lounge seating away along both sides and opening what as a casual glance you might take to be cupboard doors in the lounge/dining area reveals a distinctly practical side to the M50’s nature. Monitors and switching for all the boat’s 240 and 24V circuitry is conveniently located here. While removing the lounge seating and backrests provides sensibly easy access to various pumps, filters and other essential equipment. Servicing and breakdown repairs to these should never be a problem in this boat.
In keeping with this line of practical thinking, I was impressed with the robust stainless steel handrails provided for the bridge stairs, which could be closed off at the top with a similarly sturdy gate. People expecting to have small children aboard may ask for the lower space between the rails to be made a little more secure however. I shouldn’t imagine this would present any problems at all for Maritimo’s fitout people.
Upstairs the ‘bridge looks entirely comfortable in any combination of its command centre and upstairs living and entertaining area roles. A pair of super comfortable looking and highly adjustable Recaro seats serve the helm and a navigator. And the way the cabin superstructure projects aft until it’s almost over the transom provides a roomy open air upper level deck which will I suspect be where the barbecue is located. While sheltering the cockpit underneath it from the sun and other less desirable elements.
This ‘roof’ completely blocks any view down into the cockpit from the helm; which to my mind indicates this boat is definitely not intended for serious fishing as much as very comfortable cruising and entertaining. Although an additional set of throttle and gear controls portside beside the salon doorway in our test boat may well belie that particular thought.
These were presumably placed to facilitate docking and while hardly the control stick each side of the steering wheel professional game fishing skippers habitually prefer, they would do a pretty fair job while fishing too. A locker below these cockpit controls opens to reveal shutoff valves for the fuel supply and engine room air.
The cockpit follows the same line of thought. Our test boat featured an optional lounge and table across what’s high enough to almost be a mezzanine deck. There’s an engine room hatch and a hatch accessing a lazarette belowdecks (hand laid teak decks in the boat reviewed) here with a step each side down to a transom deck which, while again not as roomy as a dedicated fishing ‘cockpit’ would serve well enough for that purpose for many people with the simple addition of a rail across the back.
Alternately, the moulded pod forming the lounge seat in the centre part of the transom bulkhead in the boat reviewed can instead be optioned as livewell/fish box and/or refrigeration space. So while clearly not a “bluewater sportfisher” as such, people who like their fishing should be able to set up an M50 for fishing.
Our review boat took the standard transom deck a step further with a 1 ½ metre wide swim deck at the extreme aft end. This could be raised and lowered into the water by 450 kg rated rams capable of lifting most PWC’s. Speaking of which, the foredeck has a reinforced davit mount and is I note spacious enough to accommodate both a sizeable tender dinghy AND a liferaft.
Venturing down into the engine room finds a neat set up indeed, and yet again, in the engine room a very practical side of the M50’s nature is revealed. Engine fluid checks are ready to hand, both battery banks are easy to get at, simple removable floor panels in the engine room floor access the bilge proper, the shafts and seals are in plain view, and so is a clear panel forming a sight gauge in each fuel tank, both of which can be removed to clean the tanks out if necessary.
Our test boat even had a Karcher pressure cleaner installed in a compartment in the cockpit, with an outlet set up so the cleaner head could reach the ground tackle right at the pointy end of the foredeck. Pretty; AND eminently practical – it’s a pretty appealing combination isn’t it!!!
So it’s hardly surprising that before the first M50 was completed at Maritimo’s Gold Coast shipyard, two had been sold sight unseen at America’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. A worthy successor to the M48’s success story? I think so!!!