To those who have been following this Sunseeker Predator 74 review blog – sorry that I have been away a while. I will be updating some more over the coming few days. Thanks for your patience.
In the previous post, I talked about the Sportsbridge that is fitted to Nods; this is in effect like a mini-flybridge without the appointments of a full size flybridge. This equates to the provision of a more usable cockpit area than is often found in flybridge yachts of a similar size; of particular note being the large semi-circular sunpads at the stern of the boat. It’s always a trade-off decision between fly bridge and Sportsbridge – more space and appointments up top or down below?
The cockpit itself is fairly spacious with a wet-bar comprising chilled drinks icebox, electric grill, a small sink and an ice making machine which all works pretty well. Seating is provided through a bench to the rear of the cockpit and an L-Shaped seating area around a teak table with folding leaves. This outside seating area is ideal for seating 3 – 4 people in comfort around it although do not expect to be seating a full compliment of people for dinner in the cockpit – on anything other than an informal basis.
Stowage exists within the seating areas.
The aft of the cockpit can be very exposed to the sun in a hot climate although an extendable canopy provided by Broadview Blinds solves this problem. Be careful not to leave this extended when the boat is unattended, overnight in strong winds or rain. It works effectively in light weather but (as we found out to our cost) is vulnerable in stronger conditions.
Access to the Sunseeker Predator 74 engine rooms is via a lift up hatch in the centre of the cockpit. This is great except where work is being carried out in the engine rooms whilst the boat is busy; then the open hatch can become inappropriate as far as yacht guests are concerned and also a potential hazard, particularly if there are little people on board.
The ‘patio’ doors open up between cockpit and saloon and help to make the interior an airy space, blending exterior and interior living areas relatively well.
There is a narrow walkway up to the front of the Predator 74 to two sun-pads on the foredeck. The decks are teak throughout.
Aft of the cockpit on-board Nods is the raise/drop sunbathing platform and hydraulic garage door. Both of these are operated from a single hydraulic pack. The platform generally works OK although it seems that there may be some issues in respect of sensor issues and the geometry of the platform at the time of build; Sunseeker’s engineers simply added a metal tape on top of the sensor as a temporary cure. I couldn’t advise if this issue has been resolved yet although when the boat was out of the water in St Lucia, it was apparent that the ram had be tightened as far as possible so it would seem that the solution would require some modification. The downside to this is that the platform can sometimes be inoperable.
The garage is a usable space, containing a Williams tender with a very good launch and recovery system.
The Predator 74 can be ordered either with standard hardtop or with a sportsbridge on top and I would suggest that the sportsbridge is well advised. Nods is equipped with the Sportsbridge option. Accessed via a drop down ladder, the sports bridge provides a commanding view around whilst offering two comfortable sun loungers as well as a helmsmans seat which could seat two people (provided they are not too large!).
There is good instrumentation up here together with a Raymarine repeater screen. The throttle controls are sublimely smooth allowing near inch by inch control and when used in conjunction with the bow and stern thrusters help to make the boat very maneuverable with great visibility fore and aft.
This is an excellent space and provides an additional exterior area for when the boat is underway and indeed when the boat is in dock whilst still allowing for a great cockpit and sun lounging area at deck level.
As previously mentioned, the two engines aboard Nods are MAN 1550hp which are the middling of the range available aboard this particular Sunseeker model. They are impressive and push the Predator 74 along with a spirited performance. When one considers the weight of this boat, acceleration is impressive and the Predator is quickly up to speed. They start just fine and with the exception of an occasional error message on the Port engine which usually goes away there are no particular issues in this area in terms of the engines themselves. I expect that this is either down to a minor software glitch or electrical connection on the bus somewhere.
