Sessa C46 Open Hardtop

With IPS, the Sessa C46 Open Hardtop offers no narrow misses.

March 23, 2009


I love it when Italians self-translate their press releases to English. In this case, I faltered when I read that the newly designed Sessa C46 with Volvo Penta IPS power “allows an easy way to moor in narrow water.” Narrow water?

What they meant is that the C46 can tiptoe into one of those tight slips that are the makings of a skipper’s nightmare. Add in a crosswind or current and there’s trouble brewing for sure.

No worries on the C46, though. With a simple twist or two of the IPS joystick, you’re ready to blend the piña colada or pop the champers cork. And the Sessa C46 is just as comfortable with skinny water since she draws just 3 feet, 2 inches.


Sessa may not be a household name-its foothold in North America is only two years old. However, this family- owned Italian builder celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and three generations continue to manage the company, which launched more than a thousand boats last year alone.

Sessa has also done their homework: American buyers want products they recognize, so Sessa has equipped the C46 with such names as Kohler, MarineAir, Isotherm, and Raymarine. And, of course, the 46 meets all ABYC and NMMA standards. Sessa Marine America has also warehoused a full array of parts and its Florida-based service team provides nationwide support.

From a distance, the C46 is a pretty hardtop express cruiser with a steeply raked windscreen, huge sunpads fore and aft, and the swoopy lines expected from European designers and their competitors worldwide.


But it was in the details that I found the Sessa stood apart from a fairly crowded field of near fifty-footers. Spend the time to explore a C46 and you’ll come away impressed by the amount of thought that designer Christian Grande has put into this smaller sister to the Sessa C52 flagship. Take the after sunpad, for example. Cantilevered over the teak swim platform, it is large enough to stretch out in several directions, yet is really a clever way of concealing a large garage underneath. The sunpad and transom lift hydraulically to reveal the cradles for an 8 ½-foot RIB with outboard.

An electric hatch opens to reveal the engineroom. It’s small because the twin 435-horsepower Volvo Penta diesels matched to IPS 600 pod drives require very little space, yet there’s still plenty of access. With the hatch open, you can walk around the front of the mains. Our test boat had an 8 kW Mase genset to port. The polyurethane fuel tank spans the forward bulkhead and, because it’s semi-transparent, acts as its own sight gauge for the fuel level.

As you board the transom platform, you’ll immediately notice that there are husky grabrails everywhere. Teakplanked steps into the cockpit are well-spaced and lead to the side decks as well. There are warping winches on each stern quarter that take the muscle out of stern-to mooring, and the cockpit gate folds flush when not in use.


The cockpit is marked by several clever touches, including a lovely teak table that swivels and unfolds from cocktail size to dining for six. And the oversized chaise opposite the helm has a concealed flatscreen TV in the backrest.

The starboard side of the cockpit has an L-shaped outdoor galley. Not one of those half-hearted wet bars, it has tempered-glass counters, two-burner ceramic cooktop, stainless steel sink, undercounter fridge and freezer, ice maker, and stylish faucet.

Just forward is the helm. The leathertrimmed dash has space for both analog gauges and the Raymarine E120 monitor, with clearly labeled touchpads for the electrics. The leather-rimmed wheel is fully adjustable, and I noted the optional adjustable double-wide helm seat. The IPS joystick is right where the skipper’s hand wants it to be, and there are conventional Volvo throttle/ shifters as well. An aft-facing camera can be viewed on the Raymarine screen when backing into a slip, and there is also an engineroom camera.


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Below, the C46 is casual, combining wall coverings in earth-toned textures with natural woods and high-styled lacquered cabinetry in contrasting whites. The starboard side of the salon had a white leather settee with another unfolding table, and a pair of hassocks nested around the table pedestal.

To port is a compact galley with a stainless steel countertop, and all the amenities of the cockpit galley, plus a microwave oven and an enlarged four-burner Ceran cooktop.

The master suite aft is surprising, because that raised chaise in the cockpit translates to full headroom. There’s also a spacious en suite head with walk-in shower that sports a rain head and a conventional spigot. The headroom is reduced over the double berth but you have wonderful views through three oversized windows on each side when leaning back against the padded headboard. There is a full-height hanging locker near the solid entry door, a second locker with drawers, and leather-topped nightstands with drawers.

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The VIP has a clever arrangement that allows for the separate V-berths to be scissored together to create a double.

The VIP head doubles as the day-head, with a private door into the forward cabin and a second into the salon.

Underway, the Sessa C46 is very well behaved, partly because Volvo Penta helped design the hull to take full advantage of its IPS drive system. Deadrise is 15 degrees, which is flat enough for a good turn of speed, yet deep enough to slice the seas without pounding on full-speed runs. We topped out at 33 knots and, with the throttle backed off to about 2700 rpm, were sliding along at better than 20 knots while consuming just 24 gallons per hour.

The real story of the C46, however, is the IPS handling, which turns the toughest docking situation into child’s play. With a push on the joystick, you can spin the boat and slide it sideways into a slot barely longer than the yacht. It’s actually fun.

So, I guess the Italians were right: The Sessa C46 is ready for narrow waters.

Sessa Marine America, (954) 925-1955; ****


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