The Allures 45 was already a good boat, so has the Allures 45.9 taken it to the next level? Graham Snook tests this unique boat to find out
With a glut of mid-40ft yachts being launched this year, there’s something for everyone – as long as you want and can afford a 40-something foot yacht of course. If you’re after a go-anywhere cruiser the Allures 45.9 firmly ticks that box, but just because she can sail across oceans it doesn’t mean she’s any less of a coastal cruiser.
The raw battleship-grey aluminium hull, might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s insanely practical; it won’t crack or craze, it doesn’t fade or need polishing, and in ten years it will pretty much look the same, save for a few more scuffs and scrapes.
I don’t have anything against fixed deep keels, but there are times when I wish they weren’t so deep or so fixed. The centreboard makes a host of harbours more accessible to this boat than to many smaller yachts. She’s also a comfortable yacht to live on board. What’s not to love about her? Surprisingly little, actually…
In lighter conditions she won’t win many prizes for speed and agility without extra sails, but as comfortable cruisers go, she’s great. We set full mainsail and genoa and as the breeze increased she came into her own.
She has a long skeg, which protects the saildrive while also giving her good directional stability. Her centreboard can reduce her a draught from 3.0m to just 1.0m, but with the board fully down she still wasn’t particularly high-winded, feeling most comfortable around 36-38° off the wind close hauled.
On a fetch she makes good speed, and as the wind increased to 15-18 knots AWS she was soon charging along in excess of 7 knots.
Below deck, where one usually hears the water rushing past the hull, there was nothing – an almost deathly quiet, thanks to the insulation. I didn’t try, but I predict I’d be able to sleep with ease on passage.
The cockpit is made from body-friendly GRP with rounded corners and comfortable seating. The high coamings, forward, along with the sprayhood, make forward a well-protected space.
Sheet winches are inboard of the twin wheels – but not quite far enough to give a good clearance between winch handle and wheel; there is clearance but I’d have liked a bit more.
Aft of the helm is a large aluminium gantry that can be used as a davit as well as for housing all the cruising gadgetry a tech-savvy sailor requires.
Either side of the bathing platform are large wet lockers that drain overboard; the locker to starboard houses the gas bottle but still has loads of room. Under the helm seats are lazarette lockers – the starboard one can easily hold an outboard motor vertically.
Handholds on deck are excellent and run outboard of the sprayhood along the coachroof. On this boat the owner has sensibly opted for granny bars, providing extra security when working at the mast.
The substantial bowsprit has a single built-in bow roller, but there is no provision for a second. This boat had two bow mooring cleats each side and the forward set could be used for taking a line from a mooring.
The chain locker has a windlass below the deck, abaft is vast sail locker. Substantial horizontal aluminium tubing partitions off one side of this watertight locker. They are the perfect place to tie lines and use like a ladder to get down into the 1.68 (5ft 6in) deep space.
In the cockpit there’s a sole-depth locker to starboard, while to port is a hatch to allow access into the technical space.
AT THE HELM
The sole of the helm is dished to make standing comfortable at all but extreme angles of heel.
The feel in the helm isn’t as precise as some, but it’s smooth and has a reasonable weight to it.
Both staysail and genoa sheets come back to the winches mounted at coaming height inboard – this makes winching more comfortable allowing the user to get their body over the winch without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
The mainsheet goes to the starboard coachroof winch, well out of reach of the helm.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
She has a rounded aluminium hull that is welded onto frames and stringers, making a strong monocoque structure.
The aluminium deck stops at a wide flange inboard of the gunwale and the GRP foam-cored deck goes to the toerail. It’s GRP for comfort as well as to reduce weight higher up.
She is available with a ballasted lifting keel that can’t dry out or, as in the version tested, with a centreboard that can. She has twin rudders, but unlike many twin-ruddered yachts the saildrive is set well forward so there is some wash over the rudders.
The level of finish was generally good, although there were a couple of small finishing details where a bit more care could have been beneficial.
RIG & SAILPLAN
This yacht had a slutter/Solent rig, with a large genoa forward and a smaller inner staysail – useful when cross tacking or with winds over 18 knots TWS, though the mast requires extra support from running backstays while it’s in use.
The genoa can be tacked without furling, but to make the operation smooth it needed someone on the foredeck.
With fewer crew, furling most of it before tacking is the better option.
The fixed bowsprit can take a code zero or furling asymmetric to increase the off-wind sail area.
It might only be seven years on from her predecessor (the Allures 45), but styling and the look of modern materials has leapt forward in that time.
The lines are cleaner, the ‘Zen’ option of oak is lighter and the windows feel bigger. This all adds up to make her bright and contemporary, while still retaining traditional values like a practical living space with plenty of useful handholds.
The layout sees the saloon offset to starboard with L-shaped seating outboard and a long island unit over the centreboard housing.
At the aft end of both bench seats the backrest is angled aft, making a relaxing, reclined chaise longue. This aspect of the 1.47m (4ft 10in) central seat makes it ideal for conversing with the cook who’d otherwise have their back to the saloon.
The saloon table is long, perhaps a little too long, as it restricts entry to the seating (just 22cm/9in to squeeze through the aft gap). The table lowers and can be covered with cushions to make a day berth. There’s good stowage under the seats, but less outboard due to the hull’s foam insulation.
It’s a step down from the saloon to the galley and then forward into the forecabin. An ensuite heads is an option, as is a shower for the compartment too. On this boat, however, the aft area of the forecabin has space, large lockers and an aft facing vanity unit with more handy stowage in it.
