By Peter A. Robson
A luxurious long-distance pilothouse trawler with all the latest systems—yet plenty of traditional charm
Pacific Yachting was fortunate to be able to review the first Fleming 58 to be delivered to the West Coast of North America.
For those not familiar with the brand, the company was founded 30 years ago by Tony Fleming, the former general manager at American Marine—builders of the Asian-built Grand Banks line of trawlers and the Alaskan series of raised pilothouse trawlers. After leaving, Fleming and a partner hooked up with Larry Drake, an accomplished naval architect from San Diego. The result was an all-new pilothouse yacht design. Today, Fleming offers four models: 55, 65 and 78-footers, plus the new 58. Flemings are capable of comfortable, long distance voyaging at cruising speeds of eight to 10 knots, but also fast cruising at up to 20 knots (depending on model). To date, more than 300 Flemings have been built at the Tung Hwa boatyard in southern Taiwan, which builds exclusively for Fleming.
Design and Construction There is no doubt that Flemings are striking pilothouse trawlers with unmistakable lines that include low overall profiles, sharp entry, elegant clipper bows, generous flare and a sheerline that drops down sharply amidships and runs straight aft. The combination makes Flemings look both tough and elegant.
Although the interior of the 58 is similar to the 55, the 58 has a hull designed by Australia-based Norman R. Wright and Sons and the Fleming in-house design team, and then extensively tank tested. Wright was well suited to the task as they have a 100-year history of designing semi-displacement passagemakers. The new model is only about six feet longer than the 55 and a foot and a half wider, yet displaces 24 percent more (heavy disp.) than the 55, so the extra weight should provide a more comfortable ride. The design also incorporates an optional bulbous bow, which is said to increase fuel efficiency when the 58 is fitted with the standard engine package.
The hull is solid fibreglass while the decks and superstructure incorporate Corecell foam coring—a well-proven combination.
On Deck Boarding is via well-placed dock-level bulwark gates aft, higher level gates adjacent to the pilothouse doors or through the transom gate.
Wide, covered side decks and high bulwarks with stainless handrails make it comfortable to move around, regardless of sea conditions.
Two doors lead from the Portuguese bridge to the foredeck, which features two oversize plow-style Ultra anchors (above a chain locker). Oversize fittings are standard on Flemings, especially the chocks and cleats, which provide added peace of mind.
The partially covered cockpit is spacious and open, set up for a movable table and folding chairs. An electric hatch in the teak sole opens to a large lazarette with tons of storage space. The starboard side of the cockpit is fitted with a docking station. This is one of four helm stations, including one on the aft end of the flybridge. With limited visibility from the pilothouse, these should make backing down a snap.
The flybridge is similar to the 55, but slightly larger, with a top loading freezer, refrigerator, barbecue and room for a 13-foot tender that is easily launched by a 1,000-pound capacity Steelhead davit. The boat deck can also hold a couple of kayaks and has storage for bicycles. All have custom mounts fabricated by Delta marine services in Sidney, which does all the commissioning and special equipment installations for Fleming and Grand Banks yachts. A permanent hardtop provides some protection from the rain, which was a good thing as it was raining during our sea trials.
Interior Many other vessels of this size boast wider saloons, but Fleming has opted to sacrifice some interior space for wider side decks. Regardless, an abundance of gloss-finished teak highlights the interior. The soles are also teak (and holly) and even the blinds are matching wood. There is a mix of recessed lighting and table/wall lamps, that combine nicely with the plush Ultraleather settee and barrel chairs to give an overall feel of being in a fancy club car on a train, or perhaps the interior of a English gentlemen’s club.
Despite the traditional look and feel, the 58 incorporates all the latest systems and equipment. One example is the satellite internet and TV on the test boat, as well as a Mirage media server, which is a cloud-based system offering a huge selection of music and visual content.
Chefs will love the U-shaped galley, which offers plenty of working space and quartz-based Silestone countertops. There’s plenty of storage in below and above counter cabinets (and everywhere else you look aboard). The appliances include an induction cooktop (with sturdy pot holders), convection microwave (instead of oven), a double sink and dishwasher. Across the companionway are full size stand-up fridge, freezer and icemaker, as well as a large pantry cabinet.
The pilothouse, with its rich gloss teak woodwork also has a traditional layout with raised settee, full-width helm console and twin Stidd helm seats. There’s a staircase to the flybridge and a day head to starboard.
The instrument console with its wall of glass screens is another nod to the latest technology. Two 24-inch Furuno TZT touchscreen multifunction units are flanked by two smaller screens. Each can be configured to show any combination of data, including the output from the high-end FLIR night vision camera or any of the eight tilt/pan/zoom cameras arranged around the yacht (and in the engine room). Data can also be displayed on any of the vessel’s flat screen TVs. Below the four flat screens is the readout for the 15-inch Boning ship monitoring system, which can control pretty well all the yacht’s systems.
Belowdecks As with the saloon, teak is used throughout the accommodation areas and the teak and holly floors are partially carpeted for a warm, elegant feel.
Two standard layouts are available. The test boat had the master stateroom and ensuite in the bow. The other layout has a full-beam, master cabin, immediately forward of the engine room. It has a second large cabin in the bow and the third cabin with bunk beds to port.
On the test boat, the portside cabin had side-by-side single berths, with an upper canvas pull-out pipe berth for a third person. The starboard cabin had up/over single berths with a ton of drawer space. Both heads are large and opulent with separate shower stalls. The ensuite has heated towel racks.
One of the details that impressed us was the use of upholstered mattresses in each of the cabins. Traditional mattresses aren’t pretty unless covered with sheets, but the tastefully upholstered mattresses on the Fleming look great without sheets. A pillow-like bag at the head of each bed contains a fitted sheet, flat sheet, pillow, pillowcase and two blankets. When new guests come, it’s a simple matter to give them another bedding envelope. And when it’s time to do the laundry, there’s a stacked washer and dryer in the companionway.
Engine and Systems Standard power is a pair of Cummins QSC 8.3 500 horsepower diesels. The test boat, however, was fitted with the optional MAN R6, 800 horsepower diesels with standard straight drives. The 58, like all Flemings, uses the Seatorque enclosed shaft system that eliminates the need for cutlass bearings and stuffing boxes.
The Side-Power bow and stern thrusters are proportional in that the joysticks can control the amount of thrust. In addition, the “hold” function allows the boat to be held against a dock—useful when tying or untying the dock lines shorthanded. To help reduce rolling, the 58 is equipped with ABT TRAC hydraulic active fin stabilizers.
Overall, the engine room is surprisingly spacious. Access around the engines is excellent and all wiring and plumbing is neat and tidy. One novel feature is the stainless safety handrail that fits into place when the engine room hatch (in the cockpit) is open.
Heat is provided by both reverse-cycle air conditioning and the more practical (for our waters) Kabola hydronic diesel heating. There is also a low-maintenance watermaker with an automatic backflushing function.
The electrical system is both 220 volts AC and 24 volts DC. The AGM house batteries total an impressive 900 amp hours, with plenty of additional electricity provided by two 17 kW Onan generators.
Underway The twin screws and twin thrusters made it easy to slip away from the broker’s dock in Sidney. Once up to speed, the 58 tracked well (thanks in part to the full keel) and remained level in turns (thanks in part to the active fin stabilizers). Acceleration was surprisingly good for a yacht of this size and weight. There was no cavitation or slipping in tight turns at speed. Thanks to plenty of soundproofing, noise levels at all speeds remained at or below 65 dBLs (standard conversation level).
At a little better than idle (1,000 rpm), our speed was 8.7 knots while burning just over seven gallons per hour, which translates to better than a mile per gallon. This is very impressive for such a heavy yacht with such high horsepower engines. At 1,500 rpm, our speed climbed to 11.5 knots while burning 21.7 gallons per hour, raising consumption to half a mile per gallon. Our top speed was 19.6 knots at 2,350 rpm while using 80 gallons per hour. Clearly the sweet spot for fuel economy is in the eight to 10 knot range and we’re not sure the test boat really needed the larger diesels.
The only fault we could find during sea trials was poor visibility from the pilothouse over the bow at high speeds. At regular cruising speeds, visibility was fine and, of course, when driving from the flybridge, this would not be an issue. Visibility aft was also poor, but this is common to most pilothouse trawlers; there’s simply too much cabin behind. To get around this, one of the large flat screen displays in the pilothouse was devoted to the cockpit camera. The two aft steering stations should solve any issues when backing down into a dock.
In Closing Fleming is a leader when it comes to luxury pilothouse trawlers. The build quality and fit and finish are always very well executed. We like the combination of a traditional interior design with all the latest technology. Another plus is the 58 can be operated by a couple, yet it has plenty of room for family and friends.
Flemings are proven long distance cruisers and as such, are one of the few to carry the CE Ocean Category A certification for “extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force eight (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of four metres and above.” Owners can feel safe cruising in comfort to Alaska, Mexico or around the world.
Base price is approximately USD$2,800,000, plus factory options, shipping, 9.5 percent import duty and local commissioning. These could easily add another million or two to the price tag. While pricey, 20 have been sold to date and Flemings are known to have an extremely high resale value. As one reviewer put it, Flemings are built to a standard, not a price.