Selene 55

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: David Lockwood

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The Selene range of long-range trawlers are made for going a lot farther than around the block

Selene 55
Selene 55
  • The Selene is designed that you enjoy the journey, take your time and live aboard as you travel.
  • Each Selene is a semi-custom cruiser tweaked to meet the needs of it owners.
  • The Selenes are round-bilge displacement trawlers with, in the case of the 55 tested, a top speed of about 11.5kts.
  • To make negotiating the 50-tonne luxury liner easier, a hydraulic docking system with four different stations at all corners of the boat has been fitted.
  • Accommodation ranges from a full-beam stateroom amidships to a VIP guest’s cabin with queen bed in the bow.

At 59ft, the Selene is an owner/driver boat. It’s got all the qualities of a mini expedition ship, but none of the intrusions of a bigger boat.

The long-range live-aboard boats are made by Jet-Tern Marine in China for the American passagemaker market. Company founder Howard Chen sent the first boat to the US in 1999. In better times, production hovers around 35 boats a year.

Custom ways

Each Selene is a semi-custom cruiser tweaked to meet the needs of it owners. Enter John Bradley, whose Selene 55 pictured here was designed to have the ultimate in ‘dockability’.

"I have friends with go-fast boats, a mate with a 60-footer who went from Sydney to the Whitsundays on 16,000 litres of fuel – and burnt the same back down. That’s not on. Fast is not sensible and the older you get the more sensible you become," explains John.

The antipathy of a go-fast boat, the Selenes are round-bilge displacement trawlers with, in the case of the 55 I drove, a top speed of about 11.5kts. Power comes in the form of a torquey single diesel engine.

New directions

The Selene 55 we tested was fitted with the upgraded turbocharged 525hp John Deere diesel engine with a 12.5lt block. The John Deere’s torque curve is rapid, meaning it makes maximum power down low where you want it on a displacement boat.

The 55 was spinning a huge 43" four-blade propeller in a semi-tunnel that provides blade tip clearance. Put the engine into gear and the boat lurches. There was a docking remote with 20m lead.

The 55 had a second (turbocharged) 121hp John Deere auxiliary engine to power hydraulics and electrical-generating equipment. To make negotiating the 50-tonne luxury liner around crowded marinas easier, John turned to Canadian company KeyPower, to incorporate a hydraulic docking system with four different stations at all corners of the boat.

Each docking station has a joystick that engages the auxiliary engine and hydraulic coupling that spins the shaft and propeller (after the main engine is disengaged). Alongside are toggles for hydraulic bow and sternthrusters that, unlike electric thrusters, can be used continuously without overheating and tripping out.

Importantly, the joystick and docking levers have proportional control, meaning you move them incrementally to adjust your speed and thrust up and down.

Built to last

The Selene factory has ISO 9001 accreditation and the boats are CE Certified by Lloyds for Category A.

The high-volume 55 hull, which is a stretch of the popular 53, is built sturdy, handlaid with lashings of resin and rovings, and vacuum-bagged balsa-cored sides and decks to reduce weight up top.

The boat also has some 3000kg of lead ballast to boost stability.

The 55 we tested had its running surface extended all the way to the back of the swim platform, thereby increasing waterline length and hull speed as well as aft buoyancy. There is a full-length keel that protects the running gear and the 55 had KeyPower stabilisers with urethane rubber fins each measuring nine square feet to reduce the rocking motion in cross seas and swell.

The 55 had 4000lt of diesel for a range of 2500 to 3000nm at seven to eight knots. Hull speed is 9.95kts and above that you only use more fuel without many more knots.

Refrigeration capacity is boosted by an oversized built-in freezer.

The boat doesn’t have the usual diesel generator, but uses its engines (the auxiliary when not underway) to power a 10kW electro-hydraulic generator and/or oversized 7kW alternator that, I’m told, will charge the boat’s batteries in just a few hours.

There is a 4kW inverter that turns the DC power back into AC that runs the refrigeration, microwave oven, television, lighting, and one of the two air-conditioning units for a couple of days. The combination stove, oven, grill, and the barbecue up top are gas powered. Thus, you should only need to run the auxiliary or main engine for an hour in the morning and at night to keep the boat powered up.

In the watertight engineroom there are Reverso oil-change and fuel-polishing systems, redundant Racor fuel filters for the engines, GRP wing fuel tanks with huge inspection hatches, seawater intakes with glass-inspection bowls, and a trick manifold system and hydraulic bilge as well as engine-driven pumps.

Big cockpit, bridge and pilothouse

Solid wingdoors and clears provide protection to the 3.3m long cockpit, as does the extended flybridge up top.

Among the nice details were the Selene-branded jam cleats that let you attach fenders in a matter of minutes.

The flybridge is a big entertaining space, traced by stainless steel safety rails and with a good grade of non-skid. Back under the hardtop is the amenities centre with barbecue and fridge or icemaker opposite an L-shaped lounge that, with twin swivelling helm seats, can seat about six.

At the flybridge helm station there were plenty of electronics – twin Raymarine E120s linked to three CCT cameras, Interphase forward-facing sonar, the Keypower hydraulic control panels, Keypower stabiliser controls, and mighty Kahlenberg horn with commercial capacity.

The extended chartable, chartlockers and tombs of manuals underscore the fact that this is the heart of the Selene 55 and the boat owners retreat.

Living areas

The saloon on the 55 features L-shaped or U-shaped lounge configurations set around a timber dinette that extends to create a bigger indoor dining setting. The L-shaped leather lounge faces two tub chairs across the floor, with built-in furniture, television and storage creating a real lounge area.

On the same level as the saloon is the galley, with three-burner stove, oven and grill. There’s an upright fridge and freezer, big dishwasher, twin sinks, foldout stainless steel splashback, crockery storage and supplied Selene cutlery.

Accommodation is down nine steps, and ranges from a full-beam stateroom amidships to a VIP guest’s cabin with queen bed in the bow. There are two en suites with Tecma heads and shower stalls, but the optional third cabin was deleted to provide a gargantuan shower for the owners. There’s also a sofa bed in the saloon.

Specifications – Selene 55 (price as reviewed approx A$1.9 million)

LOA  18.92m
Beam  5.08m
Draft  1.75m
Construction Fibreglass w/ balsa-cored, vacuum-bagged decks
Engine  12.5lt, 525hp John Deere 6125AFM (turbocharged, aftercooled)
Weight  49,800kg (loaded standard engines and gear)
Fuel  4000lt
Water  2000lt


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