I RECOLLECT DOING A sea trial on one of the first Ellings about 20 years ago and was disappointed to see that on a six-berth yacht there was only one bathroom. Elling has come a long way since those days and while the new Elling E6 still has the same six berths there are now three bathrooms, thanks to an en suite for each double cabin.
The Dutch-built Ellings have also grown in size and this latest design is a 65-footer with all the luxury that you would associate with a yacht of this size.
Don’t look here if style is your main criteria when choosing a yacht. With the Elling E6, what you see is what you get and it’s a motor yacht that appeals to the seaman rather than the show-off.
Here you find a beautiful marriage of traditional and modern, a well- proportioned style that will have persistent appeal and not date quickly. The Dutch have always had a sensible approach to yacht design, with fashion some way down the list of priorities – the E6 is not likely to look dated as time passes.
What a pity that the weather did not cooperate and allow a rough sea trial with this yacht. Elling has endowed the E6 with a trans-Atlantic range and made it self-righting in the event of a capsize, so there should be no worries if you are out on a long sea passage.
There is a Seakeeper gyro stabiliser to reduce the rolling in open seas and the hull shape looks to be one of the most sound and seaworthy that I have seen for a long time. The fine entry at the waterline rises with flair at the bow to deflect water and a widening chine helps with the transition from the near vertical at the waterline to the wide sections moving aft.
This is a semi-displacement hull, like all Ellings, so the hull lines flatten out underwater as they move aft where a skeg supports the single propeller shaft keeping the propeller within the depth of the hull.
There is a hook built into the hull at the stern to reduce the change of trim that can be a feature of displacement hulls and as speed rises everything seems to be well under control.
Opening the throttles produces a fast response with enough acceleration to be able to use the throttle as a help to manoeuvre the boat through rough seas. Spray, which again can be a feature of displacement hulls, is kept well under control by the chine and the fine entry and the change in trim coming up onto the plane is minimal with a small rise before she levels off at around 15 knots.
At the top speed of 21 knots the E6 appears to be operating well within its capabilities and there is a wonderfully re-assuring feel about the whole performance.
I fell in love with the performance of this boat and wanted to try it in rough seas because there was a great feeling of having a boat that responded to your every need.
One small criticism is that the wheel needs four turns lock to lock, but the steering is light and responsive. Turning the wheel is only really a problem when manoeuvring in harbour, but then with powerful bow and stern thrusters you hardly need the wheel. You can place this large boat within inches when coming alongside and that is with a single engine.
So brilliant handling and performance, but what about the style? Outside the E6 is mainly practical with its low profile and low air draft allowing inland waterway transits. The antenna mast lowers as an option.
There are no large windows in the hull sides as modern styling seems to dictate, just a row of oval ports and the fender strips are faced with stainless steel as a good practical solution.
I do worry about the anchor and its support at the bow though. This overhangs by about three feet which might help to keep the chain clear of the bow but could cost you dear in extra marina charges if they are based on length.
At the stern, the stairs leading down to the swim platform are very exposed and have no handrail. With the generator and some auxiliaries behind one transom door and the optional crew cabin behind the other, these could leave you very exposed if you need to go down onto the swim platform for access at sea.
Behind the central door there is the tender garage with a 3.5 metre Williams jet tender on a slipway for easy launch and recovery.
For sitting out in the sun there is the choice between the aft cockpit and a small settee let into the forward coachroof. Neither has any sun protection, but I am sure that at least some form of screening will be offered for the cockpit. After all, this was the prototype that had only been completed five days before this sea trial.
The focus on the E6 is on the deck saloon and what a wonderful job they have done. Large windows all round give a great view of the outside and more importantly there is a 360° view from the helm which is on the starboard side forward.
Here there are two sprung seats facing an impressive dash dominated by the two large Raymarine displays with a mass of smaller displays on the lower dash.
The array of switches is also impressive, but I could not see any logic in their layout and with the switches in three rows there is always the risk that you will activate a switch without meaning to do it. The priority should be given to the important switches such as the wipers and the windlass control and have them on the bottom row.
Another possible problem with the helm is that there is no communication possible to anyone on the foredeck unless you have the centre window in the windscreen open. Aft the sliding window next to the door can be opened under electric power and there is a large sliding roof section that can be opened if you want fresh air or a sight of the stars at night.
It is good that there is a small L-shaped settee opposite the helm for guests so that they can share in the experience. The main saloon section is aft with a curved settee and table facing the rising curved TV screen and two individual seats, one each side of the screen. A wine cooler in the aft corner keeps the drinks ready at hand in the evenings for either the saloon or the cockpit.
Head down the stairs and you enter a world of high-gloss cherry wood panelling. The lower saloon is laid out in the same way as the one above but the table is larger and suitable for dining.
The well-equipped galley is close by in what is the wide passageway to the aft cabin. Generous white worktops are on both sides in laid with the electric hob and the sink. The oven is a hands and knees job below the hob and there is a large fridge/freezer and a dishwasher. The washer and dryer are also hidden away here.
Continue aft to the very private master cabin with excellent storage facilities and a sensible bathroom with cherry wood again dominant. It is a bit dark in here with only the small portholes for natural light and the same applies to the other cabins, while the saloon benefits in having light coming down from the windscreen above.
The forward double is much the same as the aft one, but this bathroom has two doors and so also serves as the day head. The third cabin is alongside the engine compartment on the opposite side to the galley with access from the saloon. Here there are two bunks and a compact bathroom and this compartment can also be offered as an office for those who feel the need to take their work to sea with them.
The accommodation, indeed the whole yacht, is surprisingly quiet and vibration free considering that the living spaces are virtually wrapped around the central engine.
Expensive soundproofing is the answer and the engine compartment is accessed by removing a panel in the inboard galley cabinets. Here there is access to all the service points necessary but for anything more ambitious you would need to lift the deck in the saloon where the engine space lines up with the sunroof allowing reasonably simple engine removal if required.
A panel in the floor of the master cabin gives access to the shaft and stern gland and the five-bladed propeller helps to reduce propeller noise and vibration.
The basic specification provides you with a great yacht, and there is a long list of options allowing you to develop the design to meet personal requirements.
Major options are the Seakeeper gyro and air-conditioning. The crew cabin is also optional, but Elling is very willing to ensure that the boat is tailored to your requirements.
For me the acid test for noise is whether you can have a normal conversation in the seating areas of a yacht. For the E6 this is definitely the case and your drinks do not seem to get shaken.
There is very little hull noise and Elling attributes this to the use of Kevlar in the hull construction. Incidentally they also claim it will not get holed if you run aground! Together with the self-righting capability, Elling must think its clients like heading out in the worst conditions and the most dangerous waters around.
That self-righting feature is a bit of a myth because unless the crew strapped in before a capsize they risk serious injury and there was no sign of seat belts. Also the engine has to cut out before a capsize or it will be seriously damaged if it is still running when it is upside down.
Seriously though, Elling has done a wonderful job with the E6. There are small details where the yacht could be improved, but show me the yacht that is perfect.
However as a prototype straight out of the factory this one will take some beating as a long-range cruising yacht for those who seek adventure.