Amel 50 - Safety, Comfort, and Convenience

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Part 1 Amel 50 - Overview
The moment I stepped aboard Amel 50 FREGATA, I could see that she was definitely an Amel. I felt the heartbeat of an Amel. But the pulse was different. This Amel was more like a thoroughbred racehorse than a rugged experienced stallion. FREGATA was straining at the mooring lines to join the wind. She was not satisfied to remain at the dock.

I have first-hand experience with many models made by Amel, including Maramu, Santorin, Mango, Super Maramu, 54, 55. I was invited aboard FREGATA by her owners for the better part of a week. I was to train them. I later learned that FREGATA was going to train me. All of the above models have Amel DNA throughout the yacht and in all of its systems. But, of course, each of these Amel models is different. One thing for sure, as each model was introduced by Amel, the newest model represented a major step forward for Amel and each became part of building Amel's remarkable reputation. The Amel 50 has and will continue to add to the reputation for quality and innovation to the Amel brand. 

The Amel 50 has Henri Amel's DNA throughout the boat. In my opinion, it is not only the best Amel yacht ever produced, but I am also absolutely certain it will outperform any previous model in all categories, including downwind sailing. I realize this will ruffle some feathers because we all love our Amels, but until you test the 50 in every conceivable way, you cannot have an informed opinion. Amel "checked all of my boxes" when they produced the 50. The 50 is going through some minor changes as a result of great owner input and unusual builder listening. The coconut telegraph has it that the Amel 50 MK2 will soon be unveiled by Amel.

Below in square meters. 
The 50 foresail is smaller than a 54 Genoa and the 50 main is larger than the 54 or 55. The configuration of the standing rigging allows the main to become a large downwind sail when it is all the way over with a preventer. The way the jib/genoa is sheeted, the 50 can easily point at 25-30 degrees to the wind, and further, the self-tacking staysail can be sheeted at the centerline allowing you to really sail close to the wind. 

FREGATA is equipped with the optional Profurl headsail furling device for a gennaker or code zero. These two sails used the same ProFurl furling base motor, which is disconnected and stored when not used.

The Amel 50 seems to be made for ProFurl furling devices, or ProFurl made these furlers for the Amel 50. There is a unique design and function bond between both companies that is very unusual and wonderful to witness. The furling controls at the helm for all of the electric furling devices are totally Amel...simple, ergonomic, and perfectly graphicly labeled. That said, Amel needs to figure out how to have a better waterproof connection of the headsail electric connection. At left is the simple headsail control for the electric ProFurl NEXe motorized flying sail furler. With this ProFurl electric furling device and Amel control simplicity. it took a crew of two exactly 4 minutes to unpack, hoist, unfurl, and set the wonderful Code Zero. FREGATA was ordered with a furling gennaker and a Code Zero. We effortlessly set each of these sails. More info in Amel Book  Supplements: Profurl Motorized Flying Sail Furlers NEXe

FREGATA has an easy-to-set Amel-perfected downwind pole. A crew of 2 effortlessly set the pole with the jib foresail. We sailed with the wind pushing FREGATA from 150 to almost 180 degrees at a comfortable 6kts in 11kts of TRUE Wind. We chose to sail with the foresail only, but we could have set the main in a wing-on-wing configuration using the main preventer. FREGATA also performs perfectly with a normal sail set of jib/main and jib/staysail/main. I admit we sailed mostly with the optional sail configurations. Frankly, it was too much fun with the ProFurl controlled flying sails.

FREGATA is very modern and up-to-date when it comes to the boat's power sources and power management. And Amel stepped beyond previous self-imposed limits with amazing solar integration utilizing Solbians Custom FLEX Solar Panels.

The solar capabilities are 575 watts of Solbian solar on the hardtop coupled with 3 Victron Solar Panels expertly mounted on the davits. This totals 1,220 watts of possible solar power.

Energy storage is maintained in 4 Mastervolt 200AH 24v Lithium Batteries that have the potential of delivering almost 800 amps of 24-volt power. This is at least twice as much as the 24-volt power available on any other Amel model. The batteries can also be recharged with 2 Mastervolt Chargers (60 & 100 amp) as well as the main engine-driven 24-volt alternator. The 8kW Onan provides plenty of power for 230-volt AC needs, but also the 4 inverters transform 24-volts into plenty of 230v and 110v power. 

House Battery Bank with Mastervolt Ultra 5500 which is Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) cells with a proprietary Battery Management System (BMS) inside the case. 
More info in Amel Book  Supplements: Mastervolt Ultra 5500

Power management is via Mastervolt.

