It was only when we were close to Marseilles that we started to feel the waves and we had to ease the speed back to 12 knots. As night fell, the waves were still increasing in size but the wind was just ten knots. Yet the waves increased, reaching three metres or more by midnight. We tried different headings and different speeds, in the end we were down to six knots with the engines barely ticking over.
It was a wild night and the spray was coming over the bow in big sheets. Magellano rode the waves well and there was no solid water coming on board. By daylight, we were running at 16 knots again, heading down past Barcelona and on to Tarragona. The wild night was soon forgotten as we cooked up breakfast, and the world quickly became a better place.
Cambrils is a small town with a compact marina. It is always a challenge entering a new harbour and here we had to turn the yacht and then reverse down the channel and into the berth. It called for delicate manoeuvring, and Magellano did what I asked and we berthed smoothly. Magellano’s superior in-harbour handling proved to be a big feature of this yacht throughout our journey. In Cambrils, we had a two-day stop, taking out journalists and potential clients for a short run out at sea. I took the time to check the forecast for our next run to Palma in Majorca.
We could not leave until midday and I wanted to arrive in Palma before dark. Now was the time to turn on the power of Magellano. In good conditions, we ran at 20 knots, demonstrating the benefits of having a cruising yacht that also goes fast when needed. It was just dusk when we passed through the channel inside Dragonara Island and turned east into our destination.
Once again, we ended up weather-bound in Palma for three days while the storm raged outside. It was becoming a challenge to find a weather window for the long run to Tunisia, because there was nowhere to run and hide if the weather turned nasty. Algeria has very few facilities for yachts and Sardinia was too far to the north so we had to make the 450-mile leg in one go.
The weather window came, but with the promise of another storm hard on its heels. We had brilliant sailing as we cleared Majorca and headed east with the moderate waves on the quarter. At sunset that night there was the amazing sight of the sun on the horizon in the west and the full moon on the horizon rising in the east. These are the sort of things that you only see at sea, one of the benefits of cruising in open waters.
A meal of pasta was cooked up for supper and the stabilisers kept the yacht steady enough to allow us to enjoy our meal in a civilised manner. During the night, the wind increased as forecast. By dawn we were coming up on the Galite Islands off the western edge of Tunisia, passing the port town of Bizerta and then turning into Tunis Bay. Our destination marina was Sidi Bou Said, another marina with a difficult entrance and once again Magellano responded. I love the way this yacht handles in tight spaces.
From North Africa
Tunisia is a great country and I can see it becoming increasingly popular as a yacht destination. We spent two days cruising from the marina and it was great – dolphins came out to play around our bow and there were a couple of pilot whales that showed up as well. We had near perfect weather, but once again had to find the weather window for a run to Malta.
It was only 120 miles – an overnight voyage – but time was tight. The northwesterly wind had been freshening all day and by the time we arrived in Malta, it was blowing a full force six with a considerable sea running. The entrance to Portomaso Marina is one of the worst I have seen, with a very narrow entrance channel parallel to the shore. When we left, there were breaking waves just metres away from the yacht, and we managed this in high winds thanks to powerful thrusters.
Our next stop was a marina near Rome, with big seas generated by the northwesterlies were still running outside. Magellano responded well. The run past Messina was beautiful, with Mount Etna on the port side. On the other side it was rough seas again on the long run to Rome, and then returning to Viareggio.
Finally, Magellano was home. She had covered over 2000 miles on a tough trial that gave us a great deal of confidence – she is a fine sea boat but some modifications will be required. It was comfortable living on-board in harbour, but at sea there are too many sharp edges and corners on the furniture and too few handholds. It seems that Azimut had fitted a stylish motoryacht interior and helm to what should be that of a long-range cruising yacht, and this made night navigation more challenging. Azimut are aware of these issues and I am sure we will see a lot of improvements in the next 74 to come off the line. One of the reasons for this long sea trial was to indentify these problem areas.
Overall, I fell in love with the Magellano over this long cruise. This yacht creates a new category in the yachting world and its ability to operate well at any chosen speed is a great benefit. It was brave of Azimut to submit this new design to such very public and very extended test. The spirit of exploration is very much a part of this yacht, from start to finish.
In Asia: www.simpsonmarine.com
The Hong Kong view
Will a mid-range yacht with long-range cruising potential work in South China/Southeast Asian market, with a traditional focus on speed and style? Simpson Marine’s Azimut Brand Manager Robin Wyatt thinks the initial interest is likely to come more from Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, where the longer range may be more desireable than in Hong Kong. However, he also thinks that a new generation of yacht owners in Hong Kong and even South China may emerge who are bored with short hops to Dai Long Wan, and would like to cruise to destinations in the Philippines on a standard fuel load. Others hope for cruising potential to Hainan or between Hong Kong and Shanghai, without the need for refueling stops. Azimut plans to release 48 and 54-foot models, an
d Wyatt hopes for a couple of orders from Hong Kong/mainland clients in the next few months.
Technical Specifications – Azimut Magellano 74
LOA 22.66 m
LWL 20.81 m
Beam 6 m
Draught 1.7 m
Displacement 56 ts
Engines 2 x 746 KW caterpillar C18 diesels
Drive type Shafts and propellers
Speed (max/cruise) 24 knots/16 knots
Range at 12 knots 1000 miles
Fuel capacity 7600 litres
Bow and stern thrusters BCS Marine 25 hp
Generators 2 X 20 KW Kohler
Watermakers (Manf, litres per day) n/a
Freshwater capacity 1500 litres
Communication/navigation electronics Raymarine
Entertainment systems Bose and Samsung
Owner and guests (number) 6
Crew (number) 2
Classification RINA A
Naval architect (name/company) Bill Dixon, Dixon Design
Interior designer (name/company) Ken Freivokh, Freivokh Design