Alaska 49 Review

Since Leigh-Smith Yachts sold their first Alaska into Australia in 2003, the Leigh-Smith family have been near wholly responsible for over 90 boats being built in the 40-series alone with hull #94 due in early 2017. Barry Thompson went to the Gold Coast to check it out the 49 Alaska Sedan, their latest model.  

The new 49 Alaska Sedan is a semi-traditional coastal cruiser that is going to be right at home cruising the Pittwater, Moreton Bay, Bay of Islands or Hauraki Gulf. The Alaska Range are equally comfortable in these surrounds but also excel as coastal cruisers for those extended runs and the explorers amongst us. Ryan Leigh-Smith, Director of Leigh-Smith Yachts, builders of the Alaska range, says he often refers to the Alaska 40- Series range as being the modern Moreton Bay Cruiser.

“They slot into that genre and have all the aspects and looks of a Moreton Bay Cruiser, but with the agility and performance provided by the bigger engines. The 49 Alaska follows the existing 43 Alaska (13.11m) and 47 Alaska (14.33m) and is soon to be joined by a 55 Alaska, 59 Alaska and a 62 Alaska. All boats are available in either sedan or flybridge, but in recent years it has been the sedan versions that have proven the most popular by a ratio for nearly 2:1. “There is a definite appeal with the sedan range and we feel that our boats have found a stable place in the market, with sales over the last few years been extremely steady”, says Ryan.



Bigger & Better

The new 49 Alaska Sedan is a transition from the popular 47 Alaska Sedan and while it retains the same beam and profile, it is longer overall. The main dividing style changes are around the helm position and the internal layout. There is now a third cabin in under the pilothouse, which is a big step up from the 47 Alaska that has only two.

This has been achieved by moving the engine room bulkhead aft and raising the area under the galley and helm area. A further benefit of the change is that the 49 Alaska has a big C shape drop lounge in the saloon area, which provides a distinct separation between the saloon and pilothouse. “We felt the pilothouse with the galley around the helm was better for longer range cruising. It works well and is very practical,” says Ryan. He adds that the while the galley is well forward of the saloon, the aft area is still adequately serviced with facilities for a fridge/freezer, hot and cold water, bbq and icemaker.
The stern area remains unchanged and is the same as the 47 Alaska. “We feel we have this just about perfect now and couldn’t see any need to change what seems to work so well. It’s practical and efficient and our clients seem to like it”, says Ryan.



Improved Performance

The running surface of the hull of the 49 Alaska is 1.5 longer than the 47 Alaska and it has made the boat more efficient and better in both fuel economy and performance. Engine options for the 49 Alaska sedan are Cummins QSB6.7, 440hp, 480hp and 550hp with shaft drives.

Powered by a pair of 480hp Cummins QSB6.7 engines, the 49 Alaska at wide open throttles is faster than the 47 Alaska. The long-range cruise speed of around 10 knots has seen a drop in fuel burn and overall better fuel economy and high speed at most rpm. The 49 Alaska is also better trimmed with the repositioning of the engines. Push the throttles right down and the 49 Alaska Sedan will hit 22 knots plus, for a range of 260nm. You only have to bring that back to a more leisurely 10 knots and the range jumps to around 550 nm. Considering that you would probably spend a lot of your time cruising at an even more sedate speed as you explore the bays of the Hauraki Gulf, Whitsundays or Pittwater you could extend that to more than 1000nm. Very economical boating!


Three Cabins – Sleep Five

The interior is fully custom built with no internal liner, which means that you can tailor the interior to your requirements as the build uses every square millimetre of the spaces. High gloss timber with soft fabric accents are used throughout and as Ryan points out the boats are built to a premium standard while maintaining a very competitive price bracket, it’s important to offer true value to our clientele.

“Anything is possible and you can certainly up-spec your Alaska to the most elite standard of fit and finish with our in-house design team, it’s all up to the buyer and what they want. “Traditionally we have got a level of finish and fit out that we are happy with and while each boat is an evolving product, there is not a lot that has changed in the new model”, says Ryan. African Cherry timbers are used throughout the interior of the first 49 Alaska Sedan, but you have multiple options as to the wood used. The 49 Alaska is a three cabin yacht with amidships queen sized stateroom, convertible double/ V-twin VIP cabin forward and a twin king single cabin aft. The accommodation forward sees a conventional V-Berth configuration offering 2 x king singles that with the insert of a filler cushion make up a huge queen/king bed. Like the rest of the 49 Alaska, your accommodation layout is entirely dictated by what you want. A day head separates the cabins, with the master cabin amidships with a spacious island queen sized berth with an ensuite. This has a full-size shower, Tecma quiet flush head, large vanity with raised bowl and teak and holly sole. This is not quite a private full beam master, due to the stairs from the wheelhouse above, but it is plenty big enough. Aft is the third cabin with twin 6’2″ singles under the wheelhouse. This is the extra cabin gained due to the hull extension and aft bulkhead replacement. I was surprised just how much space is offered in here and it still has full height sitting headroom. All cabins provide plenty of storage lockers and drawers and can be serviced with individual air conditioning. Port lights provide extra ventilation and light.

Saloon Changes

With the extra metre of space gained over the 47 Alaska, the layout of the 49 Alaska has taken on a whole new look. Whereas the 47 had a port side galley running down the full length of the saloon, the 49 now has a full forward lounge and galley space.

The separation between the aft saloon and forward galley and helm is noticeable but seamless. Overhead lockers are high enough so they don’t impede on sightlines from anywhere inside. Aft is an entertainment area to starboard, complete with a pop-up40″ TV, and a U-shape lounger and high-low dining table opposite. This can also be converted to yet another accommodation space. The galley is divided with a fridge/freezer with Corian bench tops and overhead lockers to starboard and the main galley and prep area to port. A large L shape Corian bench top has a two-burner induction cooktop with overhead ventilation and all the usual cupboards and storage space beneath. There’s also an FP dish drawer, induction microwave and deep recess drawers with soft close catches by Blum. A triple helm seat has dual access, from either the saloon or sliding bulwark stainless doors either side. These also provide excellent cross-flow ventilation and make going forward a lot quicker than having to go back via the cockpit. Our 49 Alaska came with a reasonably standard electronics and equipment package, which included bow and stern thrusters, BEP switchboards, electronic controls, chain counter winch, auto pilot, 48-mile radar, Fusion entertainment system and Raymarine 15 Hybrid Touch.


Traditional Cockpit

The cockpit remains virtually unchanged from the 47 Alaska and is designed for entertaining, be it cocktails in the evening or breakfast in the morning. Central is a large fixed table with an aft lounger, with fridge and Corian benchtop to starboard and a recessed sink unit and ice maker to port.

The overhead roof extends right to the transom and there are acrylic side doors to stop any breeze coming down the bulwarks into the cockpit. You can also add further soft clears around the cockpit for extra protection. There is access both sides of the central island to the boarding platform, where there’s also another sink unit, fresh water and great storage areas for fishing tackle, fenders and ropes.



Best of Both Worlds

So who’s buying the Alaska 49? While you might expect it to be the more senior owner, recent sales have all been to buyers with young families looking for a comfortable and practical cruiser that ticks all the boxes while still offering value. It’s also a boat that provides the performance of a sports boat, but with the spaciousness and comfort of a traditional trawler. Best of both worlds really.

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