Looking back: Gulf Craft Ambassador 32
Check out this review of the Gulf Craft Ambassador 32, first published in Trade-a-Boat in 2006…
With centuries of seafaring history the United Arab Emirates is home to one of the world’s most prolific boatbuilders: Gulf Craft Inc. The company’s new Ambassador 32 is easy on the eye with a solid, stylish but practical shape. The Ambassador is the kind of boat I’d throw the kids in for a weekend away and not have to worry too much about them.
I can’t argue that the large cockpit and wide platform is a practical platform for casting and retrieving those 20 kilo kingfish others seem to catch. But for me, the portofino boarding platform is an ideal place for launching and retrieving kids.
Gulf Craft Inc. produces fibreglass launches ranging from 31 to 145 feet, all certified to US Coastguard safety standards. The company’s proximity to the large, wealthy European and Mediterranean markets, coupled with a tax-free environment and access to a large, labour pool enables it to produce very price-competitive vessels.
The Ambassador 32 has a moulded look with no real foredeck: the cabin top rises gently from the prow back to the wheelhouse. A gentle lateral curve makes this a reasonably stable platform, and the slight indentations to both sides offer great spots for sun-worshippers.
The saloon/wheelhouse starts about 3.3m back from the bow and the curved windscreen is topped with a high bullnose leading edge, enhancing the boat’s no-nonsense looks. The top itself is reasonably flat, with two large moon hatches (they lift slightly or slide right back). It runs back to an arch at the rear, which leaves room for the rocket launcher.
A spacious cockpit (2.87m by 2.53m) has enough height to the coamings to keep your mind at ease with kids about. Access to the boarding platform is a walkthrough with a clear acrylic, swinging gate. Cockpit sides are smooth (no shelves) so the area can be cleaned with a brush and hose in a couple of minutes. Set into a recess in the transom is a well-padded, comfortable fold-down seat with solid, tubular legs.
Under a large hatch towards the rear of the cockpit sits a Volvo D6-310 diesel engine (driving a DPH duoprop sterndrive). There’s plenty of room around the engine and the wide hatch gives good access to both sides. The forward cockpit hatch offers large storage potential and, and the two compartments are separated by a removable panel. The engine is accessible through this hatch.
Stepping through the sliding glass door into the saloon, well-padded leatherette seats surround a cherrywood table with space for four adults. It’s a roomy area, with good light from the surround windows and two sliding hatches in the roof. The practical teak and holly veneer floor adds to the sense of luxury, as does the cherry wood fascia above the windows and right round the saloon.
Opposite the seating is a Corian benchtop, fitted with an upstand on three sides. It contains a single-ring, electric ceramic cooktop, a good-sized sink and a reasonable preparation area. A 12 volt, front-opening fridge, a bank of three drawers and a storage locker sit below the benchtop. An inverter powers electric appliances.
Storage in the galley is light and could be improved with the addition of shelving above the bench. Just forward of the galley is the helm position with a large, comfortable, adjustable seat, upholstered to match the saloon seating. The dash is laid out in a no-nonsense way with plenty of room for additional instruments.
Forward and two steps down from the saloon, is a short passageway. Ahead is the main cabin, to starboard is the head and shower, and to port, the entrance to the second double cabin.
The main cabin’s berth – large and oriented diagonally – offers nearly two metres of sleeping length and good width. The cabin is provided with one hanging locker and two smaller lockers, while under the berth two drawers offer enough clothing storage for an extended cruise. Shelves line each side of the cabin’s forward section. The attractive, cherry wood finish is enhanced by the daylight coming through portholes and an oval skylight in the roof.
A double berth in the second cabin extends under the saloon floor. Headroom above the berth is increased at the head end by utilising the space afforded by the saloon seat above. An ante room in this cabin gives full height for dressing, and storage is provided by shelves above the head of the bed, two lockers in the forward bulkhead and a bench seat.
The head is reasonably roomy for a 32-footer and the teak grating under the shower is a nice touch.
On the water the Ambassador 32 feels solid and comfortable. The Volvo D6-310 gets the boat gets up on to the plane quickly. With the sliding cabin door open the engine noise makes conversation difficult, but slide it shut and the noise level drops, allowing normal chat. In flat water the engine hummed along at WOT (3500 rpm), producing just over 34 knots on the chart plotter. Dropping down to a more fuel efficient 3000rpm, the speed eased to 29 knots. Figures show that 2800-3000rpm is the most economical (about 1.6 litres per nautical mile).
Seated, the boat feels smooth and the silky electronic throttle elicits immediate response from the engine. Turns are comfortable and precise and the boat behaves well in chop. Good freeboard and a deep reverse chine kept the boat dry. In the rougher water there is some noticeable banging down in the cabin area.
Cruising back to the marina in a strong current-against-wind chop, we eased the throttle. A glance at the chartplotter caused a double take – we were comfortable and still doing 16 knots.
The Ambassador 32 feels larger than its 9.88m and provides good space in all areas – cockpit, saloon, and cabins. For family cruising I can’t say I’ve been in a launch that I like better. For cruising and partying in style this is the boat we should all own, it is good value for money.
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