A great little ship

PUBLISHED: 14:37 20 April 2011 | UPDATED: 11:20 21 April 2011

Hardy 50

Hardy 50


Hardy in all senses, the 50 is a real, tough, serious motor yacht that will cruise you long distance and in all weathers, says Paul Thomas

The pastime we like to call “mucking about in boats” is very broad in its parameters.

From rowing a little dinghy, through paddling a canoe, sailing on the Broads, enjoying a holiday hire cruiser and ultimately taking a yacht or power boat to sea. East Anglia is brilliant for all these interests, broader in appeal even than the south coast where inland waters generally are not part of the offer, pure sailing and racing exceeding all other boating activities.

East Anglia excels too in types of boat-builders. There are the biggies, in sales and marketing Oyster Yachts who have yards build some of their craft in the east; Fairline boats in the far north of our region, producing fast and particularly luxurious flybridge motor cruisers in large numbers – and Broads yards like Broom and Haines still building charter boats, let alone adventurous private motor boats for use at sea.

There is one firm, however, that is perhaps the most serious when it comes to serious, big little ships, or perhaps little big ships. Tough enough to go almost anywhere within range; hardy enough, if you will pardon the expression, to get through the worst of sea conditions. Yes, it’s Hardy by name and hardy by nature for this Norfolk business which started life decades ago, building primarily small motor boats – but which now is becoming increasingly recognised for “big little ships.” I’ve just returned from a quick trip down the coast in the Hardy 50. She costs a little under a million and my family of four could live aboard her in comfort, and survive on a long passage, to who knows where, under virtually any conditions, good or bad. It wouldn’t be so much a trip away by boat – as a passage on a little ship as far as you want to go.

My short voyage, with Hardy owner Mark Funnell, nearly tempted me to suggest to my wife and daughters we should do just that! For the 50, and there could be a 60 within a year or so, is just that – a little ship.

She’s a traditional power boat – “motor yacht” as Mark rightly emphasises. But for tradition, even conservative design she makes 30 knots with ease; has a range exceeding 500 miles, chucks off turmoil seas – and has great presence. Finally she behaves like a little ship – and you have to learn to handle her like one, slowly, with respect for her size and weight but increasingly realising her stature which is dramatically more than many more futuristic 50 footers I’ve driven before.

Such is the Hardy capability as a brand, that the smaller 42 is used for lifeboat handling demonstration and training purposes by the RNLI. Quite a qualification.

The 50 has a big master cabin with en suite heads; a good twin cabin forrard, again with its own heads; a spacious galley, really big saloon, plus she is navigated from either of two stations, below or on a bridge which had excellent drykeeping on a cold February day, through very significant chop with insignificant spray to the helm position.

Naturally, if you are contemplating spending a million on a boat, you expect a lot for your money – and the Hardy 50 is that. She’s big, bold, beautiful in a conservative way – and could become an even bigger boat, in size as well as success, internationally.

The boat and performance: Soon after the introduction of the successful Hardy Commodore 42 it became clear that a number of owners would welcome the introduction of a larger luxury Hardy with similar performance to the 42 and sea-keeping to match. The new design had to be of a size and layout that allowed the larger family to cruise together, but be manageable by a couple for long periods and distances.

It’s not pretentious, desperately luxurious or flashy in any aspect, particularly design. It looks like a proper, serious cruising boat should and behaves even better. Much of this is down to our own marine architect Andrew Wolstenholme who is the master of not only good looks but also performance. This boat does 30 knots but even on a cold, rough day on the bridge, you’d think it was 20 and there is no slamming, the boat slicing through seas and throwing water well outside the bridge – even when you tight turn through your own wash and North Sea weather.

From a standing start the throttle’s of which more later, take you up to top speed in around 25 seconds, I reckoned.

The big traditional wheel on the bridge, or via the car-like wheel down below, wind you easily through seas with no pull or force and she corners flat and gets through 180 degrees turns within two to three boat lengths without drama.

Back in harbour, it was my turn to master the ultra slow gearbox which enables this big, powerful boat to progress at just a knot or two in the confines of tight spaces or peace to be preserved on Broadland rivers.

