Sessa C52

Cool and smooth.

After my sea trial of the Sessa C52, I was surprised to see that the shower wand in the master head was lying on the sole of the stall. Amazingly, it was the only accessory that had been dislodged during the test; after all, the boat was chockfull of knickknacks from being on display at a recent boat show. We ran the C52 in 4' to 6' seas and strong winds and I was able to talk into my tape recorder without holding on.

Normally, I am loath to use such clichés as "solid" or "dry" to refer to a boat, phrases that are as overused as "change" is in an Obama campaign speech. But in the case of the C52, its construction backs up the frequently used verbiage.

Take a close look at the boat's windshield. It's thicker than most and it's formed from a new composite acrylic. Sessa designs it to be part of the structure so it can help support the hardtop. Most glass just pops into an opening, but on the C52, it's bonded in place before the top is put on. Not only does the windshield provide better support, it lets Sessa use a larger pane, which provides drivers with a better peripheral view when driving the boat.

Beneath the salon sole, the boat has a welded aluminum structure to provide support and reduce vibration. Plus, the stringers and bulkheads are cored with doubled layers of fiberglass-encapsulated foam. Peering into the bow anchor locker let me see the hull-to-deck joint, which is bonded with fiberglass tabbing. Sessa says this process is continued around the perimeter.

Still not convinced? Check out the motor mounts. Sure the C52 has tapped plates on the tops of the stringers, but Sessa goes a step beyond. The mounts are driven into the aforementioned plates and cap the stringer with flanges that extend down each side. Then bolts are driven through the flanges and fastened with backing nuts. The final rattle preventers? There are Teflon bushings on all the shelf supports in lockers throughout the boat as well as shower door tracks that are mounted in recesses molded into the overhead rather than just screwed in place.

Out of the Closet

The other impressive feat Sessa managed to pull off is to make a 52' boat with a garage not feel crowded or cramped. The C52 sleeps six, has a large, airy salon, and sports generous stowage throughout the belowdecks area. Larger aft ports let in natural light and the use of walnut and an off-white upholstery give the boat a more spacious feel.

Both the Sunseeker Portofino 53 ($1,296,000 with twin 715-bhp MANs) and the Fairline Targa 52 ($1,439,200 with the Volvo D12 800s) have garages and sleep six, but the Sessa maintains an advantage. One of its two aft cabins has a double berth to accommodate a couple whereas both competitive boats only have single berths in their aft cabins. A word of warning, however, the stateroom to starboard has a low overhead. Watch your head when entering and exiting.

Also, in the C52's master stateroom, the twin hanging lockers are better described as closets, given their extra shelving for shoes and other items. Plus, there are three drawers in the base of the berth, which also rises on twin gas struts so you can get to a large molded locker. The key here is that Sessa makes it easy. Drawers and gas struts are far superior to wrestling the mattress out of the way with one hand while picking up the hatch with the other.

Both heads on the C52 are identical with standing shower stalls that have space for two and all the amenities of home. I'd like to see a larger opening above the shower doors as well as air conditioning ducts to release steam.

In the salon the lounge has seating for at least six around an adjustable table. There are also stools that pull out for more seating while viewing the flat-screen TV to port. Eye-level hatches open to access the AC/DC distribution panels. To port, the galley is well-stocked with a four-burner stove, convection oven, sink, and refrigerator, but the countertop needs a fiddle rail.

Stay Smooth

Based on the outstanding service access throughout the C52, I wasn't surprised to see an extra hatch in the salon that opens on the engines. The other entry is in the starboard-side transom walkway. Once in the compartment I could spin around and reach most accessories.

A locker in the swim platform would be ideal for stern lines, and if you look closely, you'll see the gangway tucked away in the port cockpit steps. The garage will accommodate an 8' tender.

In the cockpit, you can enjoy sunlight or shade courtesy of the large sunroof. There's a wetbar to port that's so well stocked you might never head belowdecks. It includes a two-burner stove, drop-in cooler, and icemaker.

Aft, a wraparound lounge to port seats at least six people around the cocktail table. When you take control of the C52, you do so at a two-person helm seat; the driver's half adjusts with electronic controls. All the Volvo Penta gauges are in a glare-cutting tan panel and the layout is well thought out, putting the instruments and electronics in clean sight lines.

The small stowage tray forward of the driver's feet is perfect for stashing your cell phone, car keys, wallet, and small items. And given how well the C52 runs in nasty seas, whatever you put in that tray will stay put.

MSRP: Standard power - $1,159,000 Test power - $1,159,000 ****

Contact: 954.925.1955 www.sessamarine.com