- The reality is that regardless of time, this boat is still a superbly built, beautifully finished and highly capable offshore sports cruiser.
- It seems that after 15 years or so, the Princess V42 has become a bit of a forgotten hero.
Few boats get two lives, let alone three, but the Princess V42 is one of those fortunate few, as Greg Copp explains …
Launched in 1999, the Princess V42 was to prove a hugely popular and capable boat during its seven-year production run. In 2006, the V42 was to have a second bite of the cherry, when a mildly facelifted mk2 version followed in its footsteps. However, at the 2009 London Boat Show, a totally new V42, referred to as the mk3, was launched. Contemporary styling, a 1ft growth in both length and beam, and taller topsides made the last V42 a totally different boat.
Accommodation was the focal point for the mk3, as has been the case with many motor yachts in recent years, which for a sports cruiser can mean less sports than cruising. The V42 mk3 paid the price of an extra 1.6 tonnes in displacement over the mk1 for the luxury of a hardtop, a second heads and more internal space. However, the original boat offered a good balance of comfort and driving experience, with more emphasis on driving. It was based on a smaller design, the V39, which had hit the water five years earlier, and not that surprisingly soon had a fan base.
The 1994 V39 was built on the proven Bernard Olesinski variable-deep-vee hull design, which, with a transom deadrise of 19.5 degrees, was one of the sharpest Olesinski hulls. Faced with some capable competition from the likes of Windy, Fairline and Sunseeker, the V39 drove like the capable sports cruiser it was designed to be. Within two years it had grown its bathing platform to become the V40. Very unusually, this boat was offered with either shaft-driven 370hp diesel Volvo TAMD63Ps or duo-prop stern-driven 230hp diesel Volvo KAD43s at the onset. I have never come across a shaft-driven V40, though I have heard they were good for 38 knots and great sea boats. The slight downside was that with two big 5.4L engine blocks under the cockpit, engine access was a squeeze.
In 1999, a 2ft hull extension resulted in the birth of the V42. Not surprisingly, the V42 replaced its predecessor. The V40 was good, but that extra 2ft made the V42 that little bit better. A bit of extra lift at the stern and extra hull length were obvious advantages, as were a bigger cockpit and extra engine room space. There were also a few other subtle advantages, as the original V39/40 had been designed for the option of big-block petrol V8s, so the engine bearers and transom cut-outs were further apart. By the time the V42 arrived, the idea of large petrol-powered sports cruisers in the UK was pretty much dead in the water. Consequently the V42 was designed from the start for longer, slimmer diesel engines, which meant mounting them closer to the centre line. The result was better thrust due to the slightly increased depth and proximity of the props.
Engine options were varied. The first engine option of KAD43s pushing the boat to 32/33 knots was not that popular. However, 260hp Volvo KAD44s were on the options list, which gave the boat a 36-knot top speed, thereby releasing a bigger chunk of the boat’s true potential. Most boats built during the early production period had KAD44s. In 2002, Volvo followed up with the 285hp KAD300, which, with duo-pro sterndrives, made the V42 a 38-knot boat. In 2004, the V42 truly came of age with common-rail injected 310hp Volvo D6s on duo-prop DPH sterndrives, before it was offered with twin 330hp D6s in the last year of the mk1’s production. It stands to reason that the 40-knot D6-powered V42s proved popular, and slightly more economical than the mechanically injected KAD series of engines that preceded them. That said, V42s powered by KAD300s are popular, as they offer a balance of performance, value and old-school mechanical simplicity, and return around 2mpg at 25 knots. During the short time that the mk2 was built, 350hp and 370hp Volvo D6s on DPH sterndrives were available. One lesser-known engine option was twin 315hp Yanmar 6LPA-STZPs on MerCruiser Bravo 3 sterndrives. However, it soon became known that the early-generation Bravo 3 could not handle the torque of the 4.2L Yanmar, so few boats were ordered with them.
Stretching the boat an extra 2ft enabled Princess to offer it in two forms: the Standard UK spec and what was referred to as the Med spec. The UK boat had a large conventional cockpit design, with a seating area around an aft table, as well as a forward seating arrangement comprising a double helm with a port-side L-shaped sofa. It also had the option of a diesel heating system or air con and a passerelle. The Med boat had a similar forward set-up (but with a C-shaped instead of an L-shaped sofa), but had a tender garage with sun pad instead of the aft table and rear seating. On top of this, it had a passerelle and air conditioning on the options list. Though there were two versions for different cruising scenarios, many UK-spec boats were ordered for the Mediterranean due to the huge cockpit space they offered.
The helm set-up rightly focuses on the helmsman, with the wheel and throttles where they need to be – at a comfortable arm’s reach – with an area for a large chartplotter next to it. Though 12″ and 15″ plotters were unheard of when many of these boats were built, you could retrospectively fit one in. Importantly, you also get a chart table that the navigator and skipper can both use.
It was one of the first boats of its size to offer a tender garage, which initially did not prove popular when the boat was new. However, as time went by, people realised the advantages of being able to stash an inflated 2.7m tender, and second-hand Med-spec boats became sought after, especially as they were relatively rare in the UK. The downside was that engine access was through a hatch in the aft walkway, rather than a large cockpit floor hatch on struts, as was the case with the UK boat. For major servicing, the floor sections in the garage need to be removed, and you must be disciplined in stretching around the engines when doing pre-passage checks.
