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Surfari 50

2018 July 1

A unique cruiser that is made for fun in the sun and Jimmy Buffett

This new boat from designer Ted Fontaine and built by Pacific Seacraft in North Carolina has been getting a lot of attention lately. This could be due to the fact that hull No. 1 was built for singer Jimmy Buffett. Then again it could be that this boat combines a set of features unique for a sailing yacht. It’s kind of a “fun in the sun” boat with an overall layout below and on deck more like that of a powerboat than a sailboat. 


The promotional material says the 50 has “racing-yacht performance under sail.” I’m not so sure I’d go that far but clearly an effort has been made to make this boat fun to sail. The D/L is 193 and the L/B is 3.06 so this boat is of medium displacement and very beamy. That beam is carried aft with almost imperceptible taper to the deck line aft. Of course this extreme beam aft was needed to make the cockpit layout work.  

Twin carbon fiber rudders will help with control when those big hips are immersed. It’s good to keep in mind that there is more to the shape than just beam at the deck line. There is also the sectional shape of the stern and that is far more important than the beam at the deck. Check out the stern section of the latest TP52 and you’ll see a section with a lot of flare extended above a very arclike center sectional portion. Kind of like a big, soft V. The aft section on this Fontaine design is more like a big, hard, U shape. I don’t see any chine but the turn to the bilge aft is very tight. This will certainly make for flat buttocks and help with speed under power. With twin 80-horsepower Yanmars you should get 10 knots under power. There are fixed-keel and lifting-keel options taking draft from 5 feet 6 inches to 8 feet 4 inches.

For me the magic with this layout is that the cockpit level and saloon level are the same. This provides room below the saloon sole for the twin Yanmars. It also means that the two areas, cockpit and saloon will flow together like one big area. With the long overhang aft of the cabintop it will be hard to notice where the saloon ends and the cockpit begins. I’ll treat it all like one area. 


You can have twin wheels aft and another single wheel forward. In fact, you can have whatever you like that fits in this hull and deck combo. Custom interiors are available. You can have three staterooms with a double berth forward and port and starboard stacked berths amidships. You can have two staterooms with double forward, stacked berths to starboard and a very large head to port. You can have just one stateroom with galley on the lower level. You can even have the galley aft in the cockpit area adjacent to the dining table. I like that. It would be a great place to cook so long as it didn’t rain. Truth is, it’s not really a “cockpit” in the true sense, whatever that is. It’s an open air saloon and utility control area for the operation of the boat.

If we are going to look at the sailplan we should address the profile of the boat. It’s not conventional, that’s for sure. But, given the interior layout is not conventional for a sailing yacht I don’t think a more conventional approach to the aesthetics of the profile would have worked. It’s a profile born of necessity. 

The SA/D is 18.45 with a self-tacking jib. The spars are carbon from Southern Spars. The furling boom has an internal mainsheet. Note the spreaders are swept 37 degrees. This gets rid of the backstay and allows for the square-top mainsail, but I have never seen spreaders with that much sweep. Electric and hydraulic controls will take care of sail trim with the push of a button. The mainsheet uses the Carboni Magic Trim system that gives push button control for the mainsheet without bringing the line aft. Self-tacking jib trim is also with a Carboni Magic unit. You probably won’t be able to find a winch handle on this boat.

Build quality by Pacific Seacraft looks from the photos to be top notch. This is a spectacular looking boat. Ted Fontaine says, “This is a boat people don’t even know they want.” I won’t argue with that. Can’t imagine Mr. Buffett would either.

LOA 50’; DWL 46’; Beam 14’8”; Draft deep 8’4”, shoal 5’6”; Displ. 44,900 lbs.; Ballast 7,000 lbs.; Sail area 1,324 sq. ft.; D/L 193; L/B 3.06; SA/D 18.45; Auxiliary twin 80-hp; Fuel 250 gal.; Water 250 gal. 

Our best estimate of the sailaway price : $2.8 million

Fontaine Design Group 

Friendship Yacht Company LLC

Surfari Yachting

2 Bartlett Road

Middletown, RI 02842