Southerly 47: A solid voyager with swing keel flexibility

Sep 26, 2011

Northshore Yachts Ltd. in the U.K. has been designing and building rugged variable-draft voyaging yachts that have proven themselves both in sailing performance and seakeeping ability since 1971. The boats have proven themselves not only as racers and coastal cruisers, but also as bluewater passagemakers and able circumnavigators.

Today the company’s fleet ranges from 32 to 67 feet and produces about 60 boats a year at its factory in Itchenor, West Sussex. The yard’s newest launch, designed by Stephen Jones and the Northshore Design Office is a superb example of a modern yacht that has all the characteristics of high performance and offshore ability with variable draft, thanks to a unique swing keel. For precision helm control the yacht also sports twin rudders — a hallmark of Northshore Design.

The Southerly 47 evolved from the yard’s earlier 45-footer, flagship of the Southerly fleet.

The 47 features a fractional rig with a self-tacking jib and large fully-battened mainsail for powerful performance. Dacron sails are standard, with the upgrade to laminates as an option. There is an asymmetric gennaker that can be flown from an optional stainless steel bowsprit in light air. As an option, owners can choose a double headsail (jib and overlapping genoa). A storm jib on a removable inner stay is available as is an in-mast or in-boom furling. The headsail has a Furlex headsail reefing system as standard equipment.

A crew of two
The fractional rig is by Selden and has double swept back spreaders. Spars, including the Park Avenue boom, are anodized aluminum.

The boat is designed to be sailed by a crew of two and as such all sail controls are led to the cockpit. The mainsheet track traverses the coachroof with sheets led aft to each of the twin helm stations. This provides for ease of handling from either helm and keeps the cockpit clear. All winches are by Lewmar. The cockpit itself is deep and secure with ample seating for guests and a centerline table for entertaining. In addition to the dedicated helm seats there are also teak bench seats mounted on the stainless steel stern rail. There is also a fold down transom door for access to a large stowage area that is perfect for a dinghy.

The fore deck is clean thanks to a very low-profile cabin trunk. The pilothouse profile is equally sleek and European in its styling and has unparalleled visibility due to its low profile.

Belowdecks, the interior space has been configured to maximize space with the raised saloon to port and additional seating to starboard and below. The galley and the navigation station are opposite each other, one either side of the companionway for ease of access. Navigation electronics are at the owner’s discretion — Northshore Yachts recommends Raymarine ST60 wind and depth instruments.

The galley is fully equipped for living aboard or for long-range voyaging. It has two stainless steel sinks, pressurized hot and cold water with mixed taps, Corian type Aspen Glacier countertops and a three-burner gimbaled range and oven. The reefer/freezer is a front-loading stainless steel unit.

Three-cabin layout
The yacht has a three-cabin layout with a spacious owner’s cabin, centerline bed and en suite head and shower. There is a port midships cabin with over and under bunks which also can be used as an office or study. An additional head and shower are immediately to starboard and are shared with the forward cabin, which has a double vee berth. All cabins have large, deep hanging lockers and additional built-in storage. Interior joinery is either solid cherry or mahogany and marine faced plywood. The cabin soles are teak-striped non-slip laminate.

The hull is constructed of heavy GRP, laid up using Northshore’s Nordseal laminating system which incorporates multi-axial and unidirectional reinforcements. The keel box runs the entire length of the hull layup and sandwich construction stiffening runs the entire length of the hull topsides. All bulkheads are bonded to the hull during layup along with additional transverse frames and longitudinal stringers. The decks are GRP sandwich construction with stressed areas reinforced with unidirectional glass.

For power there is a Yanmar 4JH4-TE 75-hp four-cylinder fresh water cooled marine diesel turning a three-bladed bronze propeller. Bow thrusters are optional. To protect the propeller when the vessel is dried out, a very substantial skeg has been fitted to the centerline. Auxiliary power comes from three heavy-duty, alternator-charged batteries. Fuel tanks are non-metallic and carry 130 gallons. Water tankage is 110 gallons.

Twin rudders standard
Semi-balanced twin rudders have been standard on Northshore’s Southerly yachts. They offer precise control, directional stability and the security of an extra rudder. The twin stainless steel cockpit wheels drive the rudders with a Whitlock steering system. An emergency steering system has also been installed.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the Southerly line beyond the twin ridders is the unique swing keel. The concept was first developed for the Southerly 33 in 1978 and has continued to be employed by Northshore ever since. The swing keel has satisfied many owners’ idea of a perfect yacht — deep draft for powerful performance and shoal draft for convenience, safety and versatility. For deep draft performance the cast iron keel offers greater stability due to an increased righting moment. According to Northshore Yachts, the boat is stiffer and works to windward with great efficiency. The keel’s aerofoil shape also reportedly allows the boat to point high, at least 30 degrees, with minimal leeway. Raising and lowering the keel is done with an electrically-activated hydraulic pump backed up by a manual system.

When retracted, the cast iron fixed ballast, which is recessed into the hull, acts as a grounding plate allowing the boat to rest on the plate in complete safety and “dry out” in an upright position. The boat can literally be berthed on the beach with confidence.

With such flexibility, plus its other attributes, the Southerly 47 is a boat worthy of serious consideration by any voyager.

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