Our resident used boat expert Phil Sampson explains how to find a good Greenline 33 on the secondhand market and what features to look out for…
In build: 2008 – 2023
Price range: £100,000 – £260,000
Whether driven by science, legislation or the court of public opinion, the spectacle of corporations scrambling onto the sustainability bandwagon has become part and parcel of life today.
At the top end of the scale are the titans who drive new technology like Elon Musk, while at the low end come the virtue signallers who do little but blurt out toe-curling platitudes: “Our amazing people proudly pledge to protect the planet,” you know the kind of thing.
But somewhere in the middle are the canny operators, those who seize the moment by running with here and now solutions backed up by headline-grabbing marketing. Firmly cemented into this latter category is Greenline Yachts, whose 33ft motor cruiser we review here.
Greenline Yachts was created in 2008 by J&J Design, a Slovenian firm credited with more than 300 designs for 55 boat builders around the world.
Described as “a new range of environmentally sustainable, comfortable boats of unbeatable convenience and value,” it didn’t take long for the Greenline 33 Hybrid to make a splash – according to J&J Design, the model became the world’s best selling 10m boat, winning 21 Boat of the Year or design awards in the process.
In total, 550 examples were delivered to customers in 28 countries before production of the 33 ceased in early 2023, by which time the Greenline brand had been sold on to another Slovenian corporation, SVP Yachts.
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A major head-turner for Greenline was its adoption of the word ‘hybrid’. Emblazoned on the side of the Greenline 33 and promoted at every given opportunity, the company developed something of a reputation as an environmental pioneer.
The irony is that not every Greenline 33 Hybrid is a hybrid boat, as the electric motor and battery pack were an optional extra rather than part of the standard specification. It was more a case that the vessel was hybrid ready rather than hybrid equipped.
Specifying the boat with just a diesel engine was, in fact, a route chosen by many when they discovered the additional cost of the 7kW electric motor and 48V/240Ah lithium polymer battery bank needed to transform the 33 into a diesel-electric hybrid boat (£23,500 plus another £7,673 for the solar panels on the roof back in 2010).
If you did go for the full hybrid package when new this would give you a claimed 20nm range at 4 knots under electric power alone (longer with the solar panels), although older used examples are unlikely to match that now due to gradual battery degradation.
In solus diesel format Greenline offered a wide choice of options spanning the 60hp to 260hp range from manufacturers including Volvo Penta, Volkswagen and Nanni. Among the owners electing to tread the diesel-only path were Martin and Shân Alexander, who purchased their Greenline 33 new in 2011.
“We opted for a Nanni 60hp propulsion unit as we were looking for something economical,” says Martin. To prove the point, throughout the 12 years he and Shân have owned the boat, Martin has kept a detailed fuel log. “Over the course of 925 engine hours our average fuel burn has been 5.7 litres per hour,” he says.
With a maximum speed of 10 knots and a cruising speed of 8 knots, Martin and Shân’s Greenline 33 was never going to go anywhere in a hurry but as sailors of more than 30 years standing, that wasn’t an issue.
“We wanted to explore new waters like the European canals, so we needed something without a mast,” explains Martin. “The 33 is an RCD Category B boat, so she’s perfectly happy offshore – she crossed the English Channel and made two long trips in France.
In our original test of a Greenline 33, our writer noted the boat’s “superdisplacement” hull (as Greenline tags it) has something of the sailboat about it, being very efficient but having a gentle rolling motion in any kind of beam sea.
Two wing keels are fitted to aid stability, which help but don’t stop it entirely. But that, of course was never going to bother an experienced sailor and Martin never even mentioned it.
“We did encounter some pretty lumpy times, particularly around Boulogne, but she coped with it well,” he says. “The sea state was more of an issue for us than wind; if the waves exceeded 1.5m, we wouldn’t go out.”
In addition to their French excursions and coastal boating from their Ocean Village, Southampton base, Martin and Shân undertook two lengthy stints on the Thames.
These journeys entailed living aboard for extended periods of time, something which Martin and Shân took in their stride: “We’d take the boat away for two months in the summer and always found her extremely comfortable,” says Martin.
Make do and modify
With those long treks in mind, the couple specified their Greenline 33 accordingly. Together with that Nanni engine and its miserly fuel consumption, Martin and Shân opted for storage units and a television platform in the saloon rather than a second cabin, which we are advised would have been fairly small in any case.
Also declined was the option of a drop down dining table and fold out settee bed in favour of fixed units. The result is a boat ideally configured for a couple, but which could stretch to sleeping four, with two guests on the settees.
While all-round visibility in the Greenline 33 saloon is excellent, opening sections are restricted to two small sliding windows, one to port and one to starboard, plus a centre opening windscreen.
This could result in a somewhat stuffy environment were it not for the sliding rear door and huge glazing panel aft of the galley which hinges up and stows at roof level.
