The Hylas name is unfamiliar to the ears of most motorboaters but the Taiwanese shipyard has an impressive reputation amongst the sailing fraternity. It is known for building no-nonsense, solidly built bluewater cruisers and, generally, when a sailing boat manufacturer turns its hand to properly powered craft, it’s worthy of note.

The boats tend to be very practical, well thought out and considered in their design. They’re not laden with trickery but useable and safe, made to go to sea rather then just sit in a marina being used as a floating patio.

Sure enough, that is the impression you get as soon as you step aboard the M44. Designed by renowned Kiwi naval architect Dean Salthouse, the boat has been in production in New Zealand since 2005, where it has a keen following, and the planing hull has proved itself on patrol boats and other commercial vessels.

Construction shifted to the Hylas facility in 2015 where the focus switched to building boats suited to markets outside of New Zealand. This model comes as the M44, tested here, or the M49 with an extended cockpit that will appeal if you’re planning to keep her in warmer climes.

The day of our test is far from tropical, however. We’re setting off from a rain-soaked Swanwick Marina, which is draped in a heavy curtain of grey cloud. But the M44 is the perfect boat for the job; its cosy wheelhouse insulates us from the grim conditions and gives us the opportunity to test the boat’s mettle as a year-round cruising companion.

The 44’s design is centred around the wheelhouse and, as such, the saloon feels enormous. It’s helped by the long windows on either side and their slim mullions, which ensure the view out is as clear as possible and that plenty of natural light can make its way into the interior. Read the full report in MBY November 2018…