With a huge amount of 230v power, the owners of FREGATA chose to eliminate the LPG gas circuit completely. This allowed them to choose what I consider the best stove made for pleasure boats, GN Espace's Ocean Chef with an induction top and electric oven. GN Espace makes the Ocean Chef in several configurations, including LPG. All GN Espace models are designed around the gastronorm standard sizes. What this means to the owner is that the baking pans fit perfectly in the oven and inside any refrigerator designed around the same standard sizes. You can source a wide assortment of baking pans and other accessories from GN Espace. Every Amel owner I know has battled this size issue, most without success. These are the reasons I chose GN Espace as a Preferred Vendor, offering my clients significant savings. More information on GN Espace Vendor Discounts to Clients of Amel Owners Yacht School.

Amel has been known for Saftey and Comfort and most consider Amel the very best in these two categories among all blue water cruisers. The Amel 50 is no exception and likely takes Amel to a new height in these categories. Outside, you will enjoy the center cockpit with a protective integrated dodger and top. The coamings are high, safe, and protecting. The integrated center opening hardtop allows sun and breeze or protects against rain and weather. The optional cushions and curtains are perfectly tailored. Inside you will enjoy the exceptional comfort that you currently have in your home.

I would be remiss if I did not discuss Amel's tradition of selecting and organizing
some of the best components available. Additionally, Amel has always produced their sailing yachts with service, maintenance, and repair in mind, making things as accessible as possible. The same is true with the Amel 50, except Amel has taken this to new heights. The Amel 50 has the best Owners and Users Manuals that Amel has ever produced with very complete wiring and plumbing detail. Amel has now set a new standard by attaching a copy of the manual page behind panels near the devices. 
This page (yellow circle) was fixed to the inside of a cabinet door where the devices were is also in the manual.  Note the well-protected mainmast furling and outhaul solenoid relays are also perfectly labeled.

This photo of the wiring box in the foredeck locker says so much about the progress at Amel, while still holding on to old values. Everything is perfectly installed with exact wire lengths and clear tables. But also note the spare fuses (
yellow circle). You cannot see it in this photo, but inside the door of this box is the wiring diagram for all inside this box.

I suspect that Amel will someday soon figure out how to achieve the production numbers with the 50 that they enjoyed with the SM. They are certainly on their way with a huge backlog of sold orders that equate to a 2.5-year waitlist.

The Amel 50 will have an important place in my Amel Book and all of the other things that I offer Amel owners.

Part 2. Cockpit

Above from the Amel 50 Brochure

I believe one of the reasons that Catamarans are popular is their roomy entertainment-capable cockpits. The center-oriented Amel 50 cockpit is secure, comfortable, and very roomy. It is certainly designed to protect its crew in heavy weather as well as a focal point for entertainment. The optional aft deck and cockpit cushions offered by Amel are designed and tailored perfectly. The aft deck sunning cushions have a removable cushion in the center as a walkway from the stern. Likewise, the pathway continues through the seat cushions in the cockpit with another removable seat cushion. The cockpit table is easy to use and does not get in the way when opening the engine room hatch. The helm seat adjusts up and down and swivels to face the rest of the cockpit when entertaining. 

Any Amel owner is aware for at least 50 years Amel has produced yachts with a center-oriented cockpit and set to the port side of the boat's centerline. Amel also has produced a hard dodger for that same period. I believe that this was done by Amel for 2 reasons: Safety and Comfort. The Amel 50 has taken this 50-year tradition to almost unbelievable new heights. The curved plexiglass windshield appears to be formula 1 styled, but it is likely the only windshield offering perfect forward-looking views that is also waterproof. The center-opening and top hatches offer cooling breezes when not in heavy weather. The opening aft portion of the cockpit roof is functional and safe. And, the optional fabric full curtain enclosure makes for a nice place to hang out on a rainy day at anchor.

The helm seat is very much Amel with very good support and security for heavy weather and astonishingly comfortable. The helm seat raises, lowers, and swivels to visit with probably frequent visitors. It is beautifully upholstered complete with an Amel logo.

Of course, Amel has clustered all of the best navigation instruments together at the helm in a manner that is totally Amel. The assortment of instruments and controls is both ergonomically designed and logically laid out. If you have ever been on an Amel, you will immediately find the control and instrument you need and its function will be very familiar.

The cockpit table is the most versatile table yet from Amel.

