Caliber 47 LRC SE

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
November 2004


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Attention to detail and innovative cruising systems make Caliber’s 47-foot flagship an ocean voyager of real distinction

George and Mike McCreary have been building solid, sensible cruising boats in Florida for more than 20 years. With hundreds of boats out there cruising all over the world, they easily can claim to be builders who really make the cruising dream come true. They have built Caliber’s reputation on the keels of capable oceangoing boats that provide owners with few surprises and engender a lot of confidence. They also listen closely to their owners and continually adapt their designs and their cruising systems to meet the real-world needs of real-world cruisers.

The Caliber 47 LRC (Long Range Cruiser) is the company’s flagship and has been created to provide a cruising couple with a truly safe and fine-sailing floating home. This year the McCreary’s took the basic 47 back to the drawing board and went through all of the design’s systems with an eye to making the boat even better. The result is the new SE (Simple Elegance) series.

The Caliber 47 is a pure cruising boat with a large center cockpit and a simple, powerful cutter rig. The bow features a long, wide sprit that acts as an anchor platform and the tack of the genoa, while the sugar-scoop stern has a swim platform and outside shower.

Below the water the 47 has a low-aspect cruising fin keel that combines the lift of a fin keel with the directional stability of a long, full keel. The rudder is protected by a robust full-length skeg and is attached with massive rudder bearings and a solid stainless steel rudder shoe. Given these appendages, the 47 can withstand a serious grounding and even will stand on her keel if the need ever arises to careen the boat.

The deck layout serves a cruising couple well by offering comfort, security, protection from the elements and handy sailing systems. The 47 was designed to be sailed by a couple, which in effect means by a lone watchstander, so all sail control lines need to come back to the cockpit. Knowing that all of these lines can contribute to cockpit clutter, the 47 has designated line lockers that keep sheets and halyards under control.

Because cruisers inevitably accumulate a lot of gear as they go and need to be well equipped for any contingency, the Caliber 47 has four large deck lockers, two forward where spare sails and running rigging can be stowed and two lazarettes for fenders, docking lines, diving equipment and jerry jugs.

The cockpit is the most used space on any cruising boat so it needs to be large enough for friends to gather but small enough to be secure and dry when at sea. The eight-foot-by-six-foot oval cockpit on the 47 has bench seats that are long enough for most adults to stretch out on and spacious enough for eight adults to gather for sundowners. With the dodger and Bimini rigged, the cockpit will be comfortable in steady rain or blazing sun.
In line with the Caliber emphasis on security on deck, the new SE series boats have bolstered stern rails and bow pulpits and extra tall lifelines. Should you lose your balance you have something to grab on to that will hold your weight. The stern rails, which extend well forward, are set up to carry the brackets for and weight of solar panels.

The 47 sports a tall double-spreader rig that flies a relatively small mainsail, a 120-percent genoa and a staysail. On a boat of this size it makes sense to have a roller furling main, either in-mast or in-boom so that the helm can be balanced easily and quickly and sail area can be reduced without leaving the cockpit. The 47 comes standard with an in-mast system, a rigid vang and end-boom sheeting. While an in-boom mainsail can be reefed to the point that it can double as a storm trysail, it makes sense in really heavy weather to take the boom and the roller furling apparatus out of the equation by rigging a separate track and trysail.

Forward, the genoa flies on a masthead furling unit. The headstay attaches to the bowsprit, which is in turn supported by a fairly oblique bobstay. The sail plan spreads the sail area out fore and aft instead of vertically, which is traditionally the mark of a good sea boat.

The staysail flies on an inner stay. It can be demountable, in which case the staysail will not be roller furling. Or the staysail can be set up permanently with a fixed turnbuckle and a roller furling unit. For offshore sailing and long-range cruising, the second option makes the most sense since it permits you to add and reduce sail in the widest combination from the security of the cockpit.

The addition of an asymmetrical cruising chute or even a code zero reaching sail will be especially appropriate for the 47 since the bowsprit acts as a great point well forward to which it can be tacked. And since most cruisers avoid sailing upwind, downwind sails should get a lot of use, especially if an ATN snuffer is used to control the big sails.

