2012, February; Sydney Harbour: It felt all of weird, peaceful and wonderful as we eased out of the marina berth in almost total silence. There was not even the underwater bubbling of a muffled exhaust to disturb the tranquillity of a sunny morning, just a smooth ghosting movement as twin electric motors gave perfect control to move the Greenline 40 out into open waters.
If we’d needed them, we did have thrusters fore and aft for even more precise manoeuvering, but an experienced hand on the twin shift-throttle levers had no trouble in using the electrics and twin shaft-drive props to slide out of the berth, rotate the boat in not much more than its own length and glide out past the other boats which were lying idle and wasting the perfect day.
There are so many innovative features with this 12-metre cruiser that it’s a challenge to know where to start. It has a unique low-drag hull design that has been patented by Greenline under the name of ‘Superdisplacement’. It also has an appealing mix of traditional and contemporary lines that draw attention wherever it goes. It has a very practical day-cruiser layout that’s open-plan and all-on-one-level plus it has comfortable overnight accommodations. And it’s very green in two ways – in being wonderful for the environment and in leaving any visitor green with envy that they don’t own it!
While obviously attracting those who enjoy being environmentally-friendly, the cruiser is also appealing to yacht owners who no longer want (or can’t handle anymore) the physical demands of sailing, but who wish to retain the engine-noise-free joys of cruising. As well, families with young children will find the one-level day-layout and extra safety of wide and enclosed side-decks very handy, plus skippers who prefer to be ‘with’ their family and guests, rather than being somewhat remotely aloft on a flybridge, will love the helm-in-saloon and quiet-running-for-relaxed-conversation aspects of the Greenline.
Additionally, any experienced cruising skipper or family will soon pick up on a number of thoughtful design features throughout the boat that make every day simply more enjoyable.
Putting the environmental aspect to one side for just a moment, the Greenline 40 is an appealing craft anyway and can be specified with a single 74-hp/55-kW diesel for comfortable and economical cruising. Other power options range up to twin 221-hp/165-kW diesels if you want to cruise faster at speeds to 22 knots or so. There is a vast range of options available as well, many of which had been included in our test vessel including the ‘Double Hybrid’ upgrade. That starts with twin 150-hp/110-kW diesels and adds a pair of 7-kW electric motors, automatic charger/inverter systems and two lithium-polymer batteries that deliver 240 amp-hours at 48 volts for a total of 22 kilowatt-hours.
Also included was a Solar Pack that had six photovoltaic panels integrated into the cabin roof and delivering 1.3-kW at 48 volts into the automated battery charging system. The inverter element of the latter provides 240 volts throughout the Greenline, so that all (Australian-type) domestic appliances can be taken aboard and used just as at home. Including all the options, our test cruiser came out at $577,853 which is good value even apart from the environmental, economical electric cruising and near-silent operational appeal that the Greenline offers.
If you’ve not heard of Greenline before, rest assured that the company has a strong bloodline and a proven record of innovation and quality. In 1983 brothers Japec and Jernej Jakopin founded their J&J design studio with the Elan 31 yacht that won its class in the 1985 World Championships. More than 1,000 Elans were subsequently built and it became the most popular charter yacht in the Adriatic. Japec took over management of the marketing and sales department for the world-famous French boatbuilder Jeanneau, and J&J Design created the Jeanneau Sun Way 21 that won the 1988 Boat of the Year title at the Paris Boat Show.
The next year, the brothers established the Seaway company and began to design and build their own boats as well as continuing to design for other leading builders around the world including for Bavaria and (more recently) Sea Ray. In 2002, Seaway bought the Shipman brand and developed the carbon fibre Shipman 50; in 2006 the Shipman 63 was European Boat of the Year. In September 2009, the Greenline 33 was introduced and sold over 200 units around the world within 18 months, and then in 2011 this larger-sister Greenline 40 was developed. That’s an impressive track record and was topped by investment in a state-of-the-art facility set up during 2011 in Puconci, Slovenia where the Greenlines are now built.
