Hylas 47 Review: The Original Hylas

PDF Flyer (Click To Download)
PDF Flyer (Click To Download)

This 47-footer started it all. In the late 1970’s, Queen Long was building Kelly Peterson 44’s for Jack Kelly Yachts and distributing them to Stevens Yacht Charters among others. Queen Long decided to expand and asked Sparkman & Stephens to design for them a new yacht that they owned the rights to. With little guidance, Rod Stephens created a truly breakthrough 47′ design in 1981 reportedly inspired by the classic Gulfstar 50 design by Vince Lazzara. Bill Stevens loved the design as a charterboat and bought as many as Queen Long could make. Bill was right, and with her three stateroom layout, she became a popular Caribbean charter yacht. Queen Long built approximately 56 under the Stevens name and another 82 under the Hylas brand when Stevens Charters had financial problems. In 1991, Tony Seifert and Dick Jachney enlarged the cockpit, increased the freeboard by 2″, and added a sugar scoop stern, extending her to become the Hylas 49. The 47’s particularly the Stevens versions are cult boats. John Kretschmer’s review of the Stevens 47 in his Used Boat Notebook has stoked this ravenous demand to unbelievable heights. Please see our Hylas Models Page for information about other Hylases.

First Impressions
The 47 is classic Sparman & Stephens, the only Hylas of their design along with her 49-foot sistership. Her rocket ship stern, sleek sheer, and high chin bow give her a sweet style paired with her low profile cabin trunk. The freeboard is average with a deep forefoot and long fin keel underneath. It is her carefully crafted underbody that makes this smooth sailing world cruiser again differing her from the Frers Hylas models who have flatter bottoms and deep fin keels.

PDF Brochure (Click To Download)
PDF Brochure (Click To Download)

Hylas 47’s were built by Queen Long and reserve a good reputation in their ability to be strong and well built. For example, she has nine fore and aft stringers for strength, stainless steel water and fuel tanks, a stainless I-beam supported by four floors for the mast step, 12 transverse floor timbers, and a one piece hull with 47% ballast to weight ratio. Different from all other Hylases, she has an encapsulated, internal lead ballast keel of a bit over 6′ draft depending on how heavily loaded she is. Stevens are generally thought as heavier built than the Hylas 47’s but as one owner added, “Not to say that Hylas cheapened the boat.” The Stevens specifically came with higher quality deck hardware including a beefier rig than the Hylas versions. The hulls are laminated fiberglass built from a one piece mold to provide a strong seamless monolithic structure. The deck is Airex cored and hand laminated with solid glass in mast area and around all through-bolted areas. The hull-deck joint is an inner flange secured by 5200, bolted through, and tabbed from below.

Queen Long 1989 Cruising World Advertisement for the Hylas 47
Queen Long 1989 Cruising World Advertisement for the Hylas 47

What To Look For
The key is whether she is a Stevens or Hylas. These two yachts are the same Sparkman & Stephens design built by the same yard in Taiwan, Queen Long Marine. Queen Long hired S&S to design the 47-footer for them right around 1981. Bill Stevens of Stevens Charters imported most of the original hulls, and they named her the Stevens 47. Later Queen Long Marine rebranded her as the Hylas 47 along with introducing other Hylas models. The Stevens have beefier rigs and higher quality fittings though the Hylas versions are later production. Some Stevens have port and starboard berths aft instead of a centerline queen which is a less attractive aft stateroom on the used market. Many have been refit at the Bennett Brothers yard which is associated with Bill Stevens’ original charter operation. Because of this refitting, there is good part support. These refitted 47’s command high values on the brokerage market and usually are loaded with all the latest equipment.

Stevens 47 PDF Brochure (Click to Download)

On Deck and Down Below
In John’s review he is hard on the 47’s cockpit, and I agree that the cockpit is smallish with low uncomfortable combings. This is one of Tony Seifert’s best changes on the 49. The low-profile cabin trunk especially forward is easy to walk around. She has a molded contrasting non-skid on deck that is wearing thin these days. Down below you are immediately immersed in a showcase of light teak and open accommodations. The interior has teak veneer covering bulkheads along with solid trim, doors, and the 1/2″ teak sole. The arrangement plan includes three staterooms with owners aft and guests forward. Starting forward, the V-berth features a large double berth with hanging locker. Forwardmost, you can access the chainlocker from below.

Just aft of the V-berth, the starboard walk-through provides access to the second guest stateroom to port. Across is the forward head with separate vanity and shower stall. Next aft is the full width main salon, open to the port side galley and starboard side navigation station. I agree with John’s criticism of the small navigation station. But for a 47-foot three stateroom yacht, you have to skimp somewhere. The navigation station is tight and annoying in front of the breaker panel. Underneath is a step up filled with batteries leaving you with minimal headroom. From the saloon there is a step down aft, but the 47 is not the best about headroom. The 49 added another 2-feet of freeboard. A dual passageway walk-through to the master stateroom has proven to be immensely popular and convenient. Along the port passageway is a functional galley originally with Formica counter tops and teak fiddles. For ventilation and accessibility, there are six anodized aluminum deck hatches and two lazarette hatches.

Stevens 47 PDF Brochure (Click to Download)

Engine and Underway
Engines vary and include Westerbeke and Universal models until Hylas settled on the Perkins and finally Yanmar 62 HP. The access is under the stainless steel sinks in the galley. Access is okay from both sides and via the companionway. There is room further back for a generator usually raised with stainless supports. The 47’s greatest strength is her sailing capabilities. The performance of these whether Hylas or Stevens is legendary. The hull shape and keel-rudder configuration make them surprisingly stiff and fast boats, well-balanced in any condition. Rod Stephens, the primary designer, says, “I knew the Hylas 47 was going to be fast when we designed it…and yet for all her proven speed she is a true cruising boat with accommodations that offer all the amenities and then some. Quite an accomplishment, I’d say.” John talks about averaging 143 miles a day delivering 47’s. He says, “From all the nit-picking I’ve done about certain features, I can lavish an equal amount of praise on the boat’s overall performance.”

Hylas 47’s resale for $150,000 to $250,000. Rob says in John’s review, “You can find a Hylas or Stevens 47 in good condition for under $200,000. It is difficult to find a 49 under $300,000.” These prices are still about the same today as the Stevens/Hylas 47 continues to be an attractive alternative. A Hylas 49 model with a raised sheerline and sugar scoop stern is the current evolution of the 47.

4 Replies to “Hylas 47 Review: The Original Hylas”

  1. Sir I am now the proud owner of a S & S Custom 47 built in 1983. I am looking to replace some of the stanchion bases which are stainless steel and wonder if anyone out there can point me in the right direction to source these.

  2. We’ve been cruising our ’82 Stevens 47 since 2008, from near Seattle, to Mexico, and across the Pacific. Currently in australia and anticipating future adventures! For picture & stories from an actively cruising Stevens 47, visit our blog at http://www.sv-totem.com.

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