Semi-displacement boats are more popular than they've ever been.
Don’t start. That is, before you accuse us of treating semi-displacement boats with less than the usual reverence, bear in mind that I am the proud owner of one. Fidget, my 27-footer, is as semi-displacement as they come: heavily built, blue hull, traditional lines, seakindly, not very fast and, in my slightly biased opinion, the prettiest little cruiser on the South Coast. And is she wet? Well, if trying to make headway against a chop in a breeze, let’s just say it’s usually best to sit on the lee side of the cockpit.
But semi-displacement boats are more popular than they’ve ever been. Why do we like them so much? For many of us, if we’re honest, their main appeal lies in those ‘proper boat’ looks. There’s nothing flash about a Nelson or a Grand Banks – or Fidget, for that matter – and it is this crucial virtue that gives those of the Bentley persuasion a rare excuse to look down on Ferrari types. Besides, a bit of sheer and some chunky deck gear create a lovely seamanlike impression.
The seakindliness thing is out of date, I think. Modern planing hulls are pretty good. A Nelson pilot boat slicing through the spray outside Harwich harbour makes a fine sight, but pound for pound the best sea boat I know happens to be the Princess 360 – and you can see where you’re going.
Times are changing. Just as planing boats are improving, so are their semi-displacement cousins.