Galeon 440 Fly sea trial: You won’t believe how much they’ve packed in!

MBY’s Alex Smith visits Argo Yachting in Southampton for a test drive of the all-new Galeon 440 Fly...

Very few boat builders in the world can match Galeon for the fun they incorporate into their designs. In fact, even in the shipyard’s most basic GTO line of open dayboats, each model courses through with a tangible sense of innovation. And yet if you’re keen to experience Galeon’s design creativity at its most playful and unconstrained, its multi-award-winning Flybridge and Skydeck models have generally been the place to look.

So it was with a great deal of anticipation that we headed to Southampton for a sea trial of the Galeon 440 Fly at the hands of new UK importer, Argo Yachting.

Seating galore!

When you step on board any Galeon, you immediately look for the one key design feature that enables everything else to work, and in this case, it’s actually very simple.

The Galeon 440 Fly is designed to be a sociable boat for up to 14 people to gather together in comfort, so Galeon has split the saloon in two. At the raised forward section, there’s a compact port galley, directly across from the helm station.

Galeon’s new flybridge cruiser is likely to prove a dangerous temptation

That keeps the practical work zone very small, neat and self contained, which in turn frees up a huge amount of single-level deck space further aft for communal seating. It’s arranged around a long starboard dinette opposite a smaller inward facing bench, with a neatly conceived three-part aft door that sweeps well out of the way to port.

When the glass partition is removed, the aft part of the internal dinette can then be hinged outward, straddling the threshold and integrating with the L-shaped unit of the external cockpit. At a stroke, you have a convivial seating section big enough to accommodate the entire ship’s company.

That in itself is something to be applauded, but if you know Galeon, you tend to anticipate a linear and unbroken wraparound bench opening up before your eyes like a magic trick.

What you actually get, however, is a staggered arrangement, with one backrest sitting a good few inches forward of the others.If that looks a bit odd, it also feels a bit odd when you sit on it.

But to its credit, it does leave space for a handy gap to access the starboard side deck. And it’s also good to see that, like the cockpit’s fixed bench, the backrest can be reversed, enabling up to three people to face out over the starboard terrace.

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As for the drop-down terraces themselves, they are really well judged. Such is their vertical elevation that they add a massive 7ft (more than 50%) to the beam when deployed; and when they’re raised, the fact they use large integrated glazing sections enables them to add plenty of security without blocking your view.

But that’s not the end of the main deck fun because when you step further aft, the hi-lo platform is lined at its leading edge with a big transverse wet bar. It’s optional of course but with an electric griddle, a sink and plenty of work space, it provides everything you need for beach club-style fun, without forcing you inside to the main galley and without stealing any space from that all-important cockpit party.

Between the lower saloon and the external cockpit, there is ample space for up to 14 guests

It’s stylish, too, not least because of Galeon’s use of Permateek decking. You can pick from a variety of both ‘wood’ and caulking colours, while sidestepping the supply and consistency issues commonly associated with natural teak.

It also enables the designers to factor in some really elegant curves where the wet bar integrates with the deck. There’s no doubt that this feels like a premium part of the boat and, while you can’t of course use the wet bar with the platform deployed, there’s lots of space for a Williams jet tender, without obstructing the cockpit steps.

As a party-centric 45-footer, the bow and flybridge also have to perform and for the most part, they absolutely do. The foredeck carries the beam well forward to an angular squared off forepeak, creating the space for a neat little forward-facing settee built into the leading edge of the island sunbed. And up top, the flybridge again does everything it can to prioritise seating capacity.

There’s a compact wet bar at the top of the port steps, plus a starboard helm with space for two. But aside from that, the flybridge’s entire periphery is occupied by wraparound bench seating. The forward section makes a handy spot to keep the skipper company when underway; and when you come to anchor, the helm seat’s backrest flips over, enabling you to make that enormous dinette even bigger.

Galley duties are confined to a compact raised area alongside the helm station

Two or three cabins?

A quality mid-sized flybridge cruiser has a big job to do for cruisers as well as day boaters, and Galeon has attempted to nail the brief with a catch-all choice of two or three-cabin layouts.

In the two-cabin layout of the Galeon 440 Fly, the forward and mid cabins are split by a central section comprising a fore and aft companionway with a bathroom on either side. In the test boat’s three-cabin variant, however, both bathrooms are reduced in size and shifted to starboard, enabling a bunk cabin to be slotted in to port.

That obviously shortens the forward cabin a little bit, with the lateral bulkheads on both sides shifting forward and swallowing up a bit of space. But the way Galeon
has managed that compromise is very impressive.

The aft section of saloon seating swings round to link up with the cockpit seating

The central bed has been eased across to starboard and subtly angled, creating excellent space on the port side for moving fore and aft. Galeon’s trademark forward hull swellings, which project out like a thickset flare beneath the rubbing strake, also pay big dividends here.

