New from Swallow Yachts and making its world debut at the Southampton Boat Show is….well, it’s not what you might expect. Known for their range of classic style daysailers designed and built using modern methods, their latest boat has taken us by surprise. Classic looks, yes, cutting edge construction, yes, but hang on a minute, where are the sails?! The 30’6’’ (9.32m) Whisper 300, designed for sociable cruising with a reduced environmental footprint is – gasp – a motor boat and what’s more, we like it.
Designed with sustainability both present and future in mind, the Whisper 300 is built almost entirely from wood. Modern treated timbers, epoxy adhesives and paints mean the maintenance is comparable with a GRP counterpart, but the design brief is clearly focussed around making its environmental impact considerably less. Solar panels, rainwater harvesting for onboard facilities and cork – rather than teak – decks are some of the ‘green’ features incorporated, while a sleek hull shape and well thought out power installation allows for fuel efficient cruising.
With elegant proportions and a clever shape transition into an efficient underwater body, the Whisper’s strong but light hull is easily powered, lending itself to electric propulsion in the future. A modern wooden boat like this behaves like a GRP one – all structural timbers are saturated in epoxy and below the water line the boat is completely sheathed in glass fibre and epoxy – without, as Swallow Yachts point out, creating the same landfill issue further down the line. Talking about what happens to a boat at the end of its life may not be a popular conversation, especially when you’re trying to sell a new model, but it’s one the leisure marine industry has to have.
Marketed as “a motor boat we hope sailors will understand,” Swallow Yachts have settled on a formula that’s sure to persuade many a power boat cynic who’s secretly tired of tacking. Whisper 300 needs just two 70HP outboard engines to achieve speeds of 26 knots, concealed under a soundproofed cover; twin outboards providing reliability sailors will value, while using significantly less fuel than competitors. This division of systems extends to the fuel tanks, filters, batteries and all other engine support functions. Accommodation is simple but comfortable; there is a compact galley with fridge, a large double berth in the forepeak and room for two more when the saloon table is dropped.
Using the same CNC manufacturing methods as the Swallow Yachts sailing range, designer Matt Newland – whose father Nick started Swallow Boats, as Swallow Yachts was originally known – has kept external brightwork and the associated maintenance to a minimum, while retaining enough varnished wood throughout to complement the classic lines and give the boat character. On the marina (M015 – M018) at the Southampton International Boat Show from 10th to 19th September, the Whisper 300 is definitely one to shout about.