BOAT REVIEW Beneteau Swift Trawler 47

July 2020 Launch Reviews
Words by John Eichelsheim, photography and video by Roger Mills.
Build Quality
MODEL Beneteau Swift Trawler 47
DESIGNER MICAD/Andreani Design
BUILDER Beneteau Yachts
LOA 14.74M
LENGTH (Waterline) 12.77M
BEAM 4.42M
ENGINE 2 x Cummins 425hp, shaft drive
Maximum Speed 25 knots
Cruise Speed 18-22 knots
ACCOMMODATION Three cabins, plus convertible saloon double berth
  • Comfortable and economical over a range of speeds
  • Large, very usable flybridge
  • Functional layout works well for day cruising or stay-aways

Part of Beneteau’s popular Swift line of trawler-style motor yachts, Brett and Sue Chatfield’s new semi-displacement cruiser is the first Swift 47 to be imported by the New Zealand agent 36 Degrees.

Beneteau’s restyled and upgraded Swift Trawler range goes right up to 70 feet and while this is the first 47 in New Zealand, the model is already a year old and this boat is hull #20.
The new Swift range has updated styling, which includes softer lines and more angled windscreens to distinguish the vessels from Beneteau’s sports boats and displacement trawlers, but they still retain the typical trawler eyebrow above the windscreen. Beneteau has been building trawlers since 1883.


The Chatfields took delivery of their new Swift 47 in January, but with Covid-19 getting in the way they hadn’t had much opportunity to use her before we met up with them in early June. But they told us they’d thoroughly enjoyed their first few trips aboard the boat, which were completely incident-free.
The Chatfields’ first vessel was also a trawler-style yacht, but its displacement hull was happiest cruising at 8 knots – it took a good part of the day just to get to Waiheke Island.“We’re not speed merchants,” said Brett, “but we wanted a bit more than 10 knots in our new boat so we didn’t have to spend so much time travelling.” The Swift 47 cruises happily at 18-22 knots (50% engine load at 18 knots) and can sprint to 24-25 knots. This boat touched 28 knots on its delivery voyage.

Our couple were also attracted by the prospect of three double cabins, as compared to two in their old boat, and two heads. Brand security was another factor, along with the support offered by the crew at 36 Degrees. Said Brett: “Their depth of experience was comforting for relative novices like us.”
The couple was also impressed by the Swift range’s reputation for excellent heavy weather handling “in case we get caught out one day,” a claim 36 Degrees principal Conrad Gair can confirm after steaming the vessel from Tauranga to Auckland in 25-plus knots of wind with seas to match.
“It was a pleasure to handle in the conditions and we managed to maintain an average speed of 16 knots,” said Conrad.

Although the Chatfields often invite family and friends aboard, the Swift 47 is well set up for short-handed cruising with easy access forward via the wide, covered side deck on the starboard side. A bulwark door makes stepping on and off a breeze at dockside and there’s a sliding door for the helmsman to access to the side- and foredecks when handling mooring lines.
Bow and stern thrusters, along with twin engines, give excellent control inside the marina or at the dock and there’s a choice between helm stations – one in the saloon and one on the flybridge.
Like other models in the Swift line-up, the 47’s superstructure is offset to port to allow a wide, side deck on the starboard side with steps up to the bow. A flybridge overhang shelters it from rain.
The top deck also extends aft to completely cover the teak-soled cockpit, enclosed by canvas and clears for all-season, all-weather use. The cockpit is laid out with a settee across the transom (stowage under) and room for the removable saloon table and folding chairs, which can be stored in the generous lazarette under the cockpit sole. The laz also houses a watermaker, generator, house batteries and an electric outboard for the OC Tender on the swim platform.

The platform raises and lowers, so launching a tender is easy, especially one as lightweight as the NZ-made OC Tender. The transom door is on the port side. 36 Degrees has added a few ‘Kiwi’ touches, such as the bait board, which mounts on a stainless steel staple that can be positioned either aft of the transom, or closer to the water for fishing.
Beneteau’s Swift range combines traditional trawler aesthetics with well-executed ergonomics, modern styling and a range of lifestyle features. The door to the saloon is a triple slider, reversible so it can be opened from either side. The alpi teak-lined saloon is an open plan space that’s easy to reconfigure. It can be a lounge area or another double berth – the main settee converts into a double bed and a privacy curtain draws right around the bed. The table is removable – out to the cockpit, for instance – as is the second settee, which can also be specified as a cabinet.