The interior of the 47 LRC has always been spacious and comfortable for a couple living aboard. The design features two large double cabins, each with its own head and shower, a great seagoing galley, well laid out chart table and a comfortable saloon with a dinette to port that will seat up to six. In the SE series, Caliber has incorporated a number of improvements and refinements based on comments from current owners who are out cruising the world.
Looking aft from the saloon, note the hand rails on the companionway ladder, the spacious galley and the large nav station. The master cabin way aft can be accessed either via the galley or the head

Among the refinements you will see on this year’s boats are the addition of positive latches on all cabinets and drawers to prevent storage spaces from spilling their contents when the boat lurches over a wave. To improve ventilation and prevent mildew, cabinet and passageway doors are now louvered.

Overhead hatches are vital for ventilation in the tropics but always present the problem of fitting screens to keep out insects. The new models now are fitted with slide-away screens and sunshades that fit neatly into unobtrusive overhead frames.

All through the boat additional spot lighting improves the ambience of the interior at night and benefits those trying to read or work in the galley. The galley has been reconfigured to provide more working space and better storage for daily supplies.

A microwave is now standard equipment. Corian counters are an option. The fridge is huge and has been provided with additional insulation to reduce energy consumption. Airy and expansive, the redesigned galley will be a pleasure for gourmet cooks and has been laid out well for cooking at sea when things geta little bouncy.

The heads, both forward and aft, offer large shower stalls that can be separated from the toilet compartment and thus shower water can be confined and drained away. For liveaboards, this is a very nice touch. The after shower stall also can double as a wet locker when sailing in damp conditions.

The 47 LRC SE has a warm teak interior that is indeed simple and elegant. The two easy chairs in the saloon are an opion that replace a bench setee

The overall ambience of the 47 LRC SE series is commodious and pleasant. With both doors open to the aft stateroom, the boat feels large and airy. The saloon is a good size for passagemaking as there are plenty of handholds, and one can always find a place to brace a hip or thigh while working with both hands. Moreover, the saloon is not so large that you would get thrown across it if the boat lurches off a wave.

The finish is in varnished teak and is to top yacht standards. Doors and drawers fit nicely and have high quality positive latches that will keep them in place. The vinyl overheads are trimmed with teak battens and teak ceilings (covering) can be added to trim out the inside of cabinets and open spaces. With all the improvements adopted with the new SE series, the 47 LRC ranks with the best for fit and finish.

The systems and engineering on a cruising boat are vital to the health, happiness and well-being of the crew. Lousy systems make for long periods in ports to make repairs. Great systems allow us the freedom to cruise in confidence and to spend time out sailing, gunkholing and exploring new lands instead of being shackled to the marina waiting for spare parts or a mechanic to show up.

On the 47 LRC, nothing says more about the systems approach taken at Caliber than the sea chest in the engine room. The concept is to reduce the number of seacocks below the waterline from 10 to one. All water intake for the entire boat comes through one reinforced box that has its top above the boat’s loaded waterline. The box has a Plexiglas inspection port fitted with massive wing nuts so the inside can be cleaned of weeds or debris while underway. Cooling water for the engine and generator, saltwater for the heads and saltwater taps in the galley all flow from the single sea chest. The whole system can be shut off quickly with a single mechanical closure. Reducing the number of holes in the boat reduces the risk of a failed seacock and trouble by a factor of 10. That is good common sense.

The engine room that houses the sea chest lies under the cockpit. Access is via two large doors on the port side and via smaller doors in the aft shower stall. The engine is mounted quite low in the boat and is fitted with an Aqua Drive unit that reduces vibration, wear and noise. The battery bank has been installed on a platform above the engine. Fuel and water filters and all battery switches can be accessed directly via the galley side doors. Caliber takes the trouble to label everything in the engine room and even posts useful reminders of how gear and equipment should be used and maintained.

The boats’ electrical systems are designed for maximum self-sufficiency and to carry the load of modern electronics and electrical devices. These days it is common for a cruising couple to expend more than 100 amp/hours a day, and those who navigate with laptops and keep radar on at night will expend 250 to 300 amp/hours every 24 hours. To meet this high demand, the new Calibers come with what they call the Smart Electrical System. The system starts with a battery bank featuring two 200-amp/hour AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries. Extra heavy power users may want to bump that up to a total of 600 or even 800 amp/hours of capacity.

