The newest Krogen opens up the main deck and retains the builder's seaworthiness and range.
The allure of the sea and the escape it provides from our daily life is a major reason many of us own boats. Enjoying the sunshine, smelling the sea breeze, and watching and feeling the waves roll by — simple pleasures — awaken a part of us that lies dormant on shore. The accommodations we need to be comfortable, the engineering we need to drive it and the electronics we need to help us navigate and communicate make us feel like we can continue over the horizon. That dream to escape and explore fuels our passion for boats and the sea.
Even if we don’t use our boat to cross oceans, most of us have thought about it. After a hard day at the office, or an unusually long commute stuck in traffic, what if we could break free, get on the boat and keep going? Mike and Jackie Schmidt, a couple from Seattle, plan to do exactly that.
After a long, difficult search to find the right boat — they chartered many different boats in various locations over several years, to see what appealed most to them — the Schmidts sold their landside home, bought a new Kadey-Krogen 50 Open, and moved aboard. They were gracious enough to let me come aboard and explain to me why they chose this particular boat on which to spend the next phase of their life on the sea.
As a lifelong boater and one who dreams of cruising off into the sunset, I was excited to hear about the Schmidts’ endeavor, which begins in Seattle, and to have a chance to put the latest Kadey-Krogen, the 50 Open, through its paces.
With the Emerald City’s spring weather living up to its reputation and a series of low-pressure systems rolling through, I was hopeful we might get some serious weather in which to test the 50 Open’s seaworthiness and stability. Alas, come test day it was not to be. There was neither a cloud in the sky nor a breath of wind. Sunny and 80, it was the nicest day in weeks, one everyone had been waiting for, except me.
We set out from the Kadey-Krogen office in Salmon Bay and made our way up the Ship Canal, having decided to forego the locks that lead to Puget Sound. Conditions being meek everywhere, we decided to run our test on Lake Washington, whose fresh water affected our test numbers (we’ll get to that). As we cruised along the shoreline, I took the chance to explore the vessel, its salty lines giving it the appearance of a small ship, including a forward-sloped windshield and high freeboard and bulwarks.
The cockpit aft is completely covered by the upper deck and connects to both the salon, which stretches all the way to the port side, and to a covered starboard walkway that leads forward. This asymmetrical “widebody” arrangement — an option on smaller Kadey-Krogen models and standard on its larger vessels — provides more cabin room inside. Forward waterproof pilothouse doors on both sides open to protected landings with wing stations that allow the captain to dock on either side while being sheltered by a full Portuguese bridge forward that includes twin doors for easy foredeck access.
Inside, the cabin features abundant American cherry, quality joiner work and book-matched grains. Teak is an option, but the cherry gives the boat a light, contemporary feel and complements the high-end furnishings aboard. The galley’s Cambria quartz countertops are more practical, slightly lighter and more modern looking than granite or marble. The galley contains all the amenities of home, including a six-burner gas Wolf stove/oven, a Subzero refrigerator/freezer, a stainless steel dishwasher, a trash compactor, a deep double sink and abundant storage. The main salon adjoins the galley aft and provides a quality gathering and entertaining area where people can interact with folks in the galley during meal prep. Twin chairs to starboard and a settee with a high-low leafed table opposite provide plenty of salon seating. The long galley counter is ideal for informal dining and doubles as a serving area.
Forward of the galley most Kadey-Krogens have a pronounced stairwell up to the pilothouse, but this is where the new Open version diverges. The pilothouse is a single step up from the galley/salon level, which provides better visibility aft from the helm and connects these areas in a way traditional raised pilothouses can’t. From the Stidd Ultraleather helm seat, the captain can easily converse with someone in the galley. The L-shaped seating area behind the helm includes a night berth and a high-low table, and is directly adjacent to the galley too. This connects the entire helm area with the galley and salon.
The continuous and open main-deck layout is one of the key features that sold the Schmidts. They realized that much of their time would be spent in the living spaces of the boat, so they didn’t want as severe a separation of the pilothouse. When the 50 Open design brought more openness to the main level, the Schmidts were sold. Traditionalists might scoff, worrying that light from the galley and salon could create a distraction during passagemaking, but a retractable wall raises up on a lift and separates the galley at the touch of a button.
The pilothouse is fully equipped with a centerline cherry-clad wheel, gauges, instruments within easy reach of the helm and a full glass bridge of Garmin MFDs. The wide counters provide room to spread out paper charts and include fiddles to hold binoculars, tablets, phones and more.
Drawers and cabinets throughout provide storage everywhere space permits. A louvered door to port gives unprecedented access beneath the helm. Meticulous and carefully labeled wire runs allow owners to get at all the controls. This compartment is so large that my 6-foot, 4-inch son climbed in, turned around and lay beneath the dash, joking that he could sleep there.
The cabins are accessed via a beautiful wood-lined curved stairwell from the pilothouse. All Kadey-Krogens are semicustom, and Alara is set up with three double cabins and two heads. The Schmidts decided to make the cabins nearly equal to accommodate their college-age boys when they come home. They wanted the boys to have substantial — and equivalent — quarters aboard. The forward cabin is the master. It houses an en suite head and additional storage, including two hanging lockers.
A foyer stretches aft from the cabins to a soundproof engine room door. Standing headroom, bright lighting and well laid out equipment highlight this ship-like space. Inboard dipsticks are set up on the optional twin John Deere 125s, but outboard access is still possible even with the adjacent saddle tanks. (A single John Deere 230 hp diesel is standard.) A 12 kw Northern Lights generator, AC compressors, a central vacuum system and other componentry are neatly mounted, with hoses, sight gauges and outlets carefully aligned and labeled.
We had now entered the lake and I climbed up from the cabin below, past the pilothouse and to the flybridge, where I could run the boat. The flybridge has an optional hardtop that covers the fully equipped helm, twin helm seats and a curved seating alcove to port. A double helm seat is available as an option and would improve access, especially around the table.
Multiple drink holders and clever popup lighting surround the seating. A large RIB on chocks and a Steelhead Marine ES-1000 davit are positioned aft. Ahead of this a console contains a large stainless Sea Star grill, a recessed sink and storage, with plenty of room for an ice-maker or a refrigerator.
The afternoon sun blazed high above as we began the test. We made reciprocal runs and took speed readings from the Garmin GPS and fuel burn numbers off the John Deere panels. Mike and Jackie chose the twin-engine version of the Kadey-Krogen 50 Open primarily for the redundancy that two engines afford. Both models have long centerline keels and protected apertures for the props. The twin version has triple keels aft.
Our test demonstrated that at a typical trawler speed of 6.65 knots the Kadey- Krogen 50 Open has world-cruising capability with a range of more than 2,320 nautical miles (with a 10 percent reserve) and a total fuel burn of just 3.2 gph. But that was in fresh water, which, according to Krogen naval architects, adds 0.5 to 1.2 gph along the speed range. In salt water, the same speed should net a range of more than 2,750 miles. Company testing put the 50 Open’s range at more than 4,000 miles at 5.93 knots at 1200 rpm. Top speed was 9.7 knots.
Although conditions were calm we did make a series of sharp turns, and the vessel was always responsive, plowing over its own wake like it was nothing, which we’d expect it to do even in much larger seas. During turns its desire to remain upright is evident, as it remains nearly level instead of leaning into turns like faster deep-V hulls do. The sensation is a little strange at first, because it seems to lean slightly out but this is simply its hull form fighting the forces to lean at all. Our test was performed without the use of fin stabilizers, and they would likely affect trim.