Best 50ft flybridge: 4 tempting secondhand options for sale

Our resident used boat expert Nick Burnham picks out four of the best 50ft flybridge boats for sale right now, from the likes of Sunseeker, Princess, Fairline and Trader.

When it comes to the ideal boat length, 50ft is often reckoned to be something of a sweet spot, certainly for UK waters. Manageable by two competent crew, this size is large enough for comfortable Channel crossing but small enough to fit into most UK harbours.

It’s been a popular size with builders too, often marking the largest point for smaller yards as well as the smallest size for more upmarket yards.

And there’s plenty of choice at a vast range of prices. Which is why we’ve been able to gather together a wide range encompassing a semi-displacement trawler yacht-style craft from 1992 via two intermediaries, right though to a bang up to date fast-planing Fairline for about £1m. All you need to do now is choose one!

4 of the best 50ft flybridge boats for sale

best-50ft-flybridge-sunseeker-martinique-48-exterior

Sunseeker Manhattan 48

Built: 1996
Price: £155,000

The smallest of the Manhattan range of flybridge cruisers when introduced, this model was launched as the 45 before quickly becoming the 46.

An extended bathing platform resulted in a further badge change to the Manhattan 48 you see here.

Interior

Never ones to follow the herd, Sunseeker used vee drives instead of the shaft drives far more commonly seen on 50ft flybridges of this era.

It put the engines back beneath the cockpit rather than under the saloon floor, and that created an equally unusual layout.

With an ensuite owner’s cabin up in the bow and a decent twin-bedded guest cabin opposite the galley linked to the day heads, it feels like you’re all done on the lower deck.

But aft of the galley is another door granting access to a third cabin with a double berth running transversely beneath the main deck saloon in the space you’d usually find the engines.

best-50ft-flybridge-sunseeker-martinique-48-interior

The use of vee drives allows for a novel three-cabin layout including one under the saloon

Exterior

Sunseeker went for a real motoryacht style with this one, so you get aircraft-style wrap-around windscreens and slatted saloon side windows.

Back aft, that extended platform allows you to sit a tender on the deck rather than hanging from davits as per the earlier 46 and 45, and there is a passerelle that can be utilised as a dinghy crane.

Although new enough to get the long platform, it just predates the flybridge stairs, so you have to climb a ladder to a pretty decent flybridge, complete with period winged radar arch.

Performance

Sunseeker fitted twin engines from 430hp aside up to 600hp each, which were reckoned to give a mid 30 knot top end.

We tested the boat (actually the earlier Sunseeker Manhattan 46) with similar Caterpillar 3208TA engines fitted to this example and achieved a still spritely 29 knots, making 20 knots an easy and relaxed cruising speed.

best-50ft-flybridge-sunseeker-martinique-48-helm

A sumptuous helm bench and lashings of walnut at the imposing lower helm

Seakeeping

Four chunky lever controls at each helm (two for FNR gear shifting, two for throttles) give the brain more of a work out but repay with greater precision than traditional twin levers, and a bow thruster helps at close quarters.

In an earlier test we described the boat as having “smooth riding qualities” and impressive directional stability.

Specifications

LOA: 47ft 11in (14.6m)
Beam: 14ft 5in (4.4m)
Draught: 3ft 7in (1.1m)
Displacement: 14 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,400 litres
Engines: Twin Caterpillar 3208TA 435hp diesels
Location: Portland
Contact: Network Yacht Brokers

best-50ft-flybridge-Princess-50-exterior

Princess 50

Built: 2005
Price: £300,000

The Princess 480 had enjoyed a damn good run by the time it was finally pensioned off in 1999. A very gentle evolution of the 470 (extended bathing platform), that model had initially been launched as the 455 back in 1991, a boat with big shoes to fill as it replaced the seminal Princess 45.

In fact the 455 mirrored the 45, with an almost identical layout, so the concept actually stretched back to 1982. Hence a complete “keel-up” refresh was needed, and the Princess 50, launched in 2000, was it.

Interior

Pre-dating full beam owner’s cabins (although, the later MK3 version did introduce one at a later date), the first Princess 50 had two similar sized cabins at either end of the lower deck, plus a smaller twin bunked cabin in between.

The forward cabin was designated the master with its centreline double berth. Cabin two, meanwhile, could be optioned with twins or a double.

Unlike its predecessor, there was no lower deck dinette option because the galley had been raised almost to main deck height, increasing space in cabin three and making the galley more sociable.

best-50ft-flybridge-Princess-50-interior

The galley is on a slightly lower level but still connects well with the main saloon

Exterior

A whole new model ushered in an entirely new look – the 50 was a far more modern looking boat than the earlier 480.

In 2005 Princess Yachts introduced the MK2 version of the 50 you see here, but the upgrades are predominantly cosmetic changes, such as a new-style radar arch and less stainless steel trim on the saloon window surrounds rather than the wholesale reinvention that came in when the MK3 was introduced.