Before going into more detail on the clever power set-up, it’s well worth looking over the engagingly practical layout of the Greenline 40. The saloon and helm position are on one level which keeps the skipper, crew and guests in a single social association for relaxed conversations and jointly-shared experiences. The galley is an L-shape at the port aft end of the saloon and has a workbench/bar that faces into the aft cockpit so the cook-of-the-moment can be involved with chatter in either or both the saloon and cockpit. Indeed the particularly quiet cruising for which the Greenline will long be admired makes for easy talking anywhere between the forward helm and that aft cockpit.
The saloon has large tinted windows all round and a matching retractable sunroof up front for a very light and welcoming atmosphere. In front of the galley, an L-shaped lounge with high/low dining/coffee table is opposite a beautifully crafted cabinet from which a flat panel TV rises on demand. Across from the galley to starboard is a large fridge/freezer aft of a glass-fronted display cabinet with recesses for safely securing glasses – whether they be crystal-cut or plastic-disposable. Storage spaces are provided everywhere in cupboards and drawers around the galley, and elsewhere in the saloon including under seats.
The saloon is wide enough for there to be floor space aplenty so that moving around the interior is not crowded, and yet the 4.25 metre beam still enables broad side-decks with very high bulwarks topped by guard rails to make passage to the foredeck both relaxed and safe. A sliding door beside the helm enables the skipper to quickly move out and secure mooring lines – single-handed running of the boat would not be a problem. A power anchor winch can be operated from the helm or with controls on the foredeck, and hardware such as fairleads, cleats and bollards is correctly sized and intelligently positioned around the boat.
The transom is rather ingenious as the whole central panel electrically lowers to form a boarding platform. That keeps the cockpit very secure when the transom is up, and keeps the back of the boat uncluttered and easy to back all the way into marina pens. With the transom down, the cockpit is opened right up as the inside of the transom then matches the cockpit sole being both at the same level and in being beautifully finished with teak planking.
The cockpit has quarter seats in the corners and under the floor are huge stowage areas. There’s even provision for an emergency tiller to be used. The saloon roof extends over the cockpit to keep it sheltered, and that provides extra space on top for the integrated solar panels to be fitted very unobtrusively. On either side of the cockpit are swing-open entry ports to make it easy to board the Greenline when it’s alongside a jetty or marina walkway.
A large tinted-glass panel swings down on gas struts to close off the cockpit from the galley, with a sliding door to starboard completing the saloon close-off when required. That makes the saloon a very cosy area on days that are too hot, too cold, or too wet; not many boats make it enjoyable, but boating on a rainy day can be great fun when you’re warm and dry inside!
At the front of the saloon a central set of steps leads down with a guest cabin to port. This was set up with twin berths that quickly convert to a double if required, while to starboard is the bathroom with a basin, stowage areas, macerator toilet and a separate shower stall. The bathroom has entry doors from the companionway and directly from the generously-sized forward owner’s stateroom which can also be set up as either a twin or double bed arrangement. The cabins have their own TV sets, hanging and other storage with good natural light beaming in from windows, portholes and hatches.
The fit and finish throughout the Greenline is top quality, and the mix of timbers, veneers, fabrics and carpets is easy on the eye and of comfort to the touch. Incidentally, Greenline uses only timbers from renewable plantations in line with its environmental-support philosophy. A pair of 16,000-btu air-con units keep the temperature and humidity just where you want them no matter what the external atmospheric conditions may be doing.
Even with the hybrid power, the helm is encouragingly straightforward. It combines gauges and displays for both the diesel and electric motors with navigation systems and operational controls in a comprehensive but quickly understood layout. Electronics include a Garmin GPSMAP 512 display for all of GPS reporting, map and radar displays and depth data. There’s a Garmin VHF radio and GHP-10 hydraulic autopilot system too.
