Ian Park and Linda Melton were about to sail away to far-flung islands, but took Theo Stocker for a cruise along the Lleyn Peninsula first
What’s she like to sail?
The Amel Santorin 46 is an impressive boat. From the moment you step aboard she feels sturdy and well built. A solid fibreglass lay-up and fully bonded hull, deck and bulkheads make her very stiff. The plethora of novel features on board make her feel slightly unusual – solid guardrails, moulded decks and a plastic rubbing strake might not be to everyone’s taste, but they all add up to a boat that fits an uncompromising concept of rugged luxury.
To get the most out of the Santorin’s sailing performance, you will need a good blow, sailing off the wind, ideally in the tropics. In that case you can comfortably passage plan for 7 knots. In a Force 6 you’ll get 9 or 10 knots, and in a gale you’ll still be comfortable.
In light winds, however, she will be less eager. Her heavy displacement and in-mast furling sails reduce drive upwind, and she’ll struggle to point very high, which could be a handicap for eking an extra few degrees to make it round the next headland as you potter along the coast, although there is always the engine. Modern Amels (see our test of the Amel 55, YM June 2013) have a redesigned hull, which dramatically improves upwind performance.
None of this should put you off what is a formidable boat, though. Built to bomb-proof standards, every last detail has been carefully considered so you can cruise far and wide with absolute confidence.
What’s she like in port and at anchor?
With a powerful bow thruster and controls for the self-stowing anchor at the helm, the start and end of each sail is pretty stress- free, even for a short-handed crew. Once the hook is down, wide decks make great places for sun-worshipping and the sheltered cockpit provides a good space to entertain.
Going below decks feels like arriving home, rather than being on board. Pile carpets, plush upholstery and high-gloss wood line the large saloon. Thanks to her generous beam, the table has space for several dinner guests. All the berths are comfortable and wide, but are still usable at sea – even the double aft can be separated by leeboards. There is well over 6ft headroom throughout.
Storage is good, with ample hanging space and shelving, as well as storage under all the bunks, as the three separate water tanks are built into the keel. The short tunnel leading aft from the saloon to the master cabin provides further storage and workshop space.
Would she suit you and your crew?
The Amel philososphy has produced a distinctive range of yachts that are all remarkably similar in appearance. Historically, Amel offered very short options lists as everything had been thought through on the drawing board and included in the standard spec.
If you like tweaking and getting an extra few degrees on the wind, the Santorin 46 simply doesn’t offer enough bits of string to pull. However, if you love sailing but have had enough of being ‘jet- washed’ in an open cockpit, Amels are well worth considering. Like driving an automatic car, you will quickly get used to not having to work on the foredeck, instead letting the boat do it for you.
Amel’s closest competitor is probably Oyster. Amel owners would assert that their boat is better suited to shorthanded sailing, and at roughly half the price (used), the French boat represents remarkable value, although still not cheap. Should you find the spare change to buy one, you’ll soon be leaving the miles churning in your wake, and ice for the cocktails will already be in the freezer.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Guide price £95,000 – £120,000
LOA 14m (46ft 1in)
LWL 11m (36ft 1in)
Beam 3.99m (13ft 1in)
Draught 1.89m (6ft 2in)
Genoa 53.98m2 (581 sq ft)
Mainsail 22.95m2 (247 sq ft)
Mizzen 13m2 (140 sq ft)
Mizzen staysail 22.02m2 (237 sq ft)
Ballooner headsail 9.96m2 (753 sq ft)
Engine Perkins 50hp
Displacement 11,000kg (24,251 lb)
Ballast 3901kg (8,600 lb)
Ballast ratio 35.5%
Designer Henri Amel
Builder Amel Yachts
Class Association www.amel.fr
Fuel 401 litres (106 gal)
Range 450 miles
For a couple who want to go adventuring in a yacht they can entirely rely upon and which will deliver them across oceans safely and not exhausted, you couldn’t find a better boat.