Amel Super Maramu 2000

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
October 2003


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This 53-foot, French-built ketch is a passagemaker that marries cruising innovations with a passionate attention
to detail

The first time I really sat up and took notice of the Amel cruising concept was while we were making a passage aboard our Mason 43 from Fiji to New Zealand in the southern spring of 1991. We sailed in company with Australian friends Al and Robyn Rahm aboard their Amel Mango 52 Finesse II for the seven-day passage and then cruised together for a week in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands.

Finesse II was a wonderful boat. It handled the rough passage south easily and left Al and Robyn rested and well fed at the end of the trip. The boat was considerably faster than our 43-footer as you would expect, but, judging from the tones of voice coming over their SSB during the trip, her speed was not at the expense of comfort or sound nights’ sleep.

Al and Robyn were proud of their boat, which was at the time something of a novelty in the antipodes, so we were given an extensive tour above and belowdecks. What struck us most was how sensible the boat was and how well it had been created for extended, comfortable cruising from the original drawing board to the final execution in the shipyard.

Here was a boat sailors who are accustomed to comfort ashore could live aboard and cruise extensively all about the world, which was exactly what Al and Robyn were doing.

Last summer I had the chance to spend a day sailing the new Amel Super Maramu Millennium 53 off Ft. Lauderdale. It was with some pleasant anticipation that I stepped aboard since I had such good memories of Al and Robyn’s Finesse II. I was with Amel’s exclusive American associate Joel Potter and our plan was to take off from Ft. Lauderdale and sail around for a few hours as I got to know the boat. This was hardly an offshore test, particularly because the July winds were light, but we did have enough time aboard to really see how she behaved under sail and power. And, as luck would have it, the wind out by the Gulf Stream did eventually pick up so the boat could really show its fine reaching speed.

The Amel Super Maramu is built by Chantiers Amel in La Rochelle, France. The company was founded by Henri Amel, who is considered the “father of fiberglass boat construction” in Europe. A yacht designer, innovator and enthusiastic world cruiser, Amel’s vision of what a cruising boat should be can be seen in every detail. While his vision is not unusual—he has spent his life dedicated to creating ocean cruising boats that can be purchased virtual-ly ready to go—his execution of that vision is unique.

The ideas behind the Super Ma-ramu evolved from the 1980-era 52-foot Amel Mango, which in turn was an evolution of the 1970s vintage Meltem. These earlier boats were sailed many thousands of miles by Henri Amel as he continued to refine and develop the Amel concept. The first Super Maramus began rolling off the production line in 1990 and more than 270 of them were built before Amel and his in-house designers updated the boat and its systems with the Millennium edition. There are now more than 440 sailing the high seas.

The boat is a pure cruising machine for a couple, a family or a party of friends. The 52-foot, six-inch hull is moderate by cruising boat standards with a fully loaded displacement of 35,840 pounds and a displacement/length ratio of 223. A D/L of between 200 and 250 is generally considered to be a good working average for offshore boats. The hull has a 30 percent beam-to-length ratio, so it is comparatively narrow by modern standards and, thus, easily driven and does not need a cloud of sail to achieve good cruising speeds. That’s why the ketch rig, which is more a reaching configuration than one set up for hard-on-the-wind buoy racing, can have a relatively low sail area/displacement ratio of 14.12. The ballast/displacement ratio of 34 percent indicates that the boat will exhibit good overall stability and have an easy motion when running downwind (i.e., the boat won’t snap to a hard pendulum motion in a following sea as it would with a very deep bulb keel but will roll easily and comfortably).

Easy handling is the Amel credo so the boat and rig are set up to make all tasks required in a routine cruising day as effortless and efficient as possible. Amel manufactures most of the deck gear on its boats to meet their own set of specifications. That means you will have Amel electronic roller furling on the headsails and mainsail, an Amel custom double bow roller and anchoring system that is set up to be operated via Amel designed remote controls from the cockpit. Primary winches are electric also so tacking and jibing the boat from the cockpit will be a one-person job. Sensibly, all electrically-powered systems aboard have manual backups. As Joel likes to say, if you can lift 50 pounds you can do everything aboard unassisted.

There are dozens of small details unique to Amel that make sailing and cruising less taxing. To adjust the genoa sheet leads, you use a winch handle to crank a turning device next to the cockpit that shifts the custom genoa track car either forward or aft. While the mizzen will always be a great sail and home to the ever-useful mizzen staysail, the mizzen boom also has been set up to act as a crane for hoisting the outboard and other heavy, bulky items on board. The lifelines that run around the boat are unique to Amel as well; they are stainless steel tubing atop substantial stanchions. Even an extra large–sized crew can fall against them and feel secure.

Great care has been put into the layout of the ship’s systems below-decks. The engine room is huge and accessible through the cockpit floor so you can get to both sides of the main engine or generator and work comfortably on the watermaker and other devices you have installed. Also, with the hatch directly over the engine it is possible to lift the beast out either with a dockside crane or with a jury-rigged A-frame right over the cockpit.

Because safety is Amel’s ultimate concern, the boat has four watertight bulkheads. Two of the bulkheads are permanently fixed to the hull and deck while the others are the heavily gasketed doors and bulkheads that partition the aft cabin and the for-ward cabin from the main saloon.

The engine room also has been made as watertight as possible with all ducting and wiring running under the deck and through rubber seals in the bulkheads. Should the hull become compromised in a hard collision, the crew can still save the boat and continue to run pumps while they make repairs.

Being a pioneer of fiberglass construction in Europe, Henri Amel has tried many different composite construction techniques. The system he and his crew decided on for the Super Maramu emphasizes simplicity, strength and durability. The hull is hand-laid solid biaxial fiberglass molded in a two-part female mold. The hull is stiffened with huge floors and stringers. These in turn are joined to the four main bulkheads, to all furniture panels and to the engine enclosure. The balsa-cored deck is laid on the hull while still in the mold, where it is glassed to the hull and the bulkheads. A virtually monocoque structure, the hull and deck panels are so well supported that it is rare to see in an Amel the gel coat crazing that appears in less thoroughly engineered boats.

Because cruising is supposed to be fun and the cruising life carefree, Amel and his team have eliminated wood trim from the deck and cockpit with the exception of the boarding ladder’s teak treads and the companionway trim. Most obvious are the mock teak decks that everyone remarks on when first stepping aboard. No more varnish. No more teak oil. No more days of snorkeling lost to the “to do” list. Instead, high-pressure deck hoses can be rigged to wash off the whole boat in a minute before you head ashore to explore the nearby beach.

As we sailed east from Ft. Lauderdale last July, Joel opened a very nice bottle of Bordeaux to drink with lunch. The autopilot was steering, the breeze was fair and the boat was making a pleasant eight knots on a close reach. I sat in the cockpit and relaxed as the boat effortlessly sailed toward the Gulf Stream while Joel kept a casual watch from the helmsman’s seat next to the companionway where he was out of the sun and wind.

This is the kind of cruising that the Super Maramu is designed for as the accommodations, layout and equipment down below amply demonstrate. The main saloon offers an excellent U-shaped galley with huge counters, large sinks and plenty of cabinet space. The dinette to port will seat six for dinner and doubles as a comfortable lounge for reading or watching movies. The chart table to starboard faces outboard with all navigation instruments mounted in removable cabinet boxes for easy maintenance.

The forward cabin has a V-berth, large hanging locker, overhead storage cabinets and an en suite head. The after cabin in the Super Maramu we sailed had a large double to port, a comfortable settee and vanity to starboard and its own head. The aft cabin can also be configured with two large single berths. A great single sea berth lies in the passage that leads aft from the saloon under which lies the 640-amp/hour, 24-volt battery bank (equivalent to 1,280 amp/hours at 12 volts). The interior is finished in a pleasant varnished mahogany with cream-colored headliners that give the cabins a warm, intimate feel.

The only unusual touch down below is the blue nonskid floor panels in place of the normal teak and holly sole. The panels are practical, offer good footing when offshore and act as insulated lids for the large storage compartments below the cabin sole in which, if you like, you can fit more that 400 bottles of wine.

The boat has been fitted out for long-term living aboard in apartment style. It has a washer/drier installed under the counter-island in the galley, a dishwasher next to the galley sinks and a huge freezer installed under the dinette seat. The Super Maramu can be virtually self sufficient, comfortable, convenient and cozy for months on end.

Anyone who has ever seen an Amel sail by will know that Henri Amel and his crew have their own vision of what they want in a cruising boat and have then spent their lives working to perfect it. Moreover, their vision of what works and what doesn’t extends from the top of the mast to the bottom of the keel. The boats come extremely well fitted with top-of-the-line gear. But they are not custom boats and a buyer will encounter resistance if he or she tries to get the builder to make substitutions for standard equipment.

There is an irrefutable logic behind just about every aspect of the Amel Super Maramu. The choice of hull shape and keel and rudder design, the ketch rig, the application of Amel-built electric roller furling units and much more all attest to the builder’s quest for an easily driven cruising hull that can be managed from the cockpit by a single watch stander.

The layout belowdecks offers good sea berths and well laid out spaces for moving about the interior in a seaway without being hurled across an acre of open space. Sea cooks will be pleased with the large and very workable galley while the navigator will enjoy both the large nav station and the ability to mount nav instruments in the cockpit under the fixed windscreen.

Buying an Amel is akin to joining a clan of like-minded sailors, of which there are thousands around the world cruising happily. New owners are brought to the Amel facilities in France and given a week of introduction to their new boat and its systems. Then the new boat normally is sailed on its own bottom, either by the new owner or by Amel’s delivery crew, to her new home.

With a base price of 525,000 euros (about $567,000 at press time) for a boat that comes with everything you need to go cruising except your own gear and provisions, the Amel Super Maramu Millennium is a very good value. The options list is short so even if you buy everything from every column you will be hard pressed to add much to the base. While you lose some personal choice in the process you do know that the boat you get and the gear you get with it has passed the extremely rigorous examinations and tests by Amel’s engineers.

A world cruising boat with a difference, the Amel Super Maramu Millennium is indeed a pure passagemaker in the best traditions of the sea.

LOA 52’6” (16 m.)
LWL 41’4” (12.6 m.)
Draft 6’3”–6’8” (1.9–2.05 m.)
Beam 15’3” (4.6 m.)
Displ. 35,840 lbs. (16,257 kg.)
Ballast 12,320 lbs. (5,588 kg.)
Sail Area (100%) 945.4 sq. ft. (125 sq. m.)
Auxiliary 75 hp. Yanmar diesel
Fuel 158 gals. (600 l.)
Water 264 gals. (1,000 l.)
Sail Area/Displ. 14.12
Displ./Length 223
Ballast/Displ. 34.37%
Beam/LOA 32%

Joel F. Potter
Cruising Yacht Specialist, LLC
PO Box 102
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301
Ph: 954-462-5869

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