Boat Review Date: January 2013
Author: Mike Brown
The newly introduced Princess 39 is the smallest vessel in the British company’s range, yet once on board only the name indicates its real size; the 39 is a marvel of space efficiency.
It is also a very efficiently built vessel. Laid up entirely by the resin infusion system, weight varies between 39s by no more than 100kg, an astonishing achievement. This level of accuracy means a hull weight 30 percent less than a conventionally built boat but with the same – verifiable - strength. As well, it means that the computer cut fit-out components do not have to be pruned to fit, saving time and money and improving finish.
The 39 has a joystick control system for its twin Volvos that has a distinct advantage over pod drive and shaft drive-bow thruster systems: shallow draught. This is probably the biggest boat able to make it upstream beyond the Mandurah-Pinjarra road bridge.
Draught is shallow because propulsion is through sterndrive legs: when raised draught is 0.56m, and even when fully down is only 1.02m. Flick control into joystick mode and the legs operate independently; tell the boat to go sideways and steering, gears and throttle are sorted out by the computer to make it do just that. And it happens without the need for a bow thruster.
Cockpit and deck saloon are essentially in one piece, there being no rear bulkhead to the saloon, and the sliding roof uncovers such an area that it can be almost entirely open. A large U-shaped settee mostly surrounds a folding table, and another settee ahead of it becomes a sun bed when the roof is slid back. A wet bar unit houses barbecue, sink and fridge, allowing casual meals to be created and eaten entirely above decks. Importantly, there is plenty of deck left over for traffic and simple standing around. A very large hydraulic swim platform with hot and cold shower adds more space.
Steps up to the side decks, teak sheathed like the cockpit and swim platform, are broad and shallow and lead to access forward that is usefully wider than average for this size of boat. Any width it takes from the saloon is not missed, but the pleasure of walking forward like a human being is welcome.
The driving position has two seats – always good to give the pilot a companion – facing a console with abundant space for electronics. The review boat was bare of these items, the agent believing the buyer would prefer the personal choice. The driver benefits from a hull that has only the smallest hump to climb to start planing, and then planes very flat: forward vision – vision all round actually – is very good.
The air conditioned below decks accommodation is capable of sleeping six with the dinette converted to a double. This is located in the compartment at the foot of the stairs that does double duty by eliminating the alleyway; the two cabins open directly off the galley-dining area.
The galley is fitted out with excellent joinery and cabinet work; the self closing drawers alone are a marvel of intricacy. There are neat touches like a cutting board that drops into the sink top, and the main switch board located in the area of maximum traffic. Although small, the galley works well and is capable of producing real meals.
The main cabin is forward and surprisingly large, with good access to the bed and abundant storage. The bathroom is on an even bigger scale, with a separate shower compartment containing a large seat.
The second cabin in the usual mid position has two unusual features: a lot of light through a deep window (artificial light everywhere is by LED), and head and shoulder room in the dressing area. The sleeping area has a useful sliding bed arrangement: twin beds that convert instantly to a queen size.
The 39 won the UK Sports Cruiser of the Year award, and it has the performance to justify the ‘sports’ in the title: the twin 330hp Volvo D6s deliver 37 knots flat out. The fine trimming made possible by the stern drive propulsion means high cruising speeds are possible in less than perfect conditions. An impressive package.
Price from $699,000
Length overall 12.98m
Hull length 11.99m
Draught, legs down 1.02m
Legs up 0.56m
Fuel capacity 700L
Fresh water 332L
Motors fitted 2 x Volvo D6 @ 330hp ea