I remember the first time I saw a Mirage trawler. It was the Great Harbour 37 tied side-to at the Miami International Boat Show about four years ago. Navigating my way through the crowded concrete docks among the typical white, sleek craft that lineup in Miami, the towering profile of the GH 37 stopped me dead in my tracks. I reasoned she must have been as tall as she was long. "Well that's different, I thought.
And that's just what this folksy builder located in Gainesville, Florida-an unlikely spot for a boatbuilder, to be sure-is all about. They look at design and building a little differently. After spending some time on a new GH 47, I walked away with the conclusion that there is no other 47-foot trawler like this. Sure, it may not appeal to the mass consumer market. And yes, she has a profile, that is, well, different. After getting beyond these initial impressions, however, I found myself gazing away in the ship-like pilothouse, scanning down the St. Johns River, and planning my escape on this tough, voluminous trawler.
I would tweak the interior layout of my GH 47, since the builder willingly accommodates changes. Like the first 47, I would make the stateroom abaft the pilothouse into the ultimate combination of office and watch cabin. My only concern is that the view from this high perch would distract me from the work at hand. For playtime between filing copy and shifting paperwork, I would explore the shallows on a flats-skiff carried on the boat deck, making my best Zane Grey impersonation. What make of skiff? Mirage can build a sweet little launch as well. The 2-foot, 10-inch draft of the 47 can open up a variety of down-island cruising opportunities that boats even with a measly 4-foot draft have to think twice before entering.
One of the best things about the 47, that truly turns her into an island hopping adventuresome little vixen, is her long legs. A fuel capacity of 1,000 gallons feeding twin 71 hp, naturally aspirated Westerbeke diesels will give you a cruising range of approximately 3,000 miles at 8.0 knots. She can be bumped up a knot or so, but that kind of misses the point.
"You have a great deal of independence on this boat", commented Ken Fickett, the owner of Mirage Manufacturing. "You have the tankage and the interior volume to pack away for a few months." Packing away for a few months and using the boat is a big part of Ken's boatbuilding philosophy. For example, the exterior hardware is commercial-grade. The brushed aluminum rails can be easily shot with a hose and some dish soap. No varnish and stainless-steel polish allowed. The decks are finished with a tough commercial-grade painted nonskid that will keep feet firmly glued in place, and maybe even remove a layer of skin from a stray knee. After a slog across the Gulf Stream, you can spend less than an hour hosing her off, before enjoying your island paradise. (The 500 gallons of water means this trawler gets a freshwater wash down.)
If phrases such as commercial-grade leave you thinking that the interior fit and finish would follow suit, you would be wrong. On this particular 47, the owners chose raised-panel mahogany bulkheads combined with white tongue and groove bulkheads, and a warm satin finish. This treatment, along with plush fabrics and quality hardware, gives the 47 the atmosphere of a summer cottage. It is this paradox between luxury and toughness that seems to define this 47 and some of the other Mirage products I've been aboard.
The galley, for example, is equipped with household appliances, including a side-by-side GE refrigerator that will hold plenty of provisions. And a separate freezer will keep the Mirage stocked with fresh meat and ice cream. The stainless-steel port over the counter provides a great view for the cook. I would like to see a hook on the port to keep it from banging while under way when it's open.
Opposite the galley is one of my favorite spots on the 47. There is a utility room with engineroom access. Fuel filters are on the after bulkhead for an easy spot check and servicing. You'll find enough stowage for tools and stores, allowing seamless access between the engine space and the necessary items for tinkering and routine maintenance. This space is also a nice home for the washer, dryer and trash compactor. Thanks to the 15-foot, 6-inch beam and little Westerbeke diesels, there is loads of room in the engineroom. I would like to see belt guards on the engine as a safety measure.
All the way forward is a spacious and bright stateroom that I assumed was the master stateroom. However the owners will use the stateroom abaft the pilothouse as their domain, giving guests the forward area. Drawers were abundant, and two large hanging lockers will keep the evening wear nice and neat. An en suite head with a tub serves this stateroom.
There is an additional stateroom on the port side with a pull-out double and a single overhead berth. Opposite is an office with beautifully crafted file cabinets, a leather-topped desk, and space for a computer.
"The next 47 on the line has a little different layout with a bigger forward stateroom and no office. We'll work with each owner", said Fickett. "This is what this guy wanted."
Another custom request was the addition of a flying bridge. Because of the height of the boat, it does provide an expansive view of your surroundings. Personally, I prefer the profile of the first 47 I saw, without a bridge, and Mirage offers it both ways.
The hull design of the 47 follows the vessel's serious cruising mission. The propellers are protected by large skegs and with the two protective keels could actually allow the 47 to be dried out on her bottom. The hard chines also provide a good measure of longitudinal stability. The company's N37, which I took to Bermuda two years ago ("Bermuda High, November 2003) shares the same Lou Codega hull design. Even with sloppy quartering seas, I didn't experience a kick to the stern that some semi-displacement hull designs have given me. The bulk and windage of the 47 may not make it the passagemaker that the N37 is, but she is well suited for island hopping and coastal cruising.
Contact: Mirage Manufacturing, (352) 377-4146; www.mirage-mfg.com.