Another neat trick is that once the rear window is raised, an extension to the galley worktop flips down to create extra workspace or a servery area for the aft cockpit. “That window was a big feature for me,” says Shân.
“It opens up like a sort of ice cream shop and connects the galley to the cockpit – you become part of the party rather than being tucked away in a little galley.”
In fact, for a boat of its size the galley in the Greenline 33 is not small at all; it’s a generously proportioned, well equipped area with plenty of storage space. Adjoining both the cockpit and the saloon’s dinette makes it an extremely practical space whatever the weather.
Seated helm only
There’s no complaints with the rest of the saloon either; the settees are both large and well upholstered, the dining table has two leaves which enable it to be used from either settee, and the helm is cleanly laid out and functional.
Two points to note are that there’s no bolster at the helm, as its two-person seat flips over to form part of the starboard side settee, and it’s a seated helm only as there’s little room for standing between the helm seat and the wheel.
Our main grumble inside the pilothouse is access to the engine, which lives beneath a large hatch under the dining table. To reach the motor it’s necessary to peel back the carpets and remove the cushions from the starboard settee before hinging the dining table over until it rests on the settee base.
While there’s bags of room inside the engine room for maintenance purposes, especially with the compact 60hp Nanni unit, it’s a bit of a palaver from a daily checks point of view.
Below decks the single cabin in the forepeak is an excellent space which can be used either as a vee berth or, by scissoring the two beds together, a double with a king size bed.
There’s storage on either side of the cabin, including two large hanging garment lockers, and lights on three sides add to the general bright and breezy feel of the boat. The single heads has Jack and Jill doors, enabling it to be used either as an ensuite or day heads.
Super-safe side decks
Back outside, the aft cockpit has two large stowage lockers in the floor and two corner seats/storage units. No other furniture is provided, meaning a free standing table and chairs would be required for al fresco dining.
For anyone wishing to swim, or step off the stern onto a pontoon, the transom folds down flat courtesy of an electronic winch to become a bathing platform. Alternatively, there’s a side entranceway on the starboard side of the cockpit, although nothing to port.
A final appealing aspect of the Greenline 33 is its super-safe side decks with bulwarks that extend to near waist high. As Shân pointed out, that makes ropework easy: “I’ve got two hands free to hand the line to someone, it really works well and you feel very safe,” she says.
In summary, the Greenline 33 is an interesting proposition for anyone looking for a boat that’s equally at home in coastal waters or gliding through the rivers and canals of Europe.
It provides comfortable accommodation in a competitively priced package equipped throughout with decent quality fixtures and fittings. And there’s one last thing too; at just 9.99m long it’s a boat which can be quickly and relatively economically transported from one cruising ground to another.
Greenline 33 surveyor’s report
Collaboration between Seaway, J&J Designs and Volkswagen has resulted in a boat with a difference. Options of diesel only or a hybrid version with a VW diesel engine and a 7kW motor/5kW generator, plus lithium ion batteries and conventional AGM lead acid batteries, create a versatile vessel with a comfy cruising speed of about 10-12 knots, or 6 knots under electric power.
Maximum range is reputed to be 700nm in diesel mode. Solid hull lay-up with polyester resin, foam cored decks and vacuum infusion means good build consistency, with no risk of core delamination. The interior finish is relatively basic but sound enough and easy to look after.
Points to consider when buying:
- If opting for a hybrid, ensure that the battery still holds a decent charge and you have a suitably qualified engineer to maintain all the equipment.n As with all boats the service history should be checked thoroughly whichever engine or drive system is fitted.
- Keep an eye out for any signs of cracking around the mullions for the windscreen and side windows.
- With a single engine, a shallow draft and high topsides, this boat needs getting used to when manoeuvring at close quarters. A bow thruster was standard but a stern thruster was an option so check whether the boat you are looking at has one and ensure these are operating on sea trial.
- Check the bow thruster compartment for evidence of excessive carbon deposits.
– Chris Olsen, Olsen Marine Surveying
Greenline 33 specifications
LOA: 32ft 9in (9.99m)
Beam: 11ft 5in (3.49m)
Draft: 2ft 4in (0.70m)
Fuel capacity: 430 litres
Water capacity: 300 litres
Engine: 60hp Nanni
Max speed: 8 knots
Cruising range: Up to 491nm at 7 knots (based on owner’s average fuel burn of 5.7lph)
Type: River and coastal cruiser
Designer: J&J Designs
Hull type: Fast displacement
RCD category: B
Greenline 33 running costs
Annual fuel burn: 285 litres (based on 25 hours at 8 knots and 25 hours at 6 knots)
Mooring: £7,092 (based on £710 per m, annual marina mooring on the Hamble River downstream of Bursledon bridge)
What’s on the market?
Engine: Nanni 60hp
Engine: Mercury VW 150hp
Engine: Volvo Penta D3 175hp
First published in the October 2023 issue of MBY.
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