Performance

The year 2005 also ushered in Volvo Penta’s brand new D series engines to replace the venerable TAMD units.

In the case of the Princess 50, that meant twin D9 motors of 500 or 575hp each or D12 675hp rather than the TAMD 74 480hp units we tested the boat with at launch.
We achieved 29 knots, so the 32 knots claimed for the far more powerful D9-575 units of this boat seems entirely reasonable.

best-50ft-flybridge-Princess-50-cockpit

The spacious cockpit has plenty of room for a free-standing table and chairs

Seakeeping

The conventional shaft drive and an Olesinski hull means you can’t go wrong. The boat flattened a moderate sea with “consummate ease” and well-managed spray.

Specifications

LOA: 50ft 3in (15.3m)
Beam: 14ft 8in (4.5m)
Draught: 3ft 8in (1.1m)
Displacement: 19 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 1,818 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D9 575 575hp diesel engines
Location: Lymington
Contact: Sunseeker Brokerage

best-50ft-flybridge-fairline-squadron-53-exterior

Fairline Squadron 53

Built: 2018
Price: £999,950

The Fairline Squadron 53 marked a return to a high-end finish for a marque once fabled for its interior detailing.

From the mirror finish of the high gloss cabinetry and stainless steel detailing to the soft-touch finishes inside the helm, this looks and feels like an expensive boat.

Interior

It’s not just the finishes that set the Squadron 53 apart, it’s also the breadth of customisation available when these boats were ordered new. The galley, for example, could be specified aft on the main deck, as is currently fashionable, or further forward.

Or it could be moved to the lower deck instead of a fourth cabin, where you could choose between a full-sized galley or a smaller galley plus a third heads.

The space it vacated on the main deck was then filled with an extra settee or sideboard. This boat is the four-cabin version with the galley aft and the optional crew cabin fit out (taking total sleeping to nine, all in permanent berths spread across five cabins in total!)

best-50ft-flybridge-fairline-squadron-53-cabin

The contemporary amidships master is a key selling point of the Squadron 53

Exterior

All that talk of cabins might lead you to think that there can’t be much deck space but in fact the cockpit is huge – as long, possibly longer in fact, than it is wide.

There’s also a further cockpit area on the bow with a fold-out table and sunpads, plus the flybridge which has open tread steps with lighting neatly built into them.

Performance

There is plenty of choice when it comes to engines, too, all of which are twin installations. Caterpillar C12.9 give 850hp each, or alternatively there are Volvo Penta D11s with 675hp or 725hp each side.

We tried it with the same twin Volvo Penta D11-725 EVC motors fitted to this boat. Running conventional shaft drives, we achieved a top speed of 33 knots, slightly up on the manufacturer’s claimed 32 knots, and that was with a Williams 325 tender on the bathing platform plus gyro stabiliser, full water tanks and 75% fuel. Pretty impressive stuff.

best-50ft-flybridge-fairline-squadron-53-helm

Fairline’s ergonomically sound helm stations are some of the best in the business

Seakeeping

“Smooth and quick-witted” is how we described the handling during our test of the Fairline Squadron 53, with “a confident and sure-footed hull that soaks up bumps extremely well.”

Specifications

LOA: 55ft 6in (15.9m)
Beam: 14ft 10in (4.5m)
Draught: 3ft 11in (1.2m)
Displacement: 21 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,412 litres
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta D11-725 EVC diesel engines
Location: Southampton
Contact: Bates Wharf

best-50ft-flybridge-Trader-50-exterior

Tarquin Trader 50

Built: 1992
Price: £169,950

If the number one priority for your choice of 50ft flybridge cruiser is space then you have come to the right place because this boat is vast in every dimension. It’s 15ft across, sits 5ft deep in the water and towers above you in a marina.

Interior

As if the sheer physical dimensions weren’t enough, Tarquin gained yet more volume by taking the accommodation the full length of the boat. So there’s a palatial master cabin in the stern nuzzled right up to the inside of the transom and stretching the full beam of the boat.

Interestingly, Tarquin used the area of lower deck ahead of it to give a large ensuite (complete with small bath) on the port side, but a galley to starboard, which would be very handy for midnight snacks!

It means that the large saloon on the main deck, which plays host to a huge C-shaped dinette as well as the lower helm, splits off the forward lower deck area creating great privacy for the owner.

At the pointy end there is a generous VIP guest cabin forward with vee berths plus a twin-bunked cabin, although both of these cabins share the same day heads.

best-50ft-flybridge-Trader-50-cabin

Acres of timber and home from home comfort in the pair of double cabins

Exterior

Running the accommodation the full length of the hull might pay dividends inside, but it can sometimes compromise the exterior as an aft cockpit is off the menu, replaced by a raised deck above the aft cabin.