They significantly expand the forward breadth in this VIP cabin and the fact that they are lined with glazing introduces plenty of extra light too.

The bunk cabin also does a fine job, particularly at the upper bed, which marries up exactly with a huge deepset hull window that runs all the way from the foot to the bedhead for astonishing views. In stark contrast, the guest on the lower bunk gets nothing but a blank and featureless bulkhead so squabbles are a certainty.

But what your bunk guests will both appreciate is the headroom (more than 7ft) and the storage (a full-height hanging locker that could be used equally well for bulky baggage or spare infills).

The two starboard backrests can also be reversed to face out across the terrace

Over to starboard, the day heads is required to make best use of the reduced space by placing the toilet in the shower compartment. But that aside, the three-cabin compromise looks well worth it.

Light, headroom and storage are again very positive and it’s also good to see that, in spite of the additional space it requires above the deckhead, both bathrooms come with proper rain showers.

Oddly enough, it’s the owner’s mid cabin, which is broadly similar in both configurations, that is likely to cause the fiercest debate among potential owners. On the plus side, the footprint is good, the windows are huge, storage is plentiful and the quality of the finish in terms of the interplay between trim and lighting is really attractive.

It just feels as though the space is slightly bullied by fluctuating deck levels and ceiling heights caused by things happening elsewhere. But if you’re okay with that, then it’s actually more practical than it looks.

There is still plenty of room to sit up in bed for a six-footer and, while standing headroom is at a premium here, there is a decent space on the starboard side, where the forward part of the saloon dinette elevates the deckhead and enables you to stand up straight to get changed.

The big glazed terraces add more than 50% to the beam

Shaft-drive simplicity

This is a big, weighty boat with plenty of volume forward, plenty of deck space up top and plenty of toys aft. It’s also equipped with a pair of D6-440s rather than 480s so while it’s easy to imagine that a top end of 27.4 knots might have you lamenting the absent 80hp, the dynamic behaviour of the test boat more than makes up for that.

With the engines hooked up to straight shafts and positioned a good way forward, the weight distribution feels supremely well judged.

Even with the tabs disengaged, the flatness of the running attitude enables you to run up a restricted estuary at displacement speeds or through lumpy seas at semi-displacement speeds in great comfort.

In fact, whether you’re at eight, ten or 14 knots, the ride feels flat and efficient, with excellent directional tracking and no sense at all that the bow is creeping skywards.

The foredeck sunbed provides adjustable headrests and a two-person bow settee

That opens up a really wide and user-friendly cruising band and the behaviour of the bow is positive in other ways too. Assuming you show the seas your keel, the softness of ride feels perfectly decent and, even with that huge skipper’s door slid right back, the dryness is good here too – spray puffing out from the rails at such an angle that very little seems to find its way inboard.

Sadly, we were unable to gather any real-time fuel flow data on the day because the test boat’s electronics were not yet up to speed, but a combination of figures from Volvo Penta and Galeon appear to support our impressions regarding this boat’s running efficiency.

While the fluctuating deckhead of the owner’s cabin looks intrusive, light, storage and style are strong

As you would expect, the on-water figures show a level of fuel flow significantly higher than Volvo Penta’s quoted data for the D6-440s, but the linearity of the Galeon’s performance looks every bit as clear as the running attitude suggests.

At everything from ten to 23 knots, the efficiency sits at between 5.5 and 6.6 litres per nautical mile for a range of between 200 and 240 miles – and for a big beamy flybridge cruiser, weighing the best part of 20 tonnes fully loaded, that looks like a pretty good return to us.

The forward VIP is shortened to make way for the twin guest cabin

Galeon 440 Fly verdict

Galeon’s new 440 is a well conceived and user-friendly boat with huge reserves of seating and a really easy drive. Ironically, its only real stumbling block is likely to be the new Galeon 480, which looks set to offer a tried and tested back-end formula that is just a bit more polished.

In addition to an inside-outside bar, it will use sliding windows and reversible settees at the aft end of the saloon so you can face out over the balconies from the inside.

If its price exceeds that of the 440 by less than 10% (as currently looks likely), that will pose a serious dilemma for potential buyers of this boat. In the meantime, the 440’s ability to combine big party spaces with enjoyable looks and a well behaved drive is enough for us to consider this a job very well done.

Like the main deck, the flybridge will comfortably seat up to 14 people

Galeon 440 Fly specifications

LOA: 45ft 8in (13.97m)
Beam: 13ft 8in (4.2m)
Engines: Twin Volvo Penta 480hp D6/440hp IPS600
Top speed: 30 knots
Starting price: €692,100 (ex. VAT)


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