Boat Review Date: August 2011
Author: Mike Brown
The Rottnest Boat Par Excellence. The best way to test a big boat designed for how West Australians most use their boats is to take it to Rottnest. And since the Jackson 47 emphasises space, you should take it there full of people. We managed to round up only 12 and, since the Jackson can comfortably handle 25 or more, at times we made just a thin scattering on board.
The more modest numbers meant the whole party could gather in any one of several places, with room around them for manoeuvring, grazing, and adjusting conversation groups. At times it was difficult to concentrate on the serious job of assessing this remarkable vessel.
Remarkable, because so much thought has gone into getting the most out of the space that fits into 47 by 14ft. The cockpit is large by any standards – just how most locals like it – and so should logically have carved off some of the length the saloon would otherwise have. Perhaps it did, but the eye couldn’t pick it. The saloon has permanent fittings only around the edge, leaving plenty of room for standing around socialising.
Extremely comfortable lounges occupy the port side and most of the forward end. One guest who slept there on the way home attested to their comfort. The entire port side and half of the rear bulkhead are taken up by galley. The deck near the galley is sheathed in Corian to match the bench top and to take any spills, while the rest is carpeted.
With lids dropped into the cook top and sink cut outs in the bench top, literally yardage of preparation space is available. Beneath live a dishwasher, fridge and freezer, and extravagant volumes of drawer and locker space. All the women in the party compared the galley with their home kitchens and felt envious. Not just for the space and equipment: the view was far better, and the huge opening window at the rear linked the galley with the great outdoors far better than the home equivalent.
The men were impressed too, but they spent most of their time outside and had discovered the fly bridge and cockpit iceboxes and the cockpit fridge. Those two areas are linked far better than on most boats: stairs rather than a ladder connect them, and the risers are illuminated at night. In an ingenious space saving move, Jackson arranged for the lower half of the stairs to hinge to one side revealing more stairs down into the engine room.
The swim platform effectively makes an already large cockpit 50 percent bigger. As soon as the anchor was dropped one conversation group automatically, and probably unconsciously, moved onto the platform. Its size is reassuring, and big enough for chairs or beanbags. Although being timber planked like the cockpit it is just as comfortable without them.
Half of the platform raises and lowers hydraulically. Probably the prime reason for this is to make an inviting water exit and entry for children, but it is just as useful for carrying a tender. It saves the inconvenience and poor aesthetics of a davit and, with a safe working load of 800kg, it can lift the heaviest jet ski with ease.
Although the saloon has no permanent table, the lazarette accommodates several folding timber tables together with folding chairs for people who prefer not to sit on the deck or rail. The picnic table is definitely the way to go for the casual island style, and three of them can gang up in the saloon for finer dining. A heavy-base saloon table is standard with the 47, and can be carried on board for the appropriate occasions or left at home if crowds are expected.
The fly bridge, the alternate shaded outdoor space, has a similar area to the cockpit but caters for the more sedentary lifestyle. Apart from the driver’s seat – a hedonistic armchair with every kind of adjustment and aid to comfort – there is a semi-circular lounge across the front, a straight one across the rear, and a jump seat on the locker at the front of the console. More than enough room for our day’s complement of passengers.
A hardtop provides the shade. Unlike the current fashion for enclosed bridges, the Jackson 47 uses clears below it. These are very much in sympathy with the vessel’s personality: being able to select between still air, a full breeze, and everything in between when under way suits our climate. Rolling the clears up completely when at anchor creates a great spot for sundowners.
The Jackson 47 is very much a custom boat, and you can order whatever kind of sleeping accommodation you want. The review boat was fitted out Rottnest style, meaning it provided beds for a lot of people.
The beds are disposed in three groups though not in three cabins: one set of double deckers is in the public domain at the foot of the stairs – children will compete for these. The fore cabin, which conventionally would have an island double, has two sets of double deckers, one of which readily converts to a double. The owner’s cabin is amidships, as most are nowadays, and features the only permanent double bed on board. For parties greater than eight, the saloon and fly bridge settees can be pressed into service, and the open space of the saloon deck could handle any number of air mattresses.
Sensibly, neither of the bathrooms is set up as an en suite – with all those passengers it would smack of selfishness. Both have good elbowroom, and one has a separate shower compartment. They were constructed using what must have been expensive moulds: seam-free in the interests of leak eradication and easy cleaning.
Although the lower deck wastes no space, there are massive volumes of storage and there is no sense of crowding. Good levels of ambient light help with the space’s habitability.
Venturing down those cunningly concealed stairs reveals an engine room designed for long life and easy maintenance. Parts are as massive as those in a surveyed vessel, and the layout is delightfully logical and easy to follow. The major components down there are a pair of 480hp Cummins diesels that do a fine job of driving the Jackson.
On the return trip from Rottnest we wound up to full speed, 32.5 knots, and tore past a boat that was just one foot longer but had 380 more horsepower. We heard the change in engine note as it took up the challenge, and quietly sniggered as it fell further astern. This is a slippery boat.
Also a driver’s boat. Sitting in that magnificent chair everything fell to eye and hand naturally. Vision was excellent; although the console is set well back on the bridge, the bow was clearly in view from the chair. For reversing into the pen, the driving position could not be beaten. It was just a matter of swivelling the seat or standing up and everything important was in view.
Although it is a boat optimised for local weekending – and why not, that’s what we mostly do – it would be a crying shame not to take her on some longer cruises. This is a sea-going hull with more practical live-aboard arrangements than most others, and with its 1600l fuel capacity it is also long legged.
What a likeable boat. Although aimed at practicality it has an excellent level of finish and aesthetics to go with its friendliness. The price is friendly too, and you get a comfortable feeling from knowing that it is locally built by people who are passionate about their products.
Because the 47 is a custom boat, it can built to suit a pocket as well as any other requirements. The boat as reviewed costs AUD $980,000 but, since the review boat has been the company demonstrator for some time, this is subject to a significant discount. It still comes with full warranty, and this includes having Boat Services Australia providing one year’s maintenance: cleaning, anti-fouling and motor service.
For those wanting something a little bigger, Jackson has a 51 footer nearing completion that we look forward to reviewing. Unquestionably in the big league is the 85ft Jackson mould that can be built and fitted out to suit anything, including worldwide cruising.
Model Jackson 47 Convertible Sportscruiser
Fuel capacity 1600l
Main engines 2 x 480hp Cummins
Genset 6.5kVA Onan
Price, as reviewed AUD $980,000