If you want to make a boat more spacious for its length, the solution seems simple: Make it wider. Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. There are length-to-beam ratios that affect such things as a boat's seaworthiness and performance. Otherwise all boats would be 20' wide with huge cabins. So instead, Fairline made its new Phantom 48 taller -- a full 1' higher compared to the old Phantom 46.
This extra headroom belowdecks made room for a rare design element on a boat shorter than 50' -- a midship master stateroom. Fairline dropped the sole in the cabin slightly, which lowered the boat's center of gravity and boosted performance.
See the Light
With the midship master quarters, the berth lays athwartship. The mattress has a seam across the center so you can easily raise the base to access the stowage underneath. Even with the added height of the boat, watch your head if you stand up in the aft section of the stateroom. There's only 5'2" of clearance. I liked the extra-big opening windows, which let in morning light and allow you to glance at the stars at night.
The overall space in the stateroom is great because you have 3' to 4' between the berth and the starboard hanging locker. There's a small vanity area where you can plug in your laptop and two smaller drawers in a smartly designed chest. I didn't love the optional stacked washer/dryer ($3,560) in lieu of the second hanging locker. I'll always take stowage over appliances.
The master head has a large shower stall with a solid-feeling hinged door instead of one of those overgrown test tubes that never slide smoothly.
Comparisons? The Azimut 47 ($1 million with twin 575-bhp CAT C-9s) has the owner's quarters in the bow. The Sea Ray 47 Sedan Bridge ($982,260 with twin 575-bhp Cummins QSC 600s) comes with two master-size staterooms -- one in the bow and one amidships -- but if you want to match the Fairline's accommodations with a third stateroom, you must pay an extra $19,083.
As you exit the owner'squarters on the Phantom 48, to starboard just ahead is another cabin with two single berths set up bunk-style. Each one folds up and Fairline managed to sneak in a hanging locker.
Just across, the galley is at the base of the stairs that lead up to the helm. I'm a big fan of the drop-in Isotherm cooler because additional cold stowage is one of the hardest things to come by in any boat. There's a larger refrigerator with a door that secures with a heavy-duty latch. Although there are rails in the cabinets, the galley countertop needs to be fiddled. A pantry-style aluminum-lined drawer adds more stowage.
As you walk forward from the galley, note the day head to port. It's a replica of the master and is accessible from the third stateroom in the bow, which features an island berth with two stowage drawers in the base and the biggest hanging locker on the boat.
Up at the lower helm, I found a comfortable layout including a folding footrest. The two-person helm seat is power adjustable and the dark gray finish on the entire forward area eliminates glare. For security and an upscale feel, the instrument panel can retract into the dash.
Aft, passengers can relax on a horseshoe-shaped lounge and enjoy the entertainment system and flat-screen TV that stow in the portside console; the remote controls are easily stowed in the central table. There's also a small bar area with an icemaker.
One Replaces Many
The other big improvements on the Phantom 48 are the redesigned engine hatch and compartment. Instead of numerous small hatches and a separate lazarette, the boat now has one 4'-by-3'4" hatch. Fairline did away with the partial bulkhead usually found between the engine bay and lazarette so more accessories can be located aft in the compartment. For example, the hinged battery box is underfoot when you descend the ladder. On the aft bulkhead are the circuit breakers, battery chargers, and a voltage regulator. Outboard to starboard is the compact Webasto air-conditioning system. The generator, Glendinning and water heater are all easily accessible.
In the cockpit is a massive stowage area that would have been the aft crew quarters on boats sold overseas. Removable panels provide great access to the struts, trim tabs, and steering systems. Side passageways lead to the bow, where I found an anchor locker that needed a gas strut or cable. The hull-to-deck joint is a butt-fit with a flange that's through-bolted every 2". Fairline builds the boat with a solid fiberglass bottom and molded stringers and bulkheads.
I ran the 48 Phantom from the upper helm and was impressed by the boat's seakeeping in 2' to 4' waves and 15-mph winds. The boat turned well and you can benefit from extending the hull aft beneath the swim platform on each side. Lenco electronic trim tabs have built-in position indicators, and when I was backing into the slip, I appreciated the quick response of having the propellers and rudders as far aft as possible.
Most people will run the Phantom 48 from the upper helm. Fairline needs to reduce the glare on the instruments at this station and add a fuel gauge. Old-school guys like me will want some stowage up top for paper charts. Aft on the flying bridge, the wraparound lounge seats six to eight. For entertaining, the wetbar includes a grill, recessed sink, cutting board, and refrigerator. A filler cushion turns the area into a large sunlounge when you lower the table. From the midship master stateroom to the flying bridge sunlounge, the Phantom 48 is one comfortable boat.
EXTRA POINT: The swim ladder actually pulls straight out of the platform rather than out of a locker, so you can deploy it from the water with one hand.