Accommodation is the traditional forepeak master cabin with a good-sized island berth, hanging lockers and full standing headroom around the foot of the bed. The under-sole guest cabin houses two long single berths, standing headroom inside the doorway, a hanging locker, a cabinet and a small sofa, so your guests won’t feel press-ganged. There is one heads, which also serves as an en suite to the master cabin. The galley is good for a 42ft sports cruiser, with a big fridge, a three-ring ceramic hob, plenty of storage and a large microwave oven. The saloon area opposite will certainly not make you want to scuttle to the nearest hotel. Most of the mk1s had cherrywood joinery, which even 20 years on is still in perfect shape. Many of the later mk2s were built with more contemporary light-oak interiors, as became the fashion.
It seems that after 15 years or so, the Princess V42 has become a bit of a forgotten hero. The reality is that regardless of time, this boat is still a superbly built, beautifully finished and highly capable offshore sports cruiser.
- Build period: Mk1: 1999 to 2006; Mk2: 2006 to 2009
- Designer: Bernard Olesinski
- Berths: 4 (permanent)
- Cabins: 2
- Hull type: Variable-deep-vee planing
- Transom deadrise angle: 19.5 degrees
- RCD category: B for 10
- Length overall: 43ft 11in (13.3m)
- Beam: 12ft 02in (3.7m)
- Draught: 3ft 0in (0.9m)
- Displacement: 7.6 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 165 gallons (750 litres)
- Water capacity: 60 gallons (273 litres)
- Cruising range: Approx. 260 miles at 25 knots with a 20% reserve (Volvo KAD44/300)
- Performance: 34 knots with twin 230hp KAD43s
- 36 knots with twin 260hp KAD44s
- 38 knots with twin 285hp KAD44s
- 40 knots with twin 310hp D6s
- Over 40 knots with 330/350/370 hp D6s
- Current values: Mk1: From £90,000 to £150,000
Mk2: From £150,000 to £190,000
Points to consider
This boat was offered with a wide range of engines. The 3.6L Volvo KAD series of engines are relatively robust if they have been regularly maintained. The later 24-valve KAD44 and KAD300 engines need to have the tappets checked and adjusted every 200 hours. Also, the early 290 duo-prop sterndrive used on the KAD43 is prone to wear in the steering linkage within the transom shield – this is easily discovered when the boat is ashore. The D6 in any output was the perfect option for the V42, and this will be reflected in the prices that these newer boats fetch. Though the D6 was known for software issues when new, these are likely to have been sorted by now. DPH sterndrives as fitted to D6s can be prone to electrolysis, requiring regular anode changes – an area worth checking.
Servicing costs can vary from £600 to £800 for an engine and drive, so using a reputable independent engineer who does not charge main dealer prices can be a good idea. Often many of these independents have a better knowledge of older common-rail injected engines.
To be fair, these boats have lost a big chunk of depreciation already and are not likely to lose much more, so you get a huge amount of boat for your money. KAD43-powered boats will be the cheapest, but you need to ask yourself whether a KAD43 boat will really serve your needs.
Build quality/fit & finish
Princess have always built solid and well-finished boats. This is evident today when looking at an example that is 15 to 20 years old with little evidence of age. Nevertheless, with a fast boat that naturally tends to encourage spirited driving, hull stress cracks need to be considered.
Buying in Europe
These are Med boats by their nature, so there are many more for sale around the Mediterranean, and some are now at very tempting prices.
The mechanically injected Volvo KAD44s/KAD300s will return around 2.0mpg at a 25-knot cruising speed, depending on conditions. Boats with twin D6s, due to having common-rail injected engines, will be around 10% more economical.
2005 Price: £149,950
This is without a doubt one of the best mk1s on the market. Fitted with 310hp Volvo D6s, it is a 40-knot boat, and both engines and drives are covered under a warranty. It has had a massive upgrade of new kit. This includes a new KOHLER gen set, canopies, digital Raymarine radar, autopilot, Eberspächer heating, davits, quiet-flush heads and Fusion hi-fi – to name just some of the items that bring this boat in line with the latest technology. It was polished last season as well as being antifouled. The sterndrives have been recently serviced, soda-blasted and recoated in Trilux stern gear antifouling for maximum performance and efficiency. It has extensive electronics including a 12″ Raymarine plotter and a new AIS system.
This is a very well-built and excellently designed hardtop sports cruiser. Some manufacturers have recently gone back to hard corners on the superstructure and deck mouldings with their recent designs, which were the norm in the first generation of GRP motor yachts. However, the V42 has stayed with the flowing lines and large radii that motor yacht designers developed in the early 90s. Not only does this give softer and more pleasing lines, it also makes a stronger structure that will stand up much better to knocks and wear and tear. It also results in the crew taking home fewer bruises.
Being such a well-built and well-engineered sports cruiser, when buying second-hand, you need to have her assessed not for build quality but for wear and tear and previous damage and neglect. It is always helpful in assessing the condition if you can obtain the service records for the engines and drives, as well as the total engine hours. Remember too that although it is difficult to wear out the Volvo D6 engine, the sterndrives do have a limited life.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS