Greenline 33 Hybrid
By Peter A. Robson
Hybrid or not, this 33-footer is an innovative, well-built and extremely fuel-efficient single-engine cruiser
Last year we gave top marks to the brand new Greenline 40 Hybrid. Its smaller sibling, the 33 Hybrid, was introduced in 2009. In the years since, more than 325 of the diesel/electric 33s have been built, and we were fortunate to test the first one to arrive in local waters.
The 33, with an overall length of 32 feet, four inches, is available in two configurations: diesel/electric and “hybrid-ready.” (Diesel powered but it can be outfitted to make it a hybrid.) Regardless of how it is powered, the measure of a yacht is more in its overall performance than one specific element and we found that even outside its hybrid capability, the 33 was a very capable cruising yacht. This is backed up by the dozens of international boat of the year, design and environmental awards it has chalked up.
Greenline is owned by Seaway, a leading boat development company based in Slovenia. The company grew out of the J&J Design studio of brothers Jernej and Japec Jakopin. Seaway not only designs boats, they provide design engineering and tooling to many of the world’s largest boatbuilders. They also build their own line of branded yachts that include Greenline at their plant in Bled, Slovenia.
Hull Design Obviously it is important for any vessel to have an efficient hull shape. The more efficient the shape, the easier it slips through the water and the less horsepower required. Less horsepower also means less fuel burned.
Greenline’s patented “Superdisplacement” hull was derived in part from sailboat lines, with a similar deep forefoot, but widening aft to a slightly rounded bottom. Twin fixed stabilizers, angled slightly outboard and mounted about ¾ of the way aft, enhance both stability and tracking. Should one of them encounter a wayward deadhead or obstacle, it will break off and can be replaced without major repairs.
Build Technology To further increase efficiency, the hull and interior were designed to be as lightweight as possible, while not sacrificing strength. To this end, the hull is vacuum infused using solid biaxial S-glass polyester resin. The extensive network of stringers and liners are built with lightweight composites and chemically bonded to the hull and cored deck. The interior molds are glassed into place and the pre-built modular components added prior to installing the deck. Extremely light plywood laminates are used in the interior finishing to further reduce overall weight.
Standard Propulsion Even though the Greenline 33 with the Hybrid option can easily be driven by its electric motor, its limited range under battery power means that most often the diesel will be doing the heavy lifting. Standard power for the hybrid version is a single, five-cylinder turbocharged Mercruiser TDi 150-5, 150-horsepower diesel manufactured by Volkswagen. It can drive the 33 at up to 14 knots. Those choosing the non-hybrid (hybrid-ready) version can opt for a more powerful 170 or 220 hp Volvo Penta D3. The 220-hp diesel will increase the top speed to 19 knots.
The test boat’s drivetrain featured the optional vibration- and noise-dampening Aquadrive coupling system. It was connected to a standard shaft and five-blade propeller. A shallow prop tunnel makes for a lower shaft angle, which directs the thrust more efficiently. Just ahead of the prop is a “P” strut, which has a “foot” along the bottom to help protect it from obstacle damage.
Hybrid Propulsion About 75 percent of Greenline’s customers opt for the hybrid version while 25 percent choose diesel only. Under electric power, the seven kW (about 10 hp) drive motor offers a range of 20 miles at 4.5 knots. Maximum speed is six knots, though this reduces the range considerably. At five knots, the power draw is about 120 amps. The maintenance-free electric motor is bolted between the diesel engine and the ZF transmission and is only about 10-feet long. It is raw-water-jacketed to keep it cool.
Should the sun be shining, the range can be extended slightly by solar panel charging, depending on the number of panels (up to six), but the primary method of recharging the electric motor’s battery bank is the diesel generation mode.
The company has made it simple to switch between diesel and electric power with a control that engages and disengages a hydraulic clutch between the diesel and electric motors
Battery Systems The electric motor is powered by a compact lithium-polymer (LiPo) battery bank with a capacity of 240 amp hours at 48 volts. LiPo batteries are rated at thousands of cycles and are therefore well suited for hybrids.
When in diesel mode, the electric motor produces up to five kW, which is directed into the LiPo battery bank. When the bank is full, the electric motor clutches back to avoid overcharging.
Four standard 12-volt lead-acid batteries are used for engine starting, house power and one each for the bow and stern thrusters. They are charged by shore power or the diesel’s high output, 120-amp alternator.
Roof-mounted solar panels each produce 230 watts at 48 volts. The test boat was fitted with two panels, though there is room for six panels without the optional sunroof. On a sunny day, salmon fishermen will like the fact that those two panels can provide enough juice to maintain trolling speed all day.
A 5,000-watt inverter provides power to the 110-volt appliances such as the fridge and microwave.
On Board One of the first things one notices about the 33 is the very cool hinged drop transom that extends the cockpit and makes boarding easy. It’s controlled by a hidden electric winch. There’s also conventional access via a door in the starboard side of the covered cockpit. The semi-covered side decks are quite narrow, but provide safe passage up to the bow, where there’s a large area for a sunpad, the anchor windlass and huge anchor locker. The anchor for the 33 is external and snugs up to a stainless strike plate on the port side.
The Greenline 33, even outside of its hybrid ability, has some outstanding features. One is the mostly-glass aft saloon bulkhead. It consists of a sliding glass door and a large hinged glass window panel that folds up out of the way to open the saloon to the cockpit. The galley is located against this bulkhead and its backsplash folds down to serve as a high counter extension. Add the two bar stools stored in the lazarette (there’s tons of room under the cockpit) and you have the perfect place to have a drink or chat with the cook.
Another clever feature is the double helm seat. It can be flipped to face aft and adds an “L” portion to the linear settees running the length of the saloon. A folding high/low table makes it possible for six people to dine. When dropped, the table converts to a double berth. The cushions for the port settee can be removed to make another functional berth (single) more than six feet long. Engine access is through a large hatch in the saloon sole. Tall people will love the minimum of six-feet, four-inches of headroom.
Down below is a surprisingly spacious head/shower compartment with doors to both the master and the hallway. Forward is the master, which scissors to form either two singles or a double.
The many windows in the cabin trunk make the master bright and airy and seem much larger than it is. The workmanship of the wood trim and fixtures as well as the fibreglass molding, inside and out, was extremely well executed.
Underway The bow and stern thrusters made maneuvering out of the broker’s tight berth at Vancouver’s Granville Island a snap. Using electric power also made our departure soundless. We then glided through False Creek under electric power. As one would expect, the electric motor was virtually soundless as we slipped through the water at 4.5 knots. And of course there were no diesel exhaust fumes. The test boat was fitted with a must-have diesel forced-air heater, and despite the chilly March weather, we were cozy. A separate forced-air defroster system avoids any potential condensation issues.
The Greenline 33 is designed to work with an iPad. It’s “green pad” application allows the user to monitor most, if not all, ship’s systems on the iPad, including alarms, engine data, system status, the owner’s manual and so on, though there are analog gauges for the standard engine readouts on the dashboard.
After exiting False Creek we switched over to diesel drive and accelerated nicely. Even with the diesel running, sound levels were extremely low, thanks in part to a removable engine noise shield. Fuel efficiency proved to be excellent. At a low cruise of 8.1 knots, the diesel was turning at 2,400 rpm while sipping only 2.3 gallons per hour, which translates to 3.6 miles per gallon. At a fast cruise of 10.3 knots (3,200 rpm) fuel consumption was 4.4 gallons per hour (2.4 mpg). Top speed was 13.5 knots at 3,800 rpm and our fuel efficiency was still 1.8 miles per gallon. These are very impressive numbers.
The seas were calm, but we did several sharp turns and figure eights at speed and then went broadside to the waves. Thanks in part to the stabilizers, the 33 hardly rolled at all and was very quick to settle down. In turns, the boat stayed level, with a slight outward lean. Visibility over the bow was good while all around visibility was excellent, thanks to the many windows and the mostly glass aft bulkhead. With the Volvo interceptor trim tabs full down, we gained about half a knot of speed, but the boat performed very well without them. Overall, the 33 had a real stiff, solid feel—there was no creaking or flexing—which is not always a given, but a sign of good design and construction.
Concluding Remarks Overall we were extremely impressed with the Greenline 33. Fuel economy is excellent, as is underway performance. The interior layout and use of space is impressive and the boat is loaded with innovative features that would make for very comfortable coastal cruising—with or without the hybrid option. A real bonus is that the dealer includes lots of West Coast-specific features and a huge list of gear that truly does make the Greenline 33 ready to cruise.
The test boat, with the 300 Commemorative Edition package (too much to detail here), is listed at $352,646 CDN. The diesel (hybrid-ready) model starts at $310,000 and the hybrid model starts at $353,000. Both come complete with cruise-ready gear packages.