The berth is wide at 1.6m (5ft 3in); it’s not quite an island berth, but it’s not full width either so lee cloths would be needed. It’s wide enough at its forward end to sleep with your head forward and there are reading lights and switches for the cabin lights forward.
There’s drawer stowage at the aft end of the berth, just above floor level, and more stowage above them. A glance at the hull windows gives some idea of the hull thickness between the hull sides inboard and the skin of the hull.
The aluminium frames are around 12cm (5in) deep and the windows are recessed 7cm (3in) inboard and 4cm (2in) from the hull – so they’re well protected from fenders scuffing them.
Around the boat many handholds are covered in dark grey leather. The only handles that aren’t is the full-height grab handle on the bulkhead aft of the galley and the nearby stainless-steel pole at the aft end of the saloon. Not only is this great for safety, it also conceals the lines to raise the centreboard.
The aft cabin to starboard offers plenty of space with hull windows and a long rectangular berth. There is an option for the technical space on the port side to be a double berth, too. The heads is by the companionway to port, and the forward end is taken up by the separate shower compartment that has a decent-sized wet locker – to stop its contents getting even wetter there’s a roll-down curtain.
The chart table has both forward and aft facing seating and is raised up to take advantage of the large coachroof windows. It’s a nice area and gives the owner another usable space, whether it’s as a dinette, a games table or for navigation.
There are open trays both inboard and outboard. The handhold at the inboard end is good, but it also gives an escape route to items on the chart table – especially if using a paper chart; there are no fiddles to keep it in place.
There are, however, angled supports to help keep the occupants in place and give good handholds, but they are made from rectangular tube with angled corners that I wasn’t wholly in favour of.
Chart stowage is lacking, but this boat’s owner has employed the top of the forward cabin’s hanging locker for this purpose.
It’s a step down to the linear galley, increasing headroom to 2.10m (6ft 11in) and giving a feeling of security, helped by the high back of the island seat that has grab handles running along its length.
The space between this and the high-fiddled Corian-topped work surface is wide enough for two people to pass without feeling intimate or awkward.
Outboard are bottom-hinged lockers – these doors are wide and have two clips on each, meaning two hands are needed to open any of them. Again because of the insulated hull, the lockers aren’t as deep as you’d expect.
Neither are the drawers under the saloon seat – the centreboard case is the culprit this time. A bit more stowage would have been nice but beneath the sole is tankage.
Forward is the sink and a handy removable lid to access the bin. Aft are the two Vitrifrigo drawer fridge/freezers. In the cupboards under the worksurface you’ll find storage for plastic crates that can be lifted up to slide out or be removed.
One of the stand-out areas of the Allures is the technical space, accessed via the heads. It will have bluewater sailors drooling with envy.
Here you’ll find a neatly fitted out area that can house an extra berth if required.
There’s access and light via a hatch that opens into the cockpit. Beneath the bench are more plastic crates held in place by removable restraining bars.
Aft of the engine is room for a generator and the space to service it.
Access to the switch panel and the wiring is from the aft cabin. Open what looks like a cupboard and it’s all neatly laid out in front of you.
Getting a close look at the engine poses no major problems either, as long as you don’t object to unscrewing panels to have access to less frequently used filters and fittings.
THE TEST VERDICT
I’d love to own an Allures 45.9 – it gives me all I want in a cruising yacht and so much more. She feels indestructible on the water and, with some extra canvas to increase her sail area for light wind days, she’ll heel and go – whatever the weather.
She might not be the most responsive boat to helm, but when she’s going you feel like nothing is going to get in her way.
I don’t care that she’s got a bare aluminium hull. In fact, it requires just the amount of upkeep I have time for – absolutely none!
Just the sight of her approaching will scare most GRP boat owners into action looking for extra fenders.
The accommodation is spacious, comfortable and versatile; there is room to do maintenance and running repairs, relax, be social or hide away.
I covet the thought of making a morning coffee, sitting at the chart table and looking out across some remote drying anchorage.
WOULD SHE SUIT YOU AND YOUR CREW?
If you’re looking for a serious cruiser, capable of coastal, offshore and bluewater sailing, the Allures 45.9 should be on your short list.
She has layout options to satisfy a couple or a family and can easily be sailed short-handed over long distances. Add to that the ability to dry out or navigate in just over a metre of water and you have a formidable package; even without all the advantages an aluminium hull brings to the table.
With the GRP deck, aluminium round-bilge and centreboard, she’s unique – no other manufacturer offers all of these features on one boat.
Like most yachts, she could benefit from a few small tweaks here and there (which any owner would have their own views on) but Allures can adapt to and incorporate your ideas.
As she is, she’s replaced the Allures 45 on my five-boat-list of yachts to dream of sailing round the world on, but having just worked out how many more years I’ll have to test boats for, sadly I won’t be casting off in her any time soon!
FACTS AND FIGURES
Price as tested: £476,870
LOA: 14.75m (48ft 5in)
Hull Length: 14.60m (47ft 11in)
LWL: 13.70m (44ft 11in)
Beam: 4.43m (14ft 6in)
Draught: 1.06m – 2.90m (3ft 6in – 9ft 6in)
Displacement: 12,600kg (27,778 lb)
Ballast: 4,780kg (10,538 lb)
Ballast ratio: 37.9%
Sail area: 100m2 (1,076sq ft)
SA/D ratio: 18.8
Diesel: 625 litres (137 gal)
Water: 420 litres (92 gal)
RCD category: A
Designer: Berret- Racoupeau Yacht Design
Builder: Allures Yachting
UK Agent: Williams & Smithells Ltd
Tel 01329 827053