Author: Capt. Tom Serio
Yachties in the know realize that French builder Garcia Yachting has been creating fine aluminum sailboats for more than 40 years, and maybe you think the powers that be at Sea Magazine mixed up the photos for this story. Nay, nay, I say. Garcia, under the tutelage of Grand Large Yachting, has expanded its construction into the realm of engine propulsion, and it did so in dramatic fashion with the Garcia Trawler 54. Due to scheduling issues, I wasn’t able to conduct a full sea trail on the Le Trawler, but even if I had, I’m not sure I would have been able to do the yacht justice. You see, the GT54 came to U.S. shores on its own bottom, pretty much out of the factory. I can’t compete with that.
A builder, not to mention the captain and crew, must have a lot of faith in a vessel when it comes off the factory floor. To wit, the GT54’s shakedown cruise was from Normandy to Cannes, France. That’s not around the block. From Cannes, the crew then crossed the Atlantic to the U.S East Coast in late 2012 for the boat-show circuit. Battling Hurricane Nadine and 20- to 30-foot seas, as well as a bumping into a submerged cargo container (no damage to the hull, mind you), the seaworthiness of the GT54 was proven over the course of the 4,800-mile voyage.
Garcia’s focus for the Trawler series is range, flexibility and efficiency, according to Judy Waldman of JW Yachts in Florida, the U.S. representative for Garcia Yachts. The concept was simple: Use a sailboat hull form, add in propulsion and build the rest of the boat around it. As Waldman said, “It’s a boat for the purpose.”
Evident during a walkthrough was the purpose indeed. Designed for real bluewater exploring with a hardened skin and structure made out of aluminum, the layout is purposeful yet simple. A minimalistic interior structure still retains full function and comfort. Visibility is a full 360 degrees thanks to the large salon/wheelhouse windows and low-profile cabinetry and seat backs.
Interior styling is by Frank Darnet Design, and contemporary is the word of the day. The salon is outfitted with a port-side U-shaped settee with a high/low table (converts to a bunk) and starboard twin corner seats that flank a cabinet with a hideaway Samsung flat-screen 37-inch TV. White faux leather is used for the headliner and wall coverings, adding to the bright and airy sense. Wood used in the trim and cabinets is a grain-matched Alpi light oak veneer.
Any French chef would delight in the port-side galley. Twin stainless sinks, an Isotherm two-drawer refrigerator, an Isotherm under-counter freezer, a dishwasher, a microwave, a Bosch three-burner induction cooktop, an Airlux oven and a Scholtes ventilation system fill out the work area. The counters have molded fiddles to keep extraneous water and food items at bay. Across is an L-shaped cupboard for cookware/dinnerware storage.
Throughout the yacht, Garcia built recessed inserts into flat areas for storage of items or to be accompanied by fitted trays. Hey, no rolling when you’re rockin’.
Although the raised pilothouse has a single helm seat, there’s a port-side L-shaped settee with a table that, when not used for dining, can double as a watch location and/or a chart table.
Green water over the bow isn’t a problem thanks to the Hepworth wipers and 10 tinted, 12mm Triplex tempered-glass window panes. Demisters and electrical heating keep the forward view clear, regardless of climate. For ventilation, one port window opens, as does the starboard side door.
There’s plenty of room to spare in the dash, even with two large Furuno NAVnet 3D multifunction displays, Caterpillar engine instruments, a searchlight, Max Power bow/stern thrusters and other controls.
Forward and down a staircase are the lower accommodations. A full-beam master is amidships, with a king berth, a slide-out desk/work area, and an awful lot of storage/closet space. To port is a unique setup of centered triple hull windows, with a standup shower stall to the left and a sink basin with a mirror and storage to the right. Slide the paneled doors to close off the area, and it becomes a private spa. A head with a washer/dryer is in a separate room just forward of the spa.
A guest stateroom in the forepeak has a centerline king berth, hull portholes, an overhead hatch, a desk/vanity and access to a private head. There’s also a day head on the lower deck.
Floating oak-laminated wood steps lead from the helm to the open flybridge deck. Looking aft, there’s space for a dinghy, which is lowered/raised by the boom of the stabilizing sail mast (mainsail and gennaker). A large sun lounger to port and a bench seat to starboard make this a gathering location.
Forward to port is the helm station with double-wide seating, full navigation, engine and operation controls, and a Bimini top (hardtop available).
Powering through the seas is facilitated by the single Caterpillar 3056 DITA 185 hp diesel engine, accompanied by a Volvo 75 hp wing engine. Remember, this is a long-range cruiser, so steady as she goes while sipping the go-juice is the idea. While maximum speed tops out around 11 knots, cruising speed is 8 knots, which yields a range of about 3,500 nautical miles. At that rate, average fuel burn is about 3 gph, which is what the crew experienced on the Atlantic crossing.
Access to the engine room is via a hatch in the cockpit sole. Ample storage space in the lazarette allows for long-term provisioning. Walk-around space is plentiful due to the oversized room and the fact there’s only one engine.
The GT54’s shippy look and feel is from the aluminum construction throughout. Peer into the forward anchor locker and see the latitudinal stringers, stiffeners, support beams, MIG/TIG welds and such.
Countering the heavy metal is a teak deck finish and a forward lounge seat with storage for fenders, lines, etc.
The builder’s extensive construction listing includes ballast figures, insulation layup, external fittings and more, which should produce a level of confidence and faith that the GT54 by Garcia is suited for worldwide exploration, no matter how big or small your world is.