A Polish builder looks to make U.S. inroads with a nationwide distributor and an express boat with family appeal.
Galeon Yachts isn’t a new boat builder. It’s been active in Europe since 1982, but American boaters probably aren’t very familiar with the company or its line of boats from 30 feet to 82 feet. That’s about to change. MarineMax is now the U.S. distributor for Galeon yachts, and the nationwide boat dealer has committed to 60 new Galeon vessels per year. At the moment, the arrangement seems to be working for both parties, as MarineMax has sold more than 30 of the Polish-built yachts in 2016 — and that’s with hardly any name recognition. And yachts destined for North America will be built with that in mind, so electrical, air conditioning, engines, generators and more will be known here and simple to have serviced.
Galeon has earned its reputation in Europe by handling almost everything in-house. The real wood cabinets and the teak decking are fabricated at the Galeon factory. All the metal parts — screws, tanks, railings, sliding mechanisms for doors and more — are manufactured in house. German boaters have noticed and reacted, making Galeon the number one brand there.
American boaters will recognize the style Galeon is going for, especially with the 445 HTS we tested. It’s a sport cruiser or express cruiser, however you want to label it. It’s going to compete with the likes of Sea Ray, Cruisers, Regal, Tiara, Prestige and others, and from what I saw during our sea trial, it’s going to hold its own.
It’s difficult sometimes to start a written sea trial anywhere except the swim platform and work forward, but that’s what happening here. We’ll come back to the swim platform, because it’s worth a look, but we’re going to begin at the threshold.
The 445 HTS is set up as a sport cruiser — HTS is short for Hard Top Sport — but one built-in and sometimes hidden feature turns it into an express-feeling boat with the touch of a button. I’ve seen this feature on a couple of other boats, but this version is probably the slickest. The glass door between the cockpit and the main cabin (Galeon calls it the sunroom) slides open to port, and once it is in place, it and the window adjacent to it can be lowered with the push of a button, disappearing into the bottom half of the bulkhead. The entire operation takes only a few seconds and is whisper quiet thanks to the hydraulics. I was surprised by how quickly the entire apparatus raises and lowers.
With the door and the windows lowered, the main deck becomes an unbroken space from the transom through the sunroom to the helm station, which is quickly becoming a favorite layout on this style of yacht. A C-shaped settee in the cockpit and another to port in the salon provide seating for about a dozen people, and the double helm seat accommodates two more. Windows all around ensure everyone has a view, but the breeze isn’t reserved for the folks in the cockpit. Overhead is a large sunroof that opens about half of the hardtop, to bring the fresh air and sunshine inside. I am tall enough that I was able to stick my head up through the opening, like a dog in a car. A window to the side of the helm opens, too, so the main cabin really opens up and feels like an extension of the cockpit.
Let There be Light
Belowdecks are two staterooms, two heads, a galley and a seating area with a TV. The master stateroom is situated amidships and spans the beam. It includes an en suite head with a shower stall, hanging lockers, a built-in bureau and a settee on the port side, under one of the big matching hull windows; the other is over the bureau. The VIP is in the bow and has private access to the second head, which has a curtain for the shower separation.
The galley and salon share the landing at the bottom of the stairs from above. A C-shaped settee wraps around a table, for dining or games, and opposite that, to port, is the L-shaped galley. Overhead cabinets match the shape of the Corian countertops, and the chef has use of a two-burner induction cooktop and a microwave oven. A grill is an option in the wet bar in the sunroom, for any fresh catch.
What is notable and different about the lower deck is that each space has its own skylight. Above the forward berth, the galley/salon, the entry to the master and even the master head are glass skylights that let in the natural light. They of course have blinds that can be pulled to keep the light out. In the bow stateroom, the skylight is big — think double sunpad — and is crisscrossed by wood beams, giving it a pergola look. Different and cool.
With a fair amount of inward lean — thanks to the Volvo Penta IPS600 diesels coupled to pod drives — the Galeon 445 HTS attacked the hard-over turn at top speed with gusto, pulling a tighter and tighter circle while only bleeding off about two and a half knots of speed. The electronic steering made it easy to spin the wheel from lock to lock, so pulling a figure-eight was simple to execute and is sure to thrill passengers of all ages.
Buyers jonesing for a 40- or 50-knot boat will want to look elsewhere, as top speed for the 445 HTS is just more than 32 knots, at 32.3 on test day, but that’s plenty fast for most folks, and fuel burn at that speed is 44 gph, which is pretty good for a nearly 50-foot boat. The extreme range at that speed is about 232 miles (might want to take 10 percent off for a cushion). The sweet spot for cruising on the 445 seems to be from 3000 to 3250 rpm. Range at those speeds, 23.7 and 27.6 knots respectively, is 242 miles (again, subtract about 10 percent to be safe). That’s an hour or less to Catalina from Newport or Long Beach.
The 445 jumped on plane between 15 and 16 knots, and fuel efficiency stayed consistent from 20 knots to 29 knots, and it only dropped slightly in the top 250 rpm, which can be attributed to smart hull design and Volvo Penta’s engineering.
With the sunroof and side window open and the aft bulkhead lowered, Zaleski and I were able to hold a normal conversation at cruise speed. We didn’t have to shout to be heard — except maybe when I had my head sticking through the sunroof opening. Try it sometime.
I went belowdecks while we cruised along at 26 knots, and I found things to be quiet and smooth — not much wave action on the bay. At that speed, I could have prepared a snack in the galley or caught a nap on one of the berths. Nice ride.
- Large, artfully shaped hull windows
- Large sunroof
- Bow sun lounge with a Bimini top
- Hydraulic swim platform
- Power aft bulkhead lowers out of sight
- Cockpit settee converts to multiple-person sun lounge
Now for the feature adults and kids are going to like, but for different reasons: the swim platform. It is expansive and an easy way to board the boat from the dock. It has slots cut into its teak structure, for the optional chocks, and that’s important on this swim platform, because it’s hydraulic and can be lowered into the water a few feet.
Passengers can sit on the platform at the waterline, or they can be partially submerged and use the platform as a home base for their swimming activities. And if someone needs to make a trip to the cockpit for a refreshment, there’s no need to raise the platform or for said person to make a contorted, stretching climb/leap to the boat. A built-in set of steps — think passarelle style — extends and contracts with the movement of the platform. These aren’t ladder rungs, but rather foot pads for sure footing. It’s a feature that might lead to a few wet swimsuits leaving trails of water to the head, but that’s a pretty good tradeoff for the safety and peace of mind it’s sure to offer.
With a 660-pound lifting capacity and chocks, the platform can accommodate most appropriately sized dinghies and even a few entry-level PWCs, such as the Sea-Doo Spark and the Yamaha V1. And a decent-sized garage between the twin sets of stairs from the platform to the cockpit can hold lots of important stuff — life jackets, cushions, spare parts — but it can also accommodate water noodles, floating water toys and anything else that will keep the kids occupied for hours at a time.
And that’s really what this yacht is about: time on the water with as few or as many people as an owner desires. Yeah, if you were to slow down to about 8.5 knots, the range jumps to about 400 miles, making coastal hops a possibility, but that’s not its strength. A family will find the Galeon 445 HTS a good fit for a weekend on the hook at an island getaway. A couple will find the 445 HTS a great boat for hosting friends on a harbor cruise for snacks and sunset cocktails, and it would be a big draw for their adult children with kids of their own: “Can we please go see grandpa and grandma this weekend?”
Galeon may not have the name recognition in the U.S. yet, but with MarineMax bringing in a minimum of 60 new yachts per year, that’s bound to change. And you can say you knew them when.