Trawler Life, In Fast-Forward
Andrew Cilla, the president of Fort Lauderdale’s Luke Brown Yachts, has owned quite a few boats. He’s a fan of Nordic Tugs who likes to hang out aboard tenders, flats boats and paddleboards, and occasionally do some fishing.
About eight years ago, he started talking about his experiences with Michael Peters, the Florida-based yacht designer known for high-speed boats. Cilla didn’t want to break any records, but he had an idea for taking his favorite kind of cruising to, say, the 20-knot level. He wanted a trawler, but one that could achieve twice the usual trawler speed.
Peters created a hull, and the Outback 50 became a real concept. “This is not a floating condominium,” Cilla says. “At 56 feet actual length and a 15-foot, 6-inch beam, it’s like a cutter, long and narrow, and transitions easily from displacement to planing mode.”
The first Outback 50—Cilla’s personal boat—was built in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where Offshore Yachts are built. The boat is spec’d for easy maintenance, with a Flexiteek deck, Amtico interior soles, and all-weather upholstery. Interior designer Joanne Lockhart of Yacht Next in Fort Lauderdale selected weighted pillows that stay put in the wind.
And there will be wind, because the Outback 50 is intended to be cruised. Prop pockets and a protective keel allow for a 3-foot draft and shallow-water itineraries. The engines and equipment are abaft the salon and under a deck, reducing interior vibration and noise, and giving crew access without needing to enter the guest space. Structural strength comes from metal-supported square windows. The vertical transom and solid bottom add stability; the rest of the boat is cored.
The optional twin 425-hp Cummins engines on Hull No. 1 achieve Cilla’s desired 18- to 20-knot sweet spot. We cruised out of Florida’s Port Everglades to the Atlantic in 2- to 3-foot seas and were on plane in seconds, smoothly cruising from 17 to 23 knots, heading into the wild blue. A Zipwake trim control system is installed, but the boat feels stable on its own; the fuel tank runs across the after section, and the water tanks are to port and starboard.
Those who prefer air conditioning can drive from the interior, but I drove from the exterior helm. I could have had plenty of friends with me, as the open deck has L-shaped lounges and an angled serving table for extra walkaround space. The winch and 10-foot RIB fill the bridge deck aft, but at anchor with the tender deployed, this space opens up, too. The mast’s pull pin lets the antenna drop down over the RIB, a benefit when transiting Great Loop or other bridges.
The interior is accessed through a glass folding door from the aft deck to the salon. Horizontal-grain teak cabinetry, white upholstered overhead and white lacquered walls create a clean, open ambience. Corian countertops are in the galley. The helm is to starboard with twin Garmin screens and a two-seat bench with excellent visibility—even for us short folks.
Cilla opted for three staterooms on Hull No. 1: an ensuite master forward, and two twin-berth staterooms with a shared head that also serves as the day head. A space-saving circular shower, inspired by one aboard a Riva, was Peters’ idea.
But most guests will spend their time outdoors, including on the “infinity” aft deck, which Peters jokes could fit a ping-pong table. Removable stainless rails add protection to the step-down swim platform, and a foldable teak ladder leads up to the flybridge. While Cilla’s aft-deck setup invites lounging with movable teak furniture, the space could be cleared for a PWC, dive equipment or any number of water toys, including inflatable paddleboards attached to side rails.
See? The trawler lifestyle that Cilla loves is still there. Folks ashore will just have to watch a little closer to see it as the Outback 50 speeds past them.
LOA 56ft. 3in.
Beam 15ft. 6in.
Displacement 40,000 lbs. (half-load)
Fuel 550 gal.
Water 150 gal.
Engines (standard) 2 x 270-hp Volvo D4i-G
Engines (optional) 2 x 425-hp Cummins QSB 6.7