Salthouse Sovereign Spirit Elite

By focusing on the Australian market, Salthouse Marine Group has built strong brand recognition and delivered four luxury vessels across the Tasman. Their latest - the 17.3m Sovereign Spirit Glenerik - reinforced their reputation and impressed visitors to the Sydney Boat Show. Geoff Green went aboard.

Salthouse Sovereign Spirit Elite
Salthouse Sovereign Spirit Elite

Glenerik was launched in Auckland on June 5, and after it was commissioned, Bob Salthouse introduced the vessel to the owners on a return cruise from Auckland to Great Barrier Island.

The vessel was then shipped to Sydney for an appearance at the Sydney International Boat Show, July 26-31. It was one of three vessels displayed by Salthouse Marine Group, headed by long-established designer Bob Salthouse and managing director Julie Salthouse. Salthouse Marine Group sales and marketing manager Michael Orbell says the Sydney showing met with an overwhelming response and helped finalise the sale of one Sovereign 60. This followed the sale of another 60 at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show.

The Sovereign range is produced at Salthouse Marine Group's Henderson (Auckland) facility and the model ranges in size from 16.7m-19.8m (55-65 feet). The variations are produced from a single-hull mould and stern extensions are used to create the longer lengths.

Glenerik is the third Sovereign Spirit 55 sold into Australia (two others are under construction for Australian clients) and while its handcrafted interior displayed more of Salthouse Marine Group's skills around the big island, it also returned some of Australia's unique timber - jarrah. Jarrah was used extensively for cappings, cabinetry, panels, flooring and the wooden feature blinds in the saloon. Finished with an understated clear-matt finish, this timber's rich, powerful tones glowed throughout the boat. They were highlighted and contrasted by the mainly white vinyl bulkhead and deckhead coverings, the white leather upholstery and gloss white of the galley units.

While jarrah is a high-density timber and the generous capping sizes further developed Glenerik's solid feel, Salthouse Marine Group went to great lengths to reduce weight. All the cabin doors, hanging locker doors and draw fronts were constructed of high-density foam core, jarrah veneers and solid jarrah cappings. The foam cores more than halved the weight of the components, saving about 60kg.

Glenerik's hull is also cored, not with foam, but with end-grain balsa. Basic construction is vinylester and polyester-based GRP, and balsa, with some areas (like the foredeck and flybridge roof) reinforced with carbon fibre for extra stiffness and weight savings. The engine beds, supporting the twin Cummins QSM 635 electronic engines (635hp each), are laminated timber glassed over.

Glenerik was built for family cruising, and features a three-cabin layout that makes maximum use of spatial overlaps, offset bulkheads and shared spaces. The layout provides a private bunkroom to starboard, a private double cabin to port and the master cabin forward.

The port double cabin has a child's bunk set high against the hull side as well as the double bunk running under the saloon seating. The starboard bunkroom is more compact and provides two single bunks - one above the other - as well as a four-draw cabinet and hanging locker.

The house battery bank is under the berth in the port cabin and the start batteries are under the lower bunk in the bunkroom. They are positioned there to keep them out of the engine room heat and minimise the starter cable length.

The generously sized bathroom, with shower, vanity and toilet facilities, is accessed off the companionway, and is immediately adjacent to the double cabin and bunkroom. A second entrance off the master cabin provides en suite facilities for this cabin and a day head in the cockpit provides an alternative should facilities come under pressure.

The circular shower base and rotary Perspex shower door with stainless steel fittings and highlights provides an ergonomic solution to an age-old problem. The easy-to-operate rotary door allows maximum space within the bathroom, and a wide opening to enter and exit the shower. It looks very stylish and keeps the water where it should be. Glenerik is the third Sovereign 55 fitted with the rotary shower screen, a feature that has become a standard fitting in the design.

The starboard settee in the saloon can be converted to a double bunk. Releasing a single catch allows the base to run on stainless steel sliders and the backrest is used as an infill to complete the double bunk.

Glenerik's galley is set aft and the working surfaces are Trezzini solid surfaces with a brushed stainless upstand behind them. The galley is serviced with a Fisher and Paykel dishdrawer, Miele oven and gas hob, and twin stainless steel sinks recessed into the top.

A large Fisher and Paykel domestic fridge/freezer sits opposite the galley, integrated into the jarrah cabinetry that also carries the ship's DC and 240volt electrical panels, and the controls for the 11kva Onan generator, air conditioning, holding tanks, bilge pumps and security alarms.

A glass and stainless steel sliding door closes the cabin off from the cockpit. It has a horizontal split about halfway up and the top glass panel can be lowered so it is masked by the glass panel below.

When the sliding door is open, the opening in the top of the slider matches that created when the galley window is lowered into a recess in the bulkhead. This gives maximum ventilation and retains communication into the galley when the sliding door is open.

There are two large hatches in the expansive cockpit floor - the aft one carries a recessed mount for a gamechair or cockpit table.

Two fuel tanks (1250l each) and two water tanks (500l each) are fitted port and starboard in the lazerette, and the black and grey holding tanks run across the front. Storage space for items like an outboard, inflatable dinghy and boarding ladder is available through the centre.

Both lazerette hatches have inflatable rubber seals to meet watertight survey requirements, but Salthouse Marine Group says most owners want them fitted regardless of survey because they keep the aft bilge bone dry.

The seals around each hatch are inflated by compressed air from a dive bottle and a controller under the cockpit stairs. When activated, the hatches are locked down and can't be opened until air pressure is released.

On their larger boats, Salthouse Marine Group runs an air compressor to power the hatch seals, TV lifter, and a mechanism to lower and raise the galley window. But on their "smaller" boats, like Glenerik, the window is manually operated and the seals are inflated from a dive bottle that needs refilling about once a year.

Glenerik's cockpit, platform and flybridge are decked in teak and finished with Sikkens Cetol Marine protective transparent layer. The owner found the natural teak finish on his previous boat had stained with grease spots and dirt, and he wanted a clear finish to prevent this.

Flybridge access is via a comfortable curved stairway that turns about 70 degrees and exits into the left rear of the bridge. The comprehensively equipped helm is set aft and a large, almost circular lounge is forward under the hardtop.

Clears are fitted across the back and air conditioning is ducted to demist the windows.

The upstairs lounge is finished in white leather and an elliptical coffee table takes pride of place in the centre.

LOA: 17.37m (57ft)
Beam: 5m (16ft 4in)
Displacement: 21,000kg (46,300lb)
Fuel capacity: 2,500l (550 gals)
Water capacity: 1000l (220 gals)
Maximum speed: 30 knots
Cruise speed: 25.5 knots
Lloyds certified, balsa core fibreglass reinforced plastic.
Type: Cummins QSM11
Horsepower: 635hp
Gearboxes: Twin Disc 5114A
Propellers: Henley four-bladed Tiger
Autopilot: Raytheon ST7000
GPS/Plotter: Raytheon 631 10" colour
Depth Sounder: Simrad EQ40
VHF: Standard communications
Radar: Raytheon R80C 10" colour
Switch Panels: BEP Marine
Steering: Seamaster Hydraulic
Engine controls: Twin disc, synchronised
Generator: Onan 11 kva
Invertor: MasterVolt Dakar Combi
Bowthrusters: Sidepower 10 hp
Windlass: Muir 3500
Hatches: Lewmar
Wipers: Exalto electronic
Toilets: Tecmar
Paint: Alcraft

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