It’s a comfortable helm with a well-upholstered bench seat that’s wide enough for two, and with all the displays in good line-of-sight and with the controls within easy reach. A great feature (and a good example of the thoughtfulness throughout the boat, and of the experience behind its design and construction) is that an angled foot rest is part of a panel that pivots down to provide a higher platform on which to stand to drive. The front of the seat can flip up for more room when you’re doing that. Visibility is good in all directions.
Driving the Greenline 40 is a breeze. The wheel has a light touch and is not too direct so that the boat is not overly sensitive and requires no more than a relaxed hand most of the time. The low-drag Superdisplacement hull form is seaworthy and offers a soft ride; essentially it’s a streamlined sailing-yacht-style hull shape with five-blade props partially enclosed in tunnels. A pair of stabiliser fins are a unique feature of the hull, acting to dampen any rolling motion both underway and when at anchor. A straight stem helps the boat to slice through any chop or swell, whilst flared forward sections displace water to each side and keep the Greenline running with a minimum of spray reaching the decks.
For both the skipper and the crew though, the most amazing aspect of the boat is its quietness. It’s virtually silent under electric power, and that’s good enough for six knots with a range of 20 nautical miles at about four knots. At three knots, the solar panels are producing enough power to run the electric motors, so at that speed you’re not eating into battery capacity. The panels do not need direct sunlight to produce power - just light, and on an overcast day they’re still doing their job.
Even with the diesels running, at a typical cruise of around 10 knots they are amongst the smoothest and quietest I’ve come across. Noise levels increase with speed of course, up to 18 knots with a clean hull and light load, while we saw 16.7 knots on our test run, but the interior decibels remain remarkably low. Cruising under power takes on a whole new dimension with this unique vessel.
The hybrid power system works with the diesels coupled to forward-neutral-reverse gearboxes that then operate through hydraulically-operated clutches to the electric motors. A ‘Protected Hybrid’ management system and an electronic management module make it very simple and easy to switch from diesel to electric power - basically just turn off one and switch on the other! With either power source, a standard dual-lever shift/throttle control gives a reassuringly familiar way to operate the boat, and one that’s easy-to-learn if you’re new to boating.
When running under diesel power, the electric motors become a pair of 5-kW generators which feed power back into the batteries. Two large hatches in the floor of the salon give excellent access to the engines so that routine checks are no hassle to carry out; the engine room was as clean as a whistle and all the engineering looked good with double-clamped hoses and well secured wiring and hoses.
Another hatch beneath the helm opened into the ‘electric brains’ of the boat where large looms of wiring were neatly organised for the controls that manage the charging and power distribution circuits. The bank of lead-acid batteries for the diesels was in there too, while the lithium power cells for the electric motor were lower down in the centre of the hull for optimum weight distribution. It all looked mightily impressive.
Yet another example of innovation and technological progress from Greenline is its recently introduced ‘GreenPad’. This is software that can be downloaded into an Apple iPad and used with a wireless connection to a ‘GreenBox’ installed in the engine room. The system displays on the iPad an extensive array of data covering just about every aspect of the boat’s systems as well as navigation and weather information. It adds even further to both the excitement and the convenience (not to mention the fun!) of owning a Greenline 40 Hybrid, and don’t forget there is the Greenline 33 if you want all this in a slightly smaller package.
SPECIFICATIONS: GREENLINE 40 HYBRID
Overall Length: 11.99 metres
Beam: 4.25 metres
Draft: 0.85 metres
Weight: 8,000 kgs (standard version)
Fuel capacity: 720 litres
Water capacity: 300 litres
Power (as tested):
Twin Cummins-Volkswagen CMD 150.5 TDI Diesels (110-kw, 150-hp each)
Twin 7-kW electric motors/5-kW generators
Price from: $358,333 with single 55-kW diesel/no electric
Price as tested: $577,853
Top Speed, Electric Power: 6 knots
Full Speed, Diesel Power: 16.7 knots