Assessing the marine equivalent of the E-type Jaguar
Fairey Marine stopped building boats in 1973; their final classic was the Swordsman 33, in its day the marine equivalent of the E-type. Ironically Jaguar and Fairey ceased production of both these British icons at roughly the same time. Yet, almost thirty years on, rising phoenix-like, are two modern equivalents Æ the XK-8 and Swordsman 37.
See PBO’s Fairey Swordsman 37 photo gallery
The Swordsman 37 is a Fairey boat, in all but name. Unfortunately the Fairey brand was unavailable, but Alan Burnard, the original Fairey Marine designer, developed the new boat in association with Willie Bewes and other Fairey owners so, to that extent, itÍs authentic. Bridgend Boat Co were chosen to build them – partly because of their track record with the classic Nelson range, using the immensely strong 37ft Dagger hull which was designed for the military in 1982. This left Alan with only the coachroof and interior to design which broadly retains the configuration and layout of the original 33.
As with its predecessor, there are two options: with a centre or after cockpit. By accident or luck, the after cabin ended up an inch or two higher than planned since the shipwrights building the plug misinterpreted the reference point of the radius. At 6ft 4in this was good news for me because it meant I could stand upright both here and in the main saloon.
The aft cabin version has perhaps the more pleasing classical lines of the two and most closely resembles the familiar shape of the Swordsman 33. When climbing aboard, the first thing you notice is the huge cockpit. With the seats removed thereÍs enough room for a game of coits.
Bridgend are building Hull No. 7 at the moment, another centre cockpit model Æ so business is good. ItÍs worth mentioning perhaps that a fully restored, re-wired and re-engined timber Swordsman 33 would only fetch about £80,000 while the glass-hulled Swordsman 37 costs £186,000. Three of the seven ordered thus far have been bought by ex yachties switching from sail to power, and according to Swordsman Marine, itÍs mainly the wives who buy the boat. I can understand why. Standard fittings include hot and cold pressurised water with the hot water supplied from a combined calorifier and immersion heater – plus a Mukini forced draft heating system, a 4 hob/oven cooker, a 55 litre upright fridge/freezer, plus fore and after cabins with en suite dressing units, and en suite heads and showers. Shore power facilities and 3 x 120Ah domestic battery bank with room for further expansion allows plenty of creature comfortsŸ
ThereÍs only one engine battery to start both engines Æ with no crossover connection to parallel both battery banks for an emergency start. On the other hand, it means you canÍt drain engine battery power to increase you domestic supply. If you want to retro-fit a safe emergency cross connection, see the push button solenoid power plants featured in PBO 424 p132. The standard engines are twin 270 hp turbo charged Cummins diesels with upgrades available. Access is impressive. First thereÍs an easy to get at inspection hatch in the cockpit Æ ideal for oil level and water pump checks. For heavier maintenance, you remove the cockpit furniture which allows the entire cockpit sole to be opened up. Thanks to gas springs itÍs like the huge door to a missile silo.
Fixtures and fittings
Excellent upholstery on settees and bunks makes this a most comfortable boat Æ even for someone as tall as me. All the main cabins are fitted and trimmed in teak with vinyl overheads, while bulkheads and fittings felt strong and solid. Both the heads are spacious with ample storage space; lockers are trimmed in white laminate. The galley cooker is well amidships with adequate ventilation from a skylight on the coachroof and a fan light from the polished aluminium ports above. On a detailed level the cabin door handles are slim and almost flush with the doors so you wonÍt get a dig in the hips as you pass. The standard of electrical fitting is good and on the whole well installed. Generally the interior design and the materials theyÍve used echo the slightly retro theme and underscores the feeling of classic, understated quality. In short, theyÍve got it absolutely right.
LOA: 37ft (11.27m)
Beam: 11ft 6ins (3.51m)
Displ: 7 tonnes
Fuel capacity: 260 gal (1180L) cruise range 350 miles
Water capacity: 64 gal (290L)
Engines: twin T/C Cummins 370Bs, 370hp @ 3000rpm
Speed: Cruise 25kts @ 2400rpm and 16 gal/hr. Max 32kts @ 3100rpm and 32 gal/hr
Builder: Bridgend Boat Co, Plymouth. Tel 01752 404082
Suppliers: Swordsman Marine Ltd, Hamble, Southampton. Tel 02380 457704 www.swordsmanmarine.com