- The boat’s standard specification is impressive and includes goodies that might not appear at all on more modestly priced boats
- The Calypso 30 is a boat with few faults and an awful lot to offer
- Customisation looms large with the Calypso 30
Chris-Craft Calypso 30
Dave Marsh slaps on the sunscreen and heads for the glamorous Majorcan marina of Puerto Portals to test the latest offering from Chris-Craft, the highly versatile and customisable Calypso 30…
Sometimes it’s difficult not to be seduced by the sheer decadence of the more alluring tests. A gloriously sunny day in May, driving out of one of Majorca’s most opulent marinas, Puerto Portals, on board a glamorous 40-knot+ sports boat with a dazzling metallic blue paint job that even extended to the Mercury outboards …What’s not to like? Mind you, with all its optional extras, the Chris-Craft Calypso 30 we were testing did cost a third of a million pounds – so even if we’d been shambling out of Grimsby on a cold and rainy winter’s day, I would have be expecting something very special indeed.
So what factors would make somebody part with this amount of money for a 30ft dayboat – on a miserable day as well as a glorious one? Well, for starters, the Calypso 30’s exceptional build quality and the attention to no-expense-spared detail that its designers have lavished on some of its more crucial parts. In places, these niceties even appear overengineered – the hinge on the side gate, for instance, and the massive stainless steel cantilever mechanisms that support the four folding seats around the perimeter of the aft cockpit. Neither of these mechanisms would have looked at all out of place on some of the multimillion-pound 100-footers lurking in Puerto Portals.
The Calypso 30’s sturdy build extends into the structure too. I’m convinced that the rigidity and structural strength of a boat has a significant impact on how a fast craft behaves and feels underway, especially when the weather cuts up rough. With the opening side gate (Chris-Craft call it a ‘dive door’) effectively slicing through the huge vertical structural beam that is the starboard topsides, I’d been expecting to feel a little flexing in the structure when the boat was being driven hard into full-lock turns. But the Calypso 30 was having none of it, and it felt and sounded just as impressively rigid and squeak-free as all the other four Chris-Craft boats I’ve been lucky enough to drive to date (the Launch 22 and 36, and the Corsair 25 and 28).
If you’re so inclined, the boat can be thrown into extremely tight turns, but the hull never bites back however brutal the driving. Some small, fast sterndrive sports boats seem capable of disconnecting internal organs – not so with this Chris-Craft boat. All told, ‘very sweet’ best describes the feeling of driving the Calypso 30. Don’t go thinking that this implies that it feels a bit soft and spongy. In fact, one of the Calypso 30’s defining traits was just how steady and unflappable it felt driving across waves and wakes – a characteristic that I’ve experienced on all of Chris-Craft’s boats, at least so far. In automotive terms, the closest analogy I can give you is that it’s like driving a Mercedes SL. It’s precise but comfortable with it, extremely quiet and refined, but without the unyielding ride quality of, say, an Audi RS6.
The helmsman’s lot is pretty good. I think that all helm seats should be adjustable, not fixed, but the Calypso 30 does provide plenty of other adjustments. Our pictures seem to suggest that it’s difficult to see over the flared bow. However, although I’m a good 4 inches shorter than Ben, the Chris-Craft Balearics gentleman who kindly arranged our test and drove the boat for our photo shoot, I had no problem either sitting down and looking through the screen or semi-standing with the bolsters flipped up to look over the stainless steel window frame.
However, to achieve the optimum trim, the boat needed its standard-issue 300hp Mercury engines trimming nigh on all the way in, plus around 50% trim tab too. OK, with this correct trim, the Calypso ran along very sweetly indeed; however, we had no stores on board, only 30% fuel and just two crew. So the unanswered question is how the boat might run when it’s loaded with fuel and stores and a bunch of brawny fishermen sitting in the cockpit on the way out to the fishing grounds – plus a 300-pound yellowfin tuna on the way back, of course. The standard Lenco trim tabs were very effective and impressively powerful, but as it stands, there is only 50% tab remaining to trim the bow down, driving upwind in choppy conditions, for instance. Of course, in a quartering sea and downwind, the opposite is true, and the Calypso 30 will have masses of positive engine trim and tab-up adjustment to play with.
Although the Calypso 30 is outwardly a dayboat with a strong fishy flavour, what struck me was just how versatile this boat is. Ignore its modest RCD Category C rating – with its elevated build quality and sure-footed handling, this is a small boat that I would happily take across the Channel, even on a rough day. Intrepid high-speed trips are definitely on the cards.