The primary generating source will be the high output alternator, which has a cold rating of 110 amps and will have a hot rating of something like 60 to 80 amps. For those who want to use engine power exclusively for electricity, a second high output alternator can be fitted into the system. To gain the greatest output from the alternator, the system has been fitted with a “smart” multistep regulator that uses the most efficient energy curve to fully top up the battery bank.

Using the main engine to generate electricity is fine if you are underway but is a bad idea when hanging on the anchor in some lovely spot. Running a large diesel at low revs and thus below optimum temperature, as you do in an anchorage, puts a lot of unnecessary wear on the rings and cylinders; many a cruising diesel has had to be rebuilt early in its life for this simple reason.

For those living aboard, a generator makes a lot of sense. Caliber uses Northern Lights 5.5 kilowatt gensets aboard the 47 LRC. This is a reliable and easy-to-maintain generator that delivers AC power. You will find similar gensets on many top cruising boats as well as on workboats all over the world. While BWS has not conferred with Caliber on this point, you may want to explore 12-volt DC genset technology as an alternative to AC systems as these small, energy-efficient units are becoming increasingly popular in the cruising fleet.

Knowing that access to systems is as important as installing great systems to begin with, Caliber has come up with innovative solutions to make the bosun’s life as easy as possible. As noted above, the engine room has good access from both sides and all fundamental systems can be serviced quite easily.

The genset sits under the cockpit aft of the engine and battery bank. To make servicing simple, the genset has been mounted on a sliding engine mount that can be used to haul it aft into the after cabin. Thus exposed, all servicing and repairs can be performed in the wide open. This is an innovation that really has the liveaboard cruiser in mind.

On the 47 LRC an owner can have a Splendide washer/dryer mounted in the forward cabin where otherwise a wardrobe would be. This, too, can be mounted on rails so that the machine can be maintained and all fittings on the back of the device kept in trim.

While many cruisers these days are installing watermakers, conservative seaman still like to carry as much water (and fuel) as is practical and possible. The 47 is equipped with tanks for 275 gallons of freshwater and an equal amount of fuel. If you have four people aboard, the water supply (a gallon per person per day) will last almost 70 days in a pinch and will be ample for cruising far off the beaten path.

For world cruisers, it is good, if not necessary, to be able to motor for about 1,000 miles through the windless areas of the Doldrums—Panama to the Galápagos, Bali to Singapore and so forth. With an efficient propeller, the 75-horsepower diesel engine on the 47 will burn approximately 1.0 gallons an hour at 1,500 rpms, which will push the boat at about 5 knots for a maximum range of over 1,300 miles. Of course, you can go faster for shorter distances or slower for slightly more range.

As noted, the fuel filters and the manifold from the fuel tanks lie in the engine room which makes it simple to change filters regularly and to monitor fuel quality and flow. Changing tanks is accomplished with the turn of two valves.

The new SE series (which applies to the Caliber 47, 40 and 35) introduces many innovative and well thought out improvements to boats that have already proven themselves in the cruising fleet.

The 47 LRC is a boat that can take her owners wherever their hearts desire in comfort and with speed. The boat will be simple to handle, reef and steer, will make good daily runs and will be secure at anchor.

The systems aboard are of good quality and have been installed with the end user (and maintenance man) in mind. In many ways, the new SE series boats have been designed by cruisers for cruisers.

The list of standard equipment on the 47 LRC is as complete as any in the business, including all sailing systems, a complete electronics package, top-end anchoring gear and much more. With very few additions you could step aboard your new Caliber 47 and set off straight over the horizon.

LOA 52’ 11”
LOD 48’ 7”
LWL 39’ 6”
Beam 13’ 2”
Draft 5’ 2”
Displ. 33,000 lbs.
Ballast 13,000 lbs.
Sail area 1,014 sq. ft.

Caliber Yachts
4551 10th Circle North
Clearwater, FL 33762
Ph: 727-573-0627

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