I have previously talked about performance and economy and for a boat this size and type, the MAN 1550’s perform well here. Charging around flat out doesn’t really justify itself across anything other than short runs and it is possible to get, in a relative fashion, reasonable economy out of Nods on longer runs, particularly in flat seas. At the time I left the boat at the start of January, the engines had a little over 300 hours on them. Perhaps a little on the high side for a boat of this age but certainly not sky high. The boat has done a number of longer runs including Mallorca to Italy and back (before I joined the boat) as well as runs Mallorca, mainland Spain, South of France through to Northern Italy (Imperia). In addition during it’s timein the Caribbean it has travelled across the Windward and Leeward Islands to where it now nestles in St Thomas, USVI.
The last engine service was a shade over 7,000 Euros and the engines have been well serviced, to schedule.
I cannot really fault the engines. Arguably the Port engine burns a little more oil than the starboard but this is nothing to be overly concerned about.
Moving onto the private and sleeping areas aboard Sunseeker Predator 74, Nods. From the galley we turn right and head towards the back of the boat through a companionway, behind which is a small storage area for linen as well as a washing machine (which wasn’t working at the time I left the boat). Once through the companionway, we enter the main cabin or the ‘Owners Cabin’. This is a spacious area that occupies the full beam of the boat. On the starboard side is a seating area, port side, a desk / dresser area. A full size double straddles the centreline of the boat. Two large windows on either side of the boat let plenty of light in and afford the occupants of the cabin a good view across the water. This space is pretty good and has a nice atmosphere. On the port side of the cabin forward is a shower and heads room which is reasonably spacious and looks pretty good. At the time I left the boat, tiles in this cabin had cracked (as they had in every other shower / heads unit on the boat).
On the starboard side is a walk in wardrobe which is a fairly useful space although I would query why the light switches for this wardrobe are hiddent right towards the back of the area?
Heading forward now, and back up the steps on the starboard side is the twin cabin. Two singles. I feel that this is a useful area for occasional adult guests and for children. There is storage under the bunks and a small wardrobe in this cabin. The cabin has access to the ‘shared’ heads which will be used by other guests aboard the boat, particularly during the day. The heads unit is once again OK and is tastefully furnished. One issue that did affect this cabin was a leak through a starboard exterior vent which has allowed a fair amount of saltwater through the headlining above.
There has also been a leak out of this cabin which had damaged the original companionway carpets which should now have been replaced, although there was a small amount of water damage to the wood in this area. Apparently (whilst under the custody of another skipper) there have been previous issues with leaking from this heads unit; Sunseeker having had to re- seat much of the heads furniture there.
The next cabin along is the bunk cabin which is very small. Labelled ‘the coffin’ by guests of the owner, this cabin is in reality only for children. It is a rather stuffy and cramped space. Unless you have a requirement to house a lot of guests on board the boat, I really think that you would be better off, specifying the breakfast area instead of this bunk room.
Up forward is the Predator 74’s ‘VIP’ cabin. This is a comforatble cabin area with it’s own ensuite, again with the same furniture as the other heads aboard the boat. There are two wardrobes on either side of the cabin.
All cabins are air conditioned and this is effective in keeping the boat cool. Every cabin has TV and audio installed, the one in the owners cabin being larger and operable and indeed capable of being positioned by remote control.
When investing this kind of money in a boat, comfort is a necessity. By and large, Sunseeker’s Predator 74 isn’t disappointing. Entrance to the main saloon is via the cockpit. The initial sensation is that Nods, seems fairly narrow when compared to a number of her sister craft. On the starboard side, the saloon has a comfortable white leather seating area surrounding a rise and fall table, which is a practical place for dinner. On the port side of Nods, a small unit with a lamp, a rise and fall TV and audio and drinks cabinets with a useful cabinet top area above. There are pull out drawers on the starboard side seats/sofas.
Forward and on the starboard side is the interior helm station, comprising seating for three, a rise and fall Captain’s chair. Controls for the boats main functions are all situated here on the top panel. To be honest I rarely used this area as driving the boat was always much easier from the sports-bridge because visibility was much better there. Below the main navigation panels and the double Raymarine units are the main breaker switches for the boats primary navigational and non-navigational functions (although not all breaker switches are located here). A chart table are is located on the port side which for once is practical both in terms of storage space for charts and in terms of space to actually read charts.
Moving forward, head down three steps towards the galley and Predator 74’s accommodation areas, with another control panel which controls features such as generator or shore power select, water pump, heater and 12/24v charger controls as well as panels that provide indicators concerning the state and condition of the Predator’s 12, 24 and 240v circuits.
The galley area is OK, not exactly a chef’s dream but has a glass top hob which we found vulnerable to breaking, a combi microwave / oven unit, a 240v fridge freezer and a Nespresso coffee machine (which was great when you are in a location where you can easily acquire the Nespresso Pods!). Also included is a narrow fit Miele dishwasher. Now the principal issue with the galley was storage and for anything more than a couple of days worth of provisioning stock, you are going to have to store your provisions in the bilges. This is an issue that does affect Nods ability as a longer range / longer distance away from it all cruising boat. Initially you feel fairly optimistic as you see storage cupboards up above the main work areas but upon opening them, you discover that these cupboards are just a few inches deep – enough for a jar or two.
Getting in and out of the bilges for a tin of something useful to cook with is not a particularly comfortable experience, involving the lifting of boards and a children’s playground style descent into the bilge area. In fact, this area is something of a bear trap, one which I fell victim to when called out from the forepeak by the hostess who had left the board up collecting provisions. To this day, six weeks later, my leg is still recovering from what was a very painful injury! I was frankly lucky not to have a broken leg. I would therefore propose that the practicalities of this arrangement deserve particular consideration if the boat is to be operated commercially e.g. on a charter basis.
Whilst there is space to store a few pots pans and plateware, in the way that we were configured we found that we had inadequate space for glasses etc and we found that we had to store glasses in the pull out drawers in the main saloon area. Which was OK but the reality in a rolly anchorage was the sound of glasses knocking against each other and this incessant noise became quite annoying but then you may find a better configuration.
Nods lacks the breakfast seating area fitted to some Sunseeker Predator 74’s, it instead having a double bunk room to the port side ahead of the galley.
Powered by MAN 1550 engines, top speed onboard Predator 74, Nods, is typically around 32/33 knots depending upon tank loading, amount of fuel, equipment and the number of people on board the boat. However the boat is sensitive to the cleanliness of the bottom and a dirty bottom can reduce the speed significantly. At the end of the Mediterranean season, I was struggling to get 20 knots out of the boat – flat out. Clearly fuel economy is substantially damaged in this position.
In terms of economy, I found that the Sunseeker Predator 74 consumed around 300-380 litres per hour giving something between 19-24 knots of speed with a relatively clean bottom. Flat out, fuel economy takes a sharp dip with maximum consumption heading skywards to around 615/620 litres per hour – Clearly unless your wallet is particularly deep, you wouldn’t want to go too far at those levels of consumption!
A rougher sea state slows things down a fair amount with the tightly pitched propellors not always able to effectively push the boat ‘up the hills’ which can result in periods of high performance when heading down waves followed by a struggle to get above 13 / 14 knots when trying to climb a wave. This was particularly noted in the Caribbean where the considerably bigger sea state made life frustrating or even slightly nerve wracking at times. Perhaps props that were pitched differently would help? Any experts on props out there?
So with 3,800 litre fuel tanks and an assumed consumption of 380 litres per hour, we have a maximum running time of 10 hours (although it wouldn’t be safe to run the Predator 74 for this period), in reality 8 hours would be the longest that you would want to run for, you have a range of just under 200 miles. Go a little slower and the range is similar – but expect a rougher sea state to make a real difference.
All in all none of this is bad for a boat of this nature, although I would personally be thinking about the realities of the Predator 74 in regions such as the Caribbean where sea state is of much greater significance than a run around the Med in the summer.