Situated forward opposite the helm, the galley is a good size, with two sinks, electric appliances, including a three-burner hob, convection/microwave oven, and a two-drawer fridge-freezer. A second pull-out fridge-freezer is located aft. The galley’s Corian counter surfaces are easy-clean, there’s ample storage and the layout works well, whether catering for day trips or for longer voyages.
The downstairs helm station is relatively compact, but there’s space on the console for two factory-installed 12-inch Raymarine MFDs and all the usual controls and switches, communications equipment and storage for odds and ends.

The double seat has a bolster for support when driving standing up and access to the side deck through the sliding side door is excellent, as is the helmsman’s vision ahead through the raked windscreen. Opposite, there’s chart stowage and more underneath the windscreen and the helm seat also hinges forward to provide additional counter space.
To starboard, beside the helm station, companionway stairs sweep down to an atrium-style landing below decks with the cabins and the day head/bathroom leading off it. In the bows a generous double cabin features an island berth (storage under) with two hanging lockers, windows either side and an opening hatch overhead equipped with insect and light screens. This cabin has its own en suite facilities, split into a shower one side of the entrance and a separate toilet the other side, a slightly unusual layout that works well in the space available.

The shared bathroom is modestly-sized but does feature a separate shower box. It services the spacious twin-berth cabin on the port side and the double cabin to starboard, furnished with another queen-sized berth. With one side against the wall, the bed occupies most of the floor space, but there is standing headroom closest to the door for dressing and, like the other guest cabin, a window and opening porthole for natural light and ventilation. This cabin lacks a hanging locker, but there is locker storage in the atrium.

This vessel is powered by a pair of Cummins 425hp turbodiesels with shaft drives. The engines and fuel tanks are housed under the saloon sole, with good access for day-to-day checks and routine maintenance. For larger jobs there’s a large hinged section of floor supported by gas struts. An aluminium ladder lets down into the engine room illuminated by LED strip-lighting.
Beneteau has paid sufficient attention to sound deadening materials to ensure engine noise doesn’t detract from the cruising experience underway. It’s quite muted in the saloon and quieter still up on the flybridge, especially with the upper deck hatch closed.

A T-bar style ladder from the cockpit provides access to the upper deck, which features an open-sided fibreglass hardtop with optional clears and a large fibreglass and fabric opening sunroof. Extending aft over the cockpit, this is a large space, open and laid out for entertaining, and certain to be popular with guests and others intent on enjoying the journey.
There’s a fully-featured, twin-MFD helm station with a single bucket-style helm seat on the flybridge, a teak table, wrap-around seating and a wet bar with fridge and enough bench space for an electric grill or a BBQ. The seating is cleverly designed, some of it with reversible backrests, and railings wrap right around the aft deck for safety. If preferred, owners can house the tender up on the flybridge aft deck rather than on the swim platform – fitting a davit crane makes for easy launching and retrieving.

If the word ‘trawler’ brings to mind sedate cruisers tootling along at displacement speeds, think again. Beneteau’s Swift range looks like a traditional trawler, but the underwater lines are quite different. With their sea-kindly, semi-displacement hull designs, Swifts are no slouches, in this case easily maintaining a comfortable cruise of 22 knots. Fuel burn is modest too: we saw 80 litres per hour at 18 knots and, with a fuel capacity of almost 2,000 litres, the Swift 47 has the range to travel from Auckland to Fiji non-stop.

The Chatfields’ Swift 47 gets along very nicely, quickly getting up to cruising speed and covering the miles with ease in a range of conditions. At semi-displacement planing speeds the ride is smooth and the handling feels assured. Should the weather get up and you need to throttle back, the Swift 47 planes down at 10 knots.

We had a metre or so of chop on the day of the review – enough to make things uncomfortable for the photography crew keeping pace with us in Boating NZ’s 6m Haines Hunter – but we barely noticed it aboard the Swift. With the clears zipped up, driving the boat from the flybridge on a sunny winter’s day wasn’t even slightly uncomfortable.
And that pretty much sums up the Beneteau Swift 47: comfortable, competent and supremely functional, whether cruising locally, or adventuring further afield. It’s just what the Chatfields were after in a new boat.


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