Mark reckons it takes typical power boat skippers 125 minutes to master the principles of the twin disc Quickshift gearboxes. The propellers engage at a mere 100 rpm, instead of 300 rpm giving one knot only of movement through the water as opposed to perhaps five knots. He says tick over is 600 rpm – so you can see just how sensitive this scene is – and takes time for you to accept it, let alone trust it to be as decisive as you want. You can switch between modes so if you are wary, particularly in very windy conditions as we were, there is always security in higher revs, plus bow-thruster – but I gained confidence and backed into a tight, precise mooring with ease after a few minutes trial.Back out at sea, the instrumentation had confirmed typical fuel consumption of one and a half gallons per mile at cruising speed, 25 knots and 500 miles range if you’re typically doing 20 knots or 430 at 26. These figures come from a boat which was full with fuel, three tons of it, 3,500 litres – in a boat that’s 25 tons in itself.

You begin to realize this really is a ship! The 50 is hand-built by the Hardy craftsmen and many areas of the accommodation can be fitted out to suit the new owner’s ideas. The basic layout outside includes wide, safe decks all round, with a large after deck that has the option to have a hydraulic crane at one corner for RIB or dinghy operation. A huge flybridge area has seating all round and a table for meals outside. There are internal and external steps from the lower helm, plus a large bathing/ boarding platform aft with spiral teak steps from the deck.

The master cabin is aft with a king size double berth, lots of storage and dressing table plus en suite heads with a separate shower room and sliding, curved door; electric toilet and wash basin.

The saloon is spacious within this big-beam boat and has seating for eight people, dining table with opening leaves, sideboard and storage – and a pop-up flatscreen television.

More than a home from home for some.

Forrard of the saloon, but open plan with it, is the lower helm position, side entry doors and access forrard and to the galley. The helm position has two master seats, tall, adjustable, comfortable and there is good headroom – none of the cramped lower helm conditions sometimes encountered on some craft.

The galley has electric, four burner hob, fan oven, built-in microwave, double sink and fridge freezer with lots of storage. There is a small office opposite the galley, a cabin with upper and lower single bunks, utility area with washing machine and tumble-dryer and workbench – then a watertight door giving roomy access to the main engines, generator, hydraulics systems and fuel tanks.

Right forrard are twin berths in a pleasant cabin and en suite heads. All in all, lots of space for six people to live and sleep – and even more roomy for the perhaps predictable couple, serious about long range cruising, with or without family or friends.

The top deck or flybridge has two master helm seats, plus passenger seating on three sides and a good wind shield. Aft of the bridge is a lower station which could be for dining – or can take a tender with lifting crane to handle it.

A big bathing platform can be used also for landing and sternto mooring.

Engines and navigation equipment: Naturally enough the 50 performs to the highest standards. Its Marine Certification conforms to CE Marking class A (it can also conform to MSA Small commercial code of practice category 2, once again speaking for the seriousness of its design, build and various applications).

Her power pack is quiet, peaceful but so powerful on both acceleration and ultimate cruising speed. This is through twin MAN R6-800 D2876 LE423 Common rail diesel engines developing 800 bhp @ 2,300 RPM each. They are fitted in accordance with MAN gold standard for extended warranty.

The so slow, so minimal takeup of the props is through twin disc MGX 5114A “Quickshift” gearboxes with the Twindisc Dual Station EC300 Engine and gearbox control system with closed loop electronic trolling and express mode fully enabled.

This produces the results I detailed earlier – but also offers the alternative of more conventional operation.

There are PTO adapters fitted to both gearboxes to operate Vetus Variable flow hydraulic pumps producing maximum 45cc /rev with separate oil coolers.

The gearbox and throttle capability is considerable for handling but a bowthruster is standard – a Vetus 160 Kgf hydraulic version with addition of twin speed control apparatus.

Engine instrumentation includes multifunction display units and alarm monitoring systems at both upper and lower helm positions.

There are also twin Raymarine 240 dual station vhf systems, one DSC enabled and one fitted with splitter to enable reception of AIS signals and Raymarine 10Kw open array radar scanner and Raymarine active Satellite TV receiving dish system.

