Relocating a 50ft motor boat from the UK to the USA

Elliott Maurice explains what it takes to relocate a 50ft cruiser from the UK to America

Before relocating to the South of France and then moving on to Southampton, my main boat, a 2006 Princess V48, had started life in the Algarve. By the time I met her in the UK, she had amassed about 800 hours on her Volvo D9s. I was in the process of emigrating to Florida at the time, so I had already scoured the US market for a suitable boat but I couldn’t find a Med-style cruiser I liked as much as this.

That was mainly down to the Princess’s electric soft top, which offered the flexibility of a virtually open boat, as well as an enclosed cockpit. And then there was the exceptional hull by Bernard Olesinski, the top-notch engines, the genset, the AwlGrip-painted black hull and the new grey Silvertech upholstery.

The Princess filled all my requirements so I decided to make her mine and take her across the Atlantic for a new start in America. It is not difficult to import a yacht into the US but there are some very strict procedures that need to be followed.

If the boat is to be registered in America, it needs to be de-registered in Europe – in my case with the Lloyds registry. That removes its VAT-paid status within the EU. The boat then needs to be in process of title into the US prior to import in order for the import duties and taxes to be assigned to that vessel and the vessel made insurable.

Offshore cruises to the Bahamas are now a regular part of life

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Both are paid upon the boat’s arrival in port, and cruising permits are required to remove the vessel from the cargo ship and to make the transit to its new home port. An emissions certificate from the engine and generator manufacturer also needs to be presented on import.

Having a swell time!

If you want to run a boat in south-east Florida, it needs to be seaworthy. If it isn’t, simply getting out of some of the inlets is likely to prove a major challenge. Privilege spent its first five years in north Miami with the notorious Baker’s Haulover as its access point to the north Atlantic.

A lot of power and exceptional seakeeping certainly increase a boat’s usability around here and that’s something the Princess V48 has in droves.

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Seas of 5 to 6ft are of little concern and offshore cruises to the Bahamas are also regularly achievable. Most importantly though, the boat can easily cope with the 8-10ft breakers regularly met during running tides through Haulover. In fact, I’ve found that it operates very effectively in three basic cruising bands.

In anything up to 5ft seas, 22-28 knots is ideal. In 5-7ft seas, 14 knots feels good. And in larger waves of 7ft or more, displacement speeds from 7-9 knots seem to work very well.

You need to follow some very strict procedures

Key American issues

During my ownership, I have updated my V48’s original equipment to include a huge Fusion sound system, the latest Raymarine Axiom 12 MFD with engine diagnostics, a Quantum 2 radar, a gyroscopic autopilot and i70 multi-function instruments. But the mains voltage remained a bugbear.

After all, a 50Hz boat plugged into a 60Hz supply can wreak havoc with certain appliances. In fact, it can even become a fire risk as the internal wiring on an item like a hair dryer doesn’t contain the fourth (hot leg) to prevent the wiring from overheating.

The 7.5kVA generator copes well enough with the boat’s mains voltage equipment, like the air conditioning and microwave. But it needs to be run full-time when we’re on board to help power the mains voltage appliances and to charge the battery banks. Even so, a proper solution still had to be found for when the boat was left docked.

The 14-year-old aircon system needed some serious attention

The boat contains 13 batteries that easily power the 24V systems (most of the boat), but power drain can be an issue if it’s left for extended periods. Two solutions are available – a power converter costing around $15,000, which converts a 110V 60Hz supply to the boat’s required 220V 60Hz and powers up the 220V panel from shore, as if plugged into a 220V 50Hz supply.

The issue with this is the substantial weight (70kg) and size, plus the fact that these units create significant heat in an already warm aft lazarette. The other solution is to work around the boat and upgrade anything not 50/60Hz. Fortunately, the fridge, combi-microwave and cooktop are all dual-voltage and frequency.

That just left the air conditioning. The original 14-year old aircon was a Freon-based system and due to a lack of modern servicing facilities for these units, its days were numbered. We would eventually replace this with three self-contained Webasto units but in the interim, we found a solution from the RV industry – a simple automated switch that could discern between power from the generator and power from the 30A shore supply.

A new 30A shore supply that could run the battery charger was installed, and new separate 110V outlets complete with USBs were introduced throughout the boat. The switch cuts the generator feed to the battery charger when plugged in to avoid overloading the unit.

Awlgrip Storm Grey: a new look for a new life abroad

It also allows the boat to be plugged in, running fans and dehumidifiers in the cabin as well as the Mastervolt Battery charger, so you can keep the interior fresh and dry while it’s sitting in the dock among Florida’s tropical humidity.

The other element you can’t ignore when you keep a boat in the water in Florida is the hull. You should employ a diver to clean the bottom every month and to check the anodes because both can deteriorate very rapidly.

My American-spec cruiser

Despite these issues, the Princess has been phenomenal. I’ve explored Florida and the Bahamas, and in 2021, I covered the entire eastern seaboard, heading into New York and through the Erie canal system into Lake Erie. Now resplendent in AwlGrip storm grey, my V48 is not just the only V48 Mk 1 in the US but also a rare and often admired addition to the Great Lakes.

I have a vast range of places to visit on nearly 100,000 square miles of water, most of which is easily achievable with this fantastic boat.


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