As Greg Copp continues to explore the used-boat market, he examines whether Fairline succeeded in maintaining the spirit of the Phantom family with the Phantom 40 …
The Phantom family was designed to tempt the sports cruiser fraternity into a world of greater creature comfort. Built on the same successful concept of a variable deep-vee hull, it offered sports cruiser handling with flybridge cruiser accommodation. Its efficient hull design and seakeeping would earn this boat a formidable reputation as a go-anywhere boat that would tempt its owners into stretching their cruising legs further and further. Launched in 2002, the Phantom 40 replaced the Phantom 38 and, unlike many of today’s designs, did not pile on the pounds in the quest for accommodation. Displacing just 11.4 tonnes, a beam of 3.96 metres and a top speed of 30 knots or more, the Phantom was, and still is, a true driver’s boat.
The first boats had mechanically injected 370hp Volvo TAMD63Ps and 375hp Caterpillar 3126TAs, which were replaced in 2006 by the common-rail injected 370hp Volvo D6. In 2007, common-rail injected 460hp Caterpillar C7s were added to the options list, and then 435hp D6s were offered as an upgrade in 2008. These shaft-driven engines gave the boat top speeds of between 28 and 32 knots, which by today’s standards is impressive for a 40ft flybridge boat. The build quality and fit-out are of the highest standard, which, combined with a Bernard Olesinki hull, made it a very capable sea boat.
One thing Phantom owners always say is that you will break long before the boat does. A few years back I bumped into a Phantom 40 owner in Gosport who had just come back from Guernsey. I had just returned from a day out to the Needles, where a south-westerly force 5 had stopped me dropping the hook for the day. When he told me where he had been, the look on his wife’s face said it al. ‘A bit of a rough one,’ he said with a barely concealed smile. ‘I had to drop her down to 18 to 20 knots for most of the passage or my life would not have been worth living, but she can deal with most weather at that speed,’ he told me. What has always impressed me about the Phantom 40 is the remarkably responsive and sure-footed steering. It is very reassuring to drive in rough or confused seas, be it beam on, bow on or stern sea, making it one of the safest flybridge cruisers in its class.
The accommodation is ideal for a four-person family. The forward master cabin boasts a large double-island berth, an exclusive en suite heads with a large, separate wrap-around shower, two hanging lockers and under-berth drawer storage. The second cabin to starboard has two long separate berths (with infill if need be) and en suite access to the spacious day heads. Personally I like the ‘galley down’ arrangement of the Phantom 40. It gives you a degree of privacy from the outside world, which is denied you if the galley is raised in order to accommodate another, and inevitably pokey, mid-cabin. This layout also increases the room available for galley storage through positioning a worktop-mounted eye-level oven that would otherwise encroach on the saloon and starboard visibility for the lower helm. Fairline opt for teak flooring in the galley as they do at the lower helm, which is a practical touch that they have ignored for the saloon. It is a case of personal taste, but I have never understood the logic of having carpet at the point of entry from the outside world, especially in a boat.
Carpet aside, the saloon offers loads of seating on both sides. The wide, U-shaped seating to starboard comfortably seats four around a suitably sized folding table. The double seating opposite appears too far away for dining, but the seat bases can be moved across to provide two extra seats if need be. The high-gloss oak joinery throughout the Phantom 40 always impresses me even in the earliest boats, as it never shows a hint of age. During the first two of production, blue cloth upholstery was used in the saloon and the two cabins. From 2005 you will find that cream leather is the norm.
The flybridge on the Phantom 40 has been designed from both a driving and social perspective. The helm set-up has three forward seats, with the helm seat central, giving you good visibility over both sides when standing. The aft section of the flybridge has a crescent-shaped seating arrangement around a drop-down table. Subsequently you get the choice of a convertible double sunbed or spacious seating for four. The teak flybridge steps are not overly steep and have substantial handrails, so going up top underway is not a perilous affair. Deck access is also good, with 9-inch side decks accessed via steps from the cockpit on both sides. The toe rails are deep, the guard rails tall and the roof rails make moving forward an easy affair. The foredeck has a non-slip texturised finish and the anchor locker is pretty cavernous with substantial deck hardware to match. The cockpit and full-beam bathing platform lack neither space nor practical touches. Easily accessed stern cleats sit on the cockpit sides and tie rails curve around the stern. The sensibly engine access is through a large cockpit hatch that provides entry to both the engine bay and the lazarette. The lazarette is an impressive 6 feet from the engine bay bulk head to the steering gear, enabling a mountain of cruising gear to be stashed as well as the option of keeping a largish inflatable tender. With Volvo TAMD63Ps fitted, engine space is a bit limited, but still workable, as there is adequate room between the engines. Access to the port engine fuel filters is a bit tight, as is accessing the belts on the front of the engines. Boats fitted with slightly more compact D6s will have more space. The standard of engineering throughout the engine bay is of a very high standard, which is typical of Fairline.
It is hard to go wrong with a Phantom 40. They perform, handle and stand the test of time well. With 13 years of history behind them and 119 built, there are now many examples on the market at prices to suit most budgets.
- Build period: 2002 to 2009
- Designer: Bernard Olesinski
- Berths: 4
- Cabins: 2
- Hull type: Variable deep vee
- RCD category: B for 10
- Current values: From £130,000 to £250,000
- Length overall: 41ft 2in (12.53m)
- Beam: 13ft 0in (3.96m)
- Draught: 3ft 3in (1.0m)
- Displacement: 11.4 tonnes (light)
- Fuel capacity: 220 gal (1000 litres)
- Water capacity: 97 gal (440 litres)
- Cruising range: 200 miles with a 20% reserve
Points to consider
There is a degree of choice here as there are five engine choices. The most common is the original 370hp Volvo TAMD63P mechanically injected engine. There was also the option of the 375hp Caterpillar 3126TA, which was replaced by the common-rail injected 460hp Caterpillar C7 in 2007. Both Cat options are thin on the ground but worth having. In 2006, the common-rail injected 370hp Volvo D6 became the only Volvo option, being replaced by the 435hp Volvo D6 in 2008. In terms of performance, Volvo TAMD63Ps, Caterpillar 3126TAs and Volvo D6s pushed the Phantom 40 to 28/29 knots. The 435hp Volvo D6 made it a genuine 31-knot boat and the 460hp Caterpillar C7 should give the Phantom 40 a comfortable 32-knot top speed.
The earlier Phantom 40s will have relatively underpowered bow thrusters by today’s standards. A 40ft flybridge boat needs a punchy thruster, so factor in the possible cost of an upgrade.
Like a lot of top-marque planing flybridge cruisers, the Phantom 40 has suffered quite a bit of depreciation during the recession. However, as a brand that traditionally holds its value, it is fair to say that it is now at the bottom of the curve and as a result represents very good value for money.
Fairline are renowned for their build quality and many will argue that the boats they built a decade ago were their best. Compared to some of their rivals, they stand the test of time very well, and will show little evidence of age. It is worth bearing this in mind if considering a newer contemporary that on the face of it may appear better value.
Wide price range
Apart from a long production period, one of the reasons for such a wide range of values is the cheaper cost of buying in Europe due to the weakening of the euro against sterling. Combined with realistic and motivated vendors, this means that many boats are much cheaper than others.
Boats with Caterpillar C7s
There are a small number of Phantom 40s with Caterpillar C7s that sold better overseas than in the UK. This is the best power plant for this boat, giving it a great power-to-weight ratio. It is likely to be most economical when running at the boat’s sweet-spot cruising speed of 25 knots, and should give the boat an easy 32-knot top speed.
Servicing for the mechanically injected Volvo TAMD63Ps or Caterpillar 3126TAs will be around £700 an engine for an annual 100-hour service. The Volvo D6 in both forms will cost around £600 for an annual service. The cost of spares for either option is much the same, though Caterpillar spares tend to be cheaper than Volvo.
Boats with either Volvo TAMD63Ps or Caterpillar 3126TAs will return around 1mpg at 25 knots. The 370hp and 435hp Volvo D6-powered boats will be around 10% more efficient, with the 435hp Volvo D6 and 460hp Caterpillar C7 being the most efficient at a like-for-like cruising speed. Whatever the option, in real terms this is an efficient boat, thanks to its Bernard Olesinki hull.
2006 Price: £179,500
This pristine boat, located at Port Solent, has the flybridge electronics package upgrade and Eberspacher heating throughout. Powered by 370hp Volvo D6s, she has just 330 hours logged and has just been serviced, antifouled and the anodes replaced. She has Raymarine electronics, including radar with 12-inch E120 plotters at both helms, mood lighting in the cockpit and a modern Hi-Fi system with MP3 connectivity. It is evident that this boat has been very well cared for above and below decks. All the teak is spotlessly clean, the covers in perfect order and her GRP polished to perfection.
The Phantom 40 is another popular, high-quality build from Fairline that will have first hit the water needing only a final snagging. She will otherwise be an example of first-rate boatbuilding and design, using good equipment and materials. Among those that I have surveyed, I have found no structural problems other than owner-inflicted ones, and the gelcoat stands up very well below the waterline against osmosis. The engine installations make access pretty tight for carrying out maintenance, so as engines are make or break in any motor yacht, make sure that the survey includes a thorough inspection and test of the engines, and that there are records that show that they have been regularly and properly maintained. If there are the optional teak decks, be aware that these will be made from comparatively thin teak planks of approximately 6mm. In the Fairline range I have found a few teak decks that have started to release from the glass fibre sub deck, and excessive wear of the teak can be a problem in older boats where replacement of the planking can cost another fortune.
Jim Pritchard BSc CEng MRINA MIIMS