At the lower helm, two Raymarine E120 12 inch chart plotters integrated with Radar and AIS inputs plus gyro stabilised heading. At the upper helm, a Raymarine E120 chart plotter integrated with lower system.

Other electronics include wind speed system output to ship’s data and dedicated display at lower helm; speed and depth transducers output to dedicated display at lower helm and to data bus. ST6002+ Autopilot wcontrols and ST60+ Graphic data display units at both stations There is an Auxiliary Generator with forced cooling input for use at speed with auto shut off valve when not running.

Auto start system enabled.

Anchor Winch; Vetus power hydraulic steering apparatus powered by prioritised ship’s hydraulic system. Raymarine S3G autopilot with gyro assist course computer operating solenoid valves to main steering circuit.

Communications include engine room and rear-view CCTV cameras output to Lower secondary E120 display.

The electrical system includes Starboard DC independent battery bank for engine starting only (parallel switching system and auto combined charging system fitted); port 450Ah @24V AGM battery bank for port engine and domestic consumers.

AC system is three parallel Victron 3KVA inverters providing 9KVA continuous output and intermittent up to 18Kva. Remote switching and indication on helm.

Shorepower is only designed to operate a victron 80A 24V battery charger via Galvanic isolator protection and to take over the operation of the fridges whilst connected. This minimises the issues with galvanic corrosion. Shorepower lead and extension fitted with 32A plugs plus 32A to 16A reducer.

Interior heating is from a diesel powered Eberspacher 10kw water heating system piped to all cabins with independent thermostatic fan controls.

Fuel system comprises twin 300 gallon stainless steel wing tanks with cross over and balance system. Large capacity primary filters with glass bowls.

MAN supply secondary filters with water detection system, engine mounted third filtration and the tanks can be filled from a single entry. There is a 200 gallon stainless steel reserve tank with transfer pump and valves to redirect as required.

There is a 150 gallon stainless steel water tank supplying pressurised system with 15 Litre accumulator. Largest capacity calorifier fitted, heated by starboard engine cooling circuit, immersion heater and Ebespacher diesel heater.

As ever Funnells aim for the future:

The six parties who have bought a 50 so far are all serious international cruising people, at least half of whom have delivered their boats themselves from the 50’s Norfolk “home” to global destinations – including Russia and various countries on the Mediterranean and one, admittedly as cargo on a freighter, to Japan. While the Hardy sells a 32, 36 and 42 as well – in good numbers – the significance of these really big boats is that they may attract big spenders, relatively unaffected, or even cashing in on the global economic state.

Mark Funnell bought the firm in 1994 when it was changing character with some difficulties and is now exploring its further progress, selling big boats, globally.

The Funnells have always made an impact on the Broadland and boatbuilding scene, not only in Norfolk but further afield – with potentially more interest to come.

Mark’s father is Len, who emigrated from successful caravan sales and other business in Lincolnshire for Norfolk more than three decades ago. The impact Len made on a traditional holiday hire industry on the Broads was significant and indeed despite apparent indications of retirement (having sold up one major business only to start another), Len and family continue to set new targets – including at Waveney River Centre which flourishes through daughter Ruth and her husband James Knight; also through the new inland Funnell hire and private boat range marketed from Horning Ferry Marina.

Mark’s own move into Hardy, was viewed as serious. From a business selling smaller motor boats in the mid 90s, Mark has progressed it quietly but with sound business impact – and mounting international interest in his big boat range.

He has monitored carefully staff numbers, he now has 21 employees which is down from a year or two ago – but can be increased, of course, should interest from new international markets arise. And that is clearly his ambition. The next year could be significant for Hardy.

Hardy 50 Information:

Length 14.95m

LOA 16.13m

Beam 4.9m

Height above water with mast

down 4.1 m

Dry Weight 25 tons

Diesel Fuel 3,606 litres

Water 660 litres

Price: Hardy 50 fitted with R6-800

D2876 engines 800hp/2300 rpm

each: £728,511.00 excl VAT

£874,213.20; Incl VAT at 20%

Hardy Marine Ltd

Gaymers Way,

North Walsham,


NR28 0AN

+44 (0) 1692 408700