In this case Tarquin has been quite cunning. As well as surrounding this space with a sturdy GRP dodger, the designers have also sheltered it with a huge hardtop, which in turn allows canopies to encircle this area.

Performance

Despite having very similar engines to the Sunseeker (the same units in fact, just detuned slightly), this boat wouldn’t see where the Sunseeker went. But that’s okay, because it just isn’t that sort of boat – a point underscored by the fact that the base engines were a pair of 210hp Ford diesels.

A pair of 450hp Volvo Pentas were at the other extreme, this boat sits in the middle with a pair of 375hp Caterpillars capable of achieving mid-teen speeds.

best-50ft-flybridge-Trader-50-interior

If you plan to live on board for long periods of time the Trader is a great option

Seakeeping

Handling is regal rather than sporty, although these boats can tend to roll a bit.

Specifications

LOA: 49ft 6in (15.1m)
Beam: 15ft 0in (4.6m)
Draught: 5ft 1in (1.5m)
Displacement: 20 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 2,270 litres
Engines: Twin Caterpillar 3208TA 375hp diesels
Location: Eastbourne
Contact: Bates Wharf

4 more 50ft flybridge boats from the May 2018 issue

PRESTIGE 500

2015 £584,050

Prestige 500

When the 500 launched in 2011, it was a bit of a game changer. From the hull windows instead of portholes to the mirrored saloon glazing and taut clean lines, it was very much a product of the Teenies. But the real game changing took place inside.

INTERIOR

The galley-aft layout, putting the kitchen directly inside the saloon doors, whilst modern, was nothing new, although the one-piece glazing either side of the saloon is pretty swish.

What was unique on an aft- cockpit flybridge cruiser just under 50ft was separate access to the master. The forward companionway leading to cabins two and three is in its usual place forward of the saloon, but to reach the owner’s quarters you need to hook a sharp right as you pass through the saloon doors to your own private stairway.

A useful corollary of this layout is a narrower forward passageway as it no longer has to allow access aft, resulting in twin beds rather than bunks in cabin three.

Prestige 550

EXTERIOR

Unusually, the saloon doors slide in both directions. Slid one way, they make an easy route from saloon to cockpit, slid the other, they give direct access to the galley.

On the flybridge, creating more headroom inside results in a large sunpad next to the double helm. But that still leaves space for a generous L-shaped dinette further aft.

PERFORMANCE

Twin Volvo Penta IPS600s gave 435hp aside for a top end of 28.5 knots when we tested it, for 20-25 knots of cruise speed.

SEAKEEPING

A main benefit of IPS is siting the engines further aft than traditional shaftdrive, which is what creates space for the big mid cabins.

Unusually though, Prestige chose to sacrifice a little of that by positioning the engines slightly further forward and linking to the pods with jack shafts. Doing so moves the centre of gravity forward to keep the bow planted.

DATA

Length 49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 9in (4.5m)
Draught 3ft 5in (1.1m)
Displacement 13.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

BENETEAU MC5

2016 £475,000

Beneteau MC5

Jeanneau realised fairly early on that if it wanted to extend its range into the upper echelons of six-figure prices, it was going to need a posher brand.

‘Prestige’ was the answer, the aquatic equivalent of Lexus to Toyota. Beneteau already owned an Italian superyacht builder called (weirdly) Monte Carlo Yachts, so when it began exploring more rarified areas of the market for its French-built mass- production boats, it riffed off its exclusive offshoot and introduced the MC range, first of which was the MC5.

INTERIOR

It wasn’t just the name that tapped into its aristocratic cousin’s lineage. Beneteau also adopted Monte Carlo’s signature circular hull windows for the master cabin, albeit one – the genuine Monte Carlos got two per side.

Beneteau MC5

It gives the midships master cabin a unique outlook, mirrored by the circular portholes for the two guest cabins, the smaller of which gets twin bunks. On the main deck, the galley is fashionably aft and the woodwork fashionably pale.

Beneteau MC5

EXTERIOR

The designer ambience extends to the outside, where those big circular windows are bezelled with a rim of stainless steel, matched by the other portholes.

Beneteau MC5

Check out the black pillars that surround the saloon glazing and single-piece windscreen, as well as the front of the flybridge.

PERFORMANCE

Twin Volvo Penta IPS500 engines at 370hp each were an option, but the twin 435hp IPS600s of this boat are a better fit, pushing its 15 tonnes to a top speed of up to 28 knots and cruising comfortably between 22 and 25 knots.

SEAKEEPING

A prominent sprayrail that curls back from the bow and delves down to the waterline aft combines with the flared bow to do a great job of keeping the spray down. The ride is soft and planted and the pod drives provide plenty of grip, both during low-speed manoeuvres and high-speed turns.

