Beneteau's Swift Trawler 50 brings the benefits of trawler volume to a boat with sprightly performance. By Dag Pike
July 9, 2013
Beneteau Swift Trawler 50
The French-built Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 possesses some of the traditional look of this market segment, but she can run too. I know this because on our test day the wind on the Mediterranean had freshened to a near gale, and with no shelter from the land we measured 30 knots of “breeze” on the anemometer. There was a short, steep sea with waves up to five feet. These were real-world testing conditions for any 50-footer.
Swift Side View
Our test vessel’s best speed in these conditions was 22.8 knots at wide-open throttle, which was made possible by her 435 hp Volvo Penta IPS600 diesels. (According to the builder, the 50 has made a top hop of 24.8 knots in calm seas.) Heading into the waves, we reduced the 50’s speed to about 10 knots, which greatly increased her fuel efficiency along with our comfort. She has a fuel burn of about one gallon per mile traveled (or 1:1) at this speed. Coupled with her 720 gallons of fuel capacity, this gives her about a 640 nautical mile range at around 10 knots (with a 10 percent reserve). When you want her to move, she can, but as you can see she offers some nice benefits at slower speeds.
Swift Head On
I could feel the chines impacting on the waves, but the ride was surprisingly comfortable. That said, conditions caused regular spray to be thrown off those chines. When we put the waves on the beam, we could open the throttles wide for an exhilarating ride with the dynamic stability reducing our rolling. It was the same when running the 50 downwind, and again I got a smooth ride when I kept the speed steady. On all headings, I felt in complete control. This trawler yacht provided strong-hearted performance in adverse conditions.
The reassuring ride was helped by the fact that I could clearly see what was going on around me from the starboard-side lower helm, which is sensibly laid out with twin navigation displays, a 3-foot-wide steering wheel and single-lever throttles within easy reach. The controls are easily palmed with a right hand, and the 50’s sizable wheel made me wonder if Beneteau was trying to attract sailboat owners when they retire from wind propulsion. Whatever, it feels good and works well with minimal input at speed, and there is full, sensitive low-speed steering control from the Volvo Penta IPS drives.
Swift Rear Shot
The 50 is designed with vertical pilothouse windows that curve around, offering a panoramic view, and the narrow supporting mullions ensure clean sight lines. The view astern is limited by the cabinets in the galley to starboard, but then the joystick control is handily placed so you can stand in the pilothouse door and look aft. There is also an optional joystick in the aft cockpit and another at the flybridge helm, so you can always see where you are going in the marina.
Layout Level 1
Equally well laid out and appointed are the 50’s accommodations, which have been designed for comfortable onboard living. Rich mahogany paneling enhances her traditional interior look. The trade-off for the mahogany wood is that the cabins belowdecks are a bit dark with only small windows. Louvered doors and trim reduce the dark wood’s impact while helping to maintain the traditional ambience.
Layout Level 2
Amidships, the full-beam master suite features -separate toilet and shower compartments, twin closets and generous space, so no complaints here for long-term living aboard. The forepeak VIP is limited in size by its location, but it has the benefit of extra light from an overhead deck hatch, and the space is both inviting and comfortable. Between the master and VIP to port is a two-bunk cabin with generously sized berths.
Layout Level 3
On the 50’s main-deck level, the aforementioned galley is well equipped, with a three-ring gas cooktop that is fitted with fiddles, a good safety precaution. Designwise, the worktop space is a bit limited, but on the opposite side the fridge and large double-drawer freezer compartments are cleverly hidden behind wooden doors. Just forward of this is a two-person dinette, which is a great spot for informal breakfasts.
Two steps down is the salon, with its C-shaped settee facing a long cabinet with stowage for bottles and glasses. A retractable TV appears from behind it. Big square windows offer great vistas, and some of the windows can be opened. Once again, rich wood is the predominant feature here.
This trawler’s huge flybridge has copious seating, a bar and a barbecue counter while still leaving space for a 10-foot tender and its launching crane aft. An alternative for the tender is a high-low swim platform. The view from the flybridge helm is commanding, and a canvas Bimini top extends from the radar arch forward. Beneteau has done wonders with the aft cockpit, offering a teak table and a settee plus easy-to-use docking equipment. Below the deck, accessed from a hatch or transom door, is a space that can be dedicated as a single-berth crew cabin or used as a lazarette.
Her engine compartment is just forward of this space and is a tight squeeze, with the generator mounted above the two engines limiting access to the power plants. The fuel tanks are at the forward end of the space, making them a good sound barrier, and the various auxiliary systems are around the sides. You can access everything, but it is tight.
The engines are coupled to matching pod drives, and her hull design is basically a modified-V shape, but with very wide chines to help generate lift. The V runs into a skeg under the engines, offering some propeller protection since the propellers are mounted in semitunnels. This setup also means the 50 has a relatively shallow draft of 3 feet, 5 inches, allowing her to enter most ports easily.
The Swift Trawler 50’s performance in rough seas was impressive, up to true trawler yacht standards, and she is a boat that can operate comfortably throughout her speed range. There is a huge options list, so you can tailor the boat to your precise requirements. She’s a yacht that grows on you with her live-aboard comfort, and she responds to your demands in a reassuring way, even in a near gale. And that’s a very good thing, indeed. Beneteau, 410-990-0270; beneteauusa.com