The features that make it suitable for fishing – folding seats, side gate and big clear cockpit – also lend themselves to other water sports such as waterskiing and wakeboarding. But the Calypso 30 could also be used purely as a glamorous dayboat with an impressive turn of speed – potentially 44 knots with the bigger twin 350hp engines. Extreme sunbathing can be achieved by converting the forward seating area into a sunbed. And extreme socialising can be accomplished by filling the baitwell with ice and using it as a giant champagne cooler (saving the fridge for beer), and loafing around on any one of the Calypso 30’s dozen seats.
There were only three things I found that I’d want to change and improve. Although the three batteries are in a lidded locker to port, they were unsecured and had obviously moved around. All batteries need securely strapping or clamping down, not just for emergencies like capsize, but to prevent long-term fatigue on the thick copper cables. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the rough grey-painted plywood finish inside the anchor locker, but for a quarter of a million pounds I’d expect to see something akin to the perfectly smooth lining that Chris-Craft have employed in all their under-deck lockers. Likewise, effortless self-closing mechanisms on the two useful small drawers under the helm seats would be more in keeping with the Calypso 30’s price than the wobbly runners currently fitted.
Customisation looms large with the Calypso 30. There are ten hull colours to choose from, plus four boot top colours. Stir in six quite different shades of upholstery, plus three cockpit floor finishes (real teak, woven seagrass flooring or non-slip GRP), then add either teak or synthetic Esthec trim elsewhere and that amounts to a whopping 1,440 permutations – probably enough for even the most ardent individualist.
The Calypso 30 is a boat with few faults and an awful lot to offer, including unflappable handling and a good deep-vee hull, and impressive build quality that extends beyond the overtly visible and deep into the structure. Also, the Calypso is a lot more versatile than it first appears. It may sport fishing rod holders and a live baitwell, but thanks to the myriad permutations that its four folding seats and two cockpit tables and convertible forward sunbed can dish up, fishing trips are far from the only boating activity that this budding 44-knot dayboat could be used for.
The boat’s standard specification is impressive and includes goodies that might not appear at all on more modestly priced boats – the starboard dive door, the luxurious helm seats and the electric toilet, for example. And although this highly customisable boat does have an extras list that can elevate the price considerably, it is only the two optional cockpit tables and the obligatory navigation package that I would begrudge, otherwise Chris-Craft’s options do deserve to be chargeable extras.
But – and it’s a big but – would you pay upwards of a quarter of a million pounds for a 30ft dayboat? Is the Calypso 30 worth that amount of money? Well, only you can answer the first query, but the second question is not the right one. It’s like asking: is a Bentley Continental really ‘worth’ two or three times as much as a BMW 7 series? Settle into the customised interior of a Bentley and it immediately makes you feel extra special, in a way that the excellent but more mass-market German car cannot. That is not something you can attach a value to, just as you cannot set a price on driving something that is so highly customisable that you’re extremely unlikely to ever find yourself anywhere near an identikit sibling. I reckon that applies to the Bentley and the Calypso 30 in equal measure.
- Length overall: 9.30m (30ft 6in)
- Beam: 3.10m (10ft 2in)
- Fuel capacity: 833 litres (183 imp gal)
- Water capacity: 117 litres (26 imp gal)
- Hull draught: 0.61m (2ft 0in)
- Air draught: 2.54m (8ft 4in)
- RCD category: C (for 12 people)
- Displacement: 3946kg (empty)
- Top speed on test: 41 knots
- Test engines: Twin 300hp Mercury Verado outboards
- £13,816 – T-top + pull-out sunshade
- £15,600 – Mercury Joystick Piloting
- £17,413 – Blue-painted hull and outboards
- Smallest engines: Twin 300hp
- Biggest engines: Twin 350hp
- Test engines: Twin 300hp Mercury Verado outboards
- Slow cruise Fast cruise Flat out
- Speed 26.4 knots 35.7 knots 41.0 knots
- RPM 4000 5000 5600
- Fuel 18.2gph 32.2gph 48.3gph
- Consumption 1.45mpg 1.11mpg 0.85mpg
- Range 212nm 162nm 124nm
- Speed in knots. Range in nautical miles; allows for 20% reserve. Calculated figures based on readings from on-board fuel gauge; your figures may vary considerably. 30% fuel, 100% water, 2 crew + no stores/tender/life raft. Light chop + F2 for speed trials.
- Extremely high-standard spec
- Imperturbable handling
- Remarkably versatile cockpit
- Impressive ride quality
- Highly customisable
- Optional Mercury Joystick
- Notably sturdy build quality
- Opening side gate
- Good range of options
- Eye-watering price
- Three mediocre details
- Possible trim issue
- From: £224,031 (twin 300hp)
- As Tested: £334,341 (twin 300hp) (prices include 20% UK VAT)
www.chriscraft.com for list of worldwide dealers
Test dealers: www.chriscraftbalearics.com
UK dealer: www.bateswharf.co.uk