Part 3 Engine Room

If you know Amel, the moment that you open the gas-strut assisted cockpit floor and the cockpit table swings with the floor to expose the Amel-designed engine room you will feel as though you know where everything is and how it is organized. The first familiar item is the Amel-modified Vetus Sea chest, with its familiar easy working red handle. Next to the Sea Chest is the Racor fuel filter. On the wall above the Sea Chest are instructions on its operation.

The Volvo D-3 110 is easily accessible for service, as is the cocooned Onan generator. Battery Chargers and other devices line the walls of the engine room. An assortment of premium Gianneschi pumps control freshwater, gray water, and anchor wash.

Incidentally, you will not find the gray water sump in the engine room. It is conveniently located at the base of the companionway steps. If you have cleaned the gray water sump in previous models, I suspect that you will love this new location in the Amel 50.
Part 4 Air conditioner/heat
Since shortly after the Amel 55 production started, for Air Conditioning Amel has used Chiller systems. This is a departure from the Climma Compact systems installed by Amel for 20+ years. The Chiller has all of the components that do most of the work located centrally in the engine room. This is a much more efficient system than the Compact version. Additionally, it is much safer because there is not unlimited saltwater being pumped throughout your Amel. The fluid pumped to the Fan Coil series is no more than about 10 liters.
Amel changed suppliers for Air Conditioning to Dometic and uses the Dometic Chiller system. The Dometic CHC compact chiller is made for boats in the 45-70 ft/15-20 m range. It has a small compact footprint in the engine room. When the Chiller is set to Air Conditioning and is turned on at one of the multiple thermostats, the saltwater pump begins pumping saltwater through the Chiller's 
heat exchanger, the Compressor starts working in its normal cycle, and in about 2 minutes a chilled mixture of 80% water and 20% Glycol is circulated from the Chiller to the series-connected Dometic AirHandlers. The chilled fluid should be between 8C to 12C when the system is set to Air Condition and working properly. You will find a temperature gauge in the engine room. The blower in the AirHandler blows air over the coils which are
cooled by the chilled water/glycol mixture, and the area served by the AirHandler begins to cool. The Dometic Chiller system is "reversible," meaning that the compressor will reverse to provide heat, as well as cool. In the Heat Mode, the water/glycol mixture is heated to 40C. 
Owners will need an understanding of how the closed-circuit water/glycol system works and its vulnerability to losing fluid volume and gaining air inside the fluid lines. Owners will need to be versed in the operation of the numerous Deaireators which are supposed to remove the air inside the cooling fluid lines.

More information on Dometic Chiller Systems:

Diesel Heater: 
The A-50 was equipped with an optional Webasto diesel heating system which operates on 24v. The heater works by using diesel fuel to heat an 80/20 freshwater/glycol mix in a boiler that is located in the engine room. 
A pressure gauge on the side of the boiler is used to control the pressure in the hot fluid circuit. In the maximum heating position, this heating system consumes approximately 1 liter of diesel an hour.
The 80/20 freshwater/glycol mix is sent in a closed circuit by the circulation pump to individual heating units which are connected in series to output devices in these areas: The salon, the forward cabins, the forward head, the aft head, and the aft cabin.
Part 5 Watermaker 24v & 230v
The Amel 50 that I reviewed had a Dessalator dual voltage 24V/220V, 100 liters/hour. I think this "DUO" watermaker is probably the best you can get from Dessalator for an Amel 50. Ideally, you make water when you are motoring using the 24-volt mode on the watermaker. BTW, Amel thinks so also and apparently added some circuitry that disables the 24-volt option unless the ignition switch is ON. I understand the logic but do not believe it is appropriate for most Amel 50 owners. Additionally, if this circuit should fail, the watermaker will also fail to start.

I admit that I was surprised at the Dessalator automatic pressure valve control, but now I understand how Dessalator has a remote control with the main control panel in the engine room.

When the system is turned ON in either 24-volt or 230-volt modes, the pressure valve automatically turns anticlockwise, opening the pressure valve. After a preset time of about 2 minutes, the pressure valve slowly attempts to close to increase pressure, but if the built-in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) sensor senses TDS out of some predetermined range, it will open for a short period. It repeats this "hunting" process until the water TDS is within a preset range. At that point, the automatic pressure valve increases to the correct operating pressure. This automatic pressure valve and corresponding software are a wonder to witness. As long as everything is working correctly, it should be great. I did not see a manual override of this automatic valve, but the information from Dessalator states there is a manual override.

Dessalator's website states. "
The PRO-Auto watermakers are equipped with 
motorized pressure regulation that ensures an optimal freshwater
 flow without user intervention. Manual adjustment of the system pressure remains possible. The Dessalator Remote Control that is included with every PRO-Auto watermaker, provides convenient control and monitoring. Starting and stopping the machine is as easy as pressing one switch on the remote control. It is possible to monitor useful information like production quantity and flow rate. A handy feature is an automatic stop after a chosen time or production amount.
Part 6 Electricity 230, 115, & 24
Some of the electrical equipment on board the A-50 uses 24VDC. The A50 has a large house bank of batteries that store 24VDC. The A-50 I was aboard was equipped with Mastervolt Lithium Batteries. The house batteries are charged by a Mastervolt 60 A charger, a Mastervolt 100 A charger, and about 1200 watts of solar power located on the davits and on the cockpit hardtop.

This Amel also was equipped with optional inverters which produce 230VAC 50htz and 115VAC 60htz. There was plenty of power to run power-demanding devices like the optional 230VAC GNEpace electric oven and induction cooktop.

There were multiple outlets throughout the boat that offered its guests 115-volt USA style current and outlets, 230-volt, European style and outlets, and USB charging outlets.
230-volt power management was enhanced with an optional Victron Transformer
which automatically senses and converts US 115VAC shore power to 230VAC power for use aboard this Amel. Of course, when disconnected from Shore power all 230VAC devices can be operated with the 8kW Onan generator. However, the 230-volt breaker panel is separated into Gen/Shore (only) breakers and Gen/Shore/Inv breakers. The Gen/Shore breakers are active when either the vessel is receiving shore power or the Onan is running, with preference to the Onan. 
The Gen/Shore/Inv breakers are in the far-right column of the breaker panel. These are basically ready to serve 230-volt power at all times when the Inverter is ON. Preference is automatically given to the Onan first, secondly shore power, and if disconnected from shore power, with the Onan off, these breakers are ready to deliver power via the 230VAC inverters. All of the galley appliances and all of the boat's 230-volt receptacles are in this row of breakers. All of this is automatically handled. 

This A-50 was equipped with an optional 115VAC 60htz inverter which delivers US power to outlets throughout the boat.

This A-50 was equipped with an optional house Battery Bank of Mastervolt Ultra 5500 which is made of Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) cells.

Part 7 Salon
My first impression when entering the salon was of a room with a coffered ceiling
with a central skylight. This is not something that you normally notice in a sailing yacht, but the Amel 50 surprised me again with this design. The sofa on the starboard side nicely hides storage and a freezer below the cushions. The upholstered ottomans in front of the sofa have a dual purpose. They can remain in front of the sofa or be sued as additional dining seating. When at sea, the ottomans are secured to the floor with a familiar Amel thumb screw. The dining table lowers to accommodate a mattress for additional sleeping. The AC blower is below the port side sofa as well as the wiring and breakers for mainmast furling and outhaul.

Part 8 Nav Station
The navigation station might be better described as the Engineering Station
because at this station crew can monitor and/or turn on most of the systems. Most 230 and 24 breakers are located here. Communication and Navigation equipment is here. Dessalator and Air Conditioning controls are here. The remote generator switch and the diesel heater controls are also here. Electrical monitoring of charging systems and battery status is at the navigation station. Fuel and fresh water levels are monitored here, as well. And the nav station provides a comfortable place for the crew to use aa they would normally use a desk and chair. 

Part 9 Galley
The A-50 is positioned on starboard along the hull. It extends from 
the companionway to the aft cabin. A large porthole provides plenty of light during daylight hours. The fridge and the microwave are placed toward the aft berth end of the galley.  An upper row of cabinets is dedicated to the storage of utensils and food. Dishes, pots, and pans can be stored in lower cabinets and drawers. A shelf and storage for glasses have been added on the side of the engine room. 

The central position of the galley, in the most steady part of the boat, makes cooking at sea really comfortable. The corridor design allows a degree of security while sailing. GN Espace Ocean Chef is available in gas, electric, and induction designs. The owner of this A-50 chose an induction cooktop with an electric oven, eliminating the need to carry propane or butane.

Part 10 Berths & Bathrooms
Owners Berth and Suite is located aft. It includes a desk/vanity on the port side, a 160 cm wide bed with plenty of storage below, and a large wardrobe on the starboard side. 

The second guest berth is forward with an adjoining bathroom which is also accessible to the salon.
A third Berth is forward to starboard. It may accommodate additional crew or guests. It is an independent cabin with two single bunk beds. Alternatively, this cabin may also be used as storage area when not occupied. It has access to the forward bathroom.