The Italian Solaris 47 is intended to meet both sides of the performance-cruiser equation – and reward the discerning sailor.
- Efficient hull shape
- Easy to handle with IPS
- Lots of storage
- Tender launch and retrieval system
- Sumptuous and stylish
- Elegant decor
- Comfortable cruising
There comes a time in every boatie’s life when comfort becomes a priority. And if it’s comfort you’re looking for, coupled with Italian styling and plenty of power, the Monte Carlo 5S has it in spades.
The 15m Nagle, owned by Brian and Jackie Plowman, is the first of this European luxury marque to land here. She’s named in memory of the farm property they used to own at Nagle Cove, Great Barrier Island.
As one of the Beneteau’s prestigious brands, Monte Carlo is a stepping stone to Monte Carlo Yachts, which produces luxury powerboats up to 32m LOA. Built in France, Monte Carlo also embraces Italian styling and materials from its bigger sibling, with 15.2m and 18.3m models now available in sportsfly and sedan configurations.
A French-built hull with Italian finishing, the Monte Carlo’s exterior styling is by superyacht designers Nuvolari & Lenard (responsible for Steven Spielberg’s massive The Seven Seas), with interior design by Pierangelo Andreani.
The Italian influence is obvious in the interior, with its white and cream leather upholstery, pale brushed oak timber finishes and little touches like leather drawer pulls and integrated appliances. You definitely want to take your shoes off when you come inside.
The modern European styling gives the MC5 high topsides, round portholes and swooshy ‘eyebrow’ along the cabin-top. The bow is also distinctive, with a distinct curved line feathering the forward chine into the stem, well above water level when the boat is at rest.
Despite its Euro origins and aesthetic, New Zealand’s Beneteau agent Conrad Gair of 36 Degrees Brokers says the hull shape is well-suited to New Zealand conditions. “The typical Northern Hemisphere hull shape has a very full bow profile. The Monte Carlo is much finer in the bow and flatter aft, a bit more like a locally-designed semi-displacement hull. This also provides a much flatter ride and excellent fuel economy, staying much more level when it comes up onto the plane, rather than rising up over its own bow wave.”
The hull shape’s also designed to maximise performance using Volvo’s IPS pod-drive system, with its forward-facing, adjustable drives which can be controlled by either wheel or joystick. The Monte Carlo 5S has the system linked to a pair of Volvo IPS 600 435hp diesels which, because of the IPS system, can be mounted well aft, freeing up more interior space for accommodation. The Plowmans have also opted for a bow thruster for improved manoeuvrability.
MAKING THE CHOICE
Comfort is what this boat is all about. With three spacious cabins, including a massive master suite under the saloon across the boat’s full 4.2m width, two heads, and four ‘lounging’ areas, Nagle has certainly perfected the comfortable cruising thing. Even better, she fits into a 16m berth, a big tick given the scarcity of berths locally.
Brian and Jackie are lifelong boaties, with Brian especially spending a lot of time game fishing as far afield as the Three Kings. During nearly three decades owning the farm at Nagle Cove they had an 8m powercat as a runabout, but once that property was sold they weren’t quite ready to become full landlubbers.
They initially bought a New Zealand-built sedan-style launch but decided it wasn’t right for them, so sold it and started looking around for what they really wanted. “We’re a bit older now and we just wanted something comfortable,” says Brian. “I’m 77, but I’m not ready to give up just when we finally have the time to enjoy a boat.”
They wanted something around 15m LOA – “just the right size for the two of us – big enough to do what we want to do, but not so big you can get lost, and not so small that you are constantly falling over each other,” says Brian. They didn’t want a flybridge, but did want three cabins and two heads, and plenty of storage.
Their search eventually led to 36 Degrees Brokers and the Monte Carlo 5S. “We liked all the storage – it’s easy access – and the IPS system was a key part of the decision. Easier for docking and for efficiency. Also, IPS gives us that third cabin.”
Another big selling point was the large boarding platform, which can be fully submersed for ease of launching and retrieving the tender – rather than lifting it by davit or dragging it out of a tender garage. It also facilitates getting in and out of the water when swimming. Concealed in the boarding platform is also a telescoping swim ladder with handles which curve up onto the platform, like a swimming pool ladder, which aid getting into and out of the water.
After customising the finishes and features they wanted, the boat was built in France and shipped here after six months, ready for a full summer of cruising down under.