DATA

Length 49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 1in (4.3m)
Draught 3ft 1in (1.1m)
Displacement 14.7 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

FAIRLINE SQUADRON 52

2000 £249,950

Fairline Squadron 52

The Squadron 52 is a great example of the confidence Fairline portrayed at the turn of the century.

Rather than another three-cabin cruiser, Fairline set out to produce a mini superyacht aimed at luxury and comfort rather than maximising sleeping space. The result was an intriguing, offbeat alternative to the mainstream.

INTERIOR

The best thing is two huge cabins rather than three, almost unheard of for a boat in this sector. There’s no obvious master cabin but both are equally spacious and luxurious.

Fairline Squadron 52

Ensuites include separate shower stalls and even bidets – rare on anything under 80ft! On the main deck, the helmsman is surrounded by a console that wouldn’t look out of place on the Starship Enterprise, and the saloon and dinette are a feast of gentle curves, highly lacquered cherry and cream vinyl and carpet.

You’ll find a galley tucked away low down on the port side and even a small utility room off it complete with washing machine.

EXTERIOR

The curved and fluted aft-side sections of the superstructure look fantastic and ease access to the side decks. The flybridge gets a vertical mast- style radar support rather than the ubiquitous arch, and the stanchions supporting the deck rails are similarly superyacht vertical rather than canted forward.

Fairline Squadron 52

Add the imperiously aircraft-styled sweep of curved glass around the helm and you end up with a boat that exudes class and style and stands the test of time.

PERFORMANCE

Caterpillar 3196TAs were an option but most got twin Volvo Pentas, earlier boats the TAMD122s at 610hp a side, later ones the electronically controlled D12s at 675hp each. All these options should be achieving circa-30 knots, the D12 with a little more economy.

Fairline Squadron 52

SEAKEEPING

Classic Olesinski hull design combines with classic shaftdrive layout to create reassuring heavy-weather handling with steady directional stability.

DATA

Length 49ft 10in (15.2m)
Beam 14ft 9in (4.5m)
Draught 3ft 5in (1.1m)
Displacement 13.5 tonnes
Fuel capacity 286 gallons (1,300 litres)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta IPS600 435hp diesel

PRINCESS 500

1992 £125,750

Princess 500

Launched in 1991 and a mild (mostly cosmetic) evolution of the Princess 48 that launched a year earlier, the 500 was the first of a new ’90s styling wave for Princess, introducing sexy curved windscreens in place of the squared-off designs of earlier boats and toning down the distinctive but dated double-knuckle hull moulding halfway up the topsides of ’80s boats.

INTERIOR

In production during the introduction of Princess’s high-gloss burr maple ‘superyacht’ finishes, the busy-looking woodwork looks rather dated now.

This boat just predates the era, being fitted out in tasteful grained light oak, the alternative to standard teak. But the big news (literally) is just how huge the interior is on this boat.

Princess 500

The saloon is massive – there’s a generous galley that hovers neatly twixt main and lower decks. On the lower deck, the master is forward, with matching twin-berthed cabins either side.  A twin-berthed crew cabin beneath the cockpit seating was a popular option.

Princess 500

EXTERIOR

Twin slats on the aft saloon side windows are the key differentiator between the 500 and the short-lived 48, though the boat is actually slightly longer.

It’s of the era that gets the transom door but not the moulded steps to the flybridge, so it’s a raked ladder to the top deck, but masses of space once you get there.

PERFORMANCE

Engineering is reassuringly classic – simple shafts linked to large-capacity diesel engines. Princess fitted Volvo Penta or Caterpillar, the latter being the big V8 3208TA 435hp motors, the green (at least in colour) option fitted to this boat being the straight six TAMD 72 430hp motors.

Princess 500

Both options should give a mid-20-knot maximum with a 20-knot cruise.

SEAKEEPING

Shaftdrive and Olesinski hull means steady predictable handling and seakeeping, combining a soft ride with excellent directional stability.

DATA

Length 52ft 5in (16.0m)
Beam 14ft 7in (4.5m)
Draught 4ft 0in (1.1m)
Displacement 17 tonnes
Fuel capacity 385 gallons (1,750 litres)
Engines Volvo Penta TAMD 72 430hp diesel

OUR CHOICE

The Beneteau MC5 is the coolest boat here, a designer delight inside and out. With its huge circular hull windows and neat internal detailing, it’s a real head turner.

The Prestige is a bona fide reach into the upper echelons of the motor boat world and shows a few of the old guard some great new ideas in the process – a clever vessel.

The Princess is old school but there’s merit in that – it’s a very simple, very solid way of accessing the 50ft market for comparatively little money.

But the boat that’s won my heart this month is the Squadron 52. I love the fact Fairline went their own way with this boat, creating a mini superyacht instead of another three-cabin motor cruiser. It was a fabulous boat on launch and it’s still a fabulous boat almost 20 years on.

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