We meet the Plowmans at Nagle’s marina berth at Sandspit, handy to their home at Point Wells. Our plan is to head out onto Kawau Bay and send up the drone to get some glamour pix of this glamour boat on a glamour day.
Using the IPS controls to ease out of the marina berth, we head out of the lower reaches of the Matakana River and past Snells and Algies Bays, heading for Mansion House. It’s time to have a look around this stylish cruiser.
The large cockpit is accessed from the boarding platform through a single walk-through, on the starboard side. There’s a fold-out table in front of the bench seat across the stern, with a panel behind it concealing an electric barbecue and sink for outdoor food prep. Under the cockpit’s aft seating is a generous storeroom for water toys and accessories.
Stainless steel bi-fold doors at the rear of the saloon open fully, seamlessly linking inside and outside areas. The galley is positioned aft – another selling point for the Plowmans – and has a Corian benchtop. The sink has a cool ‘disappearing tap’ which presses into the chrome detailing when not in use. You’ll find a double-element ceramic hob and an under-bench conventional oven/microwave combo, as well as an integrated fridge, with handy drawers for ease of access, to starboard, within easy reach.
The couple opted for teak-slatted laminate flooring in the galley. It ties in visually with the cockpit. Forward of the galley, things become super plush. There’s a large u-shaped seating area to port and a single settee opposite, with creamy upholstery, a leather-look double-leaved fold-out table and soft beige carpet underfoot.
Electrically-operated side windows offer excellent visibility, as does the large front windscreen, a large, one-piece structure with no central mullion to block the view. Above the saloon seating area and the helm station is a large, tinted-glass sunroof, once again opened/closed with the touch of a button.
Forward, to port, the helm station has a large, well-upholstered seat which can be folded up and used as a backrest if you prefer standing. Steering is racing-car style, with a cream leather cover. The controls for the IPS, including the joystick for fine control, are at hand to starboard, and a pair of 12-inch Simrad screens provide GPS and fishfinder data.
The luxury feel continues down below. In the bow is the ‘VIP cabin’ for special guests, a generous double with walk-around access. Four portholes and two big hatches provide plenty of light, and there are two full-height hanging lockers.
This cabin has a semi-ensuite bathroom aft to port, which also acts as the day head and facilities for the two-bunk cabin to starboard. In here, each bed has a porthole so there are no fights about who gets to see out, and individual reading lights.
Heading aft to port, it’s a step down into the master cabin. This area has the feel of a hotel room – though a very special one, with large circular portholes. It runs the full beam of the boat, and while there is less over the bed, there is 1.85m headroom to the sides and at the end of the bed. This cabin has its own en suite forward to port, with a separate shower compartment with a bay window-style seat.
There’s a settee both sides by the portholes, which makes a good place to sit as the boat speeds along with the water rushing past. It’s very quiet down here too, even at speed: no sound from the Volvos.
There are two more ‘lounging areas’ to explore before our tour is complete; one up on the hardtop, aft of the sunroof, where there is seating and a small fridge (the sedan-model Monte Carlo 5 has a large entertaining deck up here which runs right forward); and the other on the bow, where there are two adjustable sun loungers.
So – how does she go?
One of the most interesting aspects is the lightness of steering; with the electronically controlled pod system there are no heavy cables turning a physical rudder, and steering is almost fingertip, even at speed.
The second point to note is the way the boat feels as it accelerates; instead of digging a hole and then climbing out of it, Nagle smoothly lifts up onto the plane while remaining largely level, and rides with its bow nicely poised.
The Monte Carlo 5S has a slow cruising speed of around 16 knots, a fast cruise of around 22, and can hit 30 knots flat out. At 16 knots she uses around 78 litres of fuel per hour, and at 22 knots in a flat sea 110 litres/hour, and 115 litres/hour in a chop.
It’s nice to have that speed when you want it, but Brian and Jackie are in no hurry. They have the luxury of time to cruise for weekends or longer periods over the summer, exploring the Coromandel or visiting old haunts at Great Barrier, and even venturing further north up the coast.
“Cruising at 20-plus knots you can cover quite a lot of distance, even if you’re only away for three or four days,” says Brian. “If the weather does pack up, we’re self-contained so we don’t have to rush to return to base, we can just sit around and wait it out.”
But no matter the weather or where Nagle may roam, you can be assured that